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Fiesta Bowl Classic Tips Saturday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/09/2011
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Dec. 9, 2011

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Date: Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011
Time: 2 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach) [Sirius/XM: 128/194]
TV: FOX Sports Net (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson/Rebecca Haarlow)

GAME DATA: Arizona (6-3, 0-0 Pac-12) plays host to Clemson (4-3, 0-0 ACC) Saturday in McKale Center as part of the 27th annual Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic ... All-time, the Wildcats are 45-2 (.957) in Fiesta Bowl Classic action, including a 4-1 record since the format changed to a one-game showcase in 2006 ... Arizona has faced at least one Atlantic Coast Conference foe in the regular season in six of the last seven seasons, posting a 3-6 (.333) record in that span ... Opponents are averaging 57.2 points and shooting 39.2 percent (104-of-265) from the field in five games at McKale Center this year.

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 172-73 (.702) and 52-26 (.667) 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 0-0 vs. Clemson as a head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: Solomon Hill’s three free throws with four seconds remaining in regulation forced an extra period, but Florida sank 8-of-12 free throws in overtime to pull away and win, 78-72, Wednesday in Gainesville, Fla. UA led by seven points with 6:12 to go in the second half and withstood a 14-4 Florida run before Hill’s momentary heroics. Turnovers and rebounding ultimately spelled doom for the Cats, as the Gators enjoyed a +6 margin in turnover points and a +13 margin in second-chance points. Jesse Perry tallied a career-high 23 points to lead the Cats.

SCOUTING CLEMSON: The Tigers enter today’s game with a 4-3 record (0-0 ACC) following last Sunday’s 58-55 loss to South Carolina. On the season, Clemson averages 64.4 points, shoots 46.1 percent from the floor (172-of-373), 35.9 percent (42-of-117) from three-point range and 65.7 percent (65-of-99) from the line. Opponents average 55.4 points, are outrebounded by 5.9 boards per game and shoot 38.8 percent from the floor (139-of-358). Individually, two CU players averages in double-figures, led by Andre Young’s 14.1 ppg average. Tanner Smith leads Clemson with a 7.4 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: Today’s game is the second meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 1-0 series. Arizona won the only previous meeting, 94-68, on March 18, 1989, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament West Region in Boise, Idaho. All-time, Arizona is 0-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Clemson, S.C., and 1-0 in neutral-site games. For more series information, please see page 47 in the UA media guide.

LAST MEETING: Arizona 94, Clemson 68, March 18, 1989: Arizona shot nearly 60 percent from the field in the second half to pull away. The Wildcats forced 22 Clemson turnovers and outscored the Tigers 19-5 from the free throw line in the 26-point win. Sean Elliott led all scorers with 25 points, while Matt Muehlebach added 19 points and four assists and Jud Buechler chipped in 15 points and three steals. A 10-point game with 10 minutes to go, UA closed the game on a 29-13 run.

AGAINST THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE: All-time, Arizona is 21-16 (.586) all-time against teams that currently reside in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and as mentioned earlier, is 3-6 against the league dating back to the start of the 2004-05 season. Arizona last faced an ACC foe on March 24, 2010, downing Duke, 93-77, in the NCAA West Regional semifinal in Anaheim, Calif. For more information on series against the conferences, please see page 51 of the UA media guide.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FIESTA BOWL CLASSIC: Long considered one of the finest in-season events in college basketball, the Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic now is in its 27th year. For the first 21 years, the event was a four-team tournament that regularly featured some of the nation’s best programs. From 1985-2005, Arizona won 20 of 21 championships, losing only the 2000 title game, 75-74, to Mississippi State. The format was changed in 2006 to a one-game showcase that has spotlighted Memphis, San Diego State, Kansas, BYU, Northern Arizona, and this season, Clemson. For more Fiesta Bowl Classic information, please see pages 41-42 in the UA men’s basketball media guide.

BUCKING A TREND: For starters, Arizona did a good job of limiting Florida’s looks Wednesday, as UA limited the Gators to 41.2 percent shooting (28-of-68) from the field. That figure was 7.2 percentage points lower than UF’s season field goal percentage entering the contest (.484). Additionally, Arizona connected on 47.3 percent of its attempts (26-of-55), which was it’s third-best field goal percentage of the season. Usually, Arizona wins the games in which it outshoots the opposition, but Wednesday’s game marked the first loss in five such occurrences this season.

EVEN BETTER: Sean Miller has long pointed to UA’s three-point field goal percentage defense figures as a source of pride. He certainly had to feel good about the team’s effort Wednesday, as Arizona forced Florida’s perimeter players to miss quite a few shots. The Gators connected on just 7-of-26 three-point field goal attempts (.269), which was a UF season low. Additionally, it was the fewest treys Florida had made in a game this year. Arizona leads Pac-12 clubs with a .288 (49-of-170) three-point FG defense figure, and ranked fifth nationally in that category last season.

BEATEN BADLY: Simply put, Arizona got outmuscled on the glass Wednesday in Gainesville, as Florida posted a 47-35 rebound advantage, a figure that included 22 offensive rebounds. Florida’s +12 rebound advantage equaled the second-biggest rebound deficit of the Sean Miller era – topped only by a +14 advantage (45-31) by North Carolina State in a game UA won last season, 72-62, in Raleigh. Florida’s 22 offensive rebounds led to a 19-6 advantage in second-chance points, certainly a decisive number in a contest that went to overtime.

ANOTHER RARITY: Arizona led by as many as seven points, the last such lead (59-52) coming with 6:12 to go in regulation, and held a two-point advantage with five minutes to go. That mark is significant because Wednesday’s game marked just the third time in the Sean Miller era that Arizona had lost a game in which it led with five minutes to go. Since the start of the 2009-10 season, Arizona is 40-3 (.930) when leading with 300 seconds remaining.

SHINING: Senior Jesse Perry put forth another solid performance Wednesday at Florida, posting 23 points, seven rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes of action. The 6-foot-7 forward from St. Louis, Mo., connected on a career-best 8-of-11 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from three-point range, to finish with a career-high 23 points – his 15th career game in double figures. Perry leads or shares the team lead in field goal percentage (.520), offensive rebounding (2.4 or/g), defensive rebounding (6.4 dr/g), total rebounds (8.9 rpg) and scoring (11.9 ppg). In his last three games, Perry is 16-of-23 (.696) from the field.

GETTING BETTER: Sean Miller used his fourth different starting lineup Wednesday, and one of the primary reasons was to get junior swingman Kevin Parrom a bit more court time. The 6-foot-6 native of the Bronx, N.Y., responded by scoring 11 of his season-high 13 points in the first half and finishing with five rebounds, five assists and a steal in a season-high 32 minutes. It marked Parrom’s first game in double figures this year, a noteworthy milestone for a player still recovering from a September gunshot wound. On the year, Parrom averages 5.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

THAT’S MORE LIKE IT: Guard Kyle Fogg used some long-range accuracy Wednesday to notch his second-best offensive night of the season. The senior from Brea, Calif., connected on 7-of-11 field goal at Florida, including a season-best 4-of-6 from three-point range en route to 19 points. For good measure, he added three boards, two steals, a block and an assist in a career-high 40 minutes. Fogg leads Arizona with a .457 (16-of-35) three-point field goal percentage and shares the team lead by averaging 11.9 ppg.

STEPPING UP: A natural two-guard, freshman Nick Johnson got his first-ever start at point guard Wednesday and logged 35 solid minutes in Gainesville. The 6-foot-2 product of Gilbert, Ariz., registered five points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in the effort. Johnson, one of UA’s steadiest players, is averaging 10.1 points and 2.4 rebounds, while shooting 40.6 percent (13-of-32) from three-point range.

MOVEMENT IN THE MIDDLE: Freshman Angelo Chol continues to show progress at the center position, as he tallied two points, four rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes Wednesday at Florida. In the last three games, the 6-foot-9 native of San Diego, Calif., has hit 3-of-5 field goal attempts and is averaging 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 12.0 minutes in that span.

RECENTLY: In the last three games, Arizona has connected on a respectable 47.5 percent (75-of-158) of its FG attempts, a significant improvement over the Wildcats’ .408 figure (126-of-309) through its first six games. Incidentally, opponents are shooting a combined 39.1 percent from the floor (72-of-184) in the last three outings.

POSITIVE SPIN: As witnessed by his five-assist, zero-turnover game Wednesday, Kevin Parrom currently leads Arizona with a 3:1 assist:turnover ratio (15:5). He joins Solomon Hill (1.3:1), Nick Johnson (1.3:1) and Brendon Lavender (2.3:1) as UA regulars with positive assist:turnover ratios.

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: Arizona next will be in action on Saturday, Dec. 17, when UA meets 23rd-ranked Gonzaga in Seattle, Wash., in the State Farm Battle in Seattle. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. PST and can be seen nationally on CBS-TV.

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