Feb. 24, 2012
Date: Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012
Time: Noon MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (15,538), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach) [Sirius/XM: 94/195]
Westwood One Radio Network (John Tautges/Bill Frieder)
TV: CBS-TV (Brian Anderson/Dan Bonner)
GAME DATA: Arizona (20-9, 11-5 Pac-12) closes out the home portion of the regular- season Saturday vs. UCLA (16-12, 9-6 Pac-12) noon MST in a nationally televised game on CBS-TV ... UA averages 71.2 points per game at home this season, while limiting opponents to just 59.4 points, including 60.4 points over the last five games ... Over the last 28 years, Arizona is an impressive 24-4 (.857) in regular season home finales. However, the Cats have dropped three of its last six "Senior Day" tilts.
THE RANKINGS: UA remains unranked in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls this week.
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 186-79 (.702) and 66-32 (.673) 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 3-4 vs. UCLA as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Kyle Fogg posted a double-double and Arizona held USC scoreless for the final 7:58 of the first half to erase an eight-point deficit and lead by four at the break in what became a 70-54 UA win Thursday in McKale Center. UA moved the lead to double figures within the first four minutes of the second half and built as much as a 19-point lead, shooting 54 percent from the field in the period. Fogg (16 pts./12 reb.) and Josiah Turner combined for 31 points as the Cats scored 70 points for the fifth straight game.
SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins enter today's game with a 16-12 record (9-6 Pac-12) following Thursday's 66-57 win at Arizona State. On the year, UCLA averages 69.1 points, shoots 46.6 percent from the floor (722-of-1,549), 37.4 percent (144-of-385) from three-point range and 66.5 percent (346-of-520) from the line. Opponents average 63.5 points, are outrebounded by 3.0 boards per game and shoot 42.6 percent from the floor (631-of-1,481). Individually, four UCLA players average in double figures, led by Lazeric Jones' 13.4 ppg figure. David Wear leads the Bruins with a 6.0 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Today's game is the 85th meeting of the two schools with UCLA holding a 49-35 series advantage. Arizona has won 15 of the last 29 meetings in the series, which dates back to Feb. 19, 1923, but UCLA captured the last two, including a 65-58 win in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 5. All-time, Arizona is 21-14 in series games played in Tucson, 13-30 in Westwood, and 1-5 in neutral-site games (includes January's game in Anaheim). For more series information, please see page 49 in the UA media guide.
LAST MEETING: UCLA 65, Arizona 58, Jan. 5, 2012: Arizona had no answer for the Wear twins, who combined for 34 points and 10 rebounds in UCLA's seven-point win. The Bruins scored 40 of its 65 points in the paint and forced 16 Wildcat turnovers. UA cut the deficit to three points with 3:27 to go, but got no closer. Arizona outrebounded UCLA, 39-37, but connected on just 36.2 percent of its field goal attempts. Solomon Hill posted his fourth double-double of the season in the loss.
SENIOR CLASS: Arizona's senior class, which includes players Kyle Fogg, Alex Jacobson, Brendon Lavender, Jesse Perry and Dondre Wise and floor managers Aaron Levine, David Miller and Tyler Tatum makes its final appearance in front of the home fans this weekend. Over the last four years, the Cats have won 87 games, including a 55-11 (.833) record in McKale Center, won more than 20 games three times, including last year's 30-win season, advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice (to date), made two Sweet 16 appearances, one trip to the Elite Eight and claimed the 2011 Pac-10 championship.
20 WINS: By virtue of its 16-point win Thursday, Arizona now has won 20 games for the second consecutive season and the 33rd time in school history. Further, it was UA's 23rd 20-win campaign in the last 25 season. For Sean Miller, it was his sixth 20-win season in eight years as a college head coach.
A NEW LOOK: Arizona will debut a new set of uniforms this afternoon, as the Cats will wear the Nike Elite Platinum uniforms. The Cats are one of only seven men's programs nationally to receive the new duds. Nike's latest and most innovative fit system includes shorts are made from 100 percent recycled polyester, while the jerseys are made from at least 96 percent recycled polyester.
STRONG TO THE FINISH: The Wildcats have proven themselves to be a much more well-rounded squad here in the second half of the season. When comparing the first 15 games to open the season to the last 14 to close, Arizona has remained consistent in its scoring (70.0 ppg to start/69.9 ppg to close) and its shooting (.446/.446). But the club has been better at getting to the free throw line (20.9 attempts per game/24.5) and better at taking care of the ball (12.8 turnovers per game/11.8). Additionally, UA's field goal percentage defense is improved (.407/.399), as has its opposing points per game (63.1/61.6) and scoring margin (+6.9/+8.3). Individually, Kyle Fogg has seen his scoring average jump the most, moving from 11.3 ppg in the first half to 14.6 ppg in the second.
GET ON THE GLASS: Led by the exploits of senior guard Kyle Fogg, Arizona got back to its board-winning ways Thursday, outrebounding USC, 38-31. Fogg pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds, a figure that included a UA season-high 11 defensive rebounds. On the season, Arizona has outrebounded 21 of 29 opponents and has a 17-4 record (9-3 Pac-12) when accomplishing the feat. The 6-foot-3 native of Brea, Calif., has been on a bit of rebounding binge lately, as he has 31 rebounds in his last three games (10.3 rpg). The spike in productivity has boosted his season rebound average from 2.8 rpg to 3.6 rpg, a jump of nearly 25 percent.
CLOSING FAST: Trailing 24-16 with 7:58 to go in the first half Thursday, Arizona responded with a 12-0 run to close the half and take control of the game. Arizona connected on 5-of-9 shots in the run and limited USC to 0-of-8 shooting. Freshman Josiah Turner capped the run with four points of his own, courtesy of a steal and dunk with 45 seconds to go and a jumper at the buzzer to give the Cats a four-point lead at the break.
WORTH NOTING: A quick glance at Thursday's boxscore shows that Arizona shot seven more free throws and outscored USC, 10-5 from the free throw line. However, something interesting happened in the first half as Arizona did not attempt a single free throw. The last time Arizona failed to make at least one free throw in a half came on Jan. 6, 1983, against USC (in three att.). Not that it hasn't happened before, but there is no reference in the UA record book of Arizona being shut out when it comes to free throw attempts in a half.
BALL SECURITY: Football coaches often use the term ball security in reference to not committing turnovers when possessing the ball. While the possessions come more often on the hardwood, the term certainly applies. Led by point guard Josiah Turner, who played 31 minutes without a turnover, Arizona committed just 10 miscues Thursday, 2.3 fewer than its season average and the same number as USC. That figure is important, as the Cats are 12-1 when committing the same or fewer turnovers than its opponent and 8-8 when committing more.
DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Kyle Fogg collected the second double-double of his career (and second in the last three games) Thursday with 16 points and a career-high 12 rebounds against USC. Fogg is one of three Wildcats to register a double-double this season, joining Solomon Hill (10) and Jesse Perry (9). Arizona's 21 double-doubles this season lead all Pac-12 clubs. Furthermore, Fogg's offensive night Thursday was his 20th game in double figures this season and the 59th in his career. On the way to those 59 games with 10 or more points, Fogg has improved each season, registering eight as a freshman, 13 as a sophomore, 18 as a junior and 20 this year.
CHANGE IS GOOD: When Brendon Lavender replaced Josiah Turner in the starting lineup Thursday, it marked the seventh different starting five for the Wildcats this season. A total of nine different players have made at least one start in 2011-12 with only Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry making all 29 starts. The seven different starting fives is the most lineup combinations used by Sean Miller over the last three seasons, as he used six different lineups in 2009-10 and four last season.
JORDIN'S BACK: Sophomore Jordin Mayes returned to action Thursday, knocking down a jumper in a brief two-minute appearance. It was his first appearance since leaving the game at California on Feb. 2 with soreness in his left foot, the same foot that required offseason surgery to repair a stress fracture. On the year, the 6-foot-2 Los Angeles, Calif., native is averaging 5.3 points, 1.4 rebounds and 17.5 minutes per game in 24 appearances (12 starts).
AT HIS BEST: Freshman guard Josiah Tuner put forth an assertive 15-point, six-assist performance Thursday vs. USC, one that Sean Miller called Turner's best at Arizona. The 6-foot-3 native of Sacramento, Calif., connected on 6-of-12 field goal attempts (both career highs) in totaling a season-best 15 points. For good measure, his six assists came against zero turnovers. The effort improved his assist:turnover ratio to 1.5:1 in Pac-12 play. On the year, Turner averages 6.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
IMPROVING: It might not seem like much, but Arizona is riding a streak of five straight games with 70 or more points, the Cats' longest such streak of the season. In that span, UA is averaging 71.4 points, 2.4 points better than its average in Pac-12 action (69.0 ppg). Overall, Arizona is 14-2 this year when scoring 70 or more points.
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 gets a brief respite before its regular-season finale, as the Cats don't travel to Tempe, Ariz., to face Arizona State until Sunday, March 4. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. MST and can be seen nationally on FOX Sports Net.