Dec. 19, 2012
Date: Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012
Time: 5:30 p.m. HST
Location: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300), Honolulu, Hawaii
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach) [Sirius/XM: 139/193]
TV: ESPNU (Roxy Bernstein/Miles Simon)
GAME DATA: Fourth-ranked Arizona (9-0, 0-0 Pac-12) heads to the Island of Oahu for the 2012 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, where it will face East Tennessee State (2-7, 0-0 Atlantic Sun) ... It marks the Wildcats' first trip to Hawaii since the 2009 Maui Invitational ... UA is 2-0 on the road this year, outscoring foes by 20 points per game, posting a +13 rebound margin and limiting opponents to 36.5 percent shooting (42-of-115) ... All-time, Arizona is 17-9 (.654) in games played in Hawaii.
THE RANKINGS: UA is ranked fourth in the Associated Press poll and fifth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats' No. 4 ranking is the highest for the program under Sean Miller, and the first time UA has been ranked in the top five in both polls since coming in at No. 3 in each on Jan. 5, 2004.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH Joe Pasternack ... Miller is 0-0 vs. East Tennessee State as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: The Wildcats showed no signs of a letdown after moving into the nation's top five in bouncing Oral Roberts, 89-64, on Tuesday. UA connected on 63 percent (17-of-27) of its shots in the first half, building as much as a 17-point lead, before opening the second half with a 11-0 burst to all but put things away. Five Cats finished in double figures, led by Mark Lyons' 17 points, and four Cats grabbed six rebounds. UA converted 20 ORU turnovers into 27 points and held a 42-18 points-in-the-paint advantage.
SCOUTING EAST TENNESSEE STATE: The Buccaneers enter tonight's game with a 2-7 record (0-0 Atlantic Sun) following a 72-51 loss Tuesday Charleston Southern. On the season, ETSU averages 57.9 points per game, shoots 37.5 percent from the floor (193-of-514), 30.3 percent (59-of-195) from three-point range and 62.8 percent (76-of-121) from the line. Opponents average 66.6 points, outrebound the Bucs by 1.9 per game and shoot 44.1 percent from the floor (224-of-508). Individually, three ETSU players average in double figures, led by Lester Wilson's 17.9 ppg figure. Hunter Harris leads the Buccaneers in rebounding at 6.9 rebounds per game.
THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the third meeting of the two schools with the series split at one win apiece. East Tennessee State won the last meeting, 87-80, on March 20, 1992, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. For more series information, please see page 47 in the UA media guide.
LAST MEETING: East Tennessee State 87, Arizona 80, March 20, 1992: Fourteenth-seeded ETSU used stellar three-point shooting to pull off the first-round stunner, defeating third-seed Arizona, 87-80, in the NCAA Southeast Region in Atlanta. The Bucs connected on 11-of-19 (.579) three-point attempts in the first half to build as much as an 11-point lead, then hit 20-of-33 free throws in the second half to stay ahead. Rodney English's 21 points led four Bucs in double figures, while Wayne Womack led Arizona with 19.
HAWAIIAN APPEARANCES: All-time, Arizona has made 10 appearances in in-season tournaments in the State of Hawaii, beginning in December 1968 at the Rainbow Classic. The Wildcats finished fifth (2-1) in that first appearance in the Islands and improved to third place in 1975 (2-1). The Cats also posted a third-place finish in the 1984 Hawaii-Pacific Classic (1-1) and won the 1991 Hawaii Tip-Off Tournament (2-0) before making five trips to the Maui Invitational. There, the Cats have finished first (2000/3-0), second twice (1993 and 1997/2-1), fourth (2005/1-2) and sixth (2009/1-2). UA coach Sean Miller himself participated in the 1990 Rainbow Classic, leading his Pittsburgh squad to a runner-up finish. The Panthers defeated Alaska-Anchorage, 93-69, and Stetson, 84-69, before falling to Hawaii, 84-82, in the title game.
WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE DO: For the seventh time in nine outings, Arizona won the rebounding battle, outrebounding Oral Roberts, 37-27. Six of those seven contests have seen Arizona post a rebound advantage of 10 or more. Four Wildcats collected six rebounds in Tuesday's win and UA's current +8.8 rebound margin ranks second among Pac-12 clubs. Arizona is 57-13 (.814) in the Sean Miller era when outrebounding the opposition.
DIALED IN: Arizona had its shooting eye dialed in Tuesday, as the Wildcats connected on 57.6 percent (34-of-59) of its field goal attempts, its second-best shooting night of the season. The Wildcat starting five hit 23-of-36 (.639) of its collective shots against ORU, and guided the squad to a .630 FG percentage (17-of-27) in the first half, it's best first-half marksmanship of the season. UA has topped the 50-percent plateau four times in 2012-13 and carries a .495 (234-of-473) team FG percentage.
ON THE DEFENSIVE: It wasn't a bad night defensively for the Wildcats Tuesday, as the team limited Oral Roberts to a .383 (23-of-60) field goal percentage. Six times to date Arizona has held the opposition to less than 40 percent shooting. In the month of December, UA opponents are shooting a cumulative .392 (112-of-286) from the field.
EVERYONE PITCHES IN: En route to 89 points Tuesday, a season-high five players finished in double figures, led by Mark Lyons' 17 points. It was the fifth time this season that Arizona has had for or more players score 10 or more points. No fewer than seven Wildcats average better than 6.0 points per game through nine appearances and the team's 78.8 ppg scoring average is easily the highest of the Miller era.
THAT'S MORE LIKE IT: Three days after eeking out a one-point win over Florida, Arizona responded with a 25-point win over Oral Roberts, marking the team's fifth win this season by 20 or more points. In fact, Arizona's +18.8 scoring margin placed the Wildcats atop the Pac-12 Conference and in the top-15 nationally in terms of scoring margin as of Dec. 19. Incidentally, Arizona has scored 80 or more points in five of nine starts to date.
A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: While there is still plenty of room for improvement, there were more than a few figures from Tuesday's win that were worth noting. UA collected 20 assists, forced 20 turnovers, blocked eight shots and had 12 steals. It was the third time this season that Arizona has passed out 20 or more assists and was the fourth time with 10 or more steals. In fact, UA has 43 steals in its last four games.
TOEING THE LINE: UA has attempted 216 free throws to date, an average of 24 per game. Add in the fact that the Wildcats connect at a .769 clip (made 166) and that becomes a formidable offensive weapon. Arizona averages 18.4 points per game from the stripe and has made 80 more free throws on the year than the opposition. The Cats have outscored foes by 10 or more points from the line five times this year.
THOSE ARE GOOD NUMBERS: Senior guard Mark Lyons put forth a solid effort in Tuesday's win, totaling 17 points, and a season-high seven assists in 27 minutes of action. The 6-foot-1 native of Schenectady, N.Y., hit 6-of-10 shots from the floor, including three treys, and scored 14 of those points in the first half, a UA season high. He now leads the team with a 13.9 ppg average, is shooting 41.5 percent from three-point range and carries a positive assist:turnover ratio (1.1:1).
HE AFFECTS ALL AREAS: In addition to his 12 points and season-high five assists, forward Solomon Hill also added a pair of blocked shots and a career-best six steals. The six pilfers gave the 6-foot-7 forward 102 for his career to go with per game averages of 12.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. How far has Hill come on the defensive end? His steal total Tuesday was nearly one-third of his season total in 31 games as a freshman in 2009-10 (19).
BREAKING OUT: Freshman Grant Jerrett posted his best offensive effort of the season Tuesday, registering a season-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The 6-foot-10 forward from Chino Hills, Calif., also connected on all three of his three-point attempts against Oral Roberts to boost his long-range field goal percentage to .471 (8-of-17). He added four boards and a steal Tuesday and is now averaging 6.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. MORE FROM THE INSIDE: Two other members of Arizona's inside rotation also impacted Tuesday's game positively, as Brandon Ashley and Angelo Chol combined for 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots. Ashley, a 6-foot-8 forward from San Francisco, Calif., hit 5-of-6 FG attempts to finish in double figures, while Chol, a 6-foot-9 forward from San Diego, Calif., pulled down a season-high six boards.
QUIET CONTRIBUTIONS: It's nice when you can have a pair of guys like Kevin Parrom quietly chip in a combined 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists, as was the case Tuesday. Johnson, who was 4-of-8 from the field, tallied his 12 points in the first half, while Parrom mustered five of his points, four rebounds and two assists in the second period. On the year, the duo combines to shoot .532 (66-of-124) from the field, grab 7.7 rebounds and averages 21.6 points per contest.
ALWAYS ON THE RUN: Arizona has displayed a knack for timely runs so far this season. Tuesday against Oral Roberts, the Wildcats used an 11-0 run to open the second half and build a 25-point lead. Here is a look at UA's notable runs to date:
26-3 run over 8:41 (2nd) at Texas Tech, Dec. 1
21-4 run over 9:07 (2nd) vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 19
23-6 run over 7:55 (1st) vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 19
22-7 run over 8:56 (2nd) at Clemson, Dec. 8
13-0 run over 4:26 (2nd) vs. UTEP, Nov. 15
14-2 run over 4:10 (2nd) vs. Northern Arizona, Nov. 28
22-10 run over 9:27 (1st) vs. Charleston Southern, Nov. 11
11-0 run over 3:13 (2nd) vs. Oral Roberts, Dec. 18
14-4 run over 5:48 (2nd) vs. Southern Miss, Dec. 4
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 89 points Dec. 18 vs. Oral Roberts, topping the 80-point plateau for the fifth time this year (5-0). Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 211-20 (.913) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points.
RECRUITING CLASS: The Arizona coaching staff signed two student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent as part of the November early signing period. Rondae Jefferson (F, 6-7, 215) from Chester, Pa., who preps at Chester H.S.; and Elliott Pitts (G, 6-5, 180) from Dublin, Calif., who preps at De La Salle H.S.; make up a class that is ranked No. 18 nationally by espn.com.
UP NEXT: Pending tonight's result, Arizona will face either Miami, Fla., or Hawaii tomorrow. A consolation-round meeting would take place at 4 p.m. HST on ESPNU, while a semifinal match-up would take place at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.