Dec. 13, 2011
Date: Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011
Time: 1 p.m. PST
Location: Key Arena (17,072), Seattle, Wash.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: CBS-TV (Spero Dedes/Greg Anthony)
GAME DATA: Arizona (7-3, 0-0 Pac-12) heads out of town for the final non-conference trip of the regular season Saturday vs. Gonzaga (5-2, 0-0 WCC) at Key Arena in Seattle, Wash., as part of the State Farm Battle in Seattle ... Today's game will be the third neutral-site meeting of the two schools in four games all-time ... In four neutral-site games this year, UA is averaging 73.2 points per game to go with a .452 field goal percentage (104-of-230) - both figures significantly higher than the Cats' season averages (+5.3 points/+14 percentage points) ... Kyle Fogg enters today's tilt just 16 points shy of 1,000 for his career, potentially the 46th Wildcat to reach the milestone.
THE RANKINGS: UA remains unranked in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls this week. The Cats were ranked 16th in both preseason polls, marking the first time that UA opened the year with a national ranking since 2007-08.
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 173-73 (.703) and 53-26 (.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 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 0-1 vs. Gonzaga as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona shot it well, held its own on the glass and made key plays when it needed in a 63-47 win Saturday over Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic. Led by Nick Johnson and Solomon Hill, UA shot better than 50 percent from the field for the second time this season and limited the Tigers to 32 percent accuracy. After Clemson cut an 18-point deficit to seven late in the second half, Hill dropped in four straight points in the paint and Johnson added a dunk to push the margin back to 15. Johnson was named Fiesta Bowl Classic Most Valuable Player.
SCOUTING GONZAGA: The Zags enter today's game with a 5-2 record (0-0 WCC) following last Saturday's 74-67 loss to Michigan State (GU hosts Oral Roberts on Thursday). On the year, Gonzaga averages 77.5 points, shoots 44.6 percent from the floor (150-of-336), 39.2 percent (40-of-102) from three-point range and 69.8 percent (125-of-179) from the line. Opponents average 66.2 points, are outrebounded by 4.0 boards per game and shoot 43.0 percent from the floor (144-of-335). Individually, three GU players average in double-figures, led by Robert Sacre's 16.5 ppg average. Elias Harris leads Gonzaga with an 8.7 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Today's game is the fourth meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 3-0 lead in the series, which dates back to Nov. 29, 2000. The Wildcats won the last meeting, 69-64, on Dec. 14, 2008, in the Desert Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. All-time, Arizona is 1-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Spokane, Wash., and 2-0 in neutral-site games. For more series information, please see page 47 in the UA media guide.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 69, Gonzaga 64, Dec. 14, 2008: Arizona used a 10-0 run early in the second half to take control of the game en route to a five-point win. The Cats held Gonzaga to 39 percent shooting and forced eight turnovers in the second half in leading by as many as nine points. Arizona did not trail over the final 17:31. It was UA's first win over a top-five ranked program since November 2001. Nic Wise scored 13 of his career-high 21 points in the first half, while Jordan Hill added 22 points, three blocks and three steals.
AGAINST THE WEST COAST CONFERENCE: All-time, Arizona is 29-14 (.674) all-time against teams that currently reside in the West Coast Conference. Arizona last faced a WCC foe on Nov. 26, 2010, downing Santa Clara, 82-59, in Las Vegas, Nev. For series information on the conferences, please see page 51 in the UA media guide.
BEWARE THE FOGG: Kyle Fogg guided Arizona to a split this week in a pair of games last week by averaging 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The senior guard connected on 55.6 percent of his three-point field goals (5-of-9) to go with a pair of blocked shots and five assists. During the week, Fogg notched season-high totals in three-point field goals (4), rebounds (7) and steals (3). He opened the week with an efficient 19 points (7-of-11 FG/4-of-6 3-pt. FG), three rebounds and two steals in an overtime road loss at No. 12 Florida and added a strong all-around effort of eight points, seven boards, four assists and three steals in a win over Clemson. Fogg leads Arizona in three-point field goals (16) and three-point field goal percentage (.457). On the season, he averages 11.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
LARGER THAN EVER: Despite scoring 63 points last Saturday - five points fewer than its season scoring average - Arizona downed Clemson, 63-47, which was UA's largest margin of victory this season. A solid defensive effort spearheaded the Arizona attack, especially in the first half as UA limited the Tigers to 22.9 percent shooting (8-of-35) in the opening period and only 16 points. Clemson equaled a McKale Center record for fewest three-point field goals in a half (0-of-9) last matched exactly six years earlier by Saint Mary's on Dec. 10, 2005.
ON THE MARK: The Wildcats shot 51.0 percent from the field (25-of-49) Saturday against Clemson, marking the second time this season that UA has accomplished the feat. According to the shot chart, 18 of Arizona's 25 field goals against Clemson were tallied in the paint, including 16 dunks or lay-ups. The ability to score close to the bucket was evident in the second half, as 11 of UA's 15 field goals in the stanza were dunks or lay-ups, as the Cats shot 57.7 percent (15-of-26) from the floor. Over its last four games, UA is shooting 100-of-207 (.483) from the field as a team.
COLLEGE BOARDS: Led by Solomon Hill (7) and Kyle Fogg (7), Arizona outrebounded Clemson, 34-30, on Saturday, marking the sixth time in 10 games that UA has outrebounded the opposition, and the Cats are 5-1 when winning the rebound battle. Through 10 games, Arizona averages 36.0 rebounds per game and holds a +1.6 rebound margin. Individually, UA's rebound leaders, Jesse Perry (8.2 rpg) and Solomon Hill (7.7 rpg) currently rank third and sixth, respectively, among Pac-12 Conference players.
AWAY FROM HOME: With yet another game away from home on tap for Dec. 17 - against Gonzaga in the State Farm Battle in Seattle - it's worth noting that in its last two games away from McKale Center, Arizona is shooting a cumulative .496 (56-of-113) from the field and averaged 77.5 points in those tilts, a figure that is 9.6 points higher than UA's season scoring average (67.9 ppg).
ACCEPTING THE CHALLENGE: Freshman Nick Johnson continues to prove himself to be one of the nation's best freshmen, and his performance this week put that on display. Last Wednesday at Florida, the 6-foot-2 native of Gilbert, Ariz., made his first career start at point guard on any level and logged 35 minutes against the Gators, totaling five points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Said Sean Miller, "It is remarkable what he did at Florida with that pressure and their press...especially with it being his first start." He moved back off the ball in Saturday's win over Clemson, connecting on 7-of-9 field goals en route to 14 points, two boards, an assist and a block in earning Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic Most-Valuable-Player honors. Currently, Johnson averages 10.5 points, 2.3 boards and 2.2 assists per tilt.
CLAMPING DOWN: Guard Kyle Fogg certainly did a nice job last week by averaging 13.5 points and 2.5 assists in a pair of games, but his defensive efforts may have stood taller. Faced with the proposition of guarding Florida's Kenny Boynton and Clemson's Andre Young, Fogg rose to the occasion by limiting the duo to a combined 8-of-25 shooting (.320) and 26 total points, while collecting a pair of blocks and five steals. Entering those games last week, Boynton and Young were averaging a combined 33.1 points per game and shooting 49 percent (77-of-157) from the floor.
ON THE UP AND UP: Freshman Angelo Chol averaged 3.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last week against solid competition. The 6-foot-9 forward from San Diego, Calif., hit 3-of-6 shots from the floor and collected three blocks vs. Florida and Clemson. On the year, Chol is averaging 2.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from the field in 13.3 minutes per contest.
ANSWERING THE BELL: Solomon Hill collected another nice all-around game on Saturday, collecting 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals vs. Clemson. After the Tigers trimmed an 18-point deficit to seven in the second half, Hill responded with back-to-back buckets in the lane to get the lead back to double figures. Dec. 7 at Florida, Hill drew a shooting foul with four seconds remaining in regulation and drained the resulting three free throws to force overtime. On the season, Hill is averaging 11.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
MOVEMENT IN THE MIDDLE: In Arizona's last two home games the Wildcats have held its opponents to a combined 86 points (43.0 ppg) and a .340 field goal percentage (35-of-103) to go with a +3.5 rebound margin. In those two games, UA opponents (Northern Arizona and Clemson) combined to shoot a total of 10 free throws (made seven). Last Saturday Clemson connected on just 31.7 percent (19-of-60) of its field goal attempts, a UA opponent season low and the fourth time this season that Arizona has held an opponent to less than 40-percent shooting. On the season, UA opponents are shooting a cumulative .402 (229-of-570) from the field.
TAKE NOTE: As UA head coach Sean Miller said in Saturday's postgame press conference, "Clemson is a great defensive team. Their numbers are scary." Arizona managed to shoot 51 percent from the field, outrebound the Tigers and score 63 points. While those numbers seem modest, it was the second-most points allowed by Clemson this year, the second-highest field goal percentage allowed and the first time CU had been outrebounded this year.
PRESEASON PROGNOSTICATIONS: According to media members who regularly cover the league, Arizona was picked to finish third in this season's Pac-12 Conference race. The Cats received 404 points and 11 first-place votes, trailing UCLA and California. The 404 points earned is the most since 2005-06, the last time UA was predicted to win. UA has been the preseason favorite 11 times in the last 22 years.
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 Tuesday, Dec. 20, when UA hosts Oakland University. Tip-off in McKale Center is scheduled for 6 p.m. MST and can be seen on KWBA-TV and FOX Sports Arizona.