Dec. 6, 2012
Date: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012
Time: 8 p.m. EST
Location: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000), Clemson, S.C.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: ESPN2 (Rich Hollenberg/Jimmy Dykes)
GAME DATA: Eighth-ranked Arizona (6-0, 0-0 Pac-12) travels to the Palmetto State to take on Clemson (5-2, 0-0 ACC) in an intersectional match-up Saturday ... At 1,626 miles, this is the longest road trip the Cats will make this year in the continental U.S. ... Despite UA’s .452 field goal percentage Tuesday, the Cats are shooting a cumulative .537 (109-of-203) in its last four games ... In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 4-3 in non-conference road games, posts a 72.0 ppg scoring average and enjoys a +4.6 scoring margin.
THE RANKINGS: UA is ranked eighth in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ polls this week. The Cats’ No. 8 ranking is the highest for the program under Sean Miller, and the first time UA has been ranked as high in-season since coming in at No. 8 in the Jan. 8, 2007, coaches’ poll.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH Sean Miller . . . is in his fourth season at the University of Arizona and his ninth overall as a college head coach with a record of 195-82 (.704) and 75-35 (.682) at Arizona ... In his eight-plus year career, Miller’s teams have won 20 games six times and captured five regular-season or postseason tournament titles ... He guided UA to 30 wins and the 2011 Pac-10 regular-season championship in a run that culminated in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight, earning Pac-10 Conference and NABC District 20 Coach-of-the-Year honors ... 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 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 their conference games, including an .813 winning percentage (39-9) in his last three seasons ... Miller has made 16 trips to the postseason in his 19 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (9 NCAA/7 NIT) and has an 9-5 (.643) 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 23 players to complete eligibility under Miller have earned their degrees ... Miller has recruited classes ranked in the top-10 nationally in each of the last two seasons ... He is assisted by James Whitford, Emanuel Richardson and Joe Pasternack ... Miller is 1-0 vs. Clemson as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: After falling behind by 11 points late in the first half, Arizona used a stingy defense and just enough offense to get by Southern Miss, 63-58, on Tuesday. UA forced USM into 17 second-half turnovers and limited the Golden Eagles to just 9-of-25 shooting and 20 points in the period. Kevin Parrom proved to be the difference, scoring 13 of his 14 points in the second half including a game-tying bucket and go-ahead trey on consecutive possessions. The win gave UA its best start to a season since 1999-2000.
SCOUTING CLEMSON: The Tigers enter tonight’s game with a 5-2 record (0-0 ACC) following a 64-55 win Sunday at South Carolina. On the season, CU averages 64.4 points per game, shoots 44.9 percent from the floor (164-of-365), 34.3 percent (36-of-105) from three-point range and 66.4 percent (87-of-131) from the line. Opponents average 53.7 points, are outrebounded by 1.7 per game and shoot 39.9 percent from the floor (134-of-336). Individually, three Clemson players average in double figures, led by Devin Booker’s and K.J. McDaniels’ identical 11.9 ppg figures. Booker also leads the Tigers in rebounding at 7.6 rebounds per game.
THE SERIES: Today’s game is the third meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 2-0 series advantage. Arizona won the last game of the series, which dates back to March 18, 1989, by a 63-47 count on Dec. 10, 2011, as part of the Fiesta Bowl Classic. All-time, Arizona is 1-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Clemson, S.C., and 1-0 in neutral-site games. For more series information, please see page 47 in the UA media guide.
THE LAST MEETING: Arizona 63, Clemson 47; Dec. 10, 2011: Arizona shot it well, held its own on the glass and made key plays when it needed in a 16-point win. Led by Nick Johnson and Solomon Hill, UA shot better than 50 percent from the field for the second time this season and limited the Tigers to 32 percent accuracy. After Clemson cut an 18-point deficit to seven late in the second half, Hill dropped in four straight points in the paint and Johnson added four of his own to push the margin back to 15. Johnson was named Fiesta Bowl Classic MVP.
AGAINST THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE: All-time, Arizona is 22-16 (.579) all-time against teams that currently reside in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and is 4-6 against the league dating back to the start of the 2004-05 season. Arizona last faced an ACC foe on Dec. 10, 2011, defeating Clemson, 63-47, in the Fiesta Bowl Classic in Tucson. For more information on series against the conferences, please see page 51 of the UA media guide.
GOOD START: Tuesday’s come-from-behind win over Southern Miss gave Arizona its six win in as many games and is the best start to a season in the Sean Miller era. It also equaled the program’s best start since 1999-2000, when that group of Wildcats finished 27-7 and shared the Pac-10 regular season championship.
BOUNCING BACK: After opening Tuesday’s game by hitting just 7-of-20 (.350) field goal attempts in the first half, Arizona bounced back with a more focused shooting approach in the second, connecting on 54.4 percent (12-of-22) from the floor. Kevin Parrom led the way for the Cats connecting on 5-of-6 of his second-half attempts. All told, seven of UA’s 12 field goals in the period were dunks, lay-ups or scored in the lane, as compared to just two in the first half. The Cats have now shot 50 percent or better in 7 of 12 halves in 2012-13.
GETTING IT DONE: The rise in accuracy mentioned above in conjunction with a solid defensive second-half defensive effort enabled Arizona to outshoot Southern Miss, .452-.390. UA limited the Golden Eagles to just 36.0 percent shooting (9-of-25), including 0-of-8 from three-point range, after the break in limiting USM to that 39 percent figure. This follows a trend that has seen Arizona outshoot every opponent to date this season, and the program is 55-4 (.932) when accomplishing the feat under Sean Miller.
CLAMPING DOWN: Arizona managed to win Tuesday by clamping down defensively, especially in the second half, as the Wildcats forced Southern Miss into 17 second-half turnovers. That effort included a stretch of 4:38 where UA pressure led to USM miscues on seven of eight possessions with the lone exception being a missed trey. In that span, the Cats went from a three-point-deficit to a five-point lead. Opponents are averaging 16.8 turnovers per game and Tuesday’s total was an opponent high.
A RARITY: It’s not often where a team can commit 27 turnovers and still win, but that’s what happened to Arizona on Tuesday. That is the first time UA has committed that many turnovers in a game since Jan. 7, 1999, in a 98-87 win over Washington State. Including Tuesday’s effort, Arizona has won its last three games when committing 27 or more turnovers. Go figure.
ON THE MEND: Arizona’s three-point field goal defense figure continues to move in the right direction, as the Wildcats limited the Golden Eagles to an opponent season-low 27.8-percent figure (5-of-18). Over the last three games, opponents have combined to make just 16-of-56 attempts (.286) from behind the arc. That’s almost 11 percent better than the team’s effort through the first three games (29-of-74/.392).
TAKE CARE OF THE BOARDS: Led by Kevin Parrom (8) and Kaleb Tarczewski (7), who combined for 15 rebounds, the Wildcats outrebounded Southern Miss, 34-27. It marked the fifth consecutive time this season that Arizona has outrebounded the opposition, and the +7 margin Tuesday was the smallest margin of the bunch. On the year, Arizona leads the Pac-12 Conference with a +11.5 rebound margin.
ON A ROLL: Sophomore Nick Johnson continues to play at a high level for the Wildcats, as witnessed by his career-high totals of 23 points, four steals and 37 minutes played. The 6-foot-3 guard knocked down 9-of-14 shots en route to notch the second 20-point game of his career. Johnson currently leads Arizona in scoring (13.7 pgg), assists (25) and steals (14), to go with a .566 (30-of-53) field goal percentage. He’s averaging 15.8 points per game over his last four outings.
SAVING HIS BEST FOR LAST: Kevin Parrom may have waited for the second half make an impact Tuesday, but it was a sizeable one. The 6-foot-6 swingman from the Bronx, N.Y., hit 5-of-6 shots en route to 13 points and four rebounds in the period. The effort was the 20th career game in double figures for the senior, who also played a season-high 30 minutes. Parrom finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and a pair of assists vs. USM and is averaging 9.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game to go with a .613 (19-of-31) field goal percentage.
MAKING AN IMPACT: While his 11-game streak of games in double figures ended Tuesday with nine points, senior forward Solomon Hill managed to impact the game in a few meaningful ways, as he finished with four rebounds, a season-high four assists and a blocked shot in 37 minutes of action. The 6-foot-7 native of Los Angeles, Calif., also hit what may have been the game’s biggest shot, a trey from the left wing with 1:49 to go that put the Cats up by six points. Incidentally, a start today would be the 101st of Hill’s career, a number that would tie him for 10th place on Arizona’s career starts list with Steve Kerr (1983-88) and Reggie Geary (1992-96).
A SOLID EFFORT: Credit Jordan Mayes with a good effort off the bench Tuesday, as the junior logged four points (4-of-4 FT), two assists and two steals in 13 minutes. The 6-foot-3 junior from Los Angeles, Calif., ranks second on the team with seven steals and fifth with 12 assists. Through six appearances, Mayes is averaging 4.8 points and 2.0 assists per game.
TAKE ADVANTAGE: Look no further than the free throw line to see where the Wildcats are doing good work. Through six games, Arizona averages 26.1 free throws per game and is outscoring opponents by an average of 9.8 points per game from the line. Not only has Arizona made twice as many FTs as its opponents, the Cats have made 30 more charity tosses than foes have attempted.
ALWAYS ON THE RUN: Arizona has displayed a knack for timely runs so far this season. Tuesday vs. Southern Miss, the Wildcats used a 14-4 run to close the contest and earn an eight-point win. Here is a look at Arizona’s runs to date:
26-3 run over 8:41 (2nd) at Texas Tech, Dec. 1
21-4 run over 9:07 (2nd) vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 19
23-6 run over 7:55 (1st) vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 19
13-0 run over 4:26 (2nd) vs. UTEP, Nov. 15
14-2 run over 4:10 (2nd) vs. Northern Arizona, Nov. 28
22-10 run over 9:27 (1st) vs. Charleston Southern, Nov. 11
14-4 run over 5:48 (2nd) vs. Southern Miss, Dec. 4
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 85 points Dec. 1 at Texas Tech, topping the 80-point plateau for the fourth time this year (4-0). Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 210-20 (.913) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.
RECRUITING CLASS: The Arizona coaching staff signed two student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent as part of the November early signing period. Rondae Jefferson (F, 6-7, 215) from Chester, Pa., who preps at Chester H.S.; and Elliott Pitts (G, 6-5, 180) from Dublin, Calif., who preps at De La Salle H.S.; make up a class that is ranked No. 18 nationally by espn.com.
UP NEXT: Following tonight’s game, Arizona will be idle for final exams and next will be in action on Saturday, Dec. 15, when the Cats host No. 6 Florida. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. MST and can be seen nationally on ESPN.