Dec. 27, 2009
Date: Monday, Dec. 28, 2009
Time: 7 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: KGUN/FCS (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)
GAME DATA: Arizona (6-5, 0-0 Pac-10) plays host to Brigham Young (12-1, 0-0 MWC) Monday in McKale Center as part of the 25th annual Desert Diamond Fiesta Bowl Classic ... All time, Arizona is 44-1 (.978) in Fiesta Bowl Classic action, dating back to 1985-86 ... The Wildcats enter the game riding a two-game win streak ... In six homes games to date, Arizona averages 77.8 points per contest and a +8.5 scoring margin ... This game closes a three-game homestand for the Cats with Pac-10 play on the horizon, beginning Dec. 31 at USC ... Five of Arizona's first seven conference games will be on the road.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona remains unranked in both polls after opening the season unranked for just the third time in the last 23 seasons. The Cats closed the 2008-09 campaign ranked No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH Sean Miller . . . is in his first season at the University of Arizona and his sixth overall as a college head coach with a record of 126-52 (.708) and 6-5 (.545) 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 its 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 16 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, 41, earned a degree in communications from Pitt in 1992 ... He is assisted by Archie Miller, Emanuel Richardson and James Whitford ... Miller is 1-0 against Brigham Young as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: For the second time in 48 hours Nic Wise saved the day for the Cats, as his driving layup with one second remaining enabled UA to hold off North Carolina State, 76-74, on Wednesday. Wise, who scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, gave just enough to stave off a Wolfpack rally that saw NCSU erase an eight-point lead with less than a minute to play. Derrick Williams added 24 points, while Jamelle Horne added 12 points, eight boards and four first-half steals.
SCOUTING BRIGHAM YOUNG: The Cougars enter tonight's game with a 12-1 record (0-0 MWC) following Wednesday's 88-66 win over Nebraska. On the season, BYU averages 83.3 points per game, shoots 50.8 percent from the field (381-of-750) and 78.9 percent (224-of-284) from the line. Cougar opponents average 62.5 points per game and are outrebounded by 5.1 boards per game. Individually, three BYU players average in double figures, led by Jimmer Fredette's 19.5 ppg figure. Noah Hartsock leads the team in rebounding with a 5.0 rebounds per game average.
THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the 38th meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 20-17 series advantage. The two squads renew a series that began on Dec. 1, 1951, and haven't played each other since Dec. 1999 in Tucson. UA has won four straight in the series and 12 of the last 14 games. All-time, Arizona is 15-3 in series games played in Tucson, 4-14 in Provo, Utah, and 1-0 in neutral-site games. See page 107 in the Arizona basketball media guide for more series information.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 86, BYU 62, Dec. 1, 1999: On the strength of a 17-3 run midway through the second half, Arizona was able to pull away in what became a 24-poitn win. Rick Anderson came off the bench to post 16 points and seven rebounds in just 16 minutes of action, most of which came during the key spurt. Michael Wright finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Jason Gardner added 11. The win was Lute Olson's 400th as the Wildcat head coach.
A BRIEF FIESTA BOWL CLASSIC HISTORY: Long considered one of the finest in-season events in college basketball, the Desert Diamond Fiesta Bowl Classic is in its 25th year. For the first 21 years, the event was a four-team tournament that regularly featured some of the nation's best programs. From 1985-2005, Arizona won 20 of 21 championships, losing only the 2000 title game, 75-74, to Mississippi State. The format was changed in 2006 to a one-game showcase that has spotlighted Memphis, San Diego State, Kansas, and this season, BYU. For more Fiesta Bowl Classic information, please see pages 102-104 in the UA men's basketball media guide.
ON GUARD: Nic Wise led Arizona to a pair of wins with per game averages of 22.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals last week. The senior guard connected on 45.8 percent of his field goals (11-of-24), 40.0 percent of his three-point field goals (4-of-10) and 90.0 percent of his free throw attempts (18-of-20), while adding six assists and a block. Not only did Wise become the 44th player in school history to score 1,000 career points on Monday, but more impressively, Wise sank back-to-back buzzer beaters to give the Wildcats the win in both games this week. He opened the week with his third 20-point game of the season by knocking down all 12 free throw attempts en route to 26 points to go with three rebounds, three assists and four steals, including the game-winning trey with no time left on the clock in a one-point overtime win. He then added 18 points (5-of-10 FG), three assists, a block and two steals. His coast-to-coast layup with 0.9 seconds remaining provided the winning margin. On the year, Wise leads Arizona per game averages of 17.1 points and 4.3 assists per game, while shooting 93.1 percent (54-of-58) from the free throw line.
ATTENTION GETTER: Nic Wise's exploits would make anyone take notice, especially with per game averages of 17.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists this season. The 5-foot-10 native of Houston, Texas, also shoots 93.1 percent (54-of-58) from the line, posts a 2:1 assist:turnover ratio and leads the Cats with 19 steals. Following the Dec. 23 game in which Wise totaled 18 points, including the game winner, three assists and a block, North Carolina State head coach Sidney Lowe said of Wise, "I'm just impressed with his ability to control the game and run the show. In that sense he does remind me a little bit of me back in my day. But might have a little more asphalt, a little more street in him. He makes some plays I couldn't do, like that shot in the end."
WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: Of its 11 games to date, five of Arizona's games have been decided by five points or less. With two victories decided by two points or less last week, UA improved its record in those games to 3-2. In those 11 ball games, Arizona has outscored foes by a total of five points, good for a +0.4 scoring margin.
A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: As a measure of progress, Arizona's 76-74 win over North Carolina State marked the first win this season when trailing with five minutes to go in regulation. The Cats are 1-5 in such contests. By comparison, UA is 5-2 when leading at halftime and 5-0 when tied or leading with 5:00 left in regulation.
COMING BACK STRONG: Forward Jamelle Horne missed the Dec. 21 game with a mid-foot sprain, but returned strongly on Dec. 23, totaling 12 points, (4-of-8 FG), eight rebounds, two assists and four steals in 27 minutes vs. the Wolfpack. All four of his steals, which was a career high, came in the first half. The 6-foot-7 junior from San Diego, Calif., hit 2-of-4 three-point field goal attempts, and currently ranks second on the team with 17 treys. Horne averages 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in 10 appearances (nine starts).
YOUNG AND PRODUCTIVE: By picking up wins over Lipscomb and North Carolina State, Arizona entered a brief Christmas break riding a modest two-game winning streak, which equals the longest for the team this season. With 13 freshmen and sophomores on the UA roster, Arizona underclassmen have played 70.7 percent (1627 of 2300) of the minutes, scored 62.5 percent (499 of 799) of the points, and grabbed 69.4 percent (267 of 385) of the rebounds to date.
STEAL AWAY: Led by Jamelle Horne's four first-half pilfers, Arizona amassed a total of 11 steals against North Carolina State, a figure that equaled the Wildcats' 2009-10 season high. The team averages 5.9 steals per game and has only finished with double-figure steals twice this season (Rice).
CONTINUING A TREND: Nic Wise's game winner Wednesday enabled Arizona to out-shoot N.C. State by the slimmest of margins (.456-.455). That figure is noteworthy because the Wildcats are 5-1 this season when outshooting the opposition. Incidentally, Arizona's shooting Wednesday (26-of-57) was its best effort in three outings. Only a .509 field goal percentage (29-of-57) against Louisiana Tech on Dec. 9 topped UA's winning effort on Wednesday.
VICTORY FAVORS THE TEAM MAKING THE FEWEST MISTAKES: In what has become a bit of a rarity, Arizona not only won the turnover battle, but did so against North Carolina State by a wide margin. UA forced NCSU into an opponent-high 20 miscues, while equaling a season low of its own with 11. The Cats' +9 turnover margin on Wednesday was its best of the season, and the effort boosted Arizona's record to 4-1 in 2009-10 when winning the turnover battle.
UPHILL BATTLE: Certainly the turnovers helped, but the Cats had to work hard to overcome a serious rebound disadvantage Dec. 23, as N.C. State posted a 41-30 rebound margin. It was the second time this year (San Diego State) that UA has been out-boarded by 10 or more in a game. Beaten on the boards hasn't been completely catastrophic for the Cats, as the club is 4-3 when outrebounded this season.
DAY IN, DAY OUT: Freshman Derrick Williams continues to be one of Arizona's most consistent players, as he is averaging 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds, while leading the team with a .561 (55-of-98) field goal percentage. Wednesday against North Carolina State, the 6-foot-8 forward from La Mirada, Calif., poured in a UA season-high 10 field goals en route to 24 points to go with six boards and two blocks. It was Williams' third 20-point game of the season and his ninth in double- figures through 11 appearances.
THAT'S MORE LIKE IT: Solomon Hill regained a bit of his scoring touch against North Carolina State, finishing with 11 points on 4-of-7 field goal attempts to go with four rebounds, two assists and a season-best two steals. For the 6-foot-6 freshman forward from Los Angeles, Calif., it was his second game with 10 or more points in his last six outings and his fifth of the season. His .530 (35-of-66) field goal percentage ranks second on the team.
FOUR IN USUALLY WINS: Led by Derrick Williams' game-high 24 points Wednesday, Arizona placed four players in double figures, as Nic Wise (18), Jamelle Horne (12) and Solomon Hill (11) each poured in more than 10 points. This season, Arizona is a spotless 6-0 when four or more players finish in double figures. Incidentally, Nic Wise's 18-point effort vs. N.C. State was his 50th career game in double figures.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 83 points Dec. 21 vs. Lipscomb, breaking the 80-point barrier for the fourth time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 184-19 (.906) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona is 4-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.
EARLY SIGNEE: The Arizona coaching staff signed one student-athlete to a National-Letter-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Daniel Bejarano (G, 6-5, 200) from Phoenix, Ariz., North High School. According to Bob Gibbons' All-Star Sports Top 250, he is No. 40 overall prospect in the country.
UP NEXT: Arizona rings in the new year in Los Angels, as the club opens Pac-10 play on Thursday, Dec. 31, at USC. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. PST and will be televised by FOX Sports Arizona.