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Cats, Aggies Renew Basketball Rivalry
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: November 16, 2010
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Nov. 16, 2010

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Date: Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010
Time: 6:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FSAZ (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)

Online Coverage: Gametracker | Live Audio


Game Data:  Arizona (1-0, 0-0 Pac-10) hosts New Mexico State (2-0, 0-0 WAC) Thursday in McKale Center ... It is the second game of a season-opening six games in 13 days for the Cats ... This is New Mexico State's first appearance in McKale Center since the 2006-07 campaign ... UA and NMSU meet for the 96th time tonight, which will be the fourth-highest total in program history ... The Wildcats did a number of things right in its season opener, i.e. 90 points, 52.4 percent shooting, +15 rebound margin, but it will be interesting to see how UA responds to an opponent who's starting line-up averages 6-foot-6 and carries NCAA Tournament experience with it ... Points haven't been a problem for either team, as both topped 90 points in each appearance to date.


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 137-62 (.688) and 17-15 (.531) 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. New Mexico State as a head coach.


Last Time Out:  Holding a four-point lead with 11 minutes remaining in the first half, Arizona responded with a 26-0 run over the next 12:56 to put the game out of reach in what became a 90-42 win over Idaho State last Sunday.  The Cats shot 59.6 percent from the floor, posted a +15 rebound margin and limited Idaho State to just 28.1 percent shooting for the game.  All 15 players on the roster saw action, 13, scored and four finished in double figures as Arizona built as much as a 53-point lead.  It was UA's ninth consecutive home-opening win.


Scouting New Mexico State:  Coach Marvin Menzies returns three starters and 10 letterwinners from a 2009-10 club that won 22 games and the 2010 Western Athletic Conference tournament title.  The Aggies currently carry a 2-0 record after a 95-62 win over Western New Mexico on Monday.  NMSU shoots 52.0 percent from the field (64-of-123), including 43.5 percent (20-of-46) from three-point range, and posts a +15 rebound advantage.  NMSU opponents are averaging just 69.0 points and a .383 field goal percentage (46-of-120).  Four Aggies average in double figures, led by Troy Gillenwater's 25.5 ppg average.  He also leads the team with an 8.0 rebounds per game average. 


The Series:  Today's game is the 96th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 57-38 series advantage.  After playing on a nearly annual basis from 1917-71, the foes meet for just the third time since 1971.  Prior to UA's 84-60 win on Nov. 19, 1999, NMSU had won six straight and 13 of the last 16 in the series.  The teams last met on Nov. 19, 2006, a 102-87 UA win.  All-time, Arizona is 31-11 in series games played in Tucson, 25-27 in Las Cruces, and 1-0 in neutral-site games.  See page 43 of the Arizona media guide for a game-by-game series listing.


Last Meeting:  Arizona 102, New Mexico State 87, Nov. 19, 2006:  Jawann McClellan scored a career-high 22 points and set a school record with prefect shooting from three-point range as Arizona claimed the 15-point win.  McClellan connected on 7-of-7 attempts from behind the arc and added seven rebounds and four assists.  Arizona turned the tide in this game with a 25-0 run that covered 7:45 of the first half.


Against the Western Athletic Conference:  Arizona holds a 74-48 (.607) cumulative record against schools that currently make up the Western Athletic Conference.  Prior to this evening's game, UA last met a WAC foe on Dec. 9, 2009, an 83-67 Arizona win over Louisiana Tech in Tucson.  Arizona was a charter member of the WAC from 1962-78.


Leading the Charge:  Solomon Hill led Arizona to its first of the season by tallying 10 points, a game-high eight rebounds, an assist and a block in Arizona's 90-42 season-opening win over Idaho State.  The sophomore forward connected on 4-of-7 field goal attempts (.571) and both of his free throws in 20 minutes of action.  Six of his points and seven of his rebounds came in the first half as the Wildcats jumped out to a 41-15 lead in the first period.  It marked the ninth career game with 10 or more points, while the eight rebounds equaled a career high.


Quite a Run:  Arizona won its season-opening game by 48 points Sunday and in the course of the victory held as much as a 53-point lead in the second half.  The Cats broke the game open with a 26-0 run over 12:56 and never looked back.  UA led 19-15 with 11 minutes to go in the first half before taking over from there.  In that span, Arizona was 9-of-16 from the field while Idaho State went 0-of-13.


Big Numbers:  Arizona's 53-point lead gained and 48-point winning margin was the highest in each category for the program since Dec. 2, 2000, when UA defeated Saint Mary's (Calif.), 101-41.  Interestingly, it marked the first time in the Sean Miller era at Arizona that the Wildcats had won a game by more than 20 points.  Furthermore, Miller has now won each of his season openers in his seven seasons as a college head coach - 5-0 at Xavier and 2-0 here at Arizona - and done so by an average of 30.4 points per game.


On the Good side of 50:  Arizona connected on 59.6 percent of its field goal attempts (31-of-52) Sunday, including 69.6 percent (16-of-23) in the second half.  Of Arizona's 16 second-half field goals, eight (in 11 attempts) came from behind the arc.  For the entire game, Arizona tallied 11 dunks or lay-ups, nine midrange shots and 11 three-point field goals.  The Wildcats are 8-0 under Sean Miller when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.


On the Rise:  Arizona's guards posted a collective 19:8 assist:turnover ratio in Sunday's win.  The starting backcourt of Lamont Jones and Kyle Fogg both posted identical totals of four assists against only one miscue in 20 minutes of action.  As a team, Arizona totaled 22 assists against 12 turnovers against Idaho State, and had an assist on 71 percent of the field goals.


Passing a Milestone:  Tonight's game marks the 200th game for Sean Miller as a college head coach.  Entering play tonight, Miller has a 137-62 (.688) record.


Getting his Feet Wet:  Junior forward Jesse Perry, a transfer from John A. Logan Community College, made his NCAA Division I debut Sunday, posting eight points (6-of-8 FT), five boards and two steals in 15 minutes.  He was one of four Cats to collect at least five rebounds in the contest.


Making it difficult to score:  On the defensive end of the court, the Wildcats limited the Bengals to just 28.1 percent (16-of-57) shooting and 42 total points.  Those numbers are worth noting because they were the lowest opposing field goal percentage and lowest offensive output of the Sean Miller era. It marked the 11th time in 32 games that Arizona has held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting and the fifth time in holding the opposition to less than 60 points.


An Anniversary of Sorts:  Solomon Hill equaled a career high with eight rebounds Sunday vs. Idaho State and it took an entire calendar year to do so.  The 6-foot-6 sophomore forward originally set the mark with eight boards in his collegiate debut, Nov. 15, 2009, an 87-70 win over Northern Arizona...last year's season opener.


Piling Up Points:  Arizona's 90 points Sunday were the second-highest point total for the program under the direction of Sean Miller.  Only a 91-point effort in overtime vs. Colorado (87) at the EA Sports Maui Invitational, Nov. 24, 2009, topped Sunday's output.  All 15 players on the UA roster saw action Sunday, and 13 of those scored points.  Four of those players scored their first collegiate points in the contest.  In case you were wondering, Arizona hasn't scored 90 points in back-to-back games since Jan. 24-29, 2009, in wins over Houston (96-90) and Washington (106-97).


An Efficient Effort:  He came of the bench and only logged 11 minutes, but junior guard Brendon Lavender made the most of them by hitting 4-of-5 attempts from behind the arc.  His 12 points marked the fourth double-figure scoring effort of his career, while his four treys and two assists equaled career highs in both categories.


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 68-20 (.773) 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 88) were nationally ranked at the time of the game.  In those contests, Arizona is 18-10 (.643).


Double Figures on the Next Level:  Ten former Arizona men's basketball players were on active National Basketball Association rosters, as the league opened the 2010-11 season Oct. 26.  The list of players includes Gilbert Arenas (Washington Wizards), Jerryd Bayless (New Orleans Hornets), Mike Bibby (Atlanta Hawks), Chase Budinger (Houston Rockets), Channing Frye (Phoenix Suns), Jordan Hill (Houston Rockets), Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers), Richard Jefferson (San Antonio Spurs), Jason Terry (Dallas Mavericks) and Luke Walton (Los Angeles Lakers).  Arizona is tied for seventh nationally in terms of active NBA player production.  There have been at least eight former Cats in the NBA in each of the last 11 seasons with 10 or more in eight of those campaigns.


Scoring 80:  Arizona scored 90 points Nov. 14 vs. Idaho State, breaking the 80-point barrier for the first time this year.  Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 187-19 (.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 tonight's game, the Wildcats begin play in the iBN Las Vegas Invitational.  UA hosts Northern Colorado on Sunday, Nov. 21.  Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. MST and will be televised by KWBA-TV and FS Arizona.


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