Nov. 19, 2010
Date: Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010
Time: 3 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: KWBA/FSAZ/Fox College Sports Atlantic (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)
Game Data: Arizona (2-0, 0-0 Pac-10) opens play in the iBN Sports Las Vegas Invitational by hosting Northern Colorado (2-0, 0-0 Big Sky) Sunday in McKale Center ... The iBN Sports Las Vegas Invitational is an eight-team tournament that includes Bethune-Cookman, Kansas, Ohio, Santa Clara, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Valparaiso in addition to UA and UNC ... The Wildcats enter this afternoon’s contest averaging a robust 86.5 points per game and a +37 scoring margin ... Arizona has scored 80 or more points and won its first two games, marking the first time UA has accomplished that feat since the 2004-05 season ... Through two games, 14 of the 15 players on the roster have seen action in both games.
The Rankings: Arizona remains unranked in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. The Cats start 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 138-62 (.690) and 18-15 (.545) 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, 41, earned a degree in communications from Pitt in 1992 ... He is assisted by Archie Miller, Emanuel Richardson and James Whitford ... Miller is 0-0 vs. Northern Colorado as a head coach.
Last Time Out: Derrick Williams collected 27 points and 14 rebounds and the Wildcats got a big lift from the bench as Arizona rolled to an 83-57 win over New Mexico State on Thursday. Trailing 9-7 just over seven minutes into the game, Sean Miller put in a whole new unit, which ignited what turned out to be a decisive 14-0 run. Arizona shot 53.4 percent from the field and posted a decisive 41-22 rebound advantage in holding NMSU to 36.5 points less than its scoring average entering the game.
Scouting Northern Colorado: The Bears enter today’s game with a 2-0 record (0-0 Big Sky) following Tuesday’s 67-53 win over Wyoming. On the season, UNC averages 80.0 points, shoots 42.4 percent from the floor (53-of-125), 37.0 percent (17-of-46) from three-point range and 78.7 percent (37of-47) from the line. Opponents average just 52.5 points, are outrebounded by six boards per game and shoot just 37.1 percent from the floor (36-of-97). Individually, three UNC players average in double-figures, led by Devon Beitzel’s 18.5 ppg average. Mike Proctor leads the Bears with an 8.0 rebounds per game average.
The Series: This afternoon’s game is the third meeting – and first in 50 years – of the two schools with the series even at one win apiece. Northern Colorado won the first meeting, 82-71, on Jan. 5, 1960, in Greely, Colo., and Arizona won 77-50 in Tucson a season later. All-time, Arizona is 1-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-1 in Greely, Colo., and 0-0 in neutral site games. See page 44 of the Arizona media guide for a game-by-game series listing.
Last Meeting: Arizona 77, Northern Colorado 50, Dec. 22, 1961: Joe Skaisgir posted 13 points and 16 rebounds to propel Arizona to a 77-50 win over Colorado State College (now Northern Colorado). Arizona limited CSC to just 25.3 percent shooting (17-of-67) for the game and posted a 68-27 rebound advantage. UA’s Larry Harris led all scorers with 15 points, while teammate Monte Clausen added 11 points and nine rebounds.
Against the Big Sky Conference: Arizona holds a 102-32 (.761) cumulative record against schools that currently make up the Big Sky Conference. Prior to this afternoon’s game, UA last met a Big Sky foe on Nov. 15, 2009, an 87-70 Arizona win over Northern Arizona in Tucson. Arizona and NAU will meet again on December 16 as part of the Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic.
Commonality: For the second time in as many games, Arizona used a scoring run to distance itself from an opponent. In the season opener Nov. 14, the Cats hit Idaho State with a 26-0 run over 12:56 en route to a 90-42 win. Thursday vs. New Mexico State, UA posted a 14-0 run over 4:04 of the first half in the 87-53 win.
Board Work: In what may have been the biggest key to victory Thursday, Arizona completely controlled the glass, as witnessed by the 41-22 rebound advantage. The Cats won the rebound battle at both ends of the floor, collecting 15 offensive rebounds to New Mexico State’s 12 defensive boards at one end and 26 defensive rebounds to NMSU’s 10 offensive caroms at the other. It was the largest rebound margin of the Sean Miller era.
Denting the Scoreboard: After game after posting the first UA win by more than 20 points in the Miller era in the season opener (90-42), Arizona hung its second consecutive 25-point win with a 83-57 win over New Mexico State. Achieving one such win is an effort, two straight is a feat, and three is a rarity. As a historical reference, Arizona has not won three consecutive games by 25 or points since the first three games of the 2002-03 season, but that UA squad was a preseason No. 1 team in both polls.
Plenty in Reserve: Above and beyond the aforementioned 14 points the bench contributed to the cause in Thursday’s run, the UA reserves have been very productive through the first two games of the season. In Thursday’s game, the UA bench connected on 12-of-18 shots (.667) and contributed 29 points, including 19 of 35 in the first half. Nov. 14 vs. Idaho State, the Wildcat reserves hit 13-of-20 (.650) shots and finished with 43 points, including 35 of 49 in the second half. Overall, the UA bench has outscored the opposition by a 72-24 margin.
On target: Arizona has connected on better than 50 percent of its field goal attempts in each of its first two games, posting a cumulative .564 (62-of-110) field goal percentage. It marks the first time that Arizona has shot better than 50 percent in back-to-back games since Jan. 16-23, 2010, in road wins, no less, at Arizona State and Oregon. Breaking the 50 percent barrier is noteworthy, as the Cats area spotless 9-0 under Sean Miller when doing just that.
Passing along a fact: Solomon Hill’s 30 minutes played Thursday were the most that any Wildcat has logged this season.
Is it always this easy?: It’s neither surprising nor unexpected that sophomore forward Derrick Williams leads Arizona in scoring (21.5 ppg) and rebounding (9.5 rpg) this season. What is worth noting is that the 6-foot-8 native of LaMirada, Calif., is shooting an impressive 88.2 percent (15-of-17) from the field through two games. What’s even more eye-opening is that of Williams’ 15 field goals this season, 13 have been dunks or lay-ups. According to the shot charts, Williams is just 1-of-2 on shots attempted outside of the lane this season.
More from Derrick: Almost overshadowed by his 9-of-10, 27-point effort (one shy of his career high) Thursday, was the fact that Derrick Williams set a new career rebounding high (14) in posting his first double-double of the season (fifth career). Williams was equally dominant on both ends of the glass, as both his offensive (6) and defensive (8) totals would have at a minimum shared game-high honors as a singular statical total. Incidentally, Thursday’s point total marked Williams’ 30th career game in double figures in 33 career starts.
Second-half storm: It seems to be raining points in the second half for the Wildcats to date, as the Cats have averaged 48.5 points per game in the second period and outscored the opposition, 97-58. In that span, Arizona is shooting a combined 66.0 percent (33-of-50) from the floor, while limiting the opposition to just 31.3 percent (20-of-64) shooting. That’s quite a change from last season where Arizona outscored the opposition by 18 cumulative points after halftime in 31 games, a +0.6 margin.
Yin and Yang: Proof that there is positive and negative in just about everything, a quick look at the stats shows that the UA starting backcourt of Lamont Jones and Kyle Fogg have a combined assist:turnover ratio of 4:1 on the season. Fogg, a junior from Brea, Calif., leads the team with 11 assists against just two miscues, while Jones has nine and three, respectively. On the other hand, those guards have combined to make just 8-of-27 (.296) field goal attempts.
Waiting in the Wings: Help is never too far away, as Arizona’s back-up guards – Jordin Mayes and Brendon Lavender – have combined to make 11-of-17 (.647) field goal attempts. Lavender has turned himself into a modern day Vinnie Johnson or sorts by averaging 10.0 points (only 10 total attempts) in just 10.5 minutes per game.
Solid at the Start: Through two games, Solomon Hill has done a nice job of displaying his versatility by posting averages of 10.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists, while shooting .600 (9-of-15) from the field. The 6-foot-6 sophomore from Los Angeles, Calif., has proven himself to be a fast starter. In the first two games of his first two season of college ball, Hill is averaging 12.3 points and 6.0 rebounds, while shooting .571 (20-of-35) from the field. Four of his 10 career games in double figures have come in this span.
In the Middle: One Wildcat who continues to make very positive strides is sophomore center Kyryl Natyazhko. The 6-foot-11, 264-pound native of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, is averaging 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds to date, while shooting 71.4 percent (4-of-7) from the field. Those numbers are all an improvement from his numbers as a freshman, where he averaged 1.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 36.8 percent (21-of-57) from the field.
An Unbiased Opinion: According to media members who regularly cover the league, Arizona was picked to finish second in this season’s Pacific-10 Conference race. The Wildcats received 296 points and one first-place vote (see chart at left), trailing only Washington. It’s the highest preseason predicted finish for the Cats since 2006-07, and the 296 points earned is the most since 2005-06. Historically speaking, Arizona has been the preseason favorite 11 times in the last 21 years.
In November: Fast starts have become a regular occurrence for the Wildcats. The program is a cumulative 69-20 (.775) in the month of November over the last 27 seasons. Those numbers are even more impressive considering the strength of the opposition, as nearly one-third of those foes (28 of 89) were nationally ranked at the time of the game. In those contests, Arizona is 18-10 (.643).
Scoring 80: Arizona scored 83 points Nov. 18 vs. New Mexico State, breaking the 80-point barrier for the second time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 188-19 (.908) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona was 6-0 last season when topping the 80-point plateau.
Up Next: Following this afternoon’s game, Arizona hosts Bethune-Cookman in round two of the iBN Sports Las Vegas Invitational. Tip-off on Tuesday, Nov. 23, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MST and will be televised by Fox College Sports Atlantic.