Feb. 27, 2012
Date: Sunday, March 4, 2012
Time: 1:30 p.m. MST
Location: Wells Fargo Arena (10,734), Tempe, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FOX Sports Net (Barry Tompkins/Ernie Kent/Rebecca Haarlow)
GAME DATA: Arizona (21-9, 12-5 Pac-12) closes out the regular season Sunday at intrastate rival Arizona State (9-20, 5-12 Pac-12) in a nationally televised game on FOX Sports Net at 1:30 p.m. MST ... The Wildcats and Sun Devils meet on the hardwood for the 222nd time ... The last five series meetings at Wells Fargo Arena have been decided by an average of 8.8 points per game with thee decided by five points or less and one overtime affair; UA has prevailed in three of those five tilts ... UA has a 6-4 record in true road games this year, carrying a +4.2 scoring margin in those games.
THE RANKINGS: UA remains unranked in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls this week.
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 187-79 (.703) and 67-32 (.677) 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 5-2 vs. Arizona State as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: On Arizona's Senior Day, Kyle Fogg saved his best for last as the Wildcats rallied for the 65-63 win over UCLA last Saturday. Fogg scored 16 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, including 13 in the final six minutes, igniting a 17-7 UA run in 5:08 of that span that allowed the Cats to take the lead - capped by a Fogg trey with 53 ticks remaining. Arizona used its quickness to get to the line, outscoring UCLA 23-11 at the stripe, to offset the Bruins' +12 advantage in points in the paint. Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill added 16 and 13 points, respectively.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils enter today's game with a 9-20 record (5-12 Pac-12) following Saturday's 56-52 win over USC. On the year, ASU averages 60.0 points, shoots 45.3 percent from the floor (605-of-1,337), 35.8 percent (167-of-466) from three-point range and 66.9 percent (362-of-541) from the line. Opponents average 65.2 points, are outrebounded by 1.9 boards per game and shoot 42.8 percent from the floor (650-of-1,519). Individually, two ASU players average in double figures, led by Trent Lockett's 13.0 ppg figure. He also leads the Sun Devils with a 5.8 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Today's game is the 222nd meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 142-79 series advantage. Arizona has won 28 of the last 35 meetings in the series, which dates back to 1914, including the last, a 68-51 decision on Dec. 31 in Tucson. All-time, Arizona is 79-28 in series games played in Tucson, 62-50 in Tempe, and 1-1 in neutral-site games. For more series information, please see page 46 in the UA media guide.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 68, Arizona State 51, Dec. 31, 2011: Arizona used an 11-0 run late in the first half and a quick 12-2 burst to open the second half and build as much as a 24-point lead in UA's first-ever Pac-12 game. UA outshot, outrebounded and held sizeable advantages in points off turnovers and second chance points. Jesse Perry led all scorers with 16 points and was joined in double figures by Solomon Hill (11) and Nick Johnson (14). Josiah Turner added five steals.
A NICE WEEK: Kyle Fogg was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second time this season after leading Arizona to a sweep in two games this last week by averaging 18.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists as the Wildcats won for the eighth time in the last 10 games. The senior guard also connected on 43.5 percent of his field goals (10-of-23), 40.0 percent (4-of-10) of his three-point attempts and 75.0 percent (12-of-16) of his free throws. Included in the effort was his second double-double of the season in the win Thursday and his fifth 20-point game of 2011-12 on Saturday. He opened the week with 16 points, a career-high 12 boards and two assists Thursday vs. USC and added game-high totals of 20 points and nine rebounds Saturday vs. UCLA. Fogg scored 16 of those 20 points in the final 9:57, including 13 in the last 6:03 as Arizona rallied for the win. His trey with 53 seconds to go capped a 17-7 UA run that gave the Wildcats a six-point lead. Fogg was equally as good defensively this week, as his primary defensive assignments were a combined 5-of-26 (.192) from the field and totaled 12 points. On the year, Fogg averages 13.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
A WIN TODAY: A victory today would give Arizona a 6-3 road record in Pac-12 play. It would mark the first time the program has won six or more conference road games since 2006-07. Since joining the league in 1978-79, Arizona has won six or more conference road games 14 times previously (1987, `88. `89, `90, `93, `94, `95, `96, `98, 2000, `01, `03, `05, `07). In the Sean Miller era, UA is a league-best 14-12 in road tilts.
CALENDAR WATCHING: The Wildcats enjoyed a strong month of February, posting a 7-1 record, including a 3-1 mark on the road. That is a reversal of fortune for Arizona under Sean Miller, as the Cats were 7-7 in the first two seasons of his tenure, easily the worst record of any month of the season. Looking ahead to March, Arizona is 9-3 in the Sean Miller era in the third month of the year.
TIGHT QUARTERS: Bolstered by 49 combined points from Arizona's most veteran players (Kyle Fogg/Solomon Hill/Jesse Perry) last Saturday, the Cats picked up a 65-63 win over UCLA. Not only was the two-point margin of victory UA's smallest of the year, it was also the program's third straight win in games decided by five points or less. Now 3-4 in that category, Arizona started the year 0-4 in games decided by five points or less. UA's five Pac-12 losses have been by a total of 21 points (4.2 ppg).
PLAYING FROM BEHIND: The UCLA game also marked just the third time this season that Arizona has won a game in which it has trailed with five minutes remaining in the second half, but two of those wins (Utah, Feb. 11) have come in conference play. In the three games in which Arizona has come from behind late to win, the Wildcats limited those opponents to an average of 54.3 points.
STRENGTH IN THE NUMBERS: During Arizona's last 10 games, the Cats have done more than a few things well. First, the team is averaging just 11.5 turnovers per game and has a positive turnover margin (+.0.6). Secondly, the Cats are shooting it very well from three-point range, connecting on 40 percent (74-of-185) of its attempts from behind the arc. Finally, UA is getting to the free throw line, as the club is averaging 25.7 free throw attempts per game in that span and outscoring opponents by an average of 5.5 points per game from the stripe. Each of those figures is an improvement over the Cats' 30-game figures: 12.4 turnovers per game, -0.5 turnover margin, .378 three-point FG percentage, 22.9 free throw attempts per game and +4.0 ppg from, the free throw line.
PLAYING BIG: Senior forward Jesse Perry more than held his own against the imposing UCLA frontline Saturday, as he tallied 16 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes. Despite giving up three inches in height to the Wear twins and Joshua Smith, the 6-foot-7 Perry posted his best scoring and rebounding totals in five games and used his quickness to get to the line nine times (made eight). He also passed out two assists and added a block. On the season, Perry averages 11.9 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting .489 from the field (128-of-262).
AN ADDITIVE EFFECT: Junior Solomon Hill has turned himself into one of Arizona's most consistent performers, totaling 13 points and four boards against UCLA. The 6-foot-6 native of Los Angeles, Calif., leads the Wildcats with 22 games of 10 or more points and 26 games with five or more rebounds. In fact, half of Perry's 44 career games scoring in double figures have come this season. Through 30 games, Hill is averaging 12.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game to go with a .492 (124-of-252) field goal percentage. Over his last 10 games, Hill has cranked it up from three-point range as well, connecting on 44.4 percent of his attempts (12-of-27).
NEARING THE TOP: Aside from his in-game statistical efforts, Kyle Fogg also reached another career milestone Saturday just by checking in as he passed the greatest Wildcat of them all, Sean Elliott, in career appearances. Fogg now has played in 134 games in his collegiate career, a figure that ranks second in UA annals. He trails only Jason Gardner, who played in 136 career games from 1999-2003, and could surpass him if things work out positively in the postseason.
LEADING INDICATORS: Through 30 games this season, Arizona is 17-3 when leading at the half (10-2 Pac-12). Overall, Arizona has outscored foes by an average of 2.2 points per game in the first half. That figure rises to 2.9 points in Pac-12 play and 3.2 points in UA's last 10 games. Perhaps even more positively for the Cats is the fact that the team outscores its foes by even more points in the second half of each of those breakdowns: 5.1 ppg overall, 4.1 ppg Pac-12 and 4.3 ppg in the last 10 games.
CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS: One could suppose that it's nice to win even when not at your best. The Feb. 25 win over UCLA marked the first time this season that Arizona had won a game in which it had been outshot (.410-.383) and outrebounded (37-32). UA has only been outrebounded nine times in 30 games to date. When needed, the Cats turned to the charity stripe, as the team made five more free throws (23) than UCLA attempted and held a +12 advantage in free throw points, including a +9 figure in the second half. Interestingly, all 32 of Arizona's free throw attempts came from only four players: Kyle Fogg (10-of-13), Jesse Perry (8-of-9), Solomon Hill (3-of-6) and Josiah Turner (2-of-4).
FILLING IN: Since Jordin Mayes went down with a left foot injury on Feb. 2, a trio of Wildcats have stepped things up in the seven games since. Kyle Fogg (+2.4 ppg), Brendon Lavender (+2.4) and Angelo Chol (+1.3) have combined to score on average 6.1 more points per game in that span. Collectively, the Wildcats have also improved its accuracy from the free throw line, connecting on 70.4 percent of its attempts (126-of-179) and outscoring foes by 7.4 points from the stripe over the last seven games.
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: The Wildcats head to Los Angeles, Calif., to take part in the 2012 Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament at the Staples Center, March 7-10. Seedings are still to be announced, but game times are scheduled for noon PST, 2:30, 6 and 8:30 p.m. for the first two days of the event.