Dec. 29, 2009
Date: Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009
Time: 4 p.m. PST
Location: Galen Center (10,258), Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FSAZ/Prime Ticket (Paul Sunderland/Brandon Granville)
GAME DATA: Arizona (6-6, 0-0 Pac-10) travels to Los Angeles, Calif., to open Pac-10 Conference play Thursday afternoon at (8-4, 0-0 Pac-10) ... Over the previous 11 seasons, Arizona has opened league play on the road in seven of those seasons, and in those opening-weekend road swings UA is 9-4 ... In those same 11 seasons, the Wildcats are a combined 9-13 on the Los Angeles road swing, with two sweeps and five splits to its credit ... Today's game will be the Cats' third true road game of the season, and Arizona is 0-2 in those contests in 2009-10, averaging just 54.0 points per game and facing a -17.0 scoring margin ... HAPPY NEW YEAR!
THE RANKINGS: Arizona remains unranked in both polls after opening the season unranked for just the third time in the last 23 seasons. The Cats closed the 2008-09 campaign ranked No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH Sean Miller . . . is in his first season at the University of Arizona and his sixth overall as a college head coach with a record of 126-53 (.704) and 6-6 (.500) at Arizona ... Appointed April 7, 2009, Miller came to Tucson after five successful years at Xavier University, where he amassed four 20-win seasons and four NCAA Tournament appearances ... His clubs won the last three Atlantic 10 regular season championships (2007-09) and the 2006 Atlantic 10 postseason tournament title ... During his time at XU, the Musketeers won better than 71 percent of its conference games, including an .813 winning percentage (39-9) in his last three seasons ... Miller has made 14 trips to the postseason in his 17 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (8 NCAA/6NIT) and has a 6-4 (.600) NCAA Tournament record as a head coach ... He took two Xavier teams to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 (2008, 2009) with his 2008 club advancing to the West Regional final ... His 2007-08 team set a Xavier record for wins in a season with 30, helping him claim Atlantic 10 and NABC District 10 Coach-of-the-Year honors ... Since becoming a head coach, all 16 players to complete eligibility under Miller have earned their degrees ... A standout guard for the University of Pittsburgh (1987-92), Miller was the Big East Freshman of the Year in 1988, won a gold medal on the 1991 U.S. World University Games team and was a member of his alma mater's all-centennial team in 2005 ... Miller, 41, earned a degree in communications from Pitt in 1992 ... He is assisted by Archie Miller, Emanuel Richardson and James Whitford ... Miller is 0-0 against USC as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: BYU's Jimmer Fredette put forth a performance to be remembered as he tallied a McKale Center and Fiesta Bowl Classic-record 49 points in the Cougars' 99-69 win Monday. Fredette hit 16-of-23 field goal attempts, including 9-of-13 from three-point range, to go with nine assists and seven rebounds. BYU outrebounded UA, 34-28, and converted 19 Arizona miscues into 27 points of its own in what was the Wildcats' worst loss in McKale Center history.
SCOUTING USC: The Trojans enter this afternoon's game with an 8-4 record (0-0 Pac-10) and a six-game winning streak following Friday's 67-56 win over UNLV. On the season, USC averages 60.8 points per game, shoots 44.4 percent from the field (261-of-588) and 65.8 percent (171-of-260) from the line. Trojan opponents average 56.3 points per game and are outrebounded by 6.6 boards per game. Individually, four USC players average in double figures, led by Mike Gerrity's 14.8 ppg figure. Nikola Vucevic leads the team in rebounding with a 9.8 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the 94th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 55-38 series advantage. UA has won 16 of the last 24 meetings in the series, which dates back to 1922, including the last contest, 83-76, in Tucson on Feb. 12, 2009. All-time, Arizona is 28-10 in series games played in Tucson, 24-28 in Los Angeles, and 3-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 110 in the UA media guide for more series information.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 83, USC 76, Feb. 12, 2009: In what turned out to be a game of runs, Arizona saved its best for last in earning a hard-fought, seven-point win. The Cats made its first eight shots of the game and built an early 18-point lead before the Trojans eventually whittled the deficit to just three points at the break. USC opened the second half with a 15-4 run and built an eight-point lead, the last coming at 12:36, before UA tied the game at 61 with 9:54 remaining. The game went back and forth until Arizona scored the contest's final seven points, the key bucket coming on Nic Wise's trey with 45 seconds remaining.
FOR (CONFERENCE) OPENERS: Since joining the Pac-10 Conference in 1978-79, Arizona has a 21-10 (.677) record in conference openers. Of those 31 previous openers, the Cats are 11-0 when opening at home and 10-10 when opening on the road. Arizona last opened its conference slate on the road in last season and was swept by the Bay Area schools on Jan. 2 & 4, 2009.
BUZZSAW: Led by Jimmer Fredette's 49 points, BYU rolled to a 99-69 win Monday in the 2009 Desert Diamond Fiesta Bowl Classic. The loss was just the second for Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl Classic (44-2), and was the worst loss for the Wildcats in McKale Center's 38-season history. As a measure of perspective, sometimes bad days just happen. Arizona's 2008-09 season came to an end in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal in a 39-point loss (103-64) to top-seeded Louisville.
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME: Led by Jimmer Fredette's 49 points, BYU rolled to a 99-69 win Monday in the 2009 Desert Diamond Fiesta Bowl Classic. The loss was just the second for Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl Classic (44-2), and was the worst loss for the Wildcats in McKale Center's 38-season history. As a measure of perspective, sometimes bad days just happen. Arizona's 2008-09 season came to an end in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal in a 39-point loss (103-64) to top-seeded Louisville.
RECORD-SETTING EFFORT: Jimmer Fredette certainly shot his way into the record books Monday, as his 49 points set a McKale Center and a Fiesta Bowl Classic-record for single-game scoring. Fredette's 16 field goals and nine treys also set new Fiesta Bowl Classic marks. Additionally, his nine treys established a new single-game UA opponent record for three-point field goals, as well as equaled the McKale Center record (all games) for three-pointers made.
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: Obviously, it takes a Herculean effort for any player to score 40 or more points. Jimmer Fredette's 49 points were the second-most ever scored against Arizona (50 by Air Force's Bob Beckel on Feb. 28, 1959), and he is the first opponent to drop 40 on the Cats since Georgetown's Allen Iverson scored 40 in a 91-81 Arizona win on Nov. 24, 1995. By comparison, Arizona has not had a 40-point scorer since Damon Stoudamire poured in 40 vs. Washington State on March 2, 1995. While Fredette's 16-of-23 shooting, including 9-of-13 from three-point range, was more than impressive, our biased opinion will take Khalid Reeves' 13-of-14, 3-of-4 treys, shooting en route to 40 points vs. Michigan on Dec. 30, 1993, as a better shooting performance in what was the previous Fiesta Bowl Classic scoring record.
GOOD STARTS HELP: After taking an early 2-0 lead, Arizona fell behind at the 18:32 mark and never caught up. Getting off to a good start has proven helpful to these Cats, as the club is 5-2 when leading at the half and 1-4 when trailing.
DOUBLE WHAMMY: Arizona fell prey to a pair of factors Monday that have proven difficult to overcome in the non-conference portion of the season. UA connected on less than 50 percent of its field goals (26-of-56/.464) and was outshot by its opponent (37-of-65/.569). Through 12 games, Arizona is 4-6 when shooting less than 50 percent from the field and only 1-5 when shooting worse than the opposition. Interestingly, Arizona's 46.4 percent shooting against BYU was better than its season-long 44.4 percent accuracy, it just pales in comparison to what the Cougars put on the board.
THE ARC TELLS A STORY: Look no further than the three-point stripe for the difference in Monday's game, where BYU connected on 14-of-25 (.560) three-point attempts and Arizona hit just 3-of-17 (.176). In the end, BYU outscored UA, 42-9, from long distance. Furthermore, BYU's effort was a opponent season high for percentage, while Arizona's was a season low.
ON THE RISE: Over the last three games, Arizona has seen its three-point field goal percentage defense numbers rise, as Lipscomb, N.C. State and BYU each recorded UA opponent season highs against the Cats, as the clubs combined to hit 33-of-61 (.541) from three-point range in that span. Entering the week of Dec. 21, Arizona led the Pac-10 with a .245 (45-of-184) three-point FG defense. Now that figure resides at .318 (78-of-245).
TURNING IT OVER : How important are turnovers in determining an outcome? Look no further than UA's last two games to get an indication. On Dec. 23 vs. N.C. State Arizona forced 20 miscues and held a +9 advantage in its win. Monday, the Cats equaled a season high with 19 turnovers, faced a -8 margin, and allowed 10 more turnover points. This season, Arizona is 4-1 when winning the turnover battle.
SHUT OUT: Arizona guard Nic Wise finished Monday's game with no turnovers for the first time this season, and just the third time since taking over the starting point guard duties in 2007-08. The last time it happened was Feb. 14, 2009, in an 84-72 home win over UCLA in which he tallied 26 points. Wise averages 4.0 assists per game this season. During his career, the Wildcats are 23-10 (.697) when Wise passes out five or more assists in a game.
A NIGHT OF FIRSTS: A few Wildcats collected a few career firsts Monday vs. BYU. Freshman Solomon Hill tallied his first career trey (in eight attempts) and his first career blocked shot in 29 minutes of action, while sophomore Brendon Lavender notched his first career blocked shot. Incidentally, Hill and Lavender were the only Wildcats to register a block on Monday.
COMING TO PLAY: Freshman Derrick Williams continues to be a model of consistency, as he is averaging 15.0 points and 6.4 rebounds, while leading the team with a .561 (60-of-107) field goal percentage. Monday against BYU, the 6-foot-8 forward from La Mirada, Calif., knocked down 5-of-9 field goals en route to team-high totals of 17 points and seven boards. Williams leads all Wildcats with 10 games in double figures this year.
SOLID: Sophomore guard Kyle Fogg registered 16 points - his second highest-total this year - on a career-high 12 FG attempts against BYU. Over his last five games, the 6-foot-3, Brea, Calif., native is averaging 10.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists, while shooting 47.1 percent (16-of-34) from the field and 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from three-point range.
SHOWING PROGRESS: In just his second game back from a stress fracture in his left foot, freshman swingman Kevin Parrom continues to show signs of progress. The 6-foot-6 native of the Bronx, N.Y., tallied his first collegiate points and rebounds against BYU, finishing with four points (2-of-3 FG), three rebounds and an assist in 14 minutes of play. His playing time more than doubled from the six minutes he garnered in his initial appearance on Dec. 23.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 83 points Dec. 21 vs. Lipscomb, breaking the 80-point barrier for the fourth time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 184-19 (.906) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 4-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.
EARLY SIGNEE: The Arizona coaching staff signed one student-athlete to a National-Letter-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Daniel Bejarano (G, 6-5, 200) from Phoenix, Ariz., North High School. According to Bob Gibbons' All-Star Sports Top 250, he is No. 40 overall prospect in the country.
UP NEXT: Arizona bounces back for an early 10 a.m. PST tip time on Saturday, Jan. 2, when it travels across town to face UCLA. The contest will be televised by CBS-TV.