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Top (Seed) Cats Head to Pac-10 Tourney
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 07, 2011
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 7, 2011

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Date: Thursday, March 10, 2011
Time: approx. 2:40 p.m. PST
Location: Staples Center (19,282), Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FSN (Barry Tompkins/Don MacLean)

Game Data:  No. 1 seed Arizona (25-6, 14-4 Pac-10) travels to Los Angeles for the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament and opens play in the second quarterfinal Thursday afternoon ... Arizona's 17 wins and four championships (1988-90, 2002) in this event are league bests ... Since the event was reincarnated in the Staples Center in 2002, the Cats are 8-8 in tournament play having dropped the last three ... The number 70 looms large in conference tournament action as Arizona is 8-3 since 2002 when scoring 70 or more points and 0-5 when it does not ... Since the conference expanded to 10 teams in 1978-79, no Pac-10 school has won as many regular-season conference championships as Arizona's 12.


The Rankings:  Arizona has been ranked for six consecutive weeks and currently 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 161-68 (.703) and 41-21 (.661) 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 4-0 vs. Stanford and 1-3 vs. Oregon State  as a head coach.


Last Time Out:  A balanced offensive attack paved the way as Arizona placed five played in double figures in outlasting Oregon, 90-82, last Saturday.  First-half efficiency proved to be the difference as the Cats outshot the Ducks, .593-.370, in the first half and held a 41-32 lead at the break.  Derrick Williams and Kyle Fogg combined for 23 second half points to help Arizona withstand an Oregon rally that trimmed the lead to as few as six points.  UA clinched its first Pac-10 title since 2005 with the win.


The Stanford Series:  A quarterfinal match-up would mark the 83rd meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 53-29 series advantage. Arizona has won 11 of the last 15 in the series, including the last, a 78-69 triumph in Palo Alto, Calif., on Feb. 3.  All-time, Arizona is 28-8 in series games played in Tucson, 21-18 in Palo Alto, Calif., and 4-3 in neutral site games.  For more series information, please see page 44 in the UA media guide.


The Oregon State Series:  A quarterfinal match-up would mark the 73rd meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 52-20 series advantage.  UA has won 19 of the last 24 meetings in the series, which dates back to Jan. 28, 1975, including the last, 70-59, on March 3 in Tucson.  All-time, Arizona is 29-6 in series games played in Tucson, 20-14 in Corvallis, and 3-0 in neutral-site games.  For more series information, please see page 44 in the UA media guide.


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 Monday.  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.


Seeding Note:  The Wildcats enter the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament as the No. 1 seed. In the 14-year of the Pac-10 Tournament , Arizona has been a No. 1 seed five times (1988, `89, 2003, `05, `11), No. 2 three times (1987, 90, 2002) No. 3 once (2004), No. 4 twice (2006, 10), No. 5 twice (2007, 09) and a No. 7 seed once (2008). Additionally, no other Pac-10 team has played in as many conference postseason tournament games as Arizona's 26. Of those 26 contests, the Wildcats have played as the higher seed 21 times.


Finishing Strong:  Kyle Fogg led Arizona to a weekend sweep and its first conference championship since 2005 by averaging 14.5 points, 1.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in Arizona's pair of games last week.  His scoring average for the week was 5.7 points better than his season-long scoring average.  The junior guard connected on 46.7 percent of his three-point field goals (7-of-15) to go with spotless shooting (8-of-8) from the line.  Along the way, Fogg posted his 12th game in double figures and his second 20-point game of the year, while adding a block and a steal.  He opened the week with a game-high six assists against just one turnover in a season-best 33 minutes to go with three points against Oregon State - connecting on 3-of-8 shots from behind the arc to go with a steal.  Fogg finished the week with a team-high 20 points, where he knocked down 4-of-7 three-point field goals and all eight free throws vs. Oregon.  It was the second time Fogg has topped the 20-point plateau this season and the second time he's led the team in scoring.  The effort boosted Fogg's season per game averages to 8.8 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists.


Making the Leap:  Under the direction of Sean Miller, the Wildcats have posted a nine-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 2004 (20-10/11-7 Pac-10) and 2005 (30-7/15-3) seasons, when the program improved by 10 and four wins, respectively.  Furthermore, Arizona finished the regular season with 25 victories, which equals the most for the program in the regular season in the last 13 years.  Only the 1999-2000 squad, which ended the regular season with a 26-6 record (finished 27-7) won more games in the regular season than this season's club.  UA's 2002-03 and 2004-05 teams both ended the regular with 25 wins as well.


On target:  The Wildcats found its shooting eye Saturday, connecting on 56.0 percent of its shots (28-of-50) against Oregon.  UA got off to a hot start in the opening period, knocking down 16-of-27 (.593) attempts to help the Cats shoot 50 percent or better for the 12th time this season and the first time in eight games.  On the year, Arizona shoots a cumulative .473 from the field (787-of-1,664).  Much of that solid shooting Saturday came from behind the arc, as Arizona hit 11-of-25 (.440) three-point attempts, marking the 11th time this season that the Cats have made 10 or more treys in a single game.  Incidentally, Arizona is 10-1 when reaching double figures from behind the arc.  The shooting certainly helped on Saturday, as six of UA's first nine field goals vs. Oregon were three-pointers.


Battling on the Boards:  As has been the case for much of the season, Arizona did a nice job of controlling the boards in Saturday's win, outrebounding Oregon, 33-23.  For a team that posts a +4.4 rebound margin, it was the 20th time that Arizona has outrebounded an opponent this year, and the 13th time it has done so by 10 or more.


Dropping Dimes:  In a pair of games this week, Arizona 37 assists against only 18 turnovers, including a 20:10 ratio Saturday against Oregon.  The +10 assist ratio equaled the biggest for the Wildcats this season and was the biggest for the team in Pac-10 play.  Against the Ducks, sophomore Kevin Parrom passed out five assists against zero turnovers in 23 minutes of action.  Additionally, it was the fourth time this year that UA has passed out 20 or more assists in a game, and the first since Dec. 5.


Record-Setting Effort:  Sophomore Derrick Williams battled foul trouble in posting modest totals of 14 points (5-of-7 FG) and five rebounds in 22 minutes vs. Oregon, but he still managed to set a school record in the process.  The 6-foot-8 forward connected on 3-of-4 free throws to establish a new Arizona single-season record with 268 free throw attempts.  Khalid Reeves, who attempted 264 in 1993-94, formerly held the record.  Williams also reached 500 career FT attempts in the contest and his per game average of 8.1 free throw attempts is the highest in school history.


Interchangeability:  All season long, Arizona has prospered with contributions from a multitude of players, as Sean Miller said in Saturday's postgame, "We are a team of interchangeable parts."  That was definitely in evidence Saturday as 10 different players saw action in the contest.  All 10 players scored at least two points, each also grabbed a rebound and nine passed out at least one assist.


Answering the Call:  Senior Jamelle Horne got the Senior Day start Saturday, his first since Dec. 19, and responded with 10 points, a rebound and an assist in 20 minutes.  The 6-foot-7 forward connected on 3-of-5 shots, including 2-of-3 from three-point range, en route to his first game in double figures since Jan. 9, a span of 14 games.  For the season, Horne is averaging 6.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, while ranking second on the team with 36 three-point field goals.


A Rise in Production:  Arizona got a good week from sophomore forward Solomon Hill, who averaged 12.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in wins over Oregon State and Oregon.  The 6-foot-6 forward from Los Angeles hit 10-of-19 field goals (.526) for the week and added three assists and a block.  Saturday against Oregon, Hill equaled a career high with six field goals in a season-high 10 attempts.  He finished in double figures in both games, marking the first time he has done so in back-to-back games since Jan. 15-20.  Hill averages 7.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.


In Reserve:  Sophomore center Kyryl Natyazhko proved to be productive in Saturday's win, amassing six points, four rebounds and an assist.  The point total equaled a Pac-10 high for the 6-foot-10 native of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, while the four boards established a new individual high in league action.  Interestingly, Natyazhko, who went 6-of-6 from the free throw line in Pac-10 play, went 2-of-2 from the stripe Saturday, his first free throw attempts since Dec. 30.  His 76 rebounds this season (2.5 rpg) rank sixth on the team.


Assisting the Cause:  Arizona finished the season 17-0 at McKale Center and joined a select group of Pac-10 teams to finish an entire home slate (including non-conference games) with a spotless record.  Since the conference expanded to 10 teams for the 1978-79 season, only 19 clubs have posted a zero in the right-hand column.  In terms of numbers of home wins, UA's 17-0 record equals the second-best mark of that group (Arizona 1991), and is topped only by Arizona's 1988 club that went 19-0 in at home en route to a 35-3 season.


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.


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 and

Up Next:  Following today's game, Arizona will either play in Friday's first semifinal at 6 p.m. PST on FSN or return home to await word on further postseason participation.

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