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Cats Face SDSU in Diamond Head Classic Title Game
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/24/2012
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Dec. 24, 2012

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Date: Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012
Time: 4:30 p.m. HST
Location: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300), Honolulu, Hawaii
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: ESPN2 (Roxy Bernstein/Miles Simon)

GAME DATA: Fourth-ranked Arizona (11-0, 0-0 Pac-12) appears in the championship game of the 2012 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, where it will face 18th-ranked San Diego State (11-1, 0-0 MWC) ... It marks Arizona's second game this season against a ranked opponent ... For the first time since this series started in 1945, UA and SDSU meet on a neutral site ... Separated by just 367 miles, the Cats and Aztecs meet roughly 2,600 miles from the U.S. mainland ... Neither team is allowing more than 58.5 points per game or 39 percent shooting to its opponents ... The teams have also combined to win 22 consecutive games and have tallied 80 or more points eight times in 2012-13 ... All-time, Arizona is 19-9 (.679) in games played in Hawaii.

THE RANKINGS: UA is ranked fourth in the Associated Press poll and fifth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats' No. 4 ranking is the highest for the program under Sean Miller, and the first time UA has been ranked in the top five in both polls since coming in at No. 3 in each on Jan. 5, 2004.

ARIZONA HEAD COACH Joe Pasternack ... Miller is 0-2 vs. San Diego State as a head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: A Kevin Parrom trey with 12:35 to go in the first half gave Arizona the lead for good and ignited an 18-8 run that allowed Arizona to take control of what eventually became a 69-50 UA win over Miami, Fla., Sunday in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic. UA shot 52 percent from the field in the first half, dominated the glass, 46-20, and limited UM to 36.5 percent shooting. The Cats, who built as much as a 26-point lead, held a double-figure lead for the last 23:37. Mark Lyons scored 19 points, Nick Johnson added 12 and Kaleb Tarczewski pulled down 13 rebounds.

SCOUTING SAN DIEGO STATE: The Aztecs enter this evening's game with an 11-1 record (0-0 MWC) following a 62-55 win Sunday over Indiana State. On the season, SDSU averages 72.6 points per game, shoots 45.5 percent from the floor (305-of-671), 36.2 percent (79-of-218) from three-point range and 66.2 percent (182-of-275) from the line. Opponents average 57.1 points, are outrebounded by 4.5 per game and shoot 38.3 percent from the floor (263-of-687). Individually, three Aztec players average in double figures, led by Jamaal Franklin's 17.9 ppg figure. Franklin also leads San Diego State in rebounding at 9.9 rebounds per game.

THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the 28th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 20-7 advantage in the series, which dates back to Dec. 27, 1945. The Aztecs have won two straight in the series, including the last meeting, 61-57, in Tucson on Nov. 23, 2011. Prior to that game, UA had won seven straight and 12 of 13 in the series. All-time, Arizona is 14-2 in series games played in Tucson, 6-5 in San Diego, and 0-0 in neutral-site games. For more series information, see page 48 in the UA media guide.

LAST MEETING: San Diego State 61, Arizona 57, Nov. 23, 2011: San Diego State sprinted to a 21-4 lead and Arizona never recovered. The Cats did manage to cut it to two at the break before falling behind by double figures again in the second half only to make it close at the end. While Arizona outrebounded SDSU and committed fewer turnovers, the Aztecs, led by Chase Tapley, made every play when it mattered and ended Arizona's 22-game homecourt win streak.

A WIN TODAY: would equal Arizona's best start to a season since the 1987-88 squad opened the season 12-0. Prior to 1987-88, the best start for the Wildcat cagers came in 1931-32, when Coach Fred A. Enke's club won its first 16 games en route to an 18-2 campaign. A win today would also give Arizona its first in-season tournament championship since the Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic on Dec. 19 & 21, 2005. The last time UA won an in-season event in which it didn't serve as the host was the Coaches vs. Cancer IKON Classic, where Arizona defeated No. 2 Maryland, 71-67, and No. 5 Florida, 75-71, on Nov. 8-9, 2001, in New York City.

WORTH NOTING ... Sunday's win was the 200th career victory in the collegiate coaching career of Sean Miller. He carries a 200-82 (.709) record in eight-plus seasons as a head coach. He posted a 120-47 (.719) in five seasons at Xavier and is 80-35 (.696) in three-plus seasons at Arizona. Since taking over at Arizona, Sean Miller is 6-0 against ACC opponents.

AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: Today's game marks Arizona's second of the season against a nationally ranked opponent. Previously, the Wildcats defeated No. 5 Florida, 65-64, in Tucson on Dec. 15. The last time UA defeated a ranked opponent in a road or neutral-site game during the regular season came on Dec. 14, 2008, when Arizona topped No. 4 Gonzaga, 69-64, in Phoenix, Ariz. Sean Miller is 4-7 (.364) against nationally ranked opponents since coming to Tucson.

CONTROLLING THE GLASS: To say Arizona controlled the boards Sunday vs. Miami might be a bit of an understatement, as the Wildcats posted a 46-20 rebound advantage. Freshman Kaleb Tarczewski collected six offensive and seven defensive rebounds en route to a game-high 13 rebounds, and either total would have led the Hurricanes. Additionally, Arizona had four players pull down five or more rebounds, while Miami had none. The last time Arizona posted a rebound advantage of +26 or more came on Dec. 17, 2006, when the Wildcats outrebounded Houston, 58-26, on the way to an 87-62 win. Arizona has outrebounded its last 10 opponents and nine of those have been by 10 or more. On the season, Arizona enjoys an +11.3 rebound advantage.

FREE THROWS COULD BE TELLING: Free throws, or the lack thereof, could loom large in the Diamond Head Classic finale, as both teams use the stripe to its advantage. Arizona averages 22.7 free throws per game (makes 17.4 per game), while San Diego State averages 22.9 FTs per game (makes 15.2 per game). Arizona shoots 76.4 percent from the charity stripe, while SDSU checks in at 66.2 percent.

IN RESERVE: Led by Kevin Parrom's 11 points, the Wildcats got 22 points from its bench and outscored Miami 22-1 in that category. Through 11 games, Arizona outscores the opposition by an average of 7.2 points per game when it comes to bench points.

FINDING THE RANGE: Arizona got off to a good start Sunday, connecting on 14-of-27 field goals (.519) in the first half, including 6-of-11 (.545) from three-point range. The Cats ended up shooting a respectable .481 (25-of-52) from the floor, it's second-best shooting night in the last six games. Included in the effort was 8-of-18 shooting (.444) from three-point range, as five different Cats sand at last one trey. The UA starters hit 18-of-35 (.514) shots from the floor against the Hurricanes. On the season, UA shoots a cumulative .486 (284-of-584) from the field.

SETTING A TONE: Guard Mark Lyons scored Arizona's first five points and added 14 others the rest of the way in sharing game-high honors with 19 points. The 6-foot-1 senior hit 7-of-12 field goals and added three to go with four assists. Through 11 games, Lyons leads Arizona with a 13.8 ppg average and now shares the team lead with 35 assists (3.2 apg).

MAKE A STATEMENT: As was the case Sunday, UA held an opponent to less than 60 points. Eight times to date this season, Arizona has limited to fewer than 60 points.

ALWAYS ON THE RUN: Arizona has displayed a knack for timely runs so far this season. Sunday against Miami, the Wildcats used an 18-8 run to break things open the first half. Here is a look at UA's notable 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
25-8 run over 8:41 (1st) vs. East Tennessee State, Dec. 22
22-7 run over 8:56 (2nd) at Clemson, Dec. 8
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
11-0 run over 3:13 (2nd) vs. Oral Roberts, Dec. 18
18-8 run over 7:48 (1st) vs. Miami, Dec. 23
14-4 run over 5:48 (2nd) vs. Southern Miss, Dec. 4

UP NEXT: Arizona opens Pac-12 Conference action on Thursday, Jan. 3, when the Cats host Colorado. Tip-off in McKale Center is scheduled for 6 p.m. MST and can be seen on ESPNU.

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