March 21, 2013
Date: Saturday, March 23, 2013
Time: 4:10 p.m. MDT
Location: EnergySolutions Arena (19,911), Salt Lake City, Utah
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: TNT (Spero Dedes/Doug Gottlieb/Jamie Maggio)
GAME DATA: No. 6 seed Arizona (26-7, 12-6 Pac-12) plays in the 2013 NCAA Tournament's West Region third round against No. 14 seed Harvard (20-9, 11-3 Ivy League) Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah ... This is UA's 30th NCAA Tournament appearance overall (counting two vacated appearances) and the program has an official 47-26 (.644) record in its previous NCAA Tournament action ... This is Arizona's fifth NCAA appearance in Salt Lake City and the Cats have won their tournament opener four times in those five appearances. Since 1985, Arizona is 13-3 in NCAA Tournament Round of 32 games.
THE RANKINGS: UA is ranked 21st in the Associated Press poll and 20th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll (as of March 18). The Wildcats are one of 11 teams nationally to have been ranked in both polls in every ranking period this season.
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 215-89 (.707) and 95-42 (.693) at Arizona ... In his eight-plus year career, Miller's teams have won 20 games seven 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 17 trips to the postseason in his 20 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (10 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 24 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. Harvard as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona held Belmont to 1-of-11 shooting and opened a 14-4 lead and never looked back in winning 81-64 in its NCAA Tournament opener. The Wildcats shot 56.9 percent from the field, dominated the glass 44-18 and placed four players in double figures as it built as much as a 21-point lead. Belmont, who entered the game shooting 39 percent from three-point range as a team, connected on just 29.6 percent of its long-range attempts. Mark Lyons, who led all scorers with 23 points, tallied 14 in the second half, as the Cats blistered the nets with 67.9 percent shooting, while Kevin Parrom and Kaleb Tarczewski each pulled down eight rebounds.
SCOUTING HARVARD: The 11th-seeded Crimson enter the third round with a 20-9 record (11-3 Ivy) following Thursday's 68-62 win over New Mexico. On the season, Harvard averages 68.9 points per game, shoots 48.3 percent from the floor (661-of-1,367), 40.3 percent (186-of-462) from three-point range and 72.3 percent (490-of-678) from the line. Opponents average 63.8 points, outrebounded Harvard by 1.2 per game and shoot 43.8 percent from the floor (680-of-1,552). Individually, three Harvard players average in double figures, led by Wesley Saunders' 16.5 ppg figure. Steve Moundou-Missi leads the Crimson in rebounding at 5.1 rebounds per game.
THE SERIES: Arizona has a 2-0 record against Harvard in the series. The Wildcats beat the Crimson in December 1966 by a point, 59-58, in Tucson, and won the other game in December 1977 in Tucson, 83-60. The Wildcats are 6-0 against teams from the Ivy League, including an NCAA Tournament victory over Cornell (99-50, 1988 in Los Angeles), The Cats also have victories over Columbia (1975, Old Dominion Classic), Pennsylvania (1997, Arizona's Fiesta Bowl Classic) and Princeton (1986, Fiesta Bowl Classic.). For more information, please see page 44 in the UA media guide.
CLEANING THE GLASS, AND THEN SOME: Arizona built a whopping +26 rebounding margin against Belmont, finishing with 44 boards to 18 by the Bruins, matching its best season edge -- a 46-20 ratio against Miami in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu on Dec. 23. The effort Thursday wasn't marked by a monster game from an individual, but across-the-key contributions from forward Kevin Parrom (8), center Kaleb Tarczewski (8), and forwards Brandon Ashley (7) and Grant Jerrett (6) off the bench. The UA guards chipped in nine. Frosh Tarczewski got his eight in just 20 minutes played, limited by foul trouble.
KNOCKING THEM DOWN: Arizona's .569 field goal percentage on Thursday was its fifth-best effort in 75 historical NCAA Championships games, pushing a .566 mark by the 1990 Wildcats out of the top five. It included 67.9 percent shooting in the second half (19-of-28), a figure that was the highest field goal percentage in any half this season. On the season, the Wildcats are a spotless 6-0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the floor, and it's been six games since the Cats accomplished the feat - Feb. 23 vs. Washington State. In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 32-1 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.
IN THE PAINT: Arizona had 19 layups, dunks or close-in buckets against Belmont, one less than the Bruins total of 20 field goals. Belmont had 12 non-three FGs in the game. Holding one of the nation's top shooting teams to 12 inside-the-arc buckets was a huge key to the UA victory. The Cats blocked five shots and altered a dozen more with their size advantage. All told, Arizona's size led to a 36-18 advantage in points in the paint.
GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME: The Wildcats limited Belmont to just .296 shooting (8-of-27) from behind the arc, a solid effort against a club that knocked those shots down at nearly 40 percent during the regular season. Though Arizona opponents have shot a cumulative .367 from three-point range this season (254-of-692), the Cats have been better of late, limiting opponents to .325 shooting (27-of-83) over the last five games.
IT'S A HARD KNOCK LIFE: Arizona took some prognosticated knocks before the Belmont games for its supposed susceptibility to the three pointer. The Cats held the Bruins to 8-of-27 success and basically took the national leaders' strength out of the equation. In its three postseason games to date (counting the Pac-12 Tournament) opponents have connected at a 27% rate, well below the season rate of 36%. Belmont ace Ian Clark was 1-of-5 from beyond the arc in the first half (finished 3-of-8) to put UA's face-up effort in focus early. The Bruins were just 2-of-13 from three-point range in the opening half.
PERCENTAGE POINTS ON THE RISE: Conversely, Arizona found its range at a 53% rate in the second-round game, hitting nine treys in 17 tries including a 3-for-4 evening by Solomon Hill. That exceeded the season success mark by nearly 20 percentage points.
ON THE MARK: Mark Lyons returned to team-high scoring honors against Belmont (23, also game-high) for the first time in UA's past eight games, since he scored 18 in the same city across town at the Huntsman Center against Utah on Feb. 17. The month-long stretch for the Wildcats' leading scorer was marked by a few bad shooting games (1-9 at USC, 2-10 vs. ASU) although he averaged a dozen points in the stretch. Lyons has led the team in points scored 15 times, notched his seventh 20-point game and had his NCAA- career-best scoring output Thursday against the Bruins.
BREATHE EASY: The 17-point victory over Belmont was Arizona's biggest NCAA tournament victory since a 94-65 runaway over Wisconsin in the first round at Philadelphia in 2006. The Cats beat Duke in the West Regional in Anaheim in 2011 by 16. This season Arizona has enjoyed 12 games in which it beat opponents by 16 or more, with its last such victory a 17-point win against Washington State in Tucson on Feb. 23.
ELITE COMPANY: Senior forward Solomon Hill enters Saturday's game needing just four rebounds and nine points to move into 10th place on the Arizona career rebounds list and 20th on the UA career scoring list. Currently, Hill stands at 1,401 points and 760 rebounds. On the year, Hill averages 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Only one player in school history (Kyle Fogg, 139, 2008-12) has played more games in an Arizona uniform than Hill's 137 career appearances.
HEATING UP: Center Kaleb Tarczewski put forth a nice effort in his NCAA Tournament debut, hitting all five FG attempts to finish with 12 points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot. The effort was emblematic of his play of late, as the 7-footer from Claremont, N.H., has averaged 8.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game over his last eight games to go with a .641 (25-of-39) field goal percentage. Through 33 games, Tarczewski is averaging 6.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 80 points Thursday vs. Belmont, topping the 80-point plateau for the eighth time this year (8-0). Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 214-20 (.915) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 34-1 when scoring 80 or more points.
NCAA TOURNEY ODDS & ENDS ... Arizona won its first ever game as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Championships, and has beaten No. 11 seeds three times against no losses to same... The victory Thursday was UA's 30th in West Region play (30-18)... The Belmont win gave UA a 26-5 mark against teams seeded No. 10 through No. 16 in its NCAA history... UA is now 6-2 in three NCAA regionals held in Salt Lake City, its most wins at any NCAA Tournament site... The Cats enter play Saturday (March 23) with an historical 2-1 record in tourney games on that date, all previously occurring in Regional action - loss to UNLV in Denver in 1989 as No. 1 seed, victory over Providence in Birmingham in 1997 as a No. 4 seed and victory over Mississippi in 2001 at San Antonio as a No. 2 seed. The 1997 and 2001 March 23 wins helped get the Cats into Final Fours.
IN MARCH: Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Arizona has a 66-34 (.660) record in the month of March. In that span, 41 of those games have been played in the NCAA Tournament and UA is 29-12 (.707) in them. In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 14-7 (.667) in March.
UP NEXT: A win puts Arizona into next week's NCAA West Regional semifinal in Los Angeles.