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Cats Open Final Homestand vs. USC Thursday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/21/2012
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 21, 2012

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Date: Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012
Time: 6:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (15,538), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach) [Sirius 128]
TV: FOX Sports Arizona (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)

GAME DATA: Arizona (19-9, 10-5 Pac-12) closes out the home portion of the regular- season schedule with a pair of games beginning Thursday vs. USC (6-21, 1-13 Pac-12) at 6:30 p.m. MST on FOX Sports Arizona ... Through 15 home games, Arizona averages 71.3 points per game and limits opponents to just 59.8 points ... UA shoots better than 40 percent from three-point range (.401/118-of-294) in McKale Center ... A win tonight gives Arizona 20 wins for the second straight season and the 33rd time in school history.

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 185-79 (.701) and 65-32 (.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 4-2 vs. USC as a head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: Washington's backcourt duo of Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten proved nearly insurmountable and C.J. Wilcox hit two key treys in the second half to fully swing momentum as the Huskies pulled away to a 79-70 win Saturday in Seattle. UW got 42 points in the paint and held a 14-5 advantage in turnover points as UA saw its five-game win streak end. Nick Johnson led four Arizona players in double figures with 20 points, while Solomon Hill and Kyle Fogg combined for 19 rebounds.

SCOUTING USC: The Trojans enter tonight's game with a 6-21 record (1-13 Pac-12) following the Feb. 15 64-54 loss at UCLA. On the year, USC averages 53.4 points, shoots 39.1 percent from the floor (550-of-1,405), 27.6 percent (105-of-381) from three-point range and 61.0 percent (236-of-387) from the line. Opponents average 59.5 points, outrebound USC by 8.3 boards per game and shoot 43.6 percent from the floor (574-of-1,318). Individually, one active USC player averages in double figures: Maurice Jones and his 13.7 ppg average. Byron Wesley leads all active Trojans with a 4.9 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the 100th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 59-40 series advantage. UA has won 20 of the last 30 meetings in the series, which dates back to 1922, including the last, 57-46, in Los Angeles on Jan. 8. All-time, Arizona is 30-10 in series games played in Tucson, 25-30 in Los Angeles, and 4-0 in neutral-site games. For more series information, please see page 49 in the UA media guide.

LAST MEETING: Arizona 57, USC 46, Jan. 8, 2012: In a game in which Arizona never trailed, the Wildcats limited USC to 29 percent shooting and outrebounded the Trojans, 38-32. UA jumped out to a 6-0 lead and never looked back, holding USC to 6-of-29 shooting and 16 points in the first half. Jesse Perry scored 12 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, while Solomon Hill collected his third consecutive double-double and Kyle Fogg added 10 points and two blocks. It was Arizona's first win in the Galen Center since January 2008.

FOLLOW THAT GUY: Kyle Fogg guided Arizona to a split in two games last week by averaging 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists as the Wildcats won its Pac-12-best fifth conference road game in 2011-12. The senior guard also connected on 37.5 percent of his field goals (9-of-24), 30.0 percent (3-of-10) of his three-point attempts and 85.7 percent (6-of-7) of his free throws. Included in the effort was his first career double-double in the win Thursday in Pullman. He opened the week with 16 points, 10 boards and three assists Thursday at Washington State and added 11 points and nine rebounds Saturday at Washington. Fogg scored 19 of those 27 points last week in the first half, and his 19 total rebounds were the most in his career in back-to-back games. On the year, he averages 12.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.

PRETTY GOOD, ON AVERAGE: By winning its 10th conference game of the season Thursday at Washington State, Arizona now has won 10 or more conference games in 26 of the last 28 seasons. Since the start of the 1984-85 season, the Wildcats have averaged 13.4 conference wins per season.

A NEED TO REBOUND: Arizona lost the rebound battle Saturday at Washington, 43-39, marking the first time in five games that UA had been outrebounded. On the season, Arizona has been outboarded just eight times in 28 games this season and is 3-5 when that happens. Interestingly, even though Washington had more offensive rebounds than Arizona (20-18) Saturday, the Cats actually held a 23-20 advantage in second-chance points.

LONG-RANGE EFFORTS: In a week in which it was outscored 74-48 in the paint, Arizona did what it could to counter, and that's shoot it well from distance. In its two games in the state of Washington last week, Arizona connected on 15-of-40 (.375) three-point attempts, while limiting opponents to .256 shooting (10-of-39) from beyond the arc. Arizona leads all Pac-12 teams with an average of 7.5 treys made per game to date in 2011-12, and is the only Pac-12 program with at least 200 made treys this season. Of the six Wildcats to attempt a three-point FG this week, four of those players sank multiple treys. Through 28 games, five UA players have made 20 or more treys this season.

ON THE RISE: Despite losing Saturday at Washington, Arizona has won six of its last eight games played and in that span is averaging 71.6 points per game, a figure that is 2.7 points better than its scoring average in Pac-12 play (68.9). Additionally, the squad has managed to nearly maintain its scoring margin in that span (+7.1) when compared to the 15-game figure in conference action to date (+7.2). UA is 7-1 in Pac-12 play this year when scoring 70 or more points.

TAKE CARE (OF THE BALL): As UA head coach Sean Miller has long surmised, turnovers continue to loom large for the Cats. Arizona turned it over 12 times Saturday, twice as many as Washington, and not coincidentally, the Huskies held a +9 advantage in turnover points in a 79-70 final. Additionally, six of UW's 10 fast break points were direct results of UA turnovers. On the season, Arizona averages 12.4 turnovers per game, and the Cats are 11-1 when committing the same or fewer turnovers than its opponent and 8-8 when committing more.

A TELLING STATISTIC: Washington managed to post a better shooting percentage than Arizona Saturday (.418-.393) in what, at times, was a defensive struggle. This season, eight of Arizona's nine losses have come when UA shoots it worse than the opponent. Saturday's .393 (22-of-56) effort marked just the sixth time this season that Arizona had not shot better than 40 percent from the field. Conversely, Arizona had help opponents to less than 40-percent shooting 10 times in 2011-12. In 15 Pac-12 games to date, UA opponents are shooting a cumulative .400 (336-of-840) from the field.

GUNNING FOR 40: When it comes to 40-point halves, Arizona posted one and allowed another in its games last week. On the year, Arizona has posted 15 40-point halves, including seven in Pac-12 play, while allowing just six overall and four in conference play. UA has proven to be a stronger second-half team overall, averaging 36.2 points and enjoying a +5.0 scoring margin in the second period.

THIS GUY HAS BEEN GOOD: Junior Solomon Hill continues to play like an all-conference performer, as he tallied 13 points and 10 rebounds Saturday at Washington to record his 10th double-double of the season. The 6-foot-6 forward, who averages 12.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, also leads Arizona is field goal percentage (.500), free throws made (90) and assists (76). Among Pac-12 players, he ranks second in double-doubles, rebounding and defensive rebounds; fifth in offensive rebounds, 15th in field goal percentage and 18th in scoring.

THIRTEEN SCORES 20: Freshman guard Nick Johnson notched the first 20-point game of his career Saturday at Washington, connecting on 6-of-14 field goals and 6-of-7 free throws to go with four assists in the effort. He joins Kyle Fogg (4), Jesse Perry (3) and Solomon Hill (2) as the Cats to accomplish that feat this season. Johnson, a 6-foot-2 native of Gilbert, Ariz., is averaging 9.6 points and 2.5 assists per game.

KEEPING POSSESSIONS ALIVE: Forward Angelo Chol collected four points, three rebounds, a block and an assist in 18 minutes Saturday at Washington. In two games last week, five of the seven rebounds grabbed by Chol were on the offensive end. On the season, Chol trails only Jesse Perry (36%/72 of 202) as the team's most effective rebounder, as 34 percent of his rebounds (23 of 67) are offensive. Chol, a 6-foot-9, 217-pound freshman from San Diego, Calif., averages 2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, while shooting .604 (32-of-53) from the field.

FINISHING STRONG: Over the last 10 games, Arizona has gotten increased productivity from guard Brendon Lavender. In that span, he's averaging 18.6 minutes per game, more than five minutes per game better than his season-long averages, and is chipping in with 6.5 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. The 6-foot-5 native of Mesa, Ariz., ranks fifth on the team in scoring and second in treys made (19) in those 10 games, while connecting on 46.3 percent of his three-point field goal attempts (19-of-41).

A RARE OCCURRENCE: Arizona was held without a steal in Satuday's game at Washington, marking the first time the Cats have been blanked in that category since Feb. 10, 1999, in what was an 86-80 UA win at Arizona State. For those readers who count such things, that's a streak of 442 consecutive games with at least one steal. On the year, Arizona ranks seventh in the Pac-12 with a 5.5 steals per game average.

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 host its final home game of the regular season Saturday, Feb. 25, against UCLA. Tip-off is scheduled for noon p.m. MST and can be seen nationally on CBS-TV.

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