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Cats Open Pac-10 Play at Oregon
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: December 27, 2010
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Dec. 27, 2010

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Date: Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010
Time: 7 p.m. PST
Location: McArthur Court (9,087), Eugene, Ore.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: KWBA-TV/FCS Atlantic (Joe Giansante/Rob Closs/Corey Williams)

Game Data:  Arizona (11-2, 0-0 Pac-10) opens Pac-10 Conference play Thursday at Oregon (7-5, 0-0 Pac-10) at McArthur Court ... This game was originally scheduled to be the opening of the new Matthew Knight Arena, but that was pushed back until Jan. 13 ... Due to the new Pac-12 scheduling, Arizona isn’t slated to appear in the new Matt Court until the 2012-13 season ... Over the previous 12 seasons, the Wildcats have opened league play on the road in eight of those seasons, and in those opening-weekend road swings UA is 10-5 ... In those same 12 seasons, Arizona is a combined 14-10 on the Oregon road swing, with four sweeps and six splits to its credit ... UA is 2-0 this season in true road games, averaging 78.0 points per game and posting a +18.5 scoring margin.


The Rankings:  Arizona remains unranked in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls.


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 147-64 (.697) and 27-17 (.614) 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 2-0 vs. Oregon as a head coach.


Last Time Out:  Derrick Williams and Jesse Perry scored 17 of their 33 points in the second half as Arizona pulled away for an 82-56 win over Robert Morris, Dec. 22, in Tucson.  The duo scored 10 of UA’s 12 points in a 12-2 burst to open the second half that put the game out of reach.  The Cats shot 58 percent from the field after the break, limited RMU to 32 percent shooting and posted a 23-16 rebound advantage in the period.  Kyle Fogg also added 11 points, while Kevin Parrom added five assists.


Scouting Oregon:  The Ducks enter tonight’s game with a 7-5 record (0-0 Pac-10) following a 69-65 loss  to Idaho on Dec. 21.  On the season, UO averages 74.2 points, shoots 42.6 percent from the floor (319-of-748), 31.4 percent (70-of-223) from three-point range and 72.8 percent (182-of-250) from the line.  Opponents average 69.2 points, are outrebounded by 1.7 boards per game and shoot 42.8 percent from the floor (282-of-659).  Individually, two Oregon players average in double-figures, led by Joevan Catron’s 17.5 points per game figure.  Catron also leads the Ducks with a 6.6 rebounds per game average.


The Series:  Tonight’s game is the 67th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 43-23 advantage in the series, which dates back to Jan. 12, 1979. The Cats have won four of the last seven games in the series, including the last, 70-57, in Tucson on Feb. 11, 2010.  All-time, Arizona is 25-7 in series games played in Tucson, 18-14 in Eugene, and 0-2 in neutral-site games.  For more series information, please see page 44 in the UA media guide.


Last Meeting:  Arizona 70, Oregon 57, Feb. 11, 2010:  On the strength of some unselfish play, UA quickly pushed an eight-point halftime lead to double digits en route to a 13-point win.  The Cats connected on 15-of-30 field goal attempts in the second half – 13 came courtesy of an assist and 12 were either dunks or lay-ups.  Derrick Williams scored 13 of his game-high 20 points in the half, while Lamont Jones added 11 points and six boards, and Kyle Fogg equaled a career high with eight assists.


FOR (CONFERENCE) OPENERS: Since joining the Pac-10 Conference in 1978-79, Arizona has a 21-11 (.656) record in conference openers. Of those 32 previous openers, the Cats are 11-0 when opening at home and 10-11 when opening on the road. Arizona opened its last two conference schedules on the road and was swept by the Bay Area schools in 2009 and split in Los Angeles last year.


Heating Up:  Jesse Perry led Arizona to its 11th win of the season by posting 16 points, four rebounds and a steal in Arizona’s win over Robert Morris on Dec. 22.  The junior forward connected on 75.0 percent of his field goals (6-of-8) and 50.0 percent (4-of-8) of his free throws.  Perry notched a career-high 16 points in what was his first career start in the 26-point win over the Colonials.  His six field goals in eight attempts established new career highs in both categories, and the effort also marked his second straight game in double figures all in just 19 minutes of action.  The effort boosted Perry’s season per game averages to 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds.


Numbers look Good:  Aside from simply looking at the number of wins, the Wildcats have shown marked improvement this season in a number of areas statistically speaking.  Arizona, currently with the most wins in the Pac-10, is averaging 79.0 points per game to date, a figure that is 7.1 ppg higher than the team’s scoring average last season – Sean Miller’s debut campaign in Tucson.  Seven times in 2010-11 Arizona has topped the 80-point plateau, which is one more time than the team did in 31 games last year.  Additionally, nine of UA’s 11 wins have been by 10 or more points with eight of those decided by 20-plus points.


Toeing the Line:  Bolstering that offensive efficiency is an ability to get to the free throw line.  On average, Arizona get to the line 24 times per game (making 18.6 FT/game) and knocks those down at a 77.9 percent rate, a figure that ranked 10th nationally as of Dec. 21.  Individually, five UA regulars are shooting better than 80 percent from the free throw line, and nine of the team’s 10-man regular rotation are shooting 70 percent or better.  Through 13 games, Arizona has made nearly as many charity tosses (243) as opponents have attempted (252), and the Cats are outscoring foes by an average of 5.6 points per game from the stripe.


Getting Defensive:  The UA effort on the defensive end of the floor is improved this season, as well, as Arizona is allowing just 61.7 points per game and a cumulative .415 field goal percentage (288-of-694).  Seven times in 13 games Arizona has held opponents to less than 60 points, and the Cats have also held seven opponents to less than 40 percent shooting this season.  In UA’s last two games, opponents combined to average 59 points and shoot 32.9 percent (42-of-128) from the field.  For comparison’s sake, Arizona opponents averaged 72.0 points per game last season and shot 43.7 percent (787-of-1,800) from the floor.


On Target:  The Wildcats are a more efficient ballclub in 2010-11, shooting 48.4 percent from the field (337-of-696).  Arizona’s field goal percentage through 13 games is 4.1 points higher than its season-long average of 44.3 percent last season.  All told, UA has shot 50 percent or better six times in 13 games in 2010-11, nearly matching the Cats’ total of seven a year ago.  Good shooting is half the proverbial battle, as Arizona is 8-0 this season when outshooting the opposition and 22-2 when that occurs during the Sean Miller era.


Battling on the Boards:  Arizona has also proven itself to be a good rebounding club, as the team’s +6.2 rebound margin currently leads the Pac-10 Conference.  To date, UA has tied or outrebounded 10 of 13 opponents, and is allowing opponents to grab an average of just 29.0 boards per game.  Three times this season Arizona has grabbed 40 or more rebounds in a game and seven times the Wildcats have posted a rebound margin of 10 or more.


Take Care:  The Wildcats are also better at taking care of the ball this season, as the team’s turnover margin (+1.5) and assist:turnover ratio (1.2:1) are both improved over last season’s measure (-1.2/0.8:1).  In its last three outings, Arizona is averaging just 9.3 turnovers per game, a figure that is nearly four miscues per game less than its season-long per game average (13.0).


He’s Been Really Good:  Sophomore forward Derrick Williams continues to be Arizona’s “Mr. Everything,” as he leads the club in scoring (19.3 ppg), rebounding (7.0 rpg), field goal percentage (74-of-117/.632), three-point field goal percentage (13-of-19/.684) and blocked shots (12), while sharing the team lead in steals (15).  Additionally, the 6-foot-8 forward from La Mirada, Calif., has done an excellent job of getting to the line, averaging 8.4 free throw attempts per game.  Williams has been efficient in sinking them as well, posting an 82.6 free throw percentage (90-of-109).  In his last three games alone, Williams is 29-of-31 (.935) from the free throw line.


Hitting His Stride:  After missing 14 games last season due to a stress fracture in his left foot, sophomore swingman Kevin Parrom is now fully healthy and making a big impact.  The 6-foot-6 native of the Bronx, N.Y., is averaging 6.4 points and 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game to go with a 47.2 (25-of-53) field goal percentage.  He currently leads all Wildcats with a 3.1:1 assist:turnover ratio.  He’s scored in double figures four times in 2010-11 and three times passes out four or more assists, despite averaging just 18 minutes per game.


Providing a Spark:  Junior forward Jesse Perry has proven to be a spark off the bench and in the starting lineup.  In his last two games, the 6-foot-7 native of St. Louis, Mo., has averaged 13.0 points and 5.0 rebounds, while shooting 66.7 percent (10-of-15) from the floor.  A solid effort at N.C. State Dec. 19 (10 pts./6 reb.) earned him his first career collegiate start Dec. 22 vs. Robert Morris and Perry responded with a career-high 16 points.  On the year, 41 percent of his rebounds (22-of-54) have been on the offensive glass.


Worth Noting:  Kyryl Natyazhko pulled down a career-high eight rebounds Dec. 22 vs. Robert Morris to establish a new career high.  He pulled those eight boards down in just 16 minutes of action and all on the defensive end, establishing a UA season high.


Worth Noting:  Arizona won its only game last week to boost its record to 11-2 on the season.  With the non-conference portion of the schedule behind the Wildcats, UA’s 11 non-conference wins are the most for the program in the regular season since the 1999-2000 campaign (11).  Arizona’s record was 6-6 at this point last year heading into Pac-10 play.


Scoring 80:  Arizona scored 82 points Dec. 22 vs. Robert Morris, topping the 80-point plateau for the seventh time this year.  Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 193-19 (.910) 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.


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:  Following tonight’s tilt, the Wildcats ring in the new year with a nationally televised affair at Oregon State on Sunday, Jan. 2.  Tip-off in Corvallis is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST and can be seen on FSN.

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