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Cats, Miners Meet Thursday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/13/2012
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Nov. 13, 2012

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Date: Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012
Time: 8 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,538), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach) [Sirius/XM: 123/190]
TV: FSN (Justin Kutcher/Marques Johnson)

GAME DATA: Twelfth-ranked Arizona (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) hosts UTEP (1-0, 0-0 C-USA) Thursday in McKale Center ... The Wildcats tallied 82 points in its season-opening win and are averaging 76.6 ppg in the Sean Miller era during the month of November ... After meeting regularly for more than 40 years, the Wildcats and Miners meet for the first time since December 1995 ... A total of 10 players saw action in Sunday's win over Charleston Southern, five finished in double figures and nine collected at least one assist.

THE RANKINGS: UA is ranked 12th in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls this week. 2012-13 marks the second straight year that the Wildcats opened the year nationally ranked in both major college basketball polls.

ARIZONA HEAD COACH Sean Miller . . . is in his fourth season at the University of Arizona and his ninth overall as a college head coach with a record of 189-82 (.697) and 69-35 (.663) at Arizona ... In his eight-year career, Miller's teams have won 20 games six times and captured five regular-season or postseason tournament titles ... 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, earning Pac-10 Conference and NABC District 20 Coach-of-the-Year honors ... 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 16 trips to the postseason in his 19 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (9 NCAA/7 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, all 23 players to complete eligibility under Miller have earned their degrees ... Miller has recruited classes ranked in the top-10 nationally in each of the last two seasons ... He is assisted by James Whitford, Emanuel Richardson and Joe Pasternack ... Miller is 0-0 vs. UTEP as a head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: Five Wildcats finished in double figures as Arizona posted a season-opening 82-73 win over Charleston Southern on Sunday. A quick 5-0 burst in the last 38 seconds of the first half game Arizona a lead it would not relinquish, stretching it to as many as 14 points late. Arizona, who shot 45 percent from the field, tallied 25 assists on 27 field goals in the contest. Mark Lyons scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half, while Solomon Hill chipped in with 14 points and five rebounds.

SCOUTING UTEP: The Miners enter tonight's game with a 1-0 record (0-0 C-USA) following a 69-49 win Friday over Oral Roberts. On the season, UTEP placed four players in double figures on the way to those 69 points, shots 46.9 percent from the floor (30-of-63), 14.3 percent (1-of-7) from three-point range and 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from the line. Opponents managed just 49 points, were outrebounded by one and shot 37.5 percent from the floor (18-of-48). Individually, John Bohannon led UTEP with 17 points, while Chris Washburn added 14. Cedrick Lang pulled down six boards to lead the Miners.

THE SERIES: Today's game is the 90th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 59-30 series advantage. Arizona has won two in a row and five of the last seven meetings in the series, which dates back to Feb. 2, 1920, including the last, 90-70, in Tucson on Dec. 16, 1995. From 1935-78, UA and UTEP were conference brothers, first in the Border Conference (1935-61) and then the Western Athletic Conference (1961-78), and 82 of the previous 89 meetings came in that span. All-time, Arizona is 36-9 in series games played in Tucson, 22-21 in El Paso, Texas, and 1-0 in neutral-site games. For more information, please see page 49 of the UA media guide.

THE LAST MEETING: Arizona 90, UTEP 70; Dec. 17, 1995: Reggie Geary posted 21 points and seven assists to lead the Cats to the 20-point win. Arizona shot 66.7 percent from the field (32-of-48), including 8-of-13 from three-point range and limited visiting UTEP to just 40.0 percent (24-of-60) accuracy. Much of the damage came in the second half, as Arizona outscored UTEP 49-34 in the period. Ben Davis (14), Corey Williams (14), Miles Simon (13) and Joe McLean (12) also finished in double figures.

HELLO OLD FRIEND: Just 317 miles separate Tucson and El Paso, Texas, and for a good, long while, the Wildcats and Miners met annually as members of the Border and Western Athletic Conferences. All-time, UA and UTEP have met 89 times previously, which ranks as the fifth-most series games played in UA history. Her are the top five: 1.) Arizona State, 222 games; 2.) New Mexico, 125; 3.) Northern Arizona, 121; 4.) New Mexico State, 97; and 5.) UTEP, 89.

KEEPING SCORE: If you keep track of such things, and this office does, Arizona was 54-28 vs. UTEP when the teams shared the same conference affiliation (1935-78). Included in that record was a 31-9 (.775) mark in series games played in Tucson and posted a +9.3 scoring margin in those 40 games.

WHAT WE DID WELL: With one game in the books, Arizona manage to do numerous things well in the season opener, amassing 82 points, shooting 45 percent from the field, hitting 11 treys, passing out 25 assists and blocking seven shots. Each of those figures were an improvement over last season's marks in those categories. The one that may have stood out most: UA's seven blocks against Charleston Southern was double the team's 3.5 bpg average in 2011-12.

WHAT WE DIDN'T: With four freshmen among eight newcomers on the UA roster, it's not surprising that all parts of the UA defense didn't click on Sunday. Charleston Southern connected on 10-of-28 (.357) three-point attempts against the Cats, marking the first time since Feb. 25, 2010, that an opponent managed to make 10 or more treys against the Cats when California made 10-of-21 (.476). Since the start of the 2010-11 season, UA opponents have connected on 29.1 percent of its three-point FG attempts (355-of-1,222) in those 74 games to date.

SHARING THE BALL: The Wildcats did put forth an impressive number in Sunday's win, collecting 25 assists on 27 made field goals (92.6 percent). That's the highest number of assists in a single game since UA passed out 26 in a 101-87 win vs. Stanford on March 7, 2009. Impressively, Arizona posted those 25 helpers against only eight turnovers, marking the first time the program has had 20 or more assists and fewer than 10 turnovers in the same game since Dec. 2, 2008, in an 84-57 win over Loyola Marymount in which the Cats had 21 assists against six turnovers. Sunday against the Buccaneers, Arizona's four guards - Mark Lyons, Nick Johnson, Jordin Mayes and Gabe York - accounted for 15 assists and four turnovers.

A GOOD START: Forward Solomon Hill recorded 14 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists in Sunday's win. The 6-foot-7 senior from Los Angeles, Calif., set new career highs for three-pointers made (4) and attempted (8) against Charleston Southern. Hill has turned himself into a solid outside shooter, as he is shooting 39.8 percent from three-point range (41-of-103) since the start of the 2011-12 season. In fact, his trey with 14:58 put UA ahead for good.

OFF THE BENCH: Filling a reserve role didn't negatively affect Brandon Ashley against Charleston Southern, as the 6-foot-8 freshman forward amassed 12 points, a game-high eight boards, two blocks and a steal. He got to the free throw line 12 times and made eight in addition to sinking two of three field goal attempts in 24 minutes of action. For good measure, the Oakland, Calif., product also added a steal and an assist.

A LARGE MEASURE OF RESPONSIBILITY: It's probably safe to assume that most coaches would like to get the kind of productivity that Nick Johnson provided in Sunday's win, as the sophomore guard was responsible for 25 points to go with three rebounds, a block and a steal. The 6-foot-3 guard hit 4-of-8 shots from the floor to finish with 12 points and equaled a career high with six assists (all in the second half) that led to 13 more UA points.

THE CLOSER: Sometimes you just need a guy to step up and make plays. Well, that's what Mark Lyons did in the second half vs. Charleston Southern. The 6-foot-1 guard tallied 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half as the Cats pulled away from the Buccaneers. Lyons connected on 5-of-11 FGs in the period and made all five free throws to go with six assists, a block and steal.

WHAT THEY DO BEST: Two UA players who battled injury in 2011-12 looked good in Sunday's season opener, as Kevin Parrom and Jordin Mayes both made significant. Parrom, a 6-foot-6 senior swingman chipped in with six points, five rebounds, five assists (0 turnovers) and a steal, while Mayes, a 6-foot-3 guard added 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting and two assists. In fact, Mayes' back-to-back treys 33 seconds apart late in the first half gave Arizona its first lead of the ball game.

ON THE LIST: Arizona's Mark Lyons has been named to the 2012-13 Naismith Trophy early season watch list, announced Tuesday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. The list is comprised of 50 student-athletes who, based on performance from the previous year and expectations for 2012-13, are under consideration for college basketball's player-of-the-year award. Lyons is one of three Pac-12 Conference players on the list. A 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior guard from Schenectady, N.Y., Lyons tallied 17 points, six assists and zero turnovers in 30 minutes of action in Arizona's season-opening win on Nov. 11.

PRESEASON PROGNOSTICATIONS: According to media members who regularly cover the league, Arizona was picked to finish first in this season's Pac-12 Conference race (see poll at left). The Cats received 403 points and 15 first-place votes, topping the rest of the league by one point. UCLA, California and Stanford rounded out the top-four spots in the poll. It's the first time since 2005-06 that Arizona was the preseason favorite and the Wildcats have been the preseason target a league-leading 12 times since the poll debuted in 1989-90.

TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Nine former University of Arizona men's basketball players were on active National Basketball Association rosters, as the league opened the 2012-13 season Oct. 30. According to rosters listed on the NBA official website as of Oct. 30, the list of players includes Jerryd Bayless (Memphis Grizzlies), Chase Budinger (Minnesota Timberwolves), Channing Frye (Phoenix Suns), Jordan Hill (Los Angeles Lakers), Andre Iguodala (Denver Nuggets), Richard Jefferson (Golden State Warriors), Jason Terry (Boston Celtics), Luke Walton (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Derrick Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves). Arizona ranks ninth nationally in terms of active NBA player production, marking the 13th consecutive season in which at least eight former Wildcats have opened the season on active NBA rosters. In nine of those seasons the number was 10 or more.

SCORING 80: Arizona scored 82 points on Nov. 11 vs. Charleston, topping the 80-point plateau for the first time this year (1-0). Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 207-20 (.912) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.

UP NEXT: Arizona will next be in action on Monday, Nov. 19, when the Cats host Long Beach State. Tip-off in McKale Center is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

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