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Last Regular Season Road Trip Opens at USC
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/21/2011
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 21, 2011

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Date: Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
Time: 7:30 p.m. PST
Location: Galen Center (10,258), Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: KWBA-TV/FCS Pacific/FOX Sports Arizona Plus (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)
Online Coverage: Gametracker | Live Audio

CBS Sports Video: Seth Davis Interviews Sean Miller

Game Data:  Tenth-ranked Arizona (23-4, 12-2 Pac-10) opens the final road trip of the regular season Thursday at USC (15-12, 7-7 Pac-10) in the Galen Center ... The Wildcats look to improve on its 7-2 road record this season, its most true road wins since 2006-07 ... UA averages 76.6 points per game in its seven Pac-10 road games to date ... Contrasting styles will be in effect, as Arizona ranks second in the Pac-10 in scoring offense (78.4) and FG percentage (.480), while USC leads the league in scoring defense (63.0) and is second in FG percentage defense (.411) ... UA is 1-3 at the Galen Center, and those games have been decided by an average of 6.3 points.

 

The Rankings:  Currently, Arizona has been ranked for four consecutive weeks and is ranked 10th in both the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls.  It is the highest ranking for a Pac-10 team this year and the first time a league team has been in the AP top 10 since Jan. 12, 2009.

 

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 159-66 (.707) and 39-19 (.672) 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 2-1 vs. USC as a head coach.

 

Last Time Out:  A Solomon Hill put-back with 22 seconds to go and a Derrick Williams blocked shot with 1.8 seconds remaining enabled Arizona to claim an 87-86 win Saturday.  UA crushed Washington on the boards, 40-25, which helped the Cats offset better shooting (.540/.448) and fewer turnovers (11/19) by the Huskies.  Arizona did shoot 61 percent from three-point range (11-of-18) and make 16-of-18 free throws in a game that featured four ties and six lead changes in the last six minutes.  Four Cats finished in double figures, led by Williams' game-high 26.

 

Scouting USC:  The Trojans enter tonight's game with an 15-12 record (7-7 Pac-10) following Saturday's 69-53 win at Stanford.  On the season, USC averages 67.0 points, shoots 44.5 percent from the floor (658-of-1478), 36.6 percent (169-of-462) from three-point range and 64.1 percent (323-of-504) from the line.  Opponents average 63.0 points, are outrebounded by 1.0 boards per game and shoot 41.1 percent from the floor (590-of-1434).  Individually, three USC players average in double-figures, led by Nikola Vucevic's 17.1 points per game figure.  Vucevic also leads USC and the Pac-10 with a 10.2 rebounds per game average.

 

The Series:  Today's game is the 97th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 57-39 series advantage.  UA has won 18 of the last 27 meetings in the series, which dates back to 1922, including the last, 82-73, in Tucson on Jan. 29. All-time, Arizona is 30-10 in series games played in Tucson, 24-29 in Los Angeles, and 3-0 in neutral-site games.  For more series information, please see page 45 in the UA media guide.

 

Last Meeting:  Arizona 82, USC 73, Jan. 29, 2011:  Led by Derrick Williams and Lamont Jones, Arizona got a balanced and accurate effort in securing a nine-point win.  Williams and Jones combined for 12-of-12 shooting and 37 points, spearheading a Wildcat attack that saw the team shoot 61 percent from the field and had 10 players score points.  Holding a 40-31 lead at the break, UA opened the second half with a 12-4 run to push the lead to 17, eventually reaching 20 points twice. Arizona starters were 20-of-29 from the field.

 

Player of the Week:  Derrick Williams led Arizona to a weekend sweep of the Washington schools and its eighth consecutive win by averaging 26.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in Arizona's pair of games last week.  The sophomore forward connected on 57.7 percent of his field goals (15-of-26), including 50.0 percent shooting (2-of-4) from three-point range, to go with .952 shooting (20-of-21) from the line.  Along the way, Williams posted his ninth double-double and 12th and 13th 20-point games of the year, while adding three steals and three blocked shots - one of which was a game-saver.  He opened the week with an efficient 26 points against Washington State - connecting on 7-of-10 field goals and all 12 free throws to go with eight boards.  Williams finished off the week with game-high totals of 26 points and 11 rebounds vs. Washington, including a game-saving block with two-tenths of a second remaining in the one-point win.  He also became just the seventh sophomore in Arizona history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.  The effort boosted Williams' season per game averages to 19.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists to go with a .631 field goal percentage.  He earned Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week accolades for the third time this season.

 

Four Scored:  The Wildcats placed four players in double figures Saturday on the way to 87 points, the highest for the Wildcats in regulation during Pac-10 play.  It marks just the fifth time this season that Arizona has had four or more players score 10 or more points in a single game, and just the second time in Pac-10 play.  It brings to light Arizona balance, as Derrick Williams is the only Wildcat currently averaging in double figures (19.7 ppg), but six other Wildcats are averaging better than 6.0 points per game.  On the year, UA averages 78.4 points per game.

 

The Last Line of Defense:  Arizona equaled a season high with five blocked shots in both wins this week, and needed every one of them to register the sweep. The increased defensive presence was a welcome sight for a club that averages 2.8 blocked shots per game.  Not surprisingly, Derrick Williams led the team with three blocks for the week, but he shared team-high honors Saturday with guard Kyle Fogg, who equaled a season high with two swats against Washington.

 

Better than our Average:  For a team that ranks 22nd nationally in free throw percentage in the most recent NCAA rankings, the Wildcats enjoyed a stellar week from the line in posting wins over Washington State and Washington.  In those wins, Arizona combined to knock down 40-of-44 free throws (.909).  Individually, Derrick Williams shined brightest at the free throw line, connecting on 20-of-21 attempts (.951) for the week.

 

Solid at Both Ends:  Certainly much is made of Derrick Williams' offensive production, but the 6-foot-8 forward's defensive production Saturday were incredibly beneficial, as well.  In addition to his 26 points, Williams grabbed 11 rebounds (seven defensive), blocked two shots and added a pair of steals.  And it was his blocked shots with two-tenths of a second remaining that secured the one-point win over Washington.  Williams leads Arizona with 19 blocked shots and 26 steals.  Said Sean Miller following Saturday's win, "Derrick is an incredible player. He's such a gamer.  He's so clutch.  He just has a way about him.  He didn't have his best game (Saturday), but at the end he was there for us."

 

A Dominant Effort:  Look no further than the rebounding totals to see where Saturday's showdown was won.  Arizona dominated the boards, 40-25, a total that included a season-high 19 offensive rebounds.  The +15 margin equaled UA's largest during Pac-10 play and was the 12th time this season that Arizona has posted a +10 or greater rebound margin.  For the week, UA outrebounded Washington State and Washington by a +11 margin, and the Wildcats now lead the Pac-10 with a +5.5 rebound margin for the season.

 

Making it Tough on yourself:  It's not often that a team can win despite turning the ball over eight more times than the opposition, but Arizona was able to accomplish the feat Saturday vs. Washington. The Wildcats had 19 turnovers compared with 11 by the Huskies, which was Arizona's largest turnover deficit of the season in a win.  UA overcame the deficit largely on the strength of a 19-8 advantage on the offensive glass that led to a 24-10 second-chance points benefit for Arizona.  Even with a 12-2 Pac-10 record, Arizona carries a -2.9 turnover margin in conference play.

 

Sharp Shooters:  Arizona enjoys a field goal percentage advantage in overall shooting (.480-.432) and in Pac-10 play (.476-.446), so it's a bit unusual to have been outshot, as was the case by Washington Saturday (.540-.448).  It was just the 11th time this year in 27 games that Arizona has been outshot from the floor, but the team is 8-3 in those games.  UA has outshot Pac-10 foes in eight of 12 starts.

 

Every Shot Counts, but some Count More:  UA made the most of its made field goals Saturday, as 11 of the team's 30 made buckets came from behind the arc.  Not only the number, which equaled the second-highest single-game total of the season, but the efficiency was key as the Cats connected on 61.1 percent of those attempts (11-of-18).  Seven different Wildcats made treys in the game, led by Lamont Jones, who sank three treys.  Arizona, who averages 8.1 treys per game, is 8-1 this year when making 10 or more three-point field goal in a game.

 

Step Right Up:  Jesse Perry posted 11 points, six rebounds and two assists against Washington, continuing a strong second half of the season.  Over the last eight games, the 6-foot-7 junior forward is averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds, while shooting 50.9 percent (27-of-53) from the field.  Each of those figures is an improvement over his season-long averages (6.6/44./. 474).  Arizona is 13-2 since Perry joined the UA starting lineup on Dec. 22.

 

Coming on Strong:  Kevin Parrom reached double figures for the eighth time (10th career) this season vs. Washington, connecting on 4-of-7 field goal and finishing with 11 points to go with four boards (three offensive) and a blocked shot.  Over the last eight games, Parrom is averaging 8.8 points per game, while shooting .600 (24-of-40) from the field and .563 (9-of-16) from three-point range.  Of his eight games in double figures, three have come in the last six games.

 

Scoring 80:  Arizona scored 87 points Feb. 19 at California, topping the 80-point plateau for the 12th time this year (12-0).  Arizona has scored 80 in nine of 15 home games this season.  Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 198-19 (.912) 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., who preps at Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C.; make up a class that was ranked in the top-10 nationally by both espn.com and rivals.com.

Up Next:  Following tonight's game, the Wildcats close the road portion of the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 26, with a contest at UCLA.  Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. PST and can be seen nationally on FSN.

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