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Cats, MSU Face Off for 2K Sports Classic Title
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/18/2011
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Nov. 18, 2011

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Date: Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011
Time: 7 p.m. EST
Location: Madison Square Garden (19,763), New York, N.Y.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: ESPN2 (Dan Shulman/Dick Vitale/Andy Katz)

GAME DATA: No. 15 Arizona (4-0, 0-0 Pac-12) faces Mississippi State (3-1, 0-0 SEC) Friday in Madison Square Garden in the finals of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer ... This is the Wildcats' eighth game in Madison Square Garden since November 2001 and the team is 6-1 in the previous seven games there ... Arizona topped the 80-point plateau for the first time this season in Thursday's win over St. John's.

THE RANKINGS: UA is ranked 15th in the current (Nov. 14) Associated Press poll and 16th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were ranked 16th in both 2011-12 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 170-70 (.708) and 50-23 (.685) 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. Mississippi State as a head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: Trailing by eight points with 7:17 to go, Arizona rattled off a 23-6 run to close the game and defeat St. John's, 81-72, Thursday in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. The Cats connected on 8-of-11 field goal in the spurt and limited the Red Storm to just one field goal and four free throws during the run. Arizona hit 14 treys in the game to offset 51.1 percent shooting by St. John's, outrebounded SJU by two and forced 17 turnovers. Five Wildcats finished in double figures, led by Solomon Hill's15 points.

SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs enter tonight's game with a 3-1 record (0-0 SEC) following Thursday's 69-60 win over Texas A&M. On the season, MSU averages 70.8 points, shoots 41.1 percent from the floor (97-of-236), 32.0 percent (24-of-75) from three-point range and 67.7 percent (65-of-96) from the line. Opponents average 64.8 points, are outrebounded by 8.3 boards per game and shoot 43.7 percent from the floor (104-of-238). Individually, three Bulldogs average in double-figures, led by Dee Bost's 18.0 ppg average. Arnette Moultrie leads MSU with an 11.5 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the fourth meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 2-1 advantage in the series, which dates back to Dec. 29, 1970. The teams have alternated wins since UA captured the debut meeting, 77-75, in the championship game of the Poinsetta Classic in Greenville, S.C. All-time, Arizona has an 0-1 record in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Starkville, Miss., and 2-0 in neutral-site games. For more series information, see page 47 in the UA media guide.

LAST MEETING: Arizona 68, Mississippi State 64, Dec. 5, 2004: Arizona made three of four free throws and Hassan Adams contributed a key blocked shot in the final 30 seconds as Arizona held off Mississippi State, 68-64. Led by Channing Frye's18 points and 16 rebounds, the Wildcats built as much as a 13-point lead before the Bulldogs trimmed the lead to a few as one with 1:46 to go. UA limited MSU to 35.4 percent shooting and forced 20 turnovers.

AT THE GARDEN: Since making its first appearance at New York's famed Madison Square Garden in December of 1947, Arizona has compiled a 13-5 record (.722) mark all-time at "The World's Most Famous Arena," including an 12-1 record since 1990. Here is a quick look at Arizona's most recent visits to 7th Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets in NYC:
Nov. 21, 1990: Arizona 91, Notre Dame 61, Preseason N.I.T.
Nov. 23, 1990: Arizona 89, Arkansas 77, Preseason N.I.T.
Nov. 22, 1995: Arizona 86, Michigan 79, Preseason N.I.T.
Nov. 24, 1995: Arizona 91, Georgetown 81, Preseason N.I.T.
Nov. 24, 1999: Arizona 76, Notre Dame 60, Preseason N.I.T.
Nov. 26, 1999: Arizona 63, Kentucky 51, Preseason N.I.T.
Nov. 8, 2001: Arizona 71, Maryland 67, Coaches vs. Cancer IKON Classic
Nov. 9, 2001: Arizona 75, Florida 71, Coaches vs. Cancer IKON Classic
Dec. 9, 2003: Arizona 91, Texas 83, Jimmy V Classic
Nov. 24, 2004: Arizona 61, Michigan 60 (ot), Preseason N.I.T.
Nov. 26, 2004: Wake Forest 63, Arizona 60, Preseason N.I.T.
Dec. 5, 2006: Arizona 72, Louisville 65, Jimmy V Classic
Nov. 17, 2011: Arizona 81, St. John's 72, 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer

LONG DISTANCE RUNAROUND: Credit solid shooting from three-point range for positioning the Cats for the win, as the team connected on 14-of-29 (.483) attempts from behind the arc. The effort was a season high for Arizona and equaled the most treys in a game during the Sean Millerera. Entering the game, Arizona hadn't made more than eight in a game all season and the squad topped that in the first half alone on Thursday, connecting on 9-of-17 (.529) long range shots.

ON TARGET: As mentioned above, Arizona connected on 8-of-11 shots during the decisive 23-6 run to cap Thursday's win, but that finish also allowed the Wildcats to shoot 50 percent for the half (14-of-28). It marks just the second time this season that Arizona has shot 50 percent or better from the field in any half this season. The only other occurrence came in the second half vs. Valparaiso when UA hit 12-of-20 (.600) shots from the field. On the year, Arizona is shooting 43.1 (84-of-195) from the field.

ANOTHER SEASON HIGH: Led by Solomon Hill's 15 points, Arizona placed five players in double figures in Thursday's win, which is a season high. The balanced attack also allowed the Wildcats to score a season-high 81 points. Through four games, five different UA players are averaging in double figures, marking the highest number of players to average 10 or more points at any point of the season in the Sean Millerera. Additionally, a season high 11 players saw action in Thursday's game.

A GOOD SIGN: Arizona did a number of things well Thursday, especially when looking at assists and turnovers. UA passed out a season-best 18 assists (on 25 made field goals) and turned it over a season-low 10 turnovers. Furthermore, Arizona forced 17 St. John's miscues, marking the first time this season that Arizona has both won the turnover battle and posted a positive assist:turnover ratio. Individually, Kyle Fogg (6 ast./0 turnovers) and Kevin Parrom(5/1) accounted for 11 turnovers against just one turnover in 52 combined minutes of action. THE FRUITS OF OUR LABOR: Early in this season the Wildcats are getting to the line quite often. Through four games, UA is averaging 32.5 free throw attempts per game as a team. Thursday vs. St. John's, Arizona managed to attempt 21 free throws (a season low), but did manage to make 81 percent of those charity tosses, a figure that was a season high.

DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE: Senior forward Jesse Perryput forth another workmanlike effort with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the win over St. John's. The 6-foot-7 native of St. Louis, Mo., notched his third double-double of the season and Arizona's fourth this year. UA has had one player collect a double-double in all four games to date.

ALL IN: Sean Milleroften preaches that contributions from everyone are necessary for team success. That was definitely on display Thursday, as nine of 11 players to see action scored a point, nine grabbed at least one rebound and seven collected an assist.

WELL ROUNDED: Junior forward Solomon Hillcontinues to efficiently fill up the stat sheet. Thursday vs. St. John's, the 6-foot-6 native of Los Angeles, Calif., tallied 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot in 31 minutes of action. Hill connected on 4-of-7 field goal (2-of-4 from three-point range) and 5-of-6 free throws. On the year, Hill is averaging 11.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

SCORING 80: Arizona scored 81 points Thursday vs. St. John's, topping the 80-point plateau for the first time this year (1-0). Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 201-19 (.914) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.

UP NEXT: Arizona returns home to face San Diego State on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Tip-off in McKale Center is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MST and can be seen on FS Arizona plus.

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