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26th Annual Fiesta Bowl Classic Happens Thursday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/13/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Dec. 13, 2010

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Date: Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010
Time: 7:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: KWBA/FS Arizona/FCS Pacific (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)

Game Data:  Arizona (8-2, 0-0 Pac-10) plays host to Northern Arizona (7-3, 0-0 Big Sky) Thursday in McKale Center as part of the 26th annual Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic ... All-time, the Wildcats are 44-2 (.956) in Fiesta Bowl Classic action, including a 3-1 record since the format changed to a one-game showcase in 2006 ... Tonight’s game will be the 120th meeting of the long-time intrastate rivals, the second-most against any opponent in UA history ... The comforts of home might be a good thing for the Wildcats, as the team averages 83.3 points and a .517 field goal percentage in six home games to date ... No opponent has scored more than 70 points against the Wildcats in McKale Center this season.

 

The Rankings:  Arizona remains unranked in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls.  The Cats started the season unranked for just the fourth time in the last 24 seasons.

 

Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller . . . is in his second season at the University of Arizona and his seventh overall as a college head coach with a record of 144-64 (.692) and 24-17 (.585) at Arizona ... 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 14 trips to the postseason in his 17 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (8 NCAA/6NIT) and has a 6-4 (.600) 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 17 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 Archie Miller, Emanuel Richardson and James Whitford ... Miller is 1-0 vs. Northern Arizona as a head coach.

 

Last Time Out:  Jimmer Fredette scored a game-high 33 points to lead BYU to an 87-65 win Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The Cougars shot 55.6 percent from the field in the first half and used a 14-0 run early in the period and never looked back.  UA struggled offensively from the start, connecting on 28.1 percent of its shots from the field and committing seven turnovers in the first half before playing nearly even in the second.  Lamont Jones scored all of his career-high 20 points in the second half.

 

Scouting Northern Arizona:  The Lumberjacks enter tonight’s game with a 7-3 record (0-0 Big Sky) following Saturday’s 60-52 loss at USC.  On the season, NAU averages 75.9 points, shoots 48.0 percent from the floor (281-of-586), 43.0 percent (68-of-158) from three-point range and 65.8 percent (129-of-196) from the line.  Opponents average 62.7 points, are outrebounded by 4.2 boards per game and shoot 37.6 percent from the floor (213-of-567).  Individually, three ‘Jacks average in double-figures, led by Cameron Jones’ 16.8 ppg average.  Shane Johannsen leads NAU with a 6.0 rebounds per game average.

 

The Series:  Today’s game is the 119th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 92-27 series advantage. Counting this meeting, UA and NAU have met in eight of the last nine seasons.  Arizona has won 26 straight games in the series and 41 of the last 44, including last season’s 87-70 win in Tucson on Nov. 15.  All-time, Arizona is 62-5 in series games played in Tucson, 29-21 in Flagstaff, and 0-1 in neutral-site games.  For more series information, please see page 43 in the UA media guide.

 

Last Meeting:  Arizona 87, Northern Arizona 70, Nov. 15, 2009:  This contest was won in the first half, as Arizona shot 58 percent, forced eight Northern Arizona turnovers and limited the visitors to just 38 percent shooting in the opening period in what became a 17-point UA win.  Eight different Wildcats scored in the first half, as Arizona built as much as a 23-point lead early on.  Solomon Hill  led the Cats with 17 points in his collegiate debut and Jamelle Horne posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

 

Against the Big Sky Conference:  Arizona holds a 104-32 (.765) cumulative record against schools that currently make up the Big Sky Conference.  Arizona is 2-0 this season against Big Sky foes, defeating Idaho State (90-42) on Nov. 14 and Northern Colorado (93-70) on Nov. 21.  For a conference breakdown, see page 46 in the UA media guide.

 

A Brief History of the Fiesta Bowl Classic:  Long considered one of the finest in-season events in college basketball, the Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic is in its 26th year. For the first 21 years, the event was a four-team tournament that regularly featured some of the nation’s best programs. From 1985-2005, Arizona won 20 of 21 championships, losing only the 2000 title game, 75-74, to Mississippi State. The format was changed in 2006 to a one-game showcase that has spotlighted Memphis, San Diego State, Kansas, BYU, and this season, Northern Arizona. For more Fiesta Bowl Classic information, please see pages 37-38 in the UA men’s basketball media guide.

 

Worth Noting:  Lamont Jones led UA last week by averaging 13.0 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.5 assists in a pair of games.  The sophomore guard connected on 58.8 percent of his field goals (10-of-17) and 66.7 percent (4-of-6) from behind the arc.  Jones opened the week by hitting 3-of-6 field goals and grabbing a rebound to finish with six points in a win over Cal State Fullerton.  He followed that up with a career-high 20 points (7-of-11 FG), and an assist in Saturday’s loss at No. 18 BYU.  Jones scored all of his points in the second half, connecting on 7-of-9 field goal in the period, including 4-of-5 from three-point range.  Not only was the 20-point half a career best, but it was the most points in a half by a Wildcat player this season.  It was the fourth double-figure game for “MoMo” this season (13th career) and his first with 20 or more points.  On the year, Jones averages 8.0 points, 1.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, while shooting 44.1 percent (30-of-68) from the field.

 

Tough to Top:  Arizona allowed a season-high 87 points in Saturday’s loss, equaling the 87 points allowed in the Nov. 27 loss to Kansas.  In both of those losses, UA allowed the opposition to shoot better than 50 percent from the field – the only two times that has happened in 10 games this season.  Combined KU and BYU connected on 60-of-113 (.531) field goal attempts.  Through 10 games, Arizona opponents are shooting 42.6 percent (221-of-519) from the floor.

 

Setting the Tone:  Good starts are key for the Wildcats, as the club is 8-0 this season when leading at the 10-minute mark of the first half.  Arizona found itself in a 22-10 hole Saturday vs. BYU 10 minutes into the contest.  In the 41 games of the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 15-3 when leading at the 10-minute mark of the opening half.

 

At the Break:  The Wildcat offense output has dipped a bit of late, as the squad averaged 69 points  in a pair of games last week. Prior to the games against Cal State Fullerton and BYU, Arizona was averaging 84.0 points per game and had topped the 80-point plateau six times in eight games.  On the season, UA is averaging 81.0 points per game.  In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 12-0 when scoring 80 or more points.

 

The Iron Unkind:  Perhaps the most obvious reason for Arizona’s recent offensive struggles is the fact that shots aren’t falling.  In its two games this week, the Cats shot 39.8 percent from the floor (47-of-118) and posted its two lowest field goal percentages of the season with Saturday’s effort (21-of-60/.350) being a season low. The lack of accuracy dropped UA’s cumulative field goal percentage below 50 percent (now .492) for the first time this season. Incidentally, just three Wildcats managed to shoot better than 50 percent for the week:  Lamont Jones (.588), Derrick Williams (.579) and Kevin Parrom (.545).

 

Unable to Connect:  Compounding the Wildcats’ recent shooting troubles is an inability to connect on its long-range attempts.  In the last two games, Arizona has made just 29.8 percent (14-of-47) of its three-point field goals, and that figure was boosted by Lamont Jones’ 4-of-5 effort Saturday vs. BYU.  Entering the week, Arizona was shooting 40.6 percent (73-of-180) as a team from behind the arc.

 

Streak Stopped:  Arizona was outerbounded, 38-34, by BYU Saturday, marking the first time this season that the Cats have lost the battle of the boards. Prior to facing the Cougars, Arizona had outrebounded eight opponents and tied one (Santa Clara).  The Cats did manage to pull down more offensive boards than BYU, winning that category by a 13-10 margin.  On the season, Arizona outrebounds the opposition by a +10.0 margin, and is allowing opponents an average of just 26.7 rebounds per game.

 

A Bit of a deficit:  For just the third time this season, Arizona found itself with a free throw deficit, as BYU attempted 11 more free throws on Saturday (making 24) and outscoring the Cats by seven points from the stripe. The 24 free throws and 31 attempts by BYU were opponent season highs in 2010-11.  By comparison, UA opponents connected on a combined 16-of-26 free throw attempts in the two games prior to Saturday.  On the season, Arizona is outscoring opponents by an average of 4.4 points per game from the line.

 

20 in 20:  Lamont “MoMo” Jones became the third Wildcat this season to register a 20-point game, when he tallied 20 Saturday vs. BYU.  But the 6-foot sophomore guard became the first UA player to do so in a single half. Yes, Jones scored all 20 of his career-high point total in the second half on Saturday, a figure that was half of the Cats’ points in the frame.  He was 0-of-2 in the opening period before connecting on 7-of-9 shots from the floor after the break, including 4-of-5 from three-point range.  Jones joins Derrick Williams (4) and Solomon Hill (1) in topping the 20-point plateau to date.

 

Spreading the wealth, carefully:  Sophomore swingman Kevin Parrom continues to move the ball rather efficiently through 10 games, as the Bronx, N.Y., product ranks fourth on the team with 22 assists, but leads the club with a 2.4:1 assist:turnover ratio.  He is one of six Wildcat regulars with a positive ratio, but the lone Cats with one at 2:1 or better.  Saturday at BYU, Parrom passed out three assists against zero turnovers in 18 minutes of action.

 

A second-half Club:  In averaging 81.0 points per game, Arizona is averaging 37.2 points per game in the first half and 43.8 points in the second.  This season, the Wildcats have scored 40 ore more points in a half 11 times in 10 games, and only once this season (Cal State Fullerton) did the team fail to notch at least one 40-point period.

 

Keeping Possessions Alive:  Arizona has done a nice job on the offensive boards, averaging 12.1 per game and 3.2 more than the opposition.  UA has managed to pull down more offensive rebounds than its opponent in eight of 10 games this season (Idaho State/Rice).  That has given the Wildcats a 5.8 points per game advantage in second chance points to date (12.5-6.7).

 

Early Signees:  The Arizona coaching staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letter-of-Intent in the November early signing period.  Nick Johnson (G, 6-2, 180) from Gilbert, Ariz., who preps at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev.; Sidiki Johnson (F, 6-8, 220) from the Bronx, N.Y, who preps at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.;  and Josiah Turner (G, 6-3, 185) from Sacramento, Calif., Sacramento High School; make up a class that was ranked in the top-10 nationally by both espn.com and rivals.com. 

Up Next:  Following tonight’s contest, the Wildcats hit the road to face North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday, Dec. 19.  Tip-off in the RBC Center is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. EST and can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net.

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