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Cats Close First Half of Pac-10 Slate vs. USC
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/28/2011
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 28, 2011

REMEMBERING WILL HANCOCK: It's not often that members of the Sports Information community step out from behind the scenes, but this weekend SIDs across the nation would like to take a moment to remember the life and accomplishments of Will Hancock. One of the 10 Oklahoma State University personnel killed in a plane crash 10 years ago this week, Hancock served as the media relations director for the OSU men's basketball program. Will was a pillar of the sports information profession and an even better person. Those of us who were fortunate enough to know and work alongside Will still miss him to this day. A web page remembering Hancock and the others tragically taken can be found at http://www.okstate.com/trads/ten-hancock.html.

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Date: Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011
Time: 5:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: KWBA/FOX Sports Arizona/FCS Central (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)

Game Data:  Arizona (17-4, 6-2 Pac-10) closes out the weekend homestand by facing off against USC (12-9, 4-4 Pac-10) Saturday at McKale Center ... The contest features the two teams that best control the boards, as UA (29.6) and USC (32.3) rank 1-2 in the Pac-10 in rebounding defense ... Seven of the Wildcats' nine 80-plus point games this year have come at McKale Center, and in those games, UA shoots 52.0 percent (193-of-371) from the field ... Five of Arizona's next seven games are on the road ... It's Coaches vs. Cancer Suits & Sneakers Weekend, as coaches nationwide will wear sneakers on the sidelines to raise awareness for the fight against cancer and the efforts of the American Cancer Society.

 

The Rankings:  Arizona is unranked in this week's Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls.  The Wildcats were ranked 25th in last week's coaches' poll, its first national ranking since 2008-09.

 

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 153-65 (.702) and 33-18 (.647) 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. USC as a head coach.

 

Last Time Out:  Arizona opened the second half on a 24-11 run in the first seven minutes and hung on for the 85-74 win Thursday over UCLA.  The UA backcourt proved to be the difference, as Lamont Jones, Kyle Fogg and Jordin Mayes combined for 39 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Wildcats outscored the Bruins, 14-4, in fast break points.  Derrick Williams added 22 points and five boards to lead a UA club that shot 52 percent from the field and forced 19 UCLA turnovers.

 

Scouting USC:  The Trojans enter today's game with a 12-9 record (4-4 Pac-10) following a 63-61 win Thursday at Arizona State.  On the season, USC averages 67.6 points, shoots 44.8 percent from the floor (517-of-1154), 37.0 percent (135-of-365) from three-point range and 65.9 percent (251-of-381) from the line.  Opponents average 62.4 points, are outrebounded by 2.8 boards per game and shoot 40.3 percent from the floor (450-of-1118).  Individually, four Trojan players average in double-figures, led by Nikola Vucevic's 16.5 points per game figure.  Vucevic also leads USC and the Pac-10 with a 10.1 rebounds per game average.

 

The Series:  Today's game is the 96th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 56-39 series advantage. UA has won 17 of the last 26 meetings in the series, which dates back to 1922, including the last, 86-84 (2OT), in Tucson on March 6, 2010. All-time, Arizona is 29-10 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 86, USC 84 (2OT), March 6, 2010:  Nic Wise scored on a lay-up with 1.5 seconds remaining in the second overtime to give Arizona a two-point win.  In a game that featured nine ties and eight lead changes, both teams had chances to close it out but couldn't initially capitalize.  UA's Kyle Fogg sank three free throws with two-tenths of a second to go in regulation to force overtime, while USC rallied to overcome a six-point deficit in the first OT.  Arizona shot 47.4 percent from the field and placed five players in double figures while limiting USC to 39.7 percent shooting for the game.  It was Arizona's fourth overtime contest of the season.

 

Marked Improvement:  Arizona's 17-4 mark through 21 games to date is its best start since Lute Olson's Sweet 16 club opened the 2004-05 campaign with the same record and then tacked on another seven-game winning streak.  Sean Miller's first Arizona team was 12-9 after 21 games a year ago.  Russ Pennell led UA to a 13-8 mark in his first three months of 2008-09, and Kevin O'Neill posted a 15-6 record in November-January the preceding year.

 

Speaking of Threes:  Arizona has attempted 408 three-pointers, or 19.4 attempts per game. In hitting at a .402 clip, the Cats are flirting with lofty territory, as only four Arizona squads have exceeded the .400 level in the 24 seasons it's been in effect. The school record is the .483 mark posted by the Steve Kerr/Sean Elliott-led 1988 Final Four club, .401 the next season in Elliott and Kenny Lofton's senior year, .413 when Damon Stoudamire bombed away in 1994-95, and the 2004-05 squad's .402 paced by Salim Stoudamire from long range. The .402 rate would equal the third-best mark in UA history, matching the very same figure posted by the first team that enjoyed the added arc on the floor, the 1986-87 Cats led from three-range by Craig McMillan and Elliott.

 

Consistently Good:  Derrick Williams' 19.8 points per game have been posted in a very consistent manner, with 16 or more points in 17 different contests, and 15, 13, 12 and 14 in the others.  He's been the high scorer in all but four games to date and scored 31 against both California and Arizona State in McKale, his career best.  Consistency extends to his shot selection and efficiency, with a team best .627 field goal percentage (121-of-193) and team-best .677 shooting percentage from three-point range (21-of-31).  His ability at the latter is a dramatic improvement over his freshman year (4-for-16 in 31 games).  With 11 assured contests to go Williams should have about 50 total three-point attempts this year if he keeps going at his current pace -- and scores 100 points doing so (at a  .677 clip), the same as shooting 100% on 50 attempts inside the arc.

 

Finishing Strong:  By shooting 60.9 percent from the floor (14-of-23) in the second half, Arizona scored 47 points in the period, fourth best in the second period this season and two points off a season high.  UA also knocked down 17-of-23 free throws (.739) after the break to aid the cause.  Incidentally, UA and UCLA tallied 33 of the 88 total points in the second half from the free throw line.

 

It all Evens Out:  Arizona was outrebounded, 35-30, Thursday, marking just the seventh time the team has been outboarded through 21 games this season.  The Cats were able to overcome the deficit by outshooting the Bruins, .520-.414, and forcing more UCLA turnovers (19-17).  Both the shooting percentages and that +2 turnover margin loom large, as Arizona is 11-1 this season when outshooting the opposition and 12-1 when forcing more miscues.

 

On the mark:  As mentioned above, Arizona connected on 60.9 percent of its field goal attempts in the second half of Thursday's win, which booted the overall effort to 52.0 percent accuracy (26-of-50) for the game.  It's the ninth time this season that UA has shot 50 percent or better from the floor, and the first time in six games.  Wildcat starters were a combined 19-of-36 (.528) from the field against UCLA.

 

Make them Count:  The Wildcats attempted a season-low 10 treys Thursday, but still managed to boost the field goal percentage from behind the arc, as the team made six of those attempts, including 4-of-6 in the first half.  On the season, Arizona leads the Pac-10 with a .402 three-point field goal percentage.  In the effort, sophomore Solomon Hill equaled a career high with two treys made.

 

Standing Still:  Junior Kyle Fogg notched 14 points, set a season-high with five rebounds, passed out two assists and added a block Thursday vs. UCLA, but he seemingly did most of his work standing still, as he knocked down 12-of-14 free throw attempts in the process.  It marked the third time in his career that Fogg has made 10 or more free throws in a single game and the first this season.  For the 6-foot-3 guard from Brea, Calif., it was his eighth game in double figures in 2010-11 and his second-highest point total to date.

 

Reaching A Milestone:  Senior forward Jamelle Horne shared team-high honors with five rebounds in Thursday's win, giving him an even 500 for his career (4.5 rpg/112 gp).  Due to NCAA infractions, his 2007-08 statistics were vacated, meaning the official NCAA record book only recognizes 430 career rebounds for Horne to date, but it is worth noting the moment a milestone number is reached on the court.

 

Small Contributions:  Junior center Alex Jacobson got four minutes of action Thursday vs. UCLA and made them count, collecting an offensive rebound and an assist (the third of his career) in that span.  The 7-foot, 251-pound, product of Santa Ana, Calif., has battled back spasms this season and had not played since Dec. 5, a span of 13 games.  This year, Jacobson averages 0.8 points and 0.9 boards per game.

 

On the Rise:  UA point guard Lamont Jones has enjoyed a boost in productivity of late, averaging 12.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.  Thursday vs. UCLA, the sophomore from Harlem, N.Y., scored 17 points, passed out three assists and collected a career-high three steals.  The recent effort has bumped Jones' assist:turnover ratio to a modestly positive 1.2:1 (54:46).

 

Chipping In:  As has been the case all season, Jesse Perry just seems to make contributions across the board, as witnessed by seven points, three rebounds, two assists and a block vs. UCLA.  In Pac-10 play, the junior forward averages 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

 

Scoring 80:  Arizona scored 85 points Jan. 27 vs. UCLA, topping the 80-point plateau for the ninth time this year (9-0).  Arizona has scored 80 in seven of 12 home games this season.  Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 195-19 (.911) 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 today's tilt, Arizona opens a three-game road swing, beginning Thursday, Feb. 3, at Stanford.  Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. PST and can be seen on KWBA-TV and FOX Sports Arizona.

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