March 25, 2013
Date: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Time: 4:47 p.m. PDT
Location: Staples Center (19,282), Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach/Ryan Hansen)
TV: TBS (Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Lewis Johnson)
GAME DATA: No. 6 seed Arizona (27-7, 12-6 Pac-12) opens play in the 2013 NCAA West Regional semifinal against No. 2 seed Ohio State (28-7, 13-5 Big Ten) Thursday at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. ... This is UA's 30th NCAA Tournament appearance overall (counting two vacated appearances) and the program has an official 48-26 (.649) record in its previous NCAA Tournament action ... Nine of Arizona's 15 Sweet 16 appearances have come in the West Regional and 31 of the program's 48 NCAA Tournament wins have come through the West Region.
THE RANKINGS: UA is ranked 21st in the Associated Press poll and 20th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll (as of March 18). The Wildcats are one of 11 teams nationally to have been ranked in both polls in every ranking period this season.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH Sean Miller . . . is in his fourth season at the University of Arizona and his ninth overall as a college head coach with a record of 216-89 (.708) and 96-42 (.696) at Arizona ... In his eight-plus year career, Miller's teams have won 20 games seven times and captured five regular-season or postseason tournament titles ... 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, earning Pac-10 Conference and NABC District 20 Coach-of-the-Year honors ... 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 17 trips to the postseason in his 20 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (10 NCAA/7 NIT) and has an 11-5 (.688) 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 24 players to complete eligibility under Miller have earned their degrees ... Miller has recruited classes ranked in the top-10 nationally in each of the last two seasons ... He is assisted by James Whitford, Emanuel Richardson and Joe Pasternack ... Miller is 0-1 vs. Ohio State as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: For the second game in a row, Arizona put its opponent in an early hole and never looked back in cruising to a 74-51 win over Harvard Saturday. The Cats jumped out to a 17-2 lead, forcing the Crimson to miss its first 12 shots and connecting on 58 percent of its own in the half. Harvard's 27.6 percent shooting was the lowest for a UA opponent in NCAA Tournament play. Mark Lyons matched a career high with 27 points, Solomon Hill added a double-double and Jordin Mayes added eight key points in the second half.
SCOUTING OHIO STATE: The Big Ten Conference postseason tournament champion Buckeyes enter Thursday's game with a 28-7 record (13-5 Big Ten) following Sunday's 78-75 win over Iowa State. As a team, Ohio State shoots 45.6 percent from the field (886-of-1,943), including 35.8 percent (215-of-600) from three-point range, while averaging 70.2 points per game. Opponents shoot at a 39.5 percent clip and average 58.8 points per game. Two Buckeyes average in double figures, led by Deshaun Thomas' 19.7 ppg figure. Thomas also leads Ohio State with a 6.1 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Today's game is the second meeting of the two schools with Ohio State holding a 1-0 series advantage. Like this one, the previous meeting was a neutral-site game in Los Angeles, as OSU triumphed 90-47 on Dec. 29, 1971, in the opening round of the Bruin Classic. All-time, Arizona is 0-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Columbus, Ohio, and 0-1 in neutral-site games. For more series information, please see page 45 in the UA media guide.
AGAINST THE BIG TEN: Arizona has a 33-32 (.508) record against current Big Ten Conference members, and is 4-4 against the league over in its last eight meetings, last facing a Big Ten opponent on Nov. 23, 2009, in what was a 65-61 loss to Wisconsin at the Maui Invitational. Please see page 51 in the UA media guide for more information on the series record vs. the conferences.
FRIENDLY LOCALES: Based on its NCAA Tournament successes, Arizona couldn't have selected two friendlier tourney stops than Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, as the Wildcats are a combined 12-3 in those cities. In fact, Salt Lake City (7) and Los Angeles (5) rank 1-2 in terms of the most NCAA Tournament wins by location.
CALIFORNIA DREAMING: This regional appearance marks the 13th time the Cats have road tripped it to California for the NCAA Tournament, and in those 13 appearances, UA is 13-7 (.650). Two of those appearances were regionals, as the Wildcats lost the 1976 West Regional final to UCLA in Pauley Pavilion and beat Missouri in the 1994 West Regional final at the L.A. Sports Arena en route to the Final Four.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE SEEDS: As mentioned last week, this is Arizona's first tournament appearance as a No. 6 seed. Conversely, the Wildcats are 2-3 against No. 2 seeds, last facing and defeating a two seed on March 24, 2005, in a 79-78 win over Oklahoma State in the Chicago Region semifinal.
WE'LL CARRY THE BANNER: Arizona has long been known as one of the flagship programs of basketball in the West, and that excellence has continued under Sean Miller. Over the last four years, the Wildcats have the best record among Pac-12 schools in terms of overall wins (96) and winning percentage (.696). Additionally, UA's 48-24 (.667) record in Pac-12 games is the best in the league, a mark shared with California.
SWEET 16s: By virtue of its 23-point win over Harvard, Arizona earned a berth in its 15th Sweet 16 and the seventh for the program since 2001. In that span, Arizona's seven Sweet 16 appearances rank fourth nationally, trailing only Kansas (10), Duke (10) and Michigan State (8) when it comes to playing into the tournament's second weekend.
WITH REGULARITY: In his nine seasons as a head coach, Sean Miller has made six NCAA Tournament appearances. The Wildcat mentor has proven to be good at advancing when he gets there, as this is his fourth Sweet 16 appearance in the last six seasons. Since 2008, Miller is one of seven coaches nationally to appear in four or more regional semifinals in that span. The list includes Tom Izzo, Michigan State; Mike Krzyzewski, Duke; and Bill Self, Kansas (5 each); and Sean Miller, Xavier and Arizona; John Calipari, Memphis and Kentucky; Roy Williams, North Carolina; and Thad Matta, Ohio State (4 each).
STREAKING: Mark Lyons' 63-percent shooting weekend (20-of-32) in Salt Lake City was his best back-to-back effort in efficiency and production all year. He made 12 buckets Saturday against Harvard, a career high. The 25.0 ppg scoring average in the first two games of the tournament boosted his season scoring average to 15.4 ppg. He's the 37th player in school history to score 500 points in a season.
IT HELPS WHEN THEY GO IN: The Wildcats' two 50-percent shooting games in Salt Lake City were its first successive games above .500 this season and only. They were only the sixth and seventh time the Cats have shot 50 percent or better in a game in 2012-13. Further, Arizona has won 14 of the 16 games that it took fewer (but better) or the same number shots than the opponents, including the games against Belmont and Harvard. Obviously, if the shots go down it makes a difference, but Arizona shot a higher percentage in all but two of those 14 victories. That said, a .560 (56-of-100) cumulative field goal percentage in the NCAA Tournament is impressive.
BEHIND THE ARC: Eighteen made three pointers on a weekend for Arizona in Salt Lake City matched its most productive back-to-back three-point shooting games since conference play started this year. UA was 18-of-32 (.563) beyond the arc at EnergySolutions Arena last week and had shot better than 50 percent from behind the arc five times during the regular season.
WE'RE GOOD AT THIS: Arizona posted a +16 rebound margin in its NCAA sub-regional games, which boosted its season-long rebound margin to +6.6, a Pac-12 best. Arizona has outrebounded 25 of 34 opponents this season, including 12 times by 10 or more. On the season, Arizona is 22-3 when outrebounding the opposition. UA's 36 defensive rebounds last Saturday vs. Harvard were a category high for the program in NCAA Tournament action.
CLAMPING DOWN: The Wildcats did a good job on the defensive end through its first two game, limiting Belmont Harvard to an average of 57.5 points to go with a .330 (36-of-109) field goal percentage. Those foes combined to connect on just 28.9 percent (13-of-45) of its field goal attempts. Eighteen times this season Arizona has held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting. Harvard's .276 field goal percentage last Saturday was the lowest opponent field goal percentage in UA's 76-game NCAA Tournament history.
CONTINUING HIS CLIMB: Senior forward Solomon Hill enters Thursday's game ready to move into a share of the lead on Arizona's all-time games played list. He's played in 138 games in his collegiate career, trailing only Kyle Fogg, who played in 139 games from 2008-12. Last week in Salt Lake City, Hill became just the seventh player in school history with 1,400 points and 750 rebounds. On the year, Hill averages 13.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
70-PLUS: Arizona saw its scoring average rise last week after averaging 77.5 points per game in its two NCAA Tournament wins. The Cats enter the West Regional averaging 73.5 points per game, a figure that ranks second among Pac-12 clubs and the second-best offensive output of the Sean Miller era. This season, Arizona is 19-2 when scoring 70 or more points and under Miller the Cats win 85 percent of its games when topping the 70-point plateau.
A LEADING INDICATOR: The Wildcats never trailed in its two NCAA Tournament games in Salt Lake City, scoring first, early and never looking back. Over its last four games, UA has been in the lead for roughly 153 of its last 160 minutes played.
STEP BY STEP: Arizona often looks at the game segments formed by the television timeouts as a way to chart progress. Against Harvard, Arizona held the Crimson scoreless from the field and led 10-2 at the first break, led 17-5 at the second and pushed the lead to 30-9 after the eight-minute mark to which Harvard had made just two of its first 21 shots. By the time the game arrived at the final first-half break at 3:24, the die had long been cast for this contest. Strong starts certainly suit the Cats, as the club is 20-3 this season when leading at the 10-minute mark of the first half.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: The 17- and 23-point victories over Belmont and Harvard in second- and third round action were Arizona's biggest tournament victories since a 29-point first-round victory over Wisconsin (94-65) in Philadelphia in 2006. Arizona has played in 13 games in which it beat opponents by 16 points or more this season and enjoys a +10.2 scoring margin through 34 games.
SCORING IN CLOSE: Arizona had 35 layups, dunks or buckets in the lane in two NCAA games last week - 19 against Belmont and 16 against Harvard. The total against Harvard matched the Crimson total field goals in the game, while the tally against Belmont was one less than the Bruins' made field goals. The inside play came early and often in each contest as Arizona posted a 66-38 points-in-the-paint advantage.
NOT LOST ON US: Aside from his six boards, four assists and three steals, Nick Johnson limited Wesley Saunders, Harvard's leading scorer to just 1-of-11 shooting and eight points in the game. It was the first time in 30 games this season that Saunders failed to score in double figures.
MR. CONSISTENCY: Solomon Hill's six-game NCAA tourney career has been consistent, with modest averages of 10.0 points and 7.0 rebounds. He's had double-figure scoring three times with a high of 16 against Texas in 2011, and two double-digit rebound games with 10 apiece against Connecticut in 2011 and against Harvard last week in what was his first NCAA Tourney double-double (13 points). He played an NCAA career-high 36 minutes against the Crimson and has averaged 30 minutes played in his six tourney games.
HE IMPACTS THE GAME: Sophomore Nick Johnson has turned himself into a force at both ends of the court, averaging 11.6 points per game and leading the team with a 3.3 assists per game average, and ranking fourth in the Pac-12 in steals and fourth on the team with 19 blocked shots. The 6-foot-3 guard from Gilbert, Ariz., is the first Arizona guard since Jason Terry (159/80) in 1998-99 to register more than 100 assists and 60 steals in the same season.
IN RESERVE: Junior guard Jordin Mayes' 35 minutes played off the bench in Salt Lake City (16 vs. Belmont and 19 vs. Harvard) were key to Arizona's success. He scored three against the Bruins and eight against the Crimson, giving him a string of seven games with a 5.1 ppg mark in an average of 12 minutes. Notably, too, his perimeter defense has helped UA shut down on opponents' three-point success. The 19 minutes against Harvard matched his NCAA-games high of 19 against Texas as a freshman in 2011.
MANNING THE MIDDLE: Center Kaleb Tarczewski averaged 9.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in his first two NCAA Tournament games to go with a .700 (7-of-10) field goal percentage. Over his last 10 games, Tarczewski is averaging 8.3 points and 7.8 rebounds, while shooting .633 (31-of-49) from the field and has pulled down eight or more boards seven times in that span. Through 34 games (all starts), Tarczewski averages 6.6 points and 6.2 rebounds to go with a .535 field goal percentage.
NCAA ODDS & ENDS: Arizona's game vs. Ohio State in the regional semifinal will be its first-ever tournament game on March 28 in what officially will be its 75th contest in NCAA Men's Basketball Championships action (omitting two vacated tilts ... UA regularity has gone to the Sweet 16, with the biggest gap between berths coming between 1976 and 1988, its first and second foray. Since, the Wildcats have punched Sweet 16 tickets often with the largest gap being three years - from 2006-08.
IN MARCH: Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Arizona has a 67-35 (.657) record in the month of March. In that span, 42 of those games have been played in the NCAA Tournament and UA is 30-12 (.714) in them. In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 15-8 (.652) in March.
BEFORE THEY MAKE ME RUN: Arizona has displayed a knack for timely runs so far this season. The Cats jumped out to early leads in both NCAA Tournament games to date, including a 17-2 burst to open the game vs. Harvard on March 23. Here is a look at UA's notable runs to date:
26-3 run over 8:41 (2nd) at Texas Tech, Dec. 1
30-8 run over 12:57 (1st+2nd) vs. Washington, Feb. 20
27-8 run over 6:53 (2nd+ot) vs. Colorado, Jan. 3
21-4 run over 9:07 (2nd) vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 19
23-6 run over 7:55 (1st) vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 19
22-7 run over 8:56 (2nd) at Clemson, Dec. 8
17-2 run over 7:09 (1st) vs. Harvard, March 23
18-4 run over 6:28 (1st) vs. USC, Jan. 26
13-0 run over 4:26 (2nd) vs. UTEP, Nov. 15
14-2 run over 4:10 (2nd) vs. Northern Arizona, Nov. 28
22-10 run over 9:27 (1st) vs. Charleston Southern, Nov. 11
RECRUITING CLASS: The Arizona coaching staff signed two student-athletes to National Letters-of-Intent as part of the November early signing period. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (F, 6-7, 215) from Chester, Pa., who preps at Chester H.S.; and Elliott Pitts (G, 6-5, 180) from Dublin, Calif., who preps at De La Salle H.S.; make up a class that is ranked No. 18 nationally by espn.com.
UP NEXT: A win tonight moves Arizona into Saturday's West Regional final against the Wichita State-LaSalle winner. Game time is TBA.