March 18, 2013
Date: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Time: 5:20 p.m. MDT
Location: EnergySolutions Arena (19,911), Salt Lake City, Utah
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach/Ryan Hansen)
TV: TNT (Spero Dedes/Doug Gottlieb/Jamie Maggio)
GAME DATA: No. 6 seed Arizona (25-7, 12-6 Pac-12) opens play in the 2013 NCAA Tournament's West Region second/third rounds against No. 11 seed Belmont (26-6, 14-2 OVC) in Thursday's second-round game at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah ... This is UA's 30th NCAA Tournament appearance overall (counting two vacated appearances) and the program has an official 46-26 (.639) record in its previous NCAA Tournament action ... This is Arizona's fifth NCAA appearance in Salt Lake City and first since 2003.
THE RANKINGS: UA is ranked 18th in both the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll (as of March 11). The Wildcats are one of 11 teams nationally to have been ranked in every AP poll this season.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH Sean Miller . . . is in his fourth season at the University of Arizona and his ninth overall as a college head coach with a record of 214-89 (.706) and 94-42 (.691) at Arizona ... In his eight-plus year career, Miller's teams have won 20 games seven times and captured five regular-season or postseason tournament titles ... 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, earning Pac-10 Conference and NABC District 20 Coach-of-the-Year honors ... 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 17 trips to the postseason in his 20 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (10 NCAA/7 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, all 24 players to complete eligibility under Miller have earned their degrees ... Miller has recruited classes ranked in the top-10 nationally in each of the last two seasons ... He is assisted by James Whitford, Emanuel Richardson and Joe Pasternack ... Miller is 1-0 vs. Belmont as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona built as much as an 11-point lead but couldn't withstand the efforts of Jordan Adams in the March 15 Pac-12 Tournament semifinal loss, 66-64, to UCLA. Adams scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, including a run of 13 straight points individually, to fuel UCLA's comeback. Arizona limited the Bruins to 39 percent shooting, but couldn't overcome a -8 turnover margin and 12 fewer free throw attempts. Four Cats finished in double figures, led by Brandon Ashley's 15 points.
SCOUTING BELMONT: The Ohio Valley Conference postseason tournament champion Bruins enter Thursday's game with a 26-6 record (14-2 OVC) following its March 9 70-68 overtime win over Murray State. As a team, Belmont shoots 49.4 percent from the field (886-of-1,793), including 38.6 percent (271-of-702) from three-point range, while averaging 77.2 points per game. Opponents shoot at a 41.0 percent clip and average 64.0 points per game. Four Bruins average in double figures, led by Ian Clark's 18.1 ppg figure. Trevor Noack leads the team with a 5.5 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Tonight's game marks the first meeting of the two schools. Arizona is 4-1 (.800) all-time against current members of the Ohio Valley Conference. The last time UA faced an OVC foe, was March 16, 2001, when the Cats defeated Eastern Illinois, 101-76, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. For a conference breakdown, see page 51 in the UA media guide.
GO WEST: 2013 marks Arizona's 19th appearance in the West Region - the most of any Tournament regional - and 29 of UA's 46 NCAA Tournament victories have come while playing in the West.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE SEEDS: This is Arizona's first-ever tournament appearance as a No. 6 seed. Conversely, the Wildcats are 2-0 against No. 11 seeds, last defeating UAB, 85-63, in a second-round game in Boise, Idaho, on March 19, 2005.
NO STRANGER TO THESE PARTS: Arizona is 5-2 in NCAA Tournament play all-time in four trips to Salt Lake City with all appearances coming at Utah's Huntsman Center. Due mainly to conference affiliations, Arizona has routinely made trips to Salt Lake City, first appearing here in 1954 and amassing a 13-22 (.371) record all-time in the city. The Cats have made one prior appearance in EnergySolutions Arena, dropping an 87-65 decision to BYU on Dec. 11, 2010.
THE BEAT GOES ON: Arizona has long been known as one of the flagship programs of basketball in the West, and that excellence has continued under Sean Miller. Over the last four years, the Wildcats have the best record among Pac-12 schools in terms of overall wins (94) and winning percentage (.691). Additionally, UA's 48-24 (.667) record in Pac-12 games is the best in the league, a mark shared with California.
A LITTLE GREEN: As Arizona makes its second NCAA Tournament appearance of the Sean Miller Era, the UA roster isn't loaded with postseason experience. Entering the 2013 NCAA Tournament only four Wildcats have any postseason experience (19 game appearances/421 total minutes played). Mark Lyons leads all Cats with seven NCAA Tournament appearances, but all of those came while at Xavier. Solomon Hill's four NCAA appearances and 115 minutes played ranks second among active Wildcats.
ALL-DISTRICT: Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons were all-District IX picks by the USBWA. Hill, a 6-foot-7 forward from Los Angeles, Calif., was an all-district selection by the NABC in 2012, while Lyons, a 6-foot-1 guard from Schenectady, N.Y., garnered all-district honors for the first time in his career. It was the 17th time in school history that two or more UA players earned all-district honors in the same season by the writers.
PAC-12 HONORS: Four Wildcats earned postseason honors from the Pac-12 Conference, as the league released its all-conference team on Monday with Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons earning first-team all-conference designations. Additionally, Nick Johnson was an honorable mention all-defensive team honoree and Kaleb Tarczewski was an honorable mention all-freshman pick.
BIG DRAW: For the 29th consecutive season, Arizona led the Pac-12 Conference in attendance, averaging 14,157 in 16 regular season home dates. UA posted 10 sellouts in McKale Center in 2012-13, including all nine Pac-12 home games, and went over eight million in lifetime attendance. The Wildcats' average attendance this season was the best for the program since 2007-08 (14,218). Incidentally, Arizona has proven to be strong road draw as well, playing to an average of 130 percent above each team's season attendance average in its nine Pac-12 road games. That draw was also evident at the Pac-12 Tournament, where Arizona's sessions drew an average of 13,033 fans in the 13,151-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena (99% of capacity), while the other four sessions drew an average of 9,421 (72% of capacity).
IT'S WHO WE ARE: Arizona posted a 37-31 rebound advantage in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinal, which equaled the team's rebound margin for the season. Though 32 games, Arizona carries a +6.0 rebound margin and has outrebounded 23 of 32 opponents this season, including 14 of 20 conference foes (counting the postseason tournament). On the season, Arizona is 20-3 when outrebounding the opposition.
ELITE COMPANY: Senior forward Solomon Hill enters Thursday's game ready to move into sole possession of second place on Arizona's all-time games played list. He's played in 136 games in his collegiate career, a figure he currently shares with Jason Gardner (1999-2003). Additionally, he needs just eight rebounds and eight points to move into 10th place on the Arizona career rebounds list and become the eighth player in school history with 1,400 points and 750 rebounds. On the year, Hill averages 13.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
THIS COULD BE KEY: Facing an opponent that connects on 38.6 percent of its three-point attempts, Arizona certainly needs to clamp down on the opposition's long-range attempts. During the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, the Cats three-point FG defense was stellar, limiting foes to a combined .250 three-point field goal percentage (6-of-24). Included in that effort was a 1-of-12 (.083) stifling of UCLA from behind the arc. Through 32 games, UA opponents are shooting 26.0 percent (191-of-531) from three-point range.
70 OR MORE: The Wildcats enter the 2013 NCAA Tournament averaging 73.3 points per game, a figure that ranks second among Pac-12 clubs and the second-best offensive output of the Sean Miller era. This season, Arizona is 17-2 when scoring 70 or more points and under Miller the Cats win 85 percent of its games when topping the 70-point plateau.
ONE-YEAR WONDER: Guard Mark Lyons certainly has made an impact in his single season in Tucson. The 6-foot-1 senior from Schenectady, N.Y., leads Arizona in scoring (14.8 ppg), treys made (59) and free throw percentage (.855), while ranking second in assists (95) and third in steals (36). The first-team all-conference playmaker shares the team lead with 26 games in double figures and has as many 20-point scoring games in 2012-13 as the rest of the team combined (6). Simply put, he gives Arizona a presence at the position that it hasn't had in some time.
LIMITING THE LOOKS: Arizona limited UCLA to just 39.3 percent shooting (24-of-61) in the Pac-12 semifinal, marking the first time in 19 chances this season that the Wildcats lost a game in which it shot better than the opposition. On the year, Arizona limits opponents to a .415 field goal percentage (726-of-1,748) and has held 15 foes to less than 40-percent shooting.
GOOD AT BOTH ENDS: Sophomore Nick Johnson has turned himself into a force at both ends of the court, as he averages 11.7 points per game and leads the team with a 3.2 assists per game average, while ranking fourth in the Pac-12 in steals and ranks third on the club with 19 blocked shots. The 6-foot-3 guard from Gilbert, Ariz., is the first Arizona player since 2009-10 to collect 100 or more assists in a season. Additionally, he the first Wildcat since Hassan Adams in 2005-06 (82) to collect more than 60 steals in a season.
AT THE LINE: One of Arizona's strengths all season has been its ability to get to the free throw line and convert. The Wildcats rank second in the Pac-12 with a .748 (498-of-666) free throw percentage. To date, UA averages 20.8 charity tosses per game and outscores opponents by an average of 3.2 points per game from the stripe. Seventeen times in 2012-13 Arizona has attempted 20 or more free throws in a game and six times the Cats have outscored the opposition by 10 points or more from the line. During the Sean Miller era, Arizona has a cumulative .721 (2,282-of-3,165) free throw percentage.
BOUNCING BACK NICELY: After a junior season riddled by injury, Kevin Parrom has bounced back with a solid senior campaign. The 6-foot-6 swingman from the Bronx, N.Y., is averaging 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game to go with a .487 field goal percentage (92-of-189). He also ranks sixth in the Pac-12 Conference with a .398 (39-of-98) three-point field goal percentage. He's averaging a career-high 23.5 minutes per game and has started the last eight consecutive games.
LONG-RANGE ATTACK: Heading into the postseason, Arizona leads the Pac-12 Conference with 245 made three-point field goals, an average of 7.7 treys per game. The Wildcats also rank second among Pac-12 schools with a .363 (245-of-675) three-point FG percentage. All told, 38 percent of Arizona's shots come from behind the arc and 31 percent of its offense is scored from three-point range.
COLLECTIVELY GOOD: Arizona's freshman triumvirate of Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski have collectively turned in a strong season. With neither averaging more than 22 minutes per game, the trio combines to average 19.5 points and 14.9 rebounds per game to go with a .491 (221-of-450) field goal percentage. Ashley, Jerrett and Tarczewski have tallied 24 games with 10 or more points, eight with 10 or more rebounds and six with three or more blocks.
RAISING HIS LEVEL: Freshman forward Brandon Ashley enjoyed a solid weekend in Las Vegas, as he averaged 11.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in a pair of games. The San Francisco native also shot .588 (10-of-17) from the field and knocked down all three free throws. March 15 vs. UCLA, Ashley hit 7-of-8 shots from the field en route to 15 points. On the season, he averages 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
AN UNSURPRISING STATEMENT: From the "Master of the Obvious" file, the Wildcats are 17-2 this season when committing fewer turnovers than the opposition. On the season, Arizona carries a +0.7 turnover margin. On average, UA averages 16.4 turnover points per game, 3.2 points more than the opposition.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: Center Kaleb Tarczewski equaled a season high with 13 rebounds (four offensive) vs. UCLA on March 15, marking the fourth time this season that the 7-foot freshman from Claremont, N.H., has grabbed 10 or more boards. Over his last 10 games, Tarczewski is averaging 7.6 points and 7.0 rebounds, while shooting .609 (28-of-46) from the field. Through 32 games (all starts), Tarczewski averages 6.5 points and 6.1 rebounds to go with a .524 field goal percentage.
HEATING UP: Over the last 10 games, freshman Grant Jerrett is shooting .517 (15-of-29) from three-point range, which has boosted his team-leading three-point field goal percentage to .408 (31-of-76). The 6-foot-10 forward from Chino Hills, Calif., averages 5.3 points and a team-leading 1.0 blocked shots per game.
EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS: Over the last five games, guard Jordin Mayes is averaging 5.0 points in 11 minutes per game. In that span, the 6-foot-3 junior from Los Angeles, Calif., is shooting 9-of-18 (.500) from the field and 5-of-8 (.625) from three point range. That's as many treys as he sank in the previous 21 games.
IN MARCH: Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Arizona has a 65-35 (.650) record in the month of March. In that span, 40 of those games have been played in the NCAA Tournament and UA is 28-12 (.700) in them. In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 13-8 (.619) in March.
BEFORE THEY MAKE ME RUN: Arizona has displayed a knack for timely runs so far this season. February 23 vs. Washington State, the Wildcats used a 21-9 run in the first half that game UA a double-figure lead it would not relinquish. Here is a look at UA's notable runs to date:
26-3 run over 8:41 (2nd) at Texas Tech, Dec. 1
30-8 run over 12:57 (1st+2nd) vs. Washington, Feb. 20
27-8 run over 6:53 (2nd+ot) vs. Colorado, Jan. 3
21-4 run over 9:07 (2nd) vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 19
23-6 run over 7:55 (1st) vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 19
22-7 run over 8:56 (2nd) at Clemson, Dec. 8
18-4 run over 6:28 (1st) vs. USC, Jan. 26
13-0 run over 4:26 (2nd) vs. UTEP, Nov. 15
14-2 run over 4:10 (2nd) vs. Northern Arizona, Nov. 28
22-10 run over 9:27 (1st) vs. Charleston Southern, Nov. 11
21-9 run over 11:02 (1st) vs. Washington State, Feb. 23
11-0 run over 3:38 (2nd) at Arizona State, Jan. 19
11-0 run over 3:13 (2nd) vs. Oral Roberts, Dec. 18
RECRUITING CLASS: The Arizona coaching staff signed two student-athletes to National Letters-of-Intent as part of the November early signing period. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (F, 6-7, 215) from Chester, Pa., who preps at Chester H.S.; and Elliott Pitts (G, 6-5, 180) from Dublin, Calif., who preps at De La Salle H.S.; make up a class that is ranked No. 18 nationally by espn.com.
UP NEXT: A win tonight moves Arizona into Saturday's third round against the New Mexico-Harvard winner. Game time is TBA.