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Cats Look to Rebound Saturday at Pauley
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/25/2011
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 25, 2011

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Date: Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011
Time: 1 p.m. PST
Location: Pauley Pavilion (12,819), Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
Online Coverage: Gametracker | Live Audio

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Game Data:  Tenth-ranked Arizona (23-5, 12-3 Pac-10) plays its final true road game of the regular season Saturday at UCLA (20-8, 11-14 Pac-10) in Pauley Pavilion ... The sprint for the Pac-10 regular season title begins this afternoon:  a UA win clinches at least a share of that title, while a UCLA victory knots the standings with two games remaining ... Perhaps ball security will play a key role today, as Arizona and UCLA rank 9-10 in the Pac-10 in turnover margin in league play, each turning it over around 3.0 more times per game than opponents ... The Bruins and Wildcats each allow opponents to score roughly 66 points per game, but UA scores 6.6 more points per game.

 

The Rankings:  Currently, Arizona has been ranked for four consecutive weeks and is ranked 10th in both the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls.  It is the highest ranking for a Pac-10 team this year and the first time a league team has been in the AP top 10 since Jan. 12, 2009.

 

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 159-67 (.704) and 39-20 (.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 3-2 vs. UCLA as a head coach.

 

Last Time Out:  Nikola Vucevic scored 10 of his game-high 25 points in the last four minutes to lead USC to a 65-57 victory Thursday and end UA's eight-game win streak.  Arizona led 54-50 with 3:59 to go before succumbing to Vucevic's closing push that saw USC outscore UA, 15-3, in that span.  Arizona shot just 35.8 percent from the field and was outscored from the line, 22-13.  The USC starting frontline combined for 37 points and 22 rebounds and held Derrick Williams to a season-low eight points.

 

Scouting UCLA:  The Bruins enter today's game with a 20-8 record (11-4 Pac-10) following Thursday's 71-53 win over Arizona State.  On the season, UCLA averages 71.0 points, shoots 46.2 percent from the floor (694-of-1502), 33.9 percent (153-of-451) from three-point range and 67.1 percent (447-of-666) from the line.  Opponents average 66.3 points, are outrebounded by 4.3 boards per game and shoot 41.9 percent from the floor (682-of-1627).  Individually, five UCLA players average in double-figures, led by Malcolm Lee's 13.7 points per game figure.  Reeves Nelson leads the Bruins with an 8.8 rebounds per game average.

 

The Series:  Today's game is the 83rd meeting of the two schools with UCLA holding a 47-35 series advantage.  Arizona has won 15 of the last 27 meetings in the series, which dates back to Feb. 19, 1923, including the last, an 85-74 win in Tucson on Jan. 27.  All-time, Arizona is 21-14 in series games played in Tucson, 13-29 in Westwood, and 1-4 in neutral-site games.  For more series information, please see page 45 in the UA media guide.

 

Last Meeting:  Arizona 85, UCLA 74, Jan. 27, 2011:  Arizona opened the second half on a 24-11 run in the first seven minutes and hung on for the 11-point win.  The UA backcourt proved to be the difference, as Lamont Jones, Kyle Fogg and Jordin Mayes combined for 39 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Wildcats outscored the Bruins, 14-4, in fast break points.  Derrick Williams added 22 points and five boards to lead a UA club that shot 52 percent from the field and forced 19 UCLA turnovers.

 

Streak Stopped:  USC limited Arizona to 35.8 percent shooting (19-of-53) and a season-low 57 points in snapping the Wildcats' eight-game win streak.  It was the longest win streak of the Sean Miller era and the longest for the program since 2007-08.  The streak has propelled Arizona to 23 wins to date, which is UA's most since the 2004-05 squad posted a 30-5 record.

 

Another Streak Stopped:  During Thursday's loss at USC, another streak came to an end:  Derrick Williams' streak of 36 consecutive games in double figures, as the sophomore forward tallied just eight points.  The last time Williams failed to score 10 or more points came on Feb. 4, 2010, when he tallied just three points at Washington in an 81-75 loss.  In Williams' 59-game career, he has scored 10 or more points 55 times, and is averaging 17.4 points per game.

 

No Surprise there:  As mentioned above, Arizona connected on just 19 of 53 field goal attempts Thursday at USC, and the .358 field goal percentage was the second-lowest of the season.  The only time the Cats fared worse was on Dec. 11, when the Cats connected on 35.0 percent of its attempts (21-of-60) against Brigham Young.  What was surprising about the effort was the fact that the UA starters were so off the mark, combining to hit just 11-of-37 (.297).  On the season, the UA starters shot a cumulative 467-of-961 (.486) from the field.

 

Here's an Obvious one:  Rebounds Matter:  While UA and USC both pulled down 35 rebounds Thursday, the simple fact that Arizona did not win the battle of the boards proved significant.  Quite simply, four of five UA losses this season have come when the Cats tied or lost the rebounding battle.  This season, UA is 18-1 when outrebounding the opposition and 5-4 when it does not.  Arizona's +5.4 rebound margin leads the Pac-10 Conference.

 

That's Uncharacteristic:  Two things happened to the Wildcats in Thursday's loss that simply hadn't before.  First, the Cats lost a game in which it led at halftime, and second, it lost a game in which it led with five minutes to go in the second half.  Entering Thursday's game, UA was 21-0 when leading at the break.  In its eight Pac-10 road games to date, Arizona has outscored the opposition by an average of 4.5 points per game.  Furthermore, Arizona was leading 52-50 at the five-minute mark, but was outscored, 15-5, the rest of the way.  It was Arizona's first loss in 20 times that the Cats carried the lead into those closing moments.  Recently, Arizona has proven to be a strong closer, as the Wildcats are 29-2 when leading with five minutes to go in the second half during the Sean Miller era.  In those last five minutes Thursday, USC was 2-of-2 from the field and 11-of-13 from the free throw line, while Arizona was 0-of-4 from the field and 5-of-8 from the line.

 

A Need for Improvement:  Look no further than Arizona's assist total Thursday for an indication of what went wrong, as the Wildcats passed out a season-low two assists on 19 made field goals.  That figure is the lowest single-game total going back through the start of the 1998-99 season.  The only game that comes close in that span came on March 23, 2001, when UA passed out three assists in a 66-56 win over Mississippi in the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinal in San Antonio.  Admittedly, Thursday's game wasn't pretty on either side, as the two teams combined for just six assists, but championship-caliber teams have to share the ball more than what was displayed, certainly from the Wildcats perspective.

 

Better, but not good enough:  Thursday's loss saw Arizona collect 11 turnovers, a figure that is 2.6 miscues less than its overall season average, but still three more than it forced from USC.  Turnover margin looms large for the Wildcats, as the team is 14-1 this season when committing the same or fewer turnovers than the opposition.

 

Still Holding Strong:  One statistic that still fell in favor of the Wildcats was three-point field goal defense.  Thursday, UA held USC to just 10.0 percent shooting (1-of-10) from behind the arc.  That effort echoes a season-long effort that has seen Arizona limit opponents to a cumulative .276 three-point field goal percentage (120-of-434).  That number actually falls in league action, as Pac-10 foes have connected on just 25.7 percent (64-of-249) of its attempts from behind the arc against the Wildcats.

 

A Lack of Aggressiveness:  Three statistics in the boxscore can tell a lot about aggressiveness - offensive rebounds steals and free throws.  When looking at Thursday's box, USC easily claimed two of those.  The Trojans compiled six steals to a season-low one for the Wildcats, while also outscoring UA, 22-13 from the free throw line.  Getting outscored from the line is a rarity for these Cats, as opponents have only accomplished the feat eight times this season. On average, Arizona outscores the opposition by 3.9 points per game.

 

Not Too Often:  Thursday's game marked the first time in Derrick Williams' career that he had grabbed 10 or more rebounds in a game, but failed to notch a double-double.  Against USC, Williams grabbed 11 rebounds, marking the 10th time this season (14th career)  that he has pulled down 10 or more rebounds.  Interestingly, Thursday was the first time in his career that Williams had attempted more than 10 field goals and failed to make at least five.

 

Quietly Efficient:  Kevin Parrom reached double figures for the ninth time (11th career) this season at USC, connecting on 4-of-7 field goal and finishing with 10 points to go with two rebounds and an assist.  Over the last nine games, Parrom is averaging 8.9 points per game, while shooting .596 (28-of-47) from the field and .556 (10-of-18) from three-point range.  Of his nine games in double figures this year, four have come in the last seven games.

 

Soldiering on:  Jesse Perry proved to be the most assertive Wildcat Thursday, posting 12 points, six boards and a season-high two blocked shots in just 18 minutes.  The 6-foot-6 forward connected on 3-of-6 field goals and got to the free throw line a career-high eight times (made six). In Pac-10 play, the St. Louis, Mo., native is averaging 7.7 points and 4.7 rebounds, while shooting 48.9 percent (44-of-90) from the field.

 

Sluggish Second Half:  Thursday's game marked just the second time this year that Arizona was outscored by more than 10 points in the second half (40-29).  UA has accomplished that feat eight times to date.

 

Scoring 80:  Arizona scored 87 points Feb. 19 at California, topping the 80-point plateau for the 12th time this year (12-0).  Arizona has scored 80 in nine of 15 home games this season.  Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 198-19 (.912) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.   Arizona was 6-0 last season when topping the 80-point plateau.

 

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 Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.; 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 espn.com and rivals.com.

Up Next:  Following today's game, the Wildcats close the regular season with a pair of home games, beginning on Thursday, March 3, with a contest vs.Oregon State.  Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST and can be seen nationally on FSN.

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