Nov. 8, 2011
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011
Time: 7 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach) [Sirius/XM: 93/191]
TV: ESPN2 (Dave Fleming/Miles Simon)
GAME DATA: No. 16 Arizona (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) hosts Duquesne (0-0, 0-0 A-10) Wednesday in McKale Center as part of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer’s Tucson Regional ... It’s almost as if conference play is upon us as the Cats get set to play again with only a day of preparation ... Arizona looks to build on the positives of Monday’s nine-point, season-opening win ... Sean Miller faces a familiar foe from his A-10 days in Duquesne, against whom he was 4-2 while at Xavier.
THE RANKINGS: UA opens the 2011-12 season ranked No. 16 in preseason editions of the Associated Press 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 . . . is in his third season at the University of Arizona and his eighth overall as a college head coach with a record of 167-70 (.705) and 47-23 (.671) 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 ... He is assisted by James Whitford, Emanuel Richardson and Joe Pasternack.
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona opened the second half with a 16-3 burst to break things open en route to a 73-64 win Monday over Valparaiso in the opening round of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. The Cats were 6-of-11 from the field in the run that covered the first 8:08, but forced the Crusaders to miss all eight shots and commit five turnovers in the span. With three players in double figures, Arizona built as much as a 20-point lead in the game. Kyle Fogg led Arizona with 16 points, while Jesse Perry added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
SCOUTING DUQUESNE: Seven lettermen and three starters return from a club that went 19-13 last year for head coach Ron Everhart. The Dukes are led by T.J. McConnell, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard from Pittsburgh, Pa., who averaged 10.8 points and 2.8 steals per game in 2010-11. Last season, DU averaged 77.9 points per game, shot 45.8 percent from the field (872-of-1,905) and was outrebounded by the opposition by a -2.9 margin. Duquesne defeated Millersville, 101-43, and Shepherd, 79-54, in its two exhibition games.
THE SERIES: Tonight’s game is the fourth meeting of two schools with Duquesne holding a 3-1 advantage in the series, which dates back to Jan. 2, 1948. The Dukes won the first three meetings of the series – all in Pittsburgh – by a combined 11 points before the Wildcats torched DU, 133-78, at the Great Alaska Shootout in the opening game of the 1987-88 season. All-time, Arizona is 0-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-3 in Pittsburgh, and 1-0 in neutral-site games. Please see page 47 of the UA media guide for more series information.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 133, Duquesne 78, Nov. 27, 1987: Arizona opened the 1987 Great Alaska Shootout with a 55-point blitzing of Duquesne. The Wildcats shot 62.8 percent (54-of-86) from the field, passed out 30 assists (against only 10 turnovers) and placed six players in double figures, led by Sean Elliott’s 26 points. UA, who set a school record for points in the contest, tallied 70 points in the second half alone. Coach Lute Olson said after the game, “We got off to a slow start...when we picked up the tempo, we played better.”
AGAINST THE ATLANTIC-10: All-time, Arizona is 16-8 (.667) against schools that currently reside in the Atlantic-10 Conference. The last time the Wildcats faced an A-10 opponent was Dec. 30, 2004, when Arizona defeated Richmond, 84-71, in Tucson in the championship game of the Fiesta Bowl Classic presented by Bank One. For a conference breakdown, see page 50 in the UA media guide.
THREE-GUARD MINUTES: Hypothetically speaking, if Arizona were to use a three-guard rotation for a full game that would be 120 total minutes of guard play. The Cats’ five rotation guards played a total of 109 minutes Monday against Valparaiso, led by Kyle Fogg with 30, while Nick Johnson added 25 off the bench. Josiah Turner started and logged 21 and Jordin Mayes (18) and Brendon Lavender (15) also rotated as top substitutes.
POURING IN POINTS: Arizona’s guards chipped in 62 percent of the scoring against the Crusaders – 45 of 73 points – led by Fogg’s 16 and 14 from Nick Johnson. Other than a coolish night from the field by Turner (1-of-6), the rest of the quintet of guards combined to connect on 10-of-18 (.556) from the field and all combined for a 50-percent night (4-of-8) beyond the arc. Last season, Arizona’s guards accounted for 34.6 percent of the Wildcat offense.
ON TARGET: The Wildcat guards bolstered the team effort in the second half, as the backcourt guys were a combined 6-of-9 from the floor in a half that saw UA shoot 12-of-20 (.600) as a team. The 60-percent stanza enabled Arizona to shoot 47.9 percent for the game (23-of-48), and most importantly, outshoot the opposition, .479-.404. Why does this figure loom so large? During the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 32-3 (.914) when shooting better than the opposition.
A BIT OF A LETDOWN: Arizona margin of victory Monday belies the fact that Arizona had done a good job defensively for most of the second half. Through the first 16 minutes of the second period, Arizona limited Valpo to 15 points on just 6-of-20 shooting. In the last four minutes, the Crusaders hit 6-of-8 shots and went on a 19-11 run, which cut what was a 62-45 lead to the final margin of nine. Through the first 36 minutes of the game, Valparaiso shot 34.1 percent (15-of-44) from the field.
HELLO OLD FRIEND: Sean Miller and Ron Everhart renew a sideline rivalry that stretches back to Miller’s time as the Xavier head coach. During Miller’s tenure at Xavier (2004-09), the Musketeers were 1-2 against the Everhart-led Dukes. Here are the dates and results: Jan. 31, 2007 (L, 93-91 at Duquesne), Feb. 21, 2008 (W, 75-48 at Xavier) and Feb. 7, 2009 (L, 72-68 at Duquesne).
ON THE GLASS: Led by Jesse Perry, who posted his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Angleo Chol, Arizona outrebounded Valparaiso, 34-32. Perry and Chol accounted for 16 of the Cats’ 34 boards. Winning the rebound battle is always a good sign. Last year, for example, Arizona was 22-2 when outrebounding its opponent.
TOEING THE LINE: UA lost a master of free throws, Derrick Williams, to the NBA draft. He led the league and the nation in free throw attempts, and sank a vast majority of them. Without his presence inside, a first-game look at where free-throw shooting could come from in 2011-12 appears to center on the backcourt, where a trio (N. Johnson/Fogg/Turner) got to the line a combined 25 times, knocking down 19 (.760), in the season opener on Monday. Williams went to the line an average of nine times a game in 2010-11, but outside-in penetration appears to be the ticket to toeing the line for Arizona this season.
WORTH NOTING: Kyle Fogg led hit Arizona teammates with 16 points Monday, notching the 40th double-figure scoring game of his career. In his four seasons in Tucson, it was the most points the 6-foot-3 senior guard has tallied in a season-opening game. Additionally, Jesse Perry’s 14-point outing was the 10th of his career.
NICE DEBUT: Freshman guard Nick Johnson put forth a nice effort in his collegiate debut, totaling 14 points, three rebounds and six assists in 25 minutes. The 6-foot-2 native of Gilbert, Ariz., connected on 8-of-9 free throws in the game, including 6-of-6 in the second half, and was 2-of-2 from behind the arc.
... AND ANOTHER: Just mere days after shifting from power forward to center, freshman Angelo Chol represented himself well, posting six points, six rebounds, four steals and an assist. The 6-foot-9 native of Khartoum, Sudan, hit 3-of-5 shots from the floor in 23 minutes of action. By comparison, four steals in a single game was the individual season high a year ago, and Chol’s efforts helped Arizona collect 10 steals in the game.
CAPITALIZING ON AN OPPORTUNITY: The goal of any reserve player is to give a lift off the bench, and Jordin Mayes certainly exemplified that role on Monday. The sophomore point guard from Los Angeles, Calif., scored all eight of his points in the key 16-3 run to open the second half on Monday. Mayes netted a pair of treys in the burst that covered 8:08, and added a career-high three steals in 18 minutes played.
CONVERSION RATE: The bright lights of the regular season seemed to aid Arizona’s focus at the free throw line, as the Cats connected on 71.9 percent (23-of-32) of its charity attempts. That 71.9 percent figure was markedly better than the club’s 60.7 percent accuracy rate in the two exhibitions. It should also be noted that UA outscored Valpo by six from the line, while earning eight more trips to the stripe.
CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM: Seasons aren’t made after just one game, but it was nice to see Kyle Fogg’s shooting eye return on Monday, as the senior connected on 5-of-7 (.714) field goal attempts vs. Valparaiso. A year ago, he shot just 37.3 percent from the floor (94-of-252), but managed to lead the team in three-point FGs made (50).
IN NOVEMBER: Fast starts have become a regular occurrence for the Wildcats. The program is a cumulative 73-21 (.777) in the month of November over the last 27 seasons. Those numbers are even more impressive considering the strength of the opposition, as more than 30 percent of those foes (29 of 94) were nationally ranked at the time of the game. In those contests, Arizona is 18-11 (.621).
MADE THE LIST: 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: This season-opening, three-game homestand closes Sunday, Nov. 13, as the Wildcats host Ball State. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. MST and can be seen on KWBA-TV and FS Arizona.