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Cats Host Golden Grizzlies Tuesday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/19/2011
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Dec. 19, 2011

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Date: Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011
Time: 6 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach) [Sirius 94]
TV: KWBA-TV/FOX Sports Arizona (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)

GAME DATA: Arizona (7-4, 0-0 Pac-12) returns home to close out the non-conference portion of the schedule with two games prior to Christmas, beginning Tuesday vs. Oakland (8-4, 2-0 Summit League) in McKale Center ... In six homes games this season, Arizona is limiting the opposition to an average of 55.5 points per game, a .378 field goal percentage (123-of-325) and posts a +5.7 rebound margin ... Freshmen Nick Johnson and Angelo Chol have combined to shoot 53.7 percent from the floor (29-of-54) in six McKale Center appearances ... Oakland is the first Summit League foe to appear in McKale Center since UMKC on Nov. 19, 2007.

THE RANKINGS: UA remains unranked in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls this week. The Cats were ranked 16th in both preseason polls, marking the first time that UA opened the year with a national ranking since 2007-08.

ARIZONA HEAD COACH Sean Miller . . . is in his third season at the University of Arizona and his eighth overall as a college head coach with a record of 173-74 (.700) and 53-27 (.663) at Arizona ... 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 ... He was named Pac-10 Conference and NABC District 20 Coach of the Year ... 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 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 15 trips to the postseason in his 18 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (9 NCAA/6 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, 17 of 18 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 ... He is assisted by James Whitford, Emanuel Richardson and Joe Pasternack ... Miller is 2-0 vs. Oakland as a head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: Arizona played catch-up from the opening tip as the Cats missed its first seven shots and fell behind 14-0 five minutes into the contest in what was a 71-60 loss to Gonzaga Saturday in the State Farm Battle in Seattle. Eventually, the deficit ballooned to 20 before UA made a game of it, trimming the deficit to six points on three occasions in the second half. Kyle Fogg and Nick Johnson combined for 27 points on 11-of-21 shooting, but the Cats were beaten badly on the boards (40-26) and at the free throw line.

SCOUTING OAKLAND: The Golden Grizzlies enter tonight's game with an 8-4 record (2-0 Summit League) following Saturday's 82-80 win at Valparaiso. On the year, Oakland averages 80.2 points, shoots 43.8 percent from the floor (325-of-742), 30.8 percent (88-of-286) from three-point range and 75.7 percent (224-of-296) from the line. Opponents average 76.7 points, are outrebounded by 1.1 boards per game and shoot 46.6 percent from the floor (333-of-715). Individually, five OU players average in double-figures, led by Reggie Hamilton's 22.0 ppg average. Corey Petros leads Oakland with a 10.2 rebounds per game average.

The Series: Tonight's game is the first meeting of the two schools. Arizona is 5-1 (.833) all-time against teams that currently reside in the Summit League. Arizona last faced a Summit League opponent on Nov. 19, 2007, downing UMKC, 81-62, in McKale Center. For series information on the conferences, please see page 51 in the UA media guide.

MILESTONES APPROACHING: Arizona enters Tuesday's game against Oakland with a few individual milestones rapidly approaching. Senior guard Kyle Fogg is two points shy of becoming the 46th player in school history with 1,000 career points. Additionally, junior forward Solomon Hill is just seven rebounds shy of 400 career rebounds. In case you were wondering, Fogg is averaging 11.7 points per game, while Hill averages 7.5 rebounds per contest.

WITH REGULARITY: Nick Johnson posted 13 points, six assists and a steal Saturday vs. Gonzaga in another solid performance for the 6-foot-2 freshman from Gilbert, Ariz. He connected on 5-of-10 field goal attempts, including 1-of-2 from three-point range, to notch his sixth double-figure scoring effort of the season. Johnson equaled a season high with six assists against just one turnover in 31 minutes of action. Through 11 games, he is averaging 10.7 points per game, while shooting 46 percent from the field, and ranks second on the team with 28 assists and 14 three-point field goals.

A CLEAR ADVANTAGE: The difference in Saturday's game was rebounding, as the bigger Gonzaga front line punished Arizona on the glass. The Bulldogs posted a 40-26 rebound advantage, including a 16-9 edge on the offensive end. With both teams combining to shoot 42 percent from the field, second chance points loomed large Saturday, as Gonzaga parlayed it's offensive rebound edge into a 17-6 advantage in that second-chance points category. Additionally, the +14 rebound margin matched UA's biggest rebound deficit in the Sean Miller era. Through 11 games, Arizona has grabbed a total of two more rebounds than the opposition.

GETTING TO THE LINE: Another area of concern for the Cats is at the free throw line. While Arizona is averaging 20.5 free throw attempts per game and shooting 71.1 percent as a team, over the last four games UA has been outscored from the line, 42-33, and more importantly, surrendered more attempts, 74-50. That issue has presented itself in each of Arizona last two defeats, as Florida and Gonzaga each got to the free throw line 32 times against the Cats, while UA attempted a total of 24 in those two games. Florida and Gonzaga combined to outscore Arizona by 16 points from the free throw line in those games, contests that were decided by a total of 17 points.

NOTING THE POSITIVES: That's not to say that Arizona didn't do a few things well on Saturday, as the Wildcats did limit Gonzaga to a 2011-12 UA opponent low 15 percent shooting (3-of-20) from three-point range. UA limited Gonzaga's starting backcourt to a combined 1-of-15 shooting (.067) from behind the arc. Through 11 games, Arizona limits opponents to just .268 shooting (56-of-209) from three-point range, a figure that leads the Pac-12 Conference. Seven of UA's 11 opponents have failed to shoot better than 30 percent from three-point range this season.

DO YOUR JOB: Arizona's starting backcourt combined to make 15-of-27 (.556) shots from the field Saturday against Gonzaga, including 4-of-9 (.444) from three-point range, as Nick Johnson, Kyle Fogg and Jordin Mayes scored 36 of Arizona's 60 points. In the second half Saturday, those guys hit 8-of-12 field goal attempts. The trio also finished with an 8:3 assist:turnover ratio in the contest.

CONTINUE TO FALL: The Wildcats also continue to take care of the ball, as the club committed just eight turnovers Saturday, marking the second time this season that UA has had fewer than 10 miscues in a game. Over the last four games, Arizona is averaging only 11.3 turnovers per game, a figure that is one turnover per game less than its season average (12.3 to/g) and nearly two fewer than the team's average through its first seven games (13.1 to/g).

RISING TO THE TOP: Senior guard Kyle Fogg scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the second half of Saturday's game, registering his sixth double-figure scoring game of the season and the 45th of his career. The 6-foot-3 native of Brea, Calif., connected on 5-of-6 shots from the field in the second half to lead Arizona in scoring for the third time this season. Over his last four games, Fogg has connected on 10-of-19 (.526) three-point field goal attempts. On the year, Fogg leads Arizona with an 11.7 ppg average.

ON TARGET: Sophomore Jordin Mayes seems to have located his shooting eye once again, as he's made seven of his last 12 field goal attempts (.583) covering two games. Prior to Dec. 10, Mayes had made just 3-of-17 shots (.176) in the previous four games. Against Clemson and Gonzaga, Mayes tallied 16 total points, four more than he amassed in the previous four games combined. To date, the Los Angeles, Calif. product is averaging 7.0 points per game.

MAKING HIS PRESENCE KNOWN: Junior center Kyryl Natyazhko equaled a season-high with six rebounds against Gonzaga. The 6-foot-11, 275-pound native of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, also logged a season-high 20 minutes played. In fact, it marked just the third time in 79 career appearances that Natyazhko has played 20 or more minutes in a game. On the season, Natyazhko is averaging 1.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.

POSITIVELY SPEAKING: Arizona passed out 12 assists against eight turnovers on Saturday, marking the fifth time this season - and third in the last four outings - that the Cats posted a positive assist:turnover ratio. Freshman Nick Johnson led the way against Gonzaga with a 6:1 ratio in 31 minutes played. Of the UA regular starters, Johnson leads with a 1.6:1 ratio, just ahead of Solomon Hill's 1.5:1 mark. All told, five Wildcats currently have positive assist:turnover ratios, while UA's overall ratio of 1.1:1 currently ranks fifth in the Pac-12 Conference.

SELECT GROUP: Jesse Perry has been a workhorse for the Wildcats in these first 11 games, as the 6-foot-7 forward has collected five double-doubles and leads the team with a 7.7 rebounds per game average and a .500 (45-of-90) field goal percentage. The senior from St. Louis, Mo., is one of only four players in the Pac-12 who shoot 50 percent of better from the field and average better than 7.0 rebounds per game. The others: Andre Robertson, Colorado; Trent Lockett, Arizona State; and Jason Washburn, Utah.

LEADING THE PAC: Arizona currently leads the Pac-12 Conference in three-point field goals made per game at 7.4, which is above the pace of the Sean Miller era's first two seasons (7.1). The UA also leads the league in three-point field goal percentage defense at .268 (56-of-209).

BELLWEATHER: Slow starts have been a bugaboo for the Wildcats this season, and look no further than the 10-minute mark of the first half as a good barometer of UA success. Through 11 games, Arizona is 5-0 this season when tied or leading with 10 minutes to go in the opening period and just 2-4 when trailing.

PRESEASON PROGNOSTICATIONS: According to media members who regularly cover the league, Arizona was picked to finish third in this season's Pac-12 Conference race. The Cats received 404 points and 11 first-place votes, trailing UCLA and California. The 404 points earned is the most since 2005-06, the last time UA was predicted to win. UA has been the preseason favorite 11 times in the last 22 years.

RECRUITING CLASS: The Arizona coaching staff signed four student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent as part of the November early signing period. Brandon Ashley (F, 6-8, 215) from Oakland, Calif., who preps at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev.; Grant Jerrett (F, 6-10, 220) from LaVerne, Calif., who preps at LaVerne Lutheran H.S.; Kaleb Tarczewski (C, 7-0, 220) from Southborough, Mass., who preps at St. Mark's School; and Gabe York (G, 6-1, 170) from Orange, Calif., who preps at Orange Lutheran H.S.; make up a class that was ranked No. 1 nationally by espn.com and rivals.com.

UP NEXT: Arizona next will be in action on Thursday, Dec. 22, when the Cats host Bryant University. Tip-off in McKale Center is scheduled for 5 p.m. MST and can be seen on KWBA-TV and FOX Sports Arizona.

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