March 14, 2011
NCAA TOURNAMENT CENTRAL
Complete Release in PDF Format
Date: Friday, March 18, 2011
Time: approx. 2 p.m. CDT
Location: BOK Center (17,996), Tulsa, Okla.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach/Ryan Hansen)
TV: CBS (Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craig Sager)
Game Data: No. 5 seed Arizona (27-7, 14-4 Pac-10) opens play in the 2011 NCAA Tournament's West Region second/third rounds against No. 12 seed Memphis (25-9, 10-6 C-USA) in Friday's second-round game BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. ... Not counting vacated appearances, this is UA's 27th NCAA Tournament appearance overall and the program has a 43-25 (.632) record in its previous NCAA Tournament action ... This is Arizona's first-ever NCAA appearance in Tulsa and the program's second-ever appearance in the city (Dec. 1985) ... 2011 marks Arizona's 18th appearance in the West Region - the most of any Tournament regional - and 26 of UA's 43 NCAA Tournament victories have come while playing in the West.
The Rankings: UA has been ranked for six consecutive weeks and currently (March 7) is No. 16 in the Associated Press and No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. UA's six straight weeks in both national polls is the longest for a Pac-10 club in 2010-11.
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 163-69 (.703) and 43-22 (.667) 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 1-0 vs. Memphis as a head coach.
Last Time Out: When it mattered most, Washington made every play it needed in earning the 77-75 Pac-10 Tournament title-game win in overtime on March 12. Isaiah Thomas' step-back 18-footer at the buzzer capped a Husky effort that saw it erase a four-point deficit with 26 seconds to go in regulation and force the extra session prior to Thomas' heroics. UW's efforts on the glass led to a 17-7 second-chance-point advantage and erased a 24-point, 11-rebound effort from Derrick Williams.
Scouting Memphis: The Conference USA Tournament champion Tigers enter today's game with a 25-9 record (10-6 C-USA) following Saturday's 67-66 win over UTEP in El Paso. As a team, Memphis shoots 45.0 percent from the field (865-of-1,921), including 32.7 percent (204-of-624) from three-point range, while averaging 72.0 points per game. Opponents shoot at a 41.5 percent clip and are averaging 68.1 points per game. Three Tiger players average in double figures, led by Will Barton's 12.3 ppg figure. Tarik Black leads the team with a 5.2 rebounds per game average.
The Series: Today's game marks the eighth meeting of the two schools with Memphis holding a 4-3 advantage. Arizona has won the last three of the last four meetings, but Memphis captured the last, a 76-63 win in Memphis on Dec. 29, 2007. All-time, Arizona is 2-1 in series games played in Tucson, 1-3 in Memphis, Tenn., and 0-0 in neutral site games.
Last Meeting: Memphis 76, Arizona 63, Dec. 29, 2007: In a reversal of fortune, Arizona jumped out to an early eight-point lead then went more than 12 minutes without a field goal and could not dig itself out of the hole in the 13-point loss. Leading 14-6 with 13:52 to go in the first, UA managed just four free throws over the next 12 minutes and trailed by 10 points at the half. The Cats cut the deficit to seven points four different times in the second half, but could get no closer. Chase Budinger led all scorers with 20 points, while Jordan Hill added 14 second-half points.
Against Conference USA: All-time, Arizona is 78-42 (.650) against schools that currently reside in Conference USA. The Wildcats have faced four C-USA clubs over the last three seasons with the last coming on Dec. 1 at Rice, an 84-57 UA triumph. For a conference breakdown, see page 47 in the UA media guide.
ARIZONA/Memphis TIES: There will be Wildcat ties on both sidelines as two members of the Memphis coaching staff - head coach Josh Pastner and assistant Jack Murphy - started their coaching paths at the University of Arizona. As a player, student assistant and full-time assistant, Pastner served under Lute Olson from 1996-97 through 2007-08, while Murphy was student manager and administrator from 1998-99 through 2005-06. Their time in Tucson was definitely productive, as Pastner was a part of UA's 1997 national championship club as a player, and in their time at UA together, Pastner and Murphy, helped Arizona post a 199-66 (.751) record, win four Pac-10 titles, make eight NCAA Tourney appearances, including the 2001 Final Four.
Seeds, Regions and Dates: 2011 marks the second time that Arizona enters the NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed, and the Cats are 0-1 pervious, dropping a 71-62 decision to Miami, Ohio on March 16, 1995. Interestingly, two members of Arizona's current staff - head coach Sean Miller and assistant James Whitford - were a part of MU's coaching staff in that game. Additionally, Arizona is 33-11 (.750) as a seeded favorite. As mentioned earlier, this is UA's 18th appearance in the West Region, where the program has a 26-17 (.605) record. Further, Arizona is 18-10 (.643) all-time in Friday/Sunday NCAA sites.
INTERCHANGEABILITY: All season long, Arizona has prospered with contributions from a multitude of players, as Sean Miller said in March 5 postgame, "We are a team of interchangeable parts." With eight players averaging better than 14 minutes per game and seven averaging better than 6.0 points, it's easy to see that Arizona's sum is greater than its parts. Nine different Wildcats have netted 102 double-digit scoring games in 2010-11.
IT'S NICE TO BE NOTICED: Sean Miller's rebuilding efforts took another step forward this year, as the Wildcats returned to the national rankings. Arizona (27-7, 14-4 Pac-10) initially returned to the coaches' poll on Jan. 17, then to both polls on Jan. 31 and have been simultaneously in the seven periods since. It's the longest consecutive rankings streak for a Pac-10 club, and along the way Arizona became the first Pac-10 team to achieve a top-10 ranking in the Associated Press poll (Feb. 21) since Jan. 12, 2009. 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."
This Guy Is Good: Arizona head coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats clinched the Pac-10 regular season championship with a win over Oregon on March 8, which marked the fourth regular season title (or share) for a Miller-coached team in the last five seasons. The only blip was last season's 16-15 (10-8/4th Pac-10) debut at Arizona. Dating back to his time at Xavier, Miller's charges have won the 2007 (co), `08 and `09 Atlantic 10 regular-season championships in addition to the 2011 Pac-10 title. In that span, Miller has averaged better than 12 conference win per season to go with a .750 (63-21) conference winning percentage. Overall in that span, Miller's teams have averaged 25 wins per season.
Starting Anew: After establishing itself as a tournament regular under Lute Olson, Arizona returns to the event after a one-year hiatus. Previously, Arizona has appeared in 28 Tournaments, dating back to 1951, including a streak of 25 straight from 1986-2009 (minus vacated appearances in 1999 and 2008). Additionally, UA head coach Sean Miller returns to the NCAA postseason after a strong postseason run at Xavier, where he was 6-4 (.600) and helped the Musketeers to the 2008 West Regional final and 2009 East Regional semifinal. It's worth noting that just three players on the UA roster have a total of 10 games of NCAA Tournament experience and a combined 203 minutes played.
ALL-AMERICA: To date, Derrick Williams has earned a pair of All-America honors, as the sophomore forward was a second-team selection by both the USBWA and foxsports.com. Williams is the 25th Wildcat to earn a total of 88 All-America honors since 1950-51. He is also a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, given to college basketball's player of the year, as voted by the USBWA.
ALL-DISTRICT: Derrick Williams was also an all-district pick by both the USBWA and NABC. The 6-foot-8 native of La Mirada, Calif., was a first-team all-District 20 selection by the NABC, as well as the district player of the year. Additionally, he was an all-District IX selection by the NABC.
Pac-10 Honors: Derrick Williams and Sean Miller were named Pacific-10 Conference Player and Coach of the Year, respectively, as the league announced its postseason honors March 7. It marks the seventh time a Wildcat player has earned the honor, and the first since Jason Terry in 1999. Miller joins Lute Olson as UA mentors to win Pac-10 Coach-of-the-Year honors. A seven-time honoree, Olson last won the award in 2003.
Making the Leap: Under the direction of Sean Miller, the Wildcats have posted a 11-win improvement over last season's 16-15 record, and a four-win improvement in Pac-10 play. That's the biggest single-season improvement for Arizona since the 1987 (18-12) and 1988 (35-3/) seasons, when the program improved by 17 wins overall. A four-win improvement in conference play last occurred from 2004 to 2005. Furthermore, Arizona enters the NCAA Tournament with 27 victories, which equals the most for the program since 2005.
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 76.5 points per game to date, a figure that is 4.6 ppg higher than the team's scoring average last season - Sean Miller's debut campaign in Tucson. Additionally, the Wildcats are allowing 67.5 points per game, or 4.5 fewer points than last season. All told, 17 of UA's 27 wins have been by 10 or more points with nine of those decided by 20-plus points.
ON TARGET: The Wildcats are a more efficient ball club in 2010-11, shooting 47.1 percent from the field (864-of-1836). Arizona's field goal percentage through 34 games is 2.8 points higher than its season-long average of 44.3 percent last season. All told, UA has shot 50 percent or better 12 times in 2010-11, nearly doubling the Cats' total of seven a year ago. Good shooting is half the proverbial battle, as Arizona is 16-1 this season when outshooting the opposition and 30-3 when that occurs during the Sean Miller era.
BOARD WORK: Look no further than the rebounding totals for Arizona's key to victory, where Arizona is 21-1 when outrebounding the opposition, including an 11-0 mark in Pac-10 play. On the season, Arizona posts a +3.9 rebound margin and have outrebounded foes by 10 rebounds or more.
AFFECTING THE GAME in Other Ways: One measure of maturity could be the ability to affect the game even when your shot isn't falling. Junior Kyle Fogg, a career 42.7-percent shooter entering the season, has connected on just 36.7 percent (84-of-229) of his shots through 34 games. But the 6-foot-3 guard from Brea, Calif., leads the Wildcats with 90 assists (2.6 apg), a 1.88:1 assist:turnover ratio, and 46 treys, while ranking second with 29 steals. On the year, Fogg averages 8.3 points and 1.9 boards.
PLENTY IN RESERVE: All season long, Arizona's reserves have been a productive bunch. While the Wildcat starters collectively have averaged 52.8 points and 20.6 rebounds per game, while shooting a very respectable .484 from the floor (587-of-1,212), the UA reserves have shot 40.5 percent (128-of-376) from three-point range and actually outscore the opposition by a greater margin (+5.8 ppg) than the starters.
Showing Some Resiliency: With a team that features 11 first- or second-year players, it's no surprise that these Wildcats are still a work in progress. Regardless, UA has shown quite a bit of intestinal fortitude this season by posting a 6-2 record in games decided by five points or less, and won five games in which it faced a deficit of seven points or more. In the final four minutes of games, UA has hit 77.6 percent of its free throws (135-of-174), led by Lamont Jones' 88.9 percent (32-of-36) accuracy.
SPEAKING OF THREES: Arizona has attempted 676 three-pointers, or 19.9 attempts per game. In hitting at a .399 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. Eleven times in 2010-11 Arizona has shot better than 45 percent from three-point range and knocked in double-figure treys 12 times.
He's Our Leader: It's neither surprising nor unexpected that sophomore forward Derrick Williams leads Arizona in scoring (19.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg) this season. What is worth noting is that the 6-foot-8 native of La Mirada, Calif., is shooting an impressive 61.5 percent (200-of-325) from the field through to go with a .603 percentage (35-of-58) from three-point range. He's attempted more free throws (289) than any player in the country, leads Arizona in blocks (24) and steals (32) and has 11 double-doubles.
HE'S GOT A PRESENCE: In his first year with the program, junior forward Jesse Perry has used his energy and effort to firmly establish himself as one of Arizona's most active performers. He averages 4.4 rebounds per game in 19.1 minutes and has grabbed five or more rebounds in a game 16 times. He ranks send on the club among regulars with an average of 3.1 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes.
BALL SECURITY: The Wildcats have done a nice job recently of taking care of the ball, as the team has totaled 55 turnovers in the last six outings. The 9.1 average turnovers per game is nearly four turnovers per game fewer than the Cats' season-long average (12.9 to/g). Arizona is 17-3 this season when committing fewer turnovers than the opposition.
Yin and Yang: Through 34 games, it's been point guard by committee for the Wildcats, as Lamont Jones (25.9 min./game) and Jordin Mayes (14.3 m/g) have mostly divided the minutes. Perhaps what is most impressive is the fact that their combined efforts have been pretty productive: 14.2 ppg, 3.6 assists and a 1.3:1 assist:turnover ratio.
Scoring 80: Arizona scored 90 points March 5 vs. Oregon, topping the 80-point plateau for the 13th time this year (13-0). Arizona scored 80 in 10 of 17 home games this season. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 199-19 (.913) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.
In March: Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Arizona has a 59-30 (.663) record in the month of March. In that span, 38 of those games have been played in the NCAA Tournament and UA is 26-14 (.650) in them. In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 6-3 (.667) in March.
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 Wadleigh H.S. in Harlem; 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: A win today moves Arizona into Sunday's West Region third-round game against the Texas-Oakland winner. Game time is TBA.