March 6, 2012
Date: Thursday, March 8, 2012
Time: 2:40 p.m. PST
Location: Staples Center (19,282), Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FOX Sports Net (Kevin Calabro/Don MacLean/Rebecca Haarlow)
GAME DATA: No. 4 seed Arizona (21-10, 12-6 Pac-12) travels to Los Angeles for the 2012 Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament and opens play in the second quarterfinal Thursday afternoon ... Arizona’s 19 wins and four championships (1988-90, 2002) in this event are league bests ... Since the event was reincarnated in the Staples Center in 2002, the Cats are 10-9 in tournament play ... The number 70 looms large in conference tournament action as Arizona is 9-4 since 2002 when scoring 70 or more points and 1-5 when it does not.
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 187-80 (.700) and 67-33 (.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 4-4 vs. UCLA and 5-2 vs. USC as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: In a game featuring 11 ties and 22 lead changes, Arizona State displayed the poise necessary in the second half to pull away late and earn an 87-80 win Sunday in Tempe. The Sun Devils quickly erased a six-point halftime deficit, shot 60 percent from the floor, sank 16-of-17 free throws and committed just two turnovers in the period. In a one-point game with 51 seconds to go, ASU went 6-of-6 from the line to decide things. Kyle Fogg’s 23 points led Arizona.
THE UCLA SERIES: A quarterfinal match-up would be the 86th meeting of the two schools with UCLA holding a 49-36 series advantage. Arizona has won 16 of the last 30 meetings in the series, which dates back to Feb. 19, 1923, including the last, a 65-63 win in Tucson, on Feb. 25. All-time, Arizona is 22-14 in series games played in Tucson, 13-30 in Westwood, and 1-5 in neutral-site games (includes January’s game in Anaheim). UA and UCLA have met four times in Pac-12 Tournament play and UA is 1-3 in those games. For more series information, please see page 49 in the UA media guide.
THE USC SERIES: A quarterfinal match-up would be the 101st meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 60-40 series advantage. UA has won 21 of the last 31 meetings in the series, which dates back to 1922, including the last, 70-54, in Tucson on Feb. 23. All-time, Arizona is 31-10 in series games played in Tucson, 25-30 in Los Angeles, and 4-0 in neutral-site games. UA and USC have met four times in Pac-12 Tournament games and the Cats are 4-0 in those games. For more series information, please see page 49 in the UA media guide.
PAC-12 HONORS: Five Wildcats earned postseason honors from the Pac-12 Conference, as the league released its all-conference team on Monday. Kyle Fogg and Solomon Hill were first-team all-conference selections, while Nick Johnson was an all-freshman pick. Additionally, Jesse Perry was an honorable mention all-conference honoree and Josiah Turner was an honorable mention all-freshman pick. Fogg also was named to the conference’s all-defensive team.
SEEDING NOTE: The Wildcats enter the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament as the No. 4 seed. In the 15-year of the Pac-12 Tournament , Arizona has been a No. 1 seed five times (1988, ‘89, 2003, ‘05, ‘11), No. 2 three times (1987, 90, 2002) No. 3 once (2004), No. 4 three times (2006, ‘10, ‘12), No. 5 twice (2007, 09) and a No. 7 seed once (2008). Additionally, no other Pac-12 team has played in as many conference postseason tournament games as Arizona’s 29. Of those 29 contests, the Wildcats have played as the higher seed 24 times.
WORTH NOTING: Sean Miller’s Wildcats posted a 12-6 record in conference play this season, giving him a 36-18 (.667) Pac-12 record in his first three seasons in the league. Since the conference expanded to 10 teams back in 1978-79, Miller is one of only two coaches in that span to win 36 conference games in their first three years in the league, as UCLA’s Steve Lavin went 39-15 (.722) from 1996-97 to 1998-99.
A GOOD SHOWING: Brendon Lavender tallied 18 points, three assists and a rebound in the Wildcats lone game last week at Arizona State. The senior guard connected on 75.0 percent of his field goals (6-of-8) and 75.0 percent (6-of-8) of his three-point attempts in 27 minutes of action. Included in the effort were career-high totals of 18 points (equaled three times this season) and three assists. His 6-of-8 shooting from three-point range boosted his three-point field goal percentage to .520 (51-of-98) on the season and .500 (36-of-72) in conference play. Additionally, the solid shooting boosted his career percentage 11 points to 41.9 percent (104-of-248), a figure that is currently tied for fifth place in UA history. It was his fifth game with 10 or more points this season and the 10th of his career. On the year, Lavender averages 5.7 points, 1.0 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game.
NOT AN EVERYDAY OCCURRENCE: Sunday’s loss at Arizona State marked a rarity of sorts for the Wildcats. Not only did Arizona allow a season-high 87 points, but it marked the first time in the Sean Miller era that the Wildcats had scored 80 points and lost. UA is 19-1 when scoring 80 points over the last three seasons and 206-20 (.912) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.
SQUANDERED: Through 20 minutes of Sunday’s game, Arizona held a 44-38 lead, marking the 21st time this season that Arizona has led at the half with the team posting a 17-4 record in those games. Unfortunately, for the Cats, Sunday’s six-point halftime lead was the biggest of the season squandered.
THE KEYS ARE HERE: Look no further than field goal percentage and turnovers for a measure of Arizona success, as the team is 17-1 when outshooting the opposition and 4-9 when not; further, UA is 12-1 when committing the same or fewer turnovers and 9-9 when committing more.
ON TOP: Led by Jesse Perry, who pulled down 11 rebounds Sunday, Arizona outrebounded Arizona State, 28-24. Through 31 games of the regular season, the Wildcats have ourtrebounded 22 opponents and are 17-5 in those games. Furthermore, UA carries a +2.2 rebound margin, a figure than ranks sixth among Pac-12 teams.
BEYOND THE ARC: Throughout the season, Arizona has proven to be a strong three-point shooting team, as the Cats lead the Pac-12 in treys made per game (7.5) and rank second in three-point field goal percentage (.381/233-of-611). Sunday at Arizona State, UA connected on 10-of-21 long range attempts (.476), reaching double figures in made treys in a single game for the sixth time this season. UA’s 233 made trey this season presently ranks eighth on the UA single-season charts.
PERCOLATING: The Wildcats did a number of things well offensively on Sunday, placing four players in double figures and totaling 80 points for the first time since Jan. 26, connecting on 48 percent of its field goals (25-of-52) and three-point attempts (10-of-21), getting to the free throw line 24 times (made 20) and posting a positive assist:turnover ratio (16:14) chief among them. Over the last five games, Arizona has seen its offensive output bubble up just a bit, as the Cats are averaging 72.2 points per game in that span with improvements in its field goal (.447), three-point FG (.390) and free throw (.727) percentage. UA is averaging better than 24 free throw attempts per game over its last five and is outscoring opponents by three points per game in that span.
ANOMALY: Prior to the regular-season finale, a strong case could have been made that Arizona might have been the Pac-12’s best defensive team, as the Cats headed into Sunday’s game ranked fourth in the league allowing 62.4 points per game, while leading the conference in both field goal percentage defense (.403) and three-point field goal defense (.271), and outrebounding 13 of 18 opponents. Wildcat faithful certainly hope Sunday’s effort was an anomaly, as the Cats surrendered season highs in points (87), points in a half (49), FGs (29), FTs (22) and field goal percentage (.558/29-of-52).
DOUBLING UP: Senior forward Jesse Perry registered his 10th double-double of the season Sunday with 15 points and 11 rebounds. For the 6-foot-7 forward from St. Louis, Mo., it was his 20th game of the season (29th career) with 10 or more points and his 12th game this year (12 career) with double-figure rebounds. For good measure, Perry also set a new career high with three blocked shots against Arizona State. He tied teammate Solomon Hill for the team lead in double-doubles and the Wildcat duo currently ranks second among Pac-12 players in that category. On the season, Perry averages 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
WORKING HIS WAY TO THE TOP: By closing the regular season with 23 points, Kyle Fogg has proven himself to be Arizona’s top scorer with a 13.5 ppg average. The 6-foot-3 senior guard from Brea, Calif., also leads the Cats in three-point field goals (64) and free throws (106) made. On the year, he has 22 games in double figures with six games of 20 or more points, including the last two consecutive. Over the last five games, Fogg is averaging 17.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, both team-leading figures. Additionally, an appearance in the quarterfinals would be the 136th career game played for Fogg, equaling the UA career record currently held by Jason Gardner (1999-2003).
COUNT ON HIM: Junior Solomon Hill continues to be one of Arizona’s most productive players, totaling 16 points, three boards, four assists and three steals against the Sun Devils. The 6-foot-6 native of Los Angeles, Calif., leads the Wildcats with 23 games of 10 or more points and 26 games with five or more rebounds. Through the regular season, Hill is averaging 12.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game to go with a .500 (130-of-260) field goal percentage. Over his last five games, Hill is shooting 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from three-point range as well.
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: A win puts Arizona into Friday’s 6 p.m. PST semifinal, which will be televised by FOX Sports Net. A loss sends the Wildcats back to Tucson to await word on its postseason fate.