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Late Night at McKale: Cats & Cougs Tip at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on FSN
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/23/2012
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 23, 2012

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Date: Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012
Time: 8:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,538), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach) [Sirius/XM: 94/193]
TV: FOX Sports Net (Kevin Calabro/Marques Johnson)

GAME DATA: Arizona (13-7, 4-3 Pac-12) opens a two-game homestand against the Washington schools by hosting Washington State (11-8, 3-4 Pac-12) Thursday at McKale Center ... Tonight's game could be an interesting battle of strengths as the Cougars rank third in the Pac-12 with a .478 field goal percentage, while the Wildcats rank second in the league with a .403 field goal percentage defense figure ... Arizona is 8-1 this season when scoring 70 or more points and Washington State allows an average of 74.3 points per game in Pac-12 play.

THE RANKINGS: UA remains unranked in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls this week.

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 179-77 (.699) and 59-30 (.663) 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 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 ... He is assisted by James Whitford, Emanuel Richardson and Joe Pasternack ... Miller is 2-2 vs. Washington State as a head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: In a tightly contested game that featured 10 ties and 10 lead changes, Arizona did just about everything it could to win except to make shots in a 64-63 loss Saturday at Colorado. UA outrebounded CU, 44-35, including an 18-9 edge offensively, and got to the free throw line 30 times, but could not overcome 34.5 percent shooting, a figure that included 3-of-20 shooting from three-point range. UA rallied from a five-point deficit with 3:52 to go but could not convert a game-winner on the final possession.

SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars enter tonight's game with an 11-8 record (3-4 Pac-12) following Saturday's 77-75 win over California. On the year, Washington State averages 71.7 points, shoots 47.8 percent from the floor (467-of-976), 37.7 percent (127-of-337) from three-point range and 71.2 percent (301-of-423) from the line. Opponents average 66.5 points, are outrebounded by 0.3 boards per game and shoot 41.6 percent from the floor (443-of-1,066). Individually, two WSU players average in double-figures, led by Brock Motum's 15.4 ppg average. Motum also leads the Cougs with a 6.3 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the 70th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 53-16 series advantage. Arizona has won 46 of the last 52 meetings in the series, which dates back to Dec. 22, 1959, including the last, a 79-70 win on Feb. 17, 2011, in Tucson. All-time, Arizona is 26-8 in series games played in Tucson, 22-8 in Pullman, Wash., and 5-0 in neutral-site games. For more series information, please see page 50 in the UA media guide.

LAST MEETING: Arizona 79, Washington State 70, Feb. 17, 2011: Led by Derrick Williams, Arizona outshot (.481-.433) and outrebounded Washington State (35-28) on the way to a nine-point win. Williams connected on 7-of-10 field goals and 12-of-12 free throws to lead a UA effort that connected on 24-of-26 free throws and outscored WSU, 24-11, from the stripe. Williams finished with 26 points and a game-high eight boards, while Solomon Hill added 12 points and five rebounds and Kyle Fogg passed out a season-high seven assists.

FLOOR LEADER: Jesse Perry guided Arizona to a split in two games last week by averaging 13.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists as the Cats moved to 2-2 on the road in conference play. The senior forward connected on 42.9 percent of his field goals (9-of-21) and 8-of-12 (.667) free throws to go with three assists, a block and two steals in 61 total minutes played. Included in the effort was Perry's seventh double-double this season and the first 20-point, 10-rebound game of his career. He opened the week with six points, 10 boards and two steals Thursday at Utah and added a game-high 20 points (6-of-13 FG) and 10 rebounds to go with a career-high three assists Saturday at Colorado. Perry also set new career highs in free throws made (8) and free throws attempted (11) against the Buffs. It was also his third 20-point game this year. On the year, he averages 11.9 points, 7.5 boards and 1.2 assists per game.

EN GARDE: The Wildcat defense limited foes last week to an average of 57.5 points and a cumulative .406 (41-of-101) field goal percentage in those two games. On the season, UA opponents are averaging just 62.0 points per game and a .403 (449-of-1,115) field goal percentage. For perspective, the 62.0 points per game allowed is the lowest figure for the program since the 1984-85 Wildcat squad allowed 60.3 points per game. Further, UA's field goal percentage defense figure of .406 is the best since the 2000-01 team allowed a .397 (862-of-2,174) figure.

BOARD WORK: Arizona also did a nice job on the boards in two games this week, outrebounding Utah and Colorado by a cumulative 83-64 tally. On the season, UA has outrebounded 15 of 20 opponents to date, including six of seven Pac-12 opponents. Overall, Arizona carries a +2.9 rebound margin through 20 games, and that figure rises to +3.9 in conference play, ranking second among Pac-12 programs.

SIMILAR FEATURES: However, Arizona lost Saturday's game at Colorado despite outrebounding the Buffaloes, 44-35. It marks the first time Arizona has lost a game with as big of a rebound advantage since March 26, 2011, when UA lost the NCAA West Regional final to Connecticut, 65-53, despite posting a 42-31 edge on the glass. Not surprisingly, the two games share a common theme: against Connecticut Arizona posted a .393 field goal percentage (24-of-61), including a 4-of-21 effort from three-point range, while the Cats hit just 34.5 percent of its attempts (19-of-55) at Colorado, including 3-of-20 from three-point range.

GETTING BETTER: Another Cat who put forth a good effort this week was junior swingman Kevin Parrom, who averaged 9.0 points and 4.5 boards to go with four assists and a blocked shot. He connected on 7-of-15 (.467) field goal attempts, a clip that is nearly nine percentage points better than his 37.8 FG percentage (28-of-74) on the year. In 18 appearances, Parrom averages 4.6 points and 2.8 boards per game.

WHY IT MATTERS: Obviously, field goal percentage went a long way toward determining Saturday's result, as the Wildcats connected on just 19-of-55 attempts (.345), including a season-low 25.9 percent (7-of-27) in the second half. On the year, Arizona is 11-1 when outshooting the opposition, and just 2-6 when it does not. Additionally, Arizona has failed to shoot 40 percent from the floor four times in 2011-12, and not surprisingly, the Cats have lost three of those games. The only time that Arizona has failed to break the 40-percent plateau and won came on Nov. 13 in a 73-63 win over Ball State when UA sank 17-of-43 (.395) field goal attempts.

LONG DISTANCE ADVANTAGE: Since Sean Miller's arrival in 2009-10, UA has prided itself on its ability to defend the three-point shot, which makes Saturday's result more of an anomaly in that an opponent posted a higher three-point FG percentage than the Cats. In fact, that's happened just 15 times over the last two seasons (58 games) - or 26 percent of the time - and just three times in 2011-12. Since the start of the 2009-10 season, Arizona has hit on 37.8 percent (639-of-1,692) of its three-point attempts, while limiting foes to 29.4 percent shooting (455-of-1,544) from long range. Additionally, UA averages 2.1 more made treys per game than the opposition in that 89-game span.

DOUBLING UP: Saturday's game saw two Arizona players collect double-doubles, as Jesse Perry posted 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Solomon Hill registered 10 points and 10 boards. Perry (7) and Hill (6) have accounted for all 13 of UA's double-doubles this season, and it marked the first time this season that the Cats have had two double-doubles in the same game. It's the first time that has happened since Jan. 31, 2009, when Chase Budinger (19 pts./11 reb.) and Jordan Hill (16/16) accomplished the feat against Washington State.

ASSISTING THE CAUSE: Arizona's 28 assists against 20 turnovers this week against Utah and Colorado was a plus on a number of fronts. First, UA's positive assist:turnover ratio helped to reverse a trend that saw UA with a 67:76 ratio in Pac-12 play entering last week. Secondly, the average of 10 turnovers per game was five fewer than the Wildcats' per game figure in conference action entering play that week. Through 20 games, Arizona averages 12.9 turnovers per game.

STRAIGHT SHOOTER: In a week in which the Wildcat shooting percentages went downhill from one game to the next, Josiah Turner was the lone UA player to attempt a field goal in both contests last week and shoot 50 percent or better from the floor in each, as the 6-foot-3 freshman guard connected on a modest 5-of-9 (.556) field goal attempts in the games at Utah and Colorado. Over the last nine games, Turner has hit 45.2 percent of his field goal attempts (19-of-42).

NEXT STEP: Make no mistake, Arizona did a number of things well in Saturday's loss, including season-high totals of 18 offensive and 44 total rebounds, getting to the free throw line 30 times - just the second time that's happened in the last 17 games - and holding Colorado to 11 points less than it had averaged in four previous Pac-12 home games. Sean Miller talks often about "honoring the process," - continuing to do things the proper way each time out. And while the Cats continue to show improvements in many areas, especially on the defensive end, UA next needs to improve on closing games out. On the year, Arizona is 0-3 in games decided by five points or less, and two of those losses have come in the last three outings.

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS: Arizona's rebounding efforts this week certainly aided a squad with the additional or extended possessions that come with offensive rebounds. In the pair of games on the Rocky Mountain road swing, Arizona boasted a +9.5 rebound margin that included a 28-15 advantage on the offensive glass. That effort led to a 29-23 edge in second chance points for the week. Individually, seven of Jesse Perry's 20 rebounds in the two games were offensive, while six of Solomon Hill's 14 caroms came on the offensive end.

RECRUITING CLASS: The Arizona coaching staff signed four student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent as part of the November early signing period. Brandon Ashley (F, 6-8, 215) from Oakland, Calif., who preps at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev.; Grant Jerrett (F, 6-10, 220) from LaVerne, Calif., who preps at LaVerne Lutheran H.S.; Kaleb Tarczewski (C, 7-0, 220) from Southborough, Mass., who preps at St. Mark's School; and Gabe York (G, 6-1, 170) from Orange, Calif., who preps at Orange Lutheran H.S.; make up a class that was ranked No. 1 nationally by espn.com and rivals.com.

UP NEXT: The Wildcats next will be in action on Saturday, Jan. 28, when UA hosts Washington in McKale Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. MST and can be seen nationally on ESPN. It is the network's Saturday Primetime telecast in conjunction with ESPN's College GameDay Covered by State Farm studio appearance.

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