Feb. 10, 2012
Time: Noon MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,538), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach) [Sirius/XM: 94/192]
TV: FOX Sports Net (Barry Tompkins/Reggie Theus)
GAME DATA: Arizona (17-8, 8-4 Pac-12) closes a weekend in McKale Center Saturday against Utah (5-19, 2-10 Pac-12) in another early-afternoon affair ... The Utah game will be the second of four consecutive noon tip-offs on Saturday for the Wildcats ... A win today would be UA's fourth consecutive, equaling the team's longest win streak of the season (Nov. 7-17) ... In Pac-12 play, only three of Arizona's 12 opponents to date have scored more than 65 points ... Through 12 conference games, Arizona is 5-1 on Thursday and 3-3 on Saturday or Sunday.
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 183-78 (.701) and 63-31 (.670) 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 1-0 vs. Utah as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Solomon Hill, Jesse Perry and Kyle Fogg combined for 48 points and 30 rebounds to lead Arizona to the 71-57 win Thursday over Colorado. Hill and Perry were frontline stand-outs, combining to make 12-of-21 shots and each registering a double-double, as the Wildcats posted a +12 rebound advantage. Fogg scored four points in a 12-3 burst midway through the second half that gave UA breathing room, and Arizona capitalized on a 26-9 advantage in scoring from the free throw line.
SCOUTING UTAH: The Utes enter today's game with a 5-19 record (2-10 Pac-12) following Thursday's 57-52 loss at Arizona State. On the year, Utah averages 56.3 points, shoots 40.5 percent from the floor (474-of-1,169), 29.4 percent (123-of-418) from three-point range and 66.2 percent (280-of-423) from the line. Opponents average 70.6 points, are outrebound Utah by 4.8 boards per game and shoot 48.1 percent from the floor (618-of-1,285). Individually, one Utah player averages in double figures: Jason Washburn with a 10.2 ppg average. He also leads the Utes with a 6.2 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Today's game is the 51st meeting of the two schools with Utah holding a 28-22 series advantage. Arizona captured the last four meetings in the series, which dates back to Dec. 21, 1953, including a 77-51 win in Salt Lake City on Jan. 19. Since leaving the WAC, UA is 7-3 against Utah. All-time, Arizona is 13-8 in series games played in Tucson, 7-19 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and 2-1 in neutral-site games. For more series information, please see page 49 in the UA media guide.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 77, Utah 51, Jan. 19, 2012: Holding a five-point lead at the break, Arizona broke things open early in the second period with a 20-2 run over 4:26 to essentially put things away. UA shot 58 percent from the field, including 6-of-12 from three-point range, and scored 44 of its 77 points in the second half. Kevin Parrom and Kyle Fogg led four Wildcats in double figures with 12 points apiece, while Jesse Perry pulled down 10 rebounds.
KUDOS TO OUR CATS, BOTH FORMER AND FUTURE: Three members of the Wildcat family, one a former player and two future performers, received special recognition Thursday for their efforts on the court. Andre Iguodala, an Arizona standout from 2002-04, was named to the 2012 NBA All-Star Game as an Eastern Conference reserve. Additionally, UA signees Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett were both named McDonald's All-Americans. Iguodala is the third former Wildcat to be named an NBA All-Star, while Ashley and Jerrett are the 16th and 17th McDonald's All-Americans in program history.
ROUND NUMBERS: As Jesse Perry (17), Solomon Hill (16) and Kyle Fogg (15), three of Arizona's most veteran players, each posted double-figure scoring games Thursday as the Wildcats downed Colorado. It was a milestone of sorts for each, as Fogg posted his 55th career game in double figures, Hill collected his 40th and Perry his 25th. Additionally (though not a round number), it marked the seventh time this season that that trio has each scored in double figures in the same game, and the 48 combined points was the second-highest total of the season, trailing only a 53-point accumulation Dec. 20 vs. Oakland.
A TOP-10 GUY: Senior guard Kyle Fogg enters today's game with 129 career games played, and an appearance against the Utes would move him into a tie for seventh place on Arizona's career games played list at 130. With a minimum of six games left this season, Fogg has his sights set on the Arizona career games played lead, currently held by Jason Gardner (1999-2003) with 136.
LIMITING THE LOOKS: Arizona continues to do a stellar job of making hard for the opposition to score, as the Cats limited Colorado to a .373 (22-of-59) field goal percentage Thursday night. UA has held 10 opponents to less than 40-percent shooting this season, including six of 12 Pac-12 foes. Overall, UA's field goal percentage defense figure checks in at .397 (562-of-1,417) through 25 games, and that number drops to .384 (260-of-677) in conference play. The FG percentage defense number looms large as the Cats are 15-1 this season when outshooting the opposition.
CAUSE AND EFFECT: Holding teams to a low field goal percentage is a good first step, but good defensive teams also have to rebound effectively in order to end the possession. The Wildcats certainly have done a nice job of that, especially lately, as the team has grabbed 68 defensive rebounds in the last two games. The 34 at Stanford and the 35 vs. Colorado are the two highest single-game defensive rebound totals of the season. On the season, Arizona averages 26.2 defensive rebounds per game. In those last two ballgames, Arizona limited Stanford and Colorado to a combined .311 (38-of-122) field goal percentage.
BOARD WORK: Led by Solomon Hill's career-high 14 rebounds Thursday, Arizona posted a 43-31 rebound advantage over Colorado. The Wildcats have now outrebounded 18 of 25 opponents to date and carry a +2.6 rebound margin. Seven times in 2011-12 the margin has been 10 or more and Thursday's +12 margin was the second-highest of the season. Arizona is 14-4 this season when outrebounding the opposition.
GET AHEAD, STAY AHEAD: Nothing seems to matter as much as getting an early lead and keeping it. This season, Arizona is 12-0 when leading at the 10-minute mark of the first half. UA is 2-1 when tied at that point and 3-7 when trailing.
KEEPING IT CLOSE: Through 25 games, Arizona carries a +8.0 scoring margin. In its 17 wins, the average margin of victory is 14.2 ppg. In the squad's eight defeats, the margin is 5.4 points.
GETTING TO THE LINE: Thursday was another example of Arizona assertively getting to the free throw line, as UA attempted 35 free throws. Over the last four games, Arizona attempted 18 free throws, more than double that (58) of the opposition. In that span, Arizona has averaged 29.5 free throws per game and 20 made FTs per game, 15 more than its foes attempt and 10 more than it scores. That recent increase is 6.7 more attempts per game than its average through 25 games (22.8). Over the course of the entire season, Arizona attempts 4,2 more free throws per game that its opponent and scores 3.7 more points from the charity stripe.
SHINING IN PRIME TIME: Freshman forward Angelo Chol seems to have adapted to the bright lights of television exposure. In his last two Thursday night appearances - televised nationally by FSN and ESPN - Chol has matched his season high in points (eight), while averaging 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. The 6-foot-9 product of San Diego, Calif., has connected on 5-of-7 FGs (.714) and all four free throws. On the season, Chol is averaging 2.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocked shots per game.
ON THE REBOUND: It's not often that senior guard Brendon Lavender would take as many as five three-point field goal attempts and miss every one. In fact, it's the first time in his career (13 times) that he's taken five or more shots from behind the arc and gone 0-fer. Expect the 6-foot-5 product of Mesa, Ariz., to bounce back, as Lavender is 11-of-17 (.647) from three-point range this season in the six games this season in which he has attempted at least one trey without sinking any. Currently, he leads all Pac-12 players with a .492 (31-of-63) three-point field goal percentage.
WARMING UP: Over the last three games, freshman Nick Johnson has averaged 10.0 points per game, a figure about 2.0 ppg higher than his scoring average in Pac-12 play. It's also not surprising that Arizona has reeled off three straight wins with an increased scoring punch from the 6-foot-2 guard from Gilbert, Ariz. In fact, the 30 points netted by Johnson in the last three games is more than he tallied in the previous five games combined. He averages 9.2 ppg on the season and has 11 double-figure scoring games.
MARKED IMPROVEMENT: Junior Solomon Hill has proven himself to be one of the Pac-12 best all-around performers, especially in league play as he averages 12.5 points (16th) and 8.8 rebounds (2nd) per game in Pac-12 play, including a .525 field goal percentage. What's improved most of all for Hill in league play is his three-point field goal percentage, as his .458 accuracy rate from long range is significantly better than his season-long average of .362.
SCOREBOARD TOTALS: Arizona is 11-1 this season when scoring 70 or more points, including a 5-0 mark in Pac-12 play. Through 12 conference games (six home/six road), the Wildcats average 71.5 points per game at home and 64.8 points on the road and carry identical 4-2 records depending on location.
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 hit the road for its final two-game road trip of the conference season, when UA travels to the state of Washington, beginning Thursday, Feb. 16, at Washington State. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. PST and can be seen nationally on FOX Sports Net.