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Cats and 'Jacks Meet Tuesday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 10/31/2011
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Oct. 31, 2011

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Date: Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011
Time: 6:30 p.m. PDT
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FS Arizona (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)

GAME DATA: Arizona (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12) hosts Humboldt State (0-0) in its second exhibition game prior to the start of the 2011-12 season Tuesday in McKale Center ... Humboldt State is an NCAA Division II institution located in Arcata, Calif. ... Last year, the Lumberjacks posted a 26-4 record overall and a 21-2 league mark ... UA opens the regular season in McKale Center on Monday, Nov. 7, against Valparaiso as part of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST.

THE RANKINGS: UA opens 2011-12 ranked No. 16 in preseason editions of the AP and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. It is the first time that the Cats open the year with a national ranking since 2007-08. UA closed 2010-11 ranked No. 9 by the coaches.

ARIZONA HEAD COACH Sean Miller . . . begins his third season at the University of Arizona and his eighth overall as a college head coach with a record of 166-70 (.703) and 46-23 (.667) at Arizona ... 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 ... He was named Pac-10 Conference and NABC District 20 Coach of the Year ... 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 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, 17 of 18 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 James Whitford, Emanuel Richardson and Joe Pasternack.

LAST TIME OUT: NCAA Division-II Seattle Pacific outshot and outrebounded Arizona to earn a 69-68 exhibition win last Thursday. The Falcons connected on 26-of-49 attempts (.531) from the field and posted a 29-20 rebound edge in building as much as a 13-point lead. Arizona managed to claw itself back into the game, courtesy of a 24-10 scoring run, and actually took a lead twice, but SPU made all the necessary plays down the stretch to earn the win and hand Arizona its first exhibition loss since Nov. 19, 1984. Freshman Nick Johnson, one of three Cats in double figures, led Arizona with 18 points.

SCOUTING HUMBOLDT STATE: Coached by Steve Kinder, the Lumberjacks return three starters and 10 letterwinners from last season's 26-4 club that also won the California Collegiate Athletic Association. HSU is led by senior forward Randy Hunter, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound player who averaged 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in 2010-11 and is a preseason D-II honorable mention All-American according to The Sporting News. Last season, SPU averaged 74.9 points per game, shot 45.6 percent (735-of-1,611) from the floor and outrebounded the opposition by 2.8 rebounds per game. A trio of `Jacks amounted for 61.2 percent of the team's points a year ago, and two of those players have graduated. Humboldt State defeated Simpson University, 96-46, in an exhibition game on Oct. 28. Hunter led all players with 21 points and seven rebounds.

THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the first meeting of Arizona and Humboldt State. All time, Arizona has a 7-5 record against California Collegiate Athletic Association teams, having previously faced Cal Poly Pomona (2-0), Cal State-Los Angeles (4-5) and San Francisco State (1-0). Additionally, the Wildcats hosted CCAA member Sonoma State in three exhibition games: Nov. 11, 2004 (105-80), Nov. 9, 2005 (103-63) and Nov. 12, 2008 (78-54).

RANKED FOES: Once again, tonight's game can certainly qualify as one of those early season match-ups of nationally ranked squads, as both clubs carry preseason rankings. Arizona enters the contest ranked No. 16 in the preseason Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls, while Humboldt State is ranked No. 21 among Division II teams in The Basketball Bulletin's preseason poll.

LET'S GET IT OUT OF THE WAY EARLY: Arizona's 69-68 loss last Thursday to Seattle Pacific was the Wildcats' first exhibition loss since Nov. 19, 1984, when the club dropped an 81-80 decision to Athletes in Action. While the 2011-12 Wildcats trailed by as many as 13 before staging a comeback, the 1984-85 Cats squandered a 19-point halftime lead in the contest. Brian Kellybrew, Tracy Jackson and Mark Radford combined for 32 second-half points as AIA outscored Arizona 47-27 in the period. The 1984-85 Arizona squad wound up with a 21-10 record, tied for third in the Pac-10 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Lute Olson.

AN AREA IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT: Arizona allowed Seattle Pacific to shoot 53.1 percent from the floor (26-of-49) last Thursday, including 14-of-24 (.583) in the opening stanza. By comparison, UA allowed the opposition to shoot 50 percent or better from the floor just nine times in 38 games last season. Additionally, one area that Sean Miller had indicated needed improvement in the preseason was the team's two-point field goal percentage defense. However, Seattle Pacific managed to connect on 61.7 percent (21-of-34) of its two-point FG attempts last Thursday.

BEATEN ON THE BOARDS: Bolstered by a 10-6 margin on the offensive glass, Seattle Pacific posted a 29-20 rebound advantage in last Thursday's game. It was the biggest rebound disparity for the Wildcats since Washington outrebounded UA, 43-32, in the Pac-10 Tournament final on March 12. All told, Arizona was outrebounded just 14 times in 38 games a year ago and posted a +4.0 rebound margin on the season.

ONCE THEY GOT IT GOING: After struggling through a first half that saw the Cats shoot just 39.1 percent (9-of-23), Arizona did find its shooting eye in the second half, boosting the field goal percentage to 55.2 (16-of-29) in the period. Freshman Nick Johnson led the way by hitting 6-of-8 shots after the break. The effort helped UA shoot a respectable .481 (25-of-52) for the game.

THAT USUALLY WORKS: Led by Josiah Turner's team-high four assists, Arizona managed a positive assist:turnover ratio Thursday. Usually, a positive ratio results in good things for the Wildcats, as the club was 19-3 when accomplishing the feat in 2010-11.

FROM THE POINT: Josiah Turner tallied seven points, four assists and a blocked shot in 26 minutes vs. Seattle Pacific. The 6-foot-3 freshman from Sacramento, Calif., hit 3-of-5 shots from the floor as fiive of his seven points came in the second half.

A GOOD NUMBER: Arizona did manage to force 17 Seattle Pacific turnovers last Thursday, which helped the Wildcats gain a 24-14 advantage in turnover points, including a 14-6 bonus in the second half. Last season, Arizona forced an average of 12.7 turnovers per game and went 19-3 in games in which it forced more turnovers than it committed.

ASSISTS FROM PERRY: Jesse Perry finished in double figures Thursday with 10 points. The 6-foot-7 senior from St. Louis, Mo., hit 4-of-8 shots from the floor and added three assists and a pair of rebounds. Perry's assist total in the exhibition was equal to his career high.

HEATING UP: Guard Nick Johnson put forth a solid effort Thursday, finishing with a team-high 18 points vs. Seattle Pacific. The 6-foot-2 freshman from Gilbert, Ariz., connected on 7-of-11 field goal attempts, including 3-of-5 from three-point range in 21 total minutes of action. Johnson was especially good after the break, as he tallied 15 of his 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the period.

ALL-AROUND EFFORT: Junior Solomon Hill might have played Arizona's most complete game Thursday in totaling 16 points, six rebounds and four steals against Seattle Pacific. The 6-foot-6 forward from Los Angeles, Calif., hit 5-of-7 shots from the floor, 5-of-6 from the line, grabbed a game-high six rebounds and collected four steals. For good measure, Hill also added an assist and a block without a turnover in 30 minutes played.

BIG MINUTES: Junior center Kyryl Natyazhko collected seven points, a rebound and an assist against Seattle Pacific. The big number for the 6-foot-11 native of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, was 24 minutes played. The was the most action he has logged in an Arizona uniform, one more than his total in his collegiate debut vs. Northern Arizona on Nov. 15, 2009.

NOTEWORTHY: Josiah Turner was included on the Wayman Tisdale Award preseason watch list, the United States Basketball Writers Association announced Oct. 20. Turner, a 6-foot-3, 192-pound guard from Sacramento, Calif., was one of 12 first-year players in contention for national freshman-of-the-year honors. Also, Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn named Turner the No. 5 "Freshman of Instant Impact" among 16 first-year players nationally.

IT'S ANYONE'S GUESS: According to media members who regularly cover the league, Arizona was picked to finish third in this season's Pac-12 Conference race. The Wildcats received 404 points and 11 first-place vote (see chart at left), trailing UCLA and California. The 404 points earned is the most since 2005-06, the last time UA was predicted to win. Historically speaking, Arizona has been the preseason favorite 11 times in the last 22 years.

UP NEXT: Arizona will next be in action on Monday, Nov. 7, when the Cats host Valparaiso as part of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. Tip-off in McKale Center is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST and will be televised by ESPNU.

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