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First Place on the Line as Cats Travel to Seattle
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: January 18, 2011
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 18, 2011

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Date: Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011
Time: 7:30 p.m. PST
Location: Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion (10,000), Seattle, Wash.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)

Game Data:  Newly ranked No. 25 Arizona (15-3, 4-1 Pac-10) heads to Seattle, Wash., to face No. 20 Washington (13-4, 5-1 Pac-10) Thursday at Bank of America Arena ... First place is on the line in the Pac-10 standings for the teams who  rank 1-2 in the league in terms of victories, scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage defense and rebound margin ... The Wildcats are 2-3 in its last five trips to Bank of America Arena with those games being decided by an average of six points ... The cumulative points scored in that span is UW 421, UA 411 ...  Arizona averages 76.1 points per game in seven games away from home this year, to go with a .481 FG percentage (176-of-366).


The Rankings:  Arizona is ranked 25th in this week’s ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll.  It is the first time UA has been ranked during the regular season since Jan. 7, 2008.  Arizona remains unranked in the Associated Press poll.


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 151-65 (.699) and 31-18 (.633) 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, 42, earned a degree in communications from Pitt in 1992 ... He is assisted by Archie Miller, Emanuel Richardson and James Whitford ... Miller is 1-1 vs. Washington as a head coach.


Last Time Out:  Powered by Derrick Williams’ fifth double-double of the season, Arizona posted an 80-69 win over Arizona State Saturday in Tucson.  Williams equaled a career high with 31 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, including 18 points in the second half.  He scored nine points in a 23-6 run that covered nine minutes of the first half that gave UA control for good.  Arizona posted a +15 rebound margin and had a 12-3 advantage in second chance points.  Jesse Perry (13) and Solomon Hill (11) combined for 24 points.


Scouting Washington:  The Huskies enter tonight’s game with a 13-4 record (5-1 Pac-10) following a 92-71 win Sunday at California.  On the season, UW averages 87.1 points, shoots 48.6 percent from the floor (552-of-1136), 40.4 percent (162-of-401) from three-point range and 65.2 percent (215-of-330) from the line.  Opponents average 67.6 points, are outrebounded by 6.5 boards per game and shoot 39.8 percent from the floor (388-of-974).  Individually, three Husky players average in double-figures, led by Isaiah Thomas’ 16.5 points per game figure.  Matthew Bryan-Amaning leads UW with a 7.7 rebounds per game average.


The Series:  Tonight’s game marks the 68th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 43-24 series advantage.  Arizona has won seven of the last 13 in the series, but Washington captured the last, 81-75 in Seattle on Feb. 4, 2010.  All-time, Arizona is 25-6 in series games played in Tucson, 17-16 in Seattle, Wash., and 1-2 in neutral site games.  For more series information, please see page 46 in the UA media guide.


Last Meeting:  Washington 81, Arizona 75, Feb. 4, 2010:  Arizona shot 41 percent from the field, was outrebounded and committed a season-high 20 turnovers in the six-point loss.  Washington’s Quincy Pondexter proved to be the difference, tallying 30 points and 12 rebounds and the Huskies  sank 21-of-25 free throws in the second half.  Led by Lamont Jones’ 14 points, Arizona got a season-high 40 points from its bench, but it wasn’t enough to offset a 25-8 disadvantage in turnover points.


It’s Nice to be Noticed: Sean Miller’s rebuilding efforts took another step forward Monday, as the Wildcats returned to the national rankings.  Arizona (15-3, 4-1 Pac-10) was ranked 25th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, receiving a total of 60 votes.  It marked Arizona’s first appearance in the national rankings since the 2008-09 postseason coaches’ poll, which ranked UA 23rd following its run to the 2009 NCAA Tournament regional semifinals.  It’s also the first time the Wildcats have been nationally ranked during the regular season since being ranked 24th in the Jan. 7, 2008, coaches’ poll.  Said Miller, “Our team is excited about being a part of the top 25 once again,” said Miller. “We feel good about the fact that we’ve played some good basketball, and hopefully, we will continue to play well and stay in it.  Every program wants to be a part of the national rankings and it’s our goal to get this program back to the point where it’s a part of the polls from the preseason through the end of March.”


Against Ranked Opponents: When Arizona takes the court tonight against No. 20 Washington, it will mark the Wildcats’ third game this season against a nationally ranked foe – L, 87-79 to No. 6 Kansas/L, 87-65 to No. 18 BYU).  Since the Associated Poll debuted during the 1949 season, Arizona is 126-165 (.433) against all ranked opponents, and the Cats are 5-2 against teams ranked No. 20 at the time of the game.  Last season, Sean Miller’s charges went 1-2 against ranked teams. Please see pages 70-72 in the UA media guide for more information.  Incidentally, this is Arizona’s first game where both teams are nationally ranked since Dec. 29, 2007, when No. 2 Memphis defeated No. 17 Arizona, 76-63.


Player of the Week:  Derrick Williams earned Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honors Monday after totaling 31 points, 10 rebounds and two assists in Arizona’s 80-69 win over Arizona State.  The sophomore forward connected on 66.7 percent of his field goals (8-of-12) and 93.8 percent (15-of-16) of his free throws to go with two assists and a steal.  Williams equaled a career-high 31 points, marking the second time in the last three games that he has scored 31 points, while notching his fifth double-double of the season. He collected nine points in an early 23-6 run that enabled Arizona to take control and added 18 points in the second half as the Cats closed out the 11-point win.  He has now scored in double figures in 27 consecutive games dating back to last season.  The effort boosted Williams’ season per game averages to 19.7 points and 7.3 rebounds to go with a .658 field goal percentage.  It was the second time that Williams has earned P.O.W. honors this season from the conference office.


Signs Point to Success:  Over the last three games, Arizona’s point guard combination of Lamont Jones and Jordin Mayes have become more efficient, totaling 14 assists against only five turnovers in 120 minutes played.  The 2.8:1 assist:turnover ratio is more than twice as good as their combined ratio for the season (1.3:1).


Not Exactly Close:  Arizona notched an 11-point win Saturday, marking the 12th time in 18 games that a contest was decided by more than 10 points.  On the season, UA is 11-1 in games decided by 11 or more points.  The Wildcats enjoy a +14.8 ppg scoring margin through 18 games.  In Arizona’s 15 victories to date, the squad outscores the opposition by a +19.8 ppg margin on average.


Strong on the Glass:  The Wildcats continue to do a solid job on the boards, as the club outrebounded Arizona State, 35-21, on Saturday, which was the 10th time this year that Arizona has posted a rebound margin of +10 or more in a single game.  UA’s rebound margin this season is +6.7, and that figure improves to +8.0 in Pac-10 play.  Arizona has posted double-figure rebound advantages over three of five Pac-10 foes, and in the last two games, that advantage averages out to a +14.5 figure.


Capitalizing on the Opportunities:  Led by Derrick Williams (15-of-16) and Solomon Hill (7-of-8), Arizona connected on 26-of-31 (.839) free throw attempts Saturday vs. Arizona State, doubling the Sun Devil count from the stripe (26-13).  What has made Arizona so good from the stripe is twofold:  1.) the team gets to the line often, averaging 24.7 attempts per game; and 2.) the team efficiently converts those opportunities, connecting on 75.7 percent (336-of-444) attempts.  To date, Arizona outscores its opponents by an average of 5.1 points per game from the free throw line.


Heating Up:  Derrick Williams equaled a career high with 31 points Saturday, marking the second time in the last three games that the 6-foot-8 sophomore forward tallied 31 points.  In that span, Williams is averaging 25.3 ppg, while shooting 69.0 percent from the field (20-of-29) and sinking 33-of-44 (.750) free throws.  The native of La Mirada, Calif., has been Arizona’s leading scorer in 14 of 18 games this season.


Doubling Up:  Williams notched his fifth double-double of the season Saturday, collecting 31 points and 10 rebounds against Arizona State.  It was also the ninth such effort of his career.  En route to the double-double on Saturday, Williams collected four offensive rebounds, a slight boost over his 2.7 offensive rebounds per game figure for the season.  His four offensive rebounds vs. ASU were the most for Williams since Dec. 8 (10 games) and equaled his fourth-best offensive rebounding effort this year.


Living at the Line:  It’s no secret that Derrick Williams practically lives at the free throw line. What’s most impressive is that his ability to get to the line has improved in Pac-10 play.  Through 18 games, 37.7 percent of his points scored (134-of-355) have come from the free throw line, where he averages 9.7 free throws per game.  In Pac-10 play, 42.3 percent of his points (44-of-104) have come from the line, where he is averaging 13 free throws per game.  To further that point, Williams has attempted 38 field goal attempts in conference play and 65 free throw attempts.


Helping the Cause:  Junior forward Jesse Perry put forth a spirited effort in Saturday’s win, finishing with 13 points, three rebounds and an assist in 21 minutes of action.  The 6-foot-7 product of St. Louis, Mo., connected on 6-of-9 field goal attempts to register his third game this season in double figures.  On the season, Perry averages 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds, while shooting 45.5 percent (35-of-77) from the field.


Not to Be Overlooked:  Sophomore Solomon Hill tallied 11 points and four rebounds (three offensive) against Arizona State, and the 6-foot-6 forward continues to be Arizona’s second-best scorer (8.5 ppg) and rebounder (4.7 rpg) this season.  In Arizona’s last three games, Hill is averaging 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds, while shooting 53.8 percent from the field.  What’s been good to see from Hill is that he is getting to the line, averaging 6.0 free throw attempts per game of late, nearly double his average of 3.4 attempts per game through 18 starts.


High-Water Marks:  In defeating its intrastate rival Saturday, Arizona’s 43 first-half points and 80 for the game were the most points allowed by Arizona State in both scenarios this season. Additionally, it was the most points scored by the Wildcats in Pac-10 play and marked the eighth time this season that the team has reached the 80-point plateau this season.  UA is a spotless 8-0 when scoring 80 or more points in 2010-11 and 14-0 in the Sean Miller era.


Early Signees:  The Arizona coaching staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letter-of-Intent in the November early signing period.  Nick Johnson (G, 6-2, 180) from Gilbert, Ariz., who preps at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev.; Sidiki Johnson (F, 6-8, 220) from the Bronx, N.Y, who preps at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.; and Josiah Turner (G, 6-3, 185) from Sacramento, Calif., Sacramento High School; make up a class that was ranked in the top-10 nationally by both and

Up Next:  The Wildcats cross the state of Washington to take on Washington State.  Tip-off at Friel Court is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 22, at 7:30 p.m. PST and can be seen on FOX Sports Arizona.

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