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Loaded West Regional Tips Thursday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/21/2011
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 21, 2011

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NCAA Tournament Central | CBS Sports Video Preview: Duke-Arizona

Date: Thursday, March 24, 2011
Time: 6:45 p.m. PDT
Location: Honda Center (17,608), Anaheim, Calif.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach/Ryan Hansen)
TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery/Lesley Visser)

Game Data:  No. 5 seed Arizona (29-7, 14-4 Pac-10) advances to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament and heads to Anaheim, Calif., to open play in the West Regional Semifinal against No. 1 seed Duke (32-4, 13-3 ACC) Thursday at the Honda Center ...  Not counting vacated appearances, this is UA's 27th NCAA Tournament appearance overall and the program has a 45-25 (.643) record in its previous NCAA Tournament action ... This is the Wildcats' 14th Sweet 16 appearance, and eight have been when playing in the West Region ... Twenty-eight of UA's 45 NCAA Tournament victories have come while playing in the West.

 

The Rankings:  UA has been ranked for seven consecutive weeks and currently (March 14) is No. 17 in the Associated Press and No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls.  UA's seven straight weeks in both national polls is the longest for a Pac-10 club in 2010-11.

 

Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller . . . is in his second season at the University of Arizona and his seventh overall as a college head coach with a record of 165-69 (.705) and 45-22 (.672) 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 their conference games, including an .813 winning percentage (39-9) in his last three seasons ... Miller has made 15 trips to the postseason in his 18 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (9 NCAA/6 NIT) and has an 8-4 (.667) 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 17 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, 42, earned a degree in communications from Pitt in 1992 ... He is assisted by Archie Miller, Emanuel Richardson and James Whitford ... Miller is 0-1 vs. Duke as a head coach.

 

Last Time Out:  In a game that featured four ties and two lead changes in the last three minutes, Arizona's Derrick Williams converted an and-one with nine seconds to go to give UA the lead, then the Wildcat defense held on for the 70-69 win over fourth-seeded Texas Sunday in Tulsa, Okla.  Solomon Hill (16 pts./8 reb.) and Jordin Mayes (16 pts./4-of-4 3-pt. FG) gave UA the offensive balance it needed in a game that it held the lead for 33:59, and the Cats hit 8-of-14 shots from three-point range in building as much as a 13-point cushion.

 

Scouting Duke:  The Atlantic Coast Conference postseason tournament champion Blue Devils enter tonight's game with a 32-4 record (13-3 ACC) following Sunday's 73-71 win over Michigan in Charlotte.  As a team, Duke shoots 47.2 percent from the field (1,013-of-2,148), including 37.4 percent (286-of-764) from three-point range, while averaging 81.0 points per game.  Opponents shoot at a 40.1 percent clip and are averaging 63.9 points per game.  Three Blue Devil players average in double figures, led by Nolan Smith's 21.0 ppg figure. Mason Plumlee leads the team with an 8.4 rebounds per game average.

 

The Series:  Tonight's game marks the eighth meeting of the two schools with Duke holding a 4-3 advantage.  The Blue Devils have won two straight meetings with the last being an 82-72 triumph on April 2, 2001, in the national championship game in Minneapolis, Minn.  All-time, Arizona is 2-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-1 in Durham, N.C., and 1-3 in neutral site games.  The 2001 meeting is the only one to occur in NCAA Tournament play.

 

Last Meeting:  Duke 82, Arizona 72, April 2, 2001:  Timely shooting and key rebounding down the stretch enabled Duke to defeat Arizona in the national championship game.  Duke's Mike Dunleavy hit three consecutive treys in a 45-second span to give the Blue Devils a 10-point lead with 16 minutes to go.  Led by Richard Jefferson, who scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half, UA answered numerous Duke runs and cut the deficit to 75-72 with three minutes to go but could get no closer.  Three second-chance possessions by Duke in the final minutes pushed the lead to 10 and sealed the win.  Loren Woods (22 pts./11 reb.) and Michael Wright (10 pts./11 reb.) each posted double-doubles for the Wildcats.

 

Against The Atlantic Coast Conference:  All-time, Arizona is 20-16 (.556) vs. Atlantic Coast Conference members. The Wildcats have faced at least one ACC opponent in five of the last six seasons. Arizona defeated North Carolina State, 72-62, in Raleigh on Dec. 19, 2010.  For a conference breakdown, see page 46 in the UA media guide.

 

Sweet 16:  Sunday's win over Texas clinched Arizona's 14th regional semifinal appearance.  The Wildcats have now made the Sweet 16 in each of its last two NCAA Tournament appearances and haave made five regional semifinals in the last 10 years.  In Sweet 16 action, Arizona has an 8-5 record.

 

A Tall Order: Arizona faces No. 1 seed Duke in Thursday's Midwest Regional semifinal.  Since the field expanded in 1985, Arizona has a 6-6 record against a No. 1 seed.  Interestingly, the Wildcats have more wins against a top seed than it does against any other seed in the tournament.  Those six wins are more than it has against seeds 2-4 combined (5).  The last time UA faced a No. 1 seed was March 27, 2009, in a 103-64 loss to Louisville.  Arizona was a 12 seed in that game.

 

Underdogs:  When looking at Arizona's tournament history, it hasn't played as a seeded underdog very often.  Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, Arizona has played a total of 67 NCAA Tournament games, and only 21 of those had Arizona as the lower seed.  UA has a 9-12 (.429) record in those contests.  Tangentially, UA won its first ever Round of 32 NCAA Tournament game as a lower seed Sunday vs. Texas.

 

House of Horrors:  Arizona has a 5-2 (.714) record all-time in Anaheim's Honda Center, picking up Wooden Classic wins in 1996-97, 2001-02 and 2004-05.  However, it's in the postseason that this building causes Cat fans much consternation, as two of Arizona's most crushing postseason defeats have come in this facility:  UA's 76-51 loss to Utah and its 78-75 loss to Kansas in the 1998 and 2003 West Regional Finals, respectively.  Searching for positives, Arizona is 2-0 in West Regional semifinal play in the Honda Center, winning those games by an average margin of 12.5 points.

 

The Sum Is Greater than its Parts:  With only one player averaging in double figures, it's no secret at this point that Arizona is a ball club that relies on just about everyone in order to be successful.  Sunday's win over Texas was a perfect example of that, as the UA bench outscored Texas, 28-25, and Jordin Mayes (16 points) and Brendon Lavender (8) scored more points vs. the Longhorns than they had since December.

 

Take Note: Arizona's 70-69 win over Texas Sunday gave the team its 29th victory of the season, which places this team in some select company.  There have only been five other teams in school history to win 29 or more games in a single season, and in the era of freshman eligibility (since 1972-73) only seven teams have had a higher winning percentage than the 2010-11 team (.806).  Furthermore, Arizona's 13-win improvement over last season equals the third-best single-season climb in UA annals.

 

This Guy Is Good:  Arizona head coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats clinched the Pac-10 regular season championship with a win over Oregon on March 8, which marked the fourth regular-season title (or share) for a Miller-coached team in the last five seasons.  The only blip was last season's 16-15 (10-8/4th Pac-10) debut at Arizona.  Dating back to his time at Xavier, Miller's charges have won the 2007 (co), `08 and `09 Atlantic 10 regular-season championships in addition to the 2011 Pac-10 title.  In that span, Miller has averaged better than 12 conference wins per season to go with a .750 (63-21) conference winning percentage.  Overall in that span, Miller's teams have averaged 25 wins per season.  Additionally, Miller has proven himself to be a savvy postseason mentor, helping Xavier to the 2008 West Regional final and 2009 East Regional semifinal prior to 2011.  His NCAA Tournament record is 8-4 (.667).

 

We're Kind of New at This:  The Arizona roster isn't exactly loaded with postseason experience.  In fact, entering the 2011 NCAA Tournament only four Wildcats had any postseason experience (10 game appearances/207 total minutes played).  To put that into perspective, of the 400 minutes logged by the Wildcats in this season's NCAA Tournament, just 24 percent (95 minutes) was garnered by Arizona players with previous postseason experience.

 

ALL-AMERICA:  To date, Derrick Williams has earned a pair of All-America honors, as the sophomore forward was a second-team selection by both the USBWA and foxsports.com.  Williams is the 25th Wildcat to earn a total of 88 All-America honors since 1950-51.  He is also a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, given to college basketball's player of the year, as voted by the USBWA.

 

ALL-DISTRICT:  Derrick Williams was also an all-district pick by both the USBWA and NABC.  The 6-foot-8 native of La Mirada, Calif., was a first-team all-District 20 selection by the NABC, as well as the district player of the year.  He was also an all-District IX selection by the NABC.  Furthermore, Sean Miller was the NABC District 20 Coach of the Year.

 

Pac-10 Honors:  Derrick Williams and Sean Miller were named Pacific-10 Conference Player and Coach of the Year, respectively, as the league announced its postseason honors March 7.  It marks the seventh time a Wildcat player has earned the honor, and the first since Jason Terry in 1999.  Miller joins Lute Olson as UA mentors to win Pac-10 Coach-of-the-Year honors.  A seven-time honoree, Olson last won the award in 2003.

 

A First:  When Arizona defeated Texas Sunday, it marked the first time in four tries this season that UA had defeated a nationally ranked opponent.  Secondly, it was the first time that the Wildcats defeated a top-10 opponent since a 69-64 defeat of then-No. 4 Gonzaga on Dec. 14, 2008.  Understanding that the polls aren't as meaningful once the tournament starts, it's worth noting that with No. 3 Duke up next, Arizona will face nationally ranked foes in back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 14 and 22, 2009.

 

Continued Improvement:  Arizona's two NCAA Tournament wins to date have come by a total of three points, and are further proof of a team's maturation.  The Cats are 8-2 this season in games decided by five points or less, a marked improvement over last season's 7-5 record.  The Wildcats average 76.4 points per game to date, a figure that is 4.5 ppg higher than the team's scoring average last season - Sean Miller's debut campaign in Tucson.  Additionally, the Wildcats are allowing 67.7 points per game, or 4.3 fewer points than last season.  That combined improvement helps explain why 17 of UA's 29 wins have been by 10 or more points with nine of those decided by 20-plus points.

 

ON The Mark:  Throughout most of 2010-11, Arizona has proven to be a more efficient ball club, shooting 47.0 percent from the field (911-of-1,940).  Arizona's field goal percentage through 36 games is 2.7 points higher than its season-long average of 44.3 percent last season.  All told, UA has shot 50 percent or better 12 times in 2010-11, nearly doubling the Cats' total of seven a year ago.  Good shooting is half the proverbial battle, as Arizona is 16-1 this season when outshooting the opposition and 30-3 when that occurs during the Sean Miller era.  However, during UA's postseason push, the team's field goal percentage has dropped to .449 (124-of-276).

College Boards:  Look no further than the rebounding totals for Arizona's key to victory, where Arizona is 21-1 when outrebounding the opposition, including an 11-0 mark in Pac-10 play.  On the season, Arizona posts a +3.6 rebound margin and have outrebounded foes by 10 rebounds or more.

 

Not at His Best:  He wasn't at his sharpest Sunday, but Derrick Williams was still pretty good, especially when it mattered most.  The 6-foot-8 sophomore forward endured his second-worst shooting night of the season (4-of-14) and hit just 9-of-15 free throws, but still managed to tally 17 points and nine rebounds to go with three assists (a season-high) and three steals.  His and-one field goal and resulting free throw with nine seconds remaining provided UA's winning margin.

 

Raising His Level:  Sophomore forward Solomon Hill enjoyed a solid weekend in Tulsa, as he averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals in a pair of games.  The Los Angeles native also shot .588 (10-of-17) from the field.  Sunday vs. Texas, Hill set new career highs with seven field goals in 12 attempts en route to 16 points and eight rebounds.  On the season, he averages 8.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

 

Unanticipated:  For a guy who hadn't reached double figures since Dec. 1, Jordin Mayes might have been the last person to provide a scoring burst, but that's what he did to Texas.  The 6-foot-2 freshman from Los Angeles hit 6-of-7 shots from the floor, including all four shots from three-point range to finish with 16 points.  In his first NCAA Tournament experience, Mayes blistered the nets with 88.9 percent shooting (8-of-9), including all five treys, and averaged 12.0 points per game.  On the year, Mayes averages 5.1 points per game, while shooting .451 (65-of-144) from the field.

 

From Behind the Arc:  As mentioned earlier, Arizona's field goal percentage has slipped a bit in the postseason, but one number that's actually risen is the team's three-point field goal percentage.  In five postseason games (counting the Pac-10 Tournament), Arizona has connected on 39-of-94 (.415) three-point shots, a figure that is nearly two percentage points higher than the season-long percentage (.399).  The trey was a key weapon against Texas, as the Cats connected on 57.1 percent (8-of-14) of its treys and outscored the Longhorns, 24-9, from behind the arc.  In the first half of that game, half of Arizona's 12 field goals were treys.

 

Follow that Guy:  It's neither surprising nor unexpected that sophomore forward Derrick Williams leads Arizona in scoring (19.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg) this season.  What is worth pointing out is that the 6-foot-8 native of La Mirada, Calif., is shooting an impressive 60.0 percent (210-of-350) from the field through 36 games to go with a .581 percentage (36-of-62) from three-point range.  He's attempted more free throws (313) than any player in the country, leads Arizona in blocks (25) and steals (35) and has 12 double-doubles.

 

Steady:  Arizona's Kyle Fogg enters Thursday's game trying to reach a milestone and extend a streak.  Fogg, UA's leader in assists (2.7 apg) needs four assists to reach 100 for the season.  If he does so, it would extend a streak that has seen every UA assist leader since 1984-85 reach the century mark.

 

Scoring 80:  Arizona scored 90 points March 5 vs. Oregon, topping the 80-point plateau for the 13th time this year (13-0).  Arizona scored 80 in 10 of 17 home games this season.  Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 199-19 (.913) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.

 

In March:  Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Arizona has a 61-30 (.670) record in the month of March.  In that span, 40 of those games have been played in the NCAA Tournament and UA is 28-12 (.700) in them.  In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 8-3 (.727) in March.

 

Early Signees:  The Arizona coaching staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letter-of-Intent in the November early signing period.  Nick Johnson (G, 6-2, 180) from Gilbert, Ariz., who preps at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev.; Sidiki Johnson (F, 6-8, 220) from the Bronx, N.Y, who preps at Wadleigh H.S. in Harlem; and Josiah Turner (G, 6-3, 185) from Sacramento, Calif., who preps at Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C.; make up a class that was ranked in the top-10 nationally by both espn.com and rivals.com.

 

Up Next:  A win tonight moves Arizona into Saturday's West Regional final against the San Diego State-Connecticut winner.  Game time is TBA.

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