March 14, 2013
Date: Friday, March 15, 2013
Time: 6 p.m. PST
Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena (13,151), Las Vegas, Nev.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Ted Robinson/Bill Walton/Yogi Roth/Ashley Adamson)
GAME DATA: No. 4 seed Arizona (25-6, 12-6 Pac-12) advances to the 2013 Pac-12 Tournament semifinals Friday evening vs. top-seed UCLA (24-8, 13-5) ... Arizona's win Thursday was its 22nd in Pac-12 Tournament action, making the Wildcats the only conference school to break the 20-win plateau in the event's 16-year history ... In 16 tournament appearances, the Wildcats have advanced to the semifinals 10 times and UA is 7-2 in those previous trips ... The number 70 looms large in conference tournament action -- and overall -- as Arizona is 10-4 since 2002 when scoring 70 or more points in the tournament and 2-5 when it does not; and the Wildcats are 21-0 this season when opponents fail to score 70 points.
THE RANKINGS: UA is ranked 18th in both the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Wildcats are one of 11 teams nationally to have been ranked in every AP poll this season.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH Sean Miller . . . is in his fourth season at the University of Arizona and his ninth overall as a college head coach with a record of 214-88 (.709) and 94-41 (.696) at Arizona ... In his eight-plus year career, Miller's teams have won 20 games seven times and captured five regular-season or postseason tournament titles ... 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, earning Pac-10 Conference and NABC District 20 Coach-of-the-Year honors ... 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 16 trips to the postseason in his 19 seasons as a head, assistant or associate head coach (9 NCAA/7 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, all 24 players to complete eligibility under Miller have earned their degrees ... Miller has recruited classes ranked in the top-10 nationally in each of the last two seasons ... He is assisted by James Whitford, Emanuel Richardson and Joe Pasternack ... Miller is 5-6 vs. UCLA as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Nick Johnson (18), Mark Lyons (14) and Solomon Hill (13) combined for 45 of Arizona's 79 points as the Wildcats downed Colorado, 79-69, in Thursday's Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal. The Cats, who held the lead for the final 35:17 had to withstand a Buffalo rally that trimmed a 14-point UA lead to four with just over two minutes to go. Lyons buried an end-of-the-shot clock trey at 2:03 and Johnson sank a jumper in the paint with 34 second remaining before UA sank six straight free throws to ice things. The UA bench added 25 points and 12 boards in the outing.
SCOUTING UCLA: The top-seeded Bruins enter the semifinals with a 24-8 record (13-5 Pac-12) following Thursday's 80-75 win over Arizona State. On the season, UCLA averages 75.2 points per game, shoots 45.7 percent from the floor (892-of-1,951), 32.9 percent (160-of-487) from three-point range and 72.4 percent (462-of-638) from the line. Opponents average 68.8 points, outrebounded UCLA by 1.5 per game and shoot 42.0 percent from the floor (841-of-2,003). Individually, three UCLA players average in double figures, led by Shabazz Muhammad's 18.2 ppg figure. Kyle Anderson leads the Bruins in rebounding at 8.8 rebounds per game.
THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the 89th meeting of the two schools with UCLA holding a 51-37 series advantage. The teams have split the last 34 meetings in the series, which dates back to Feb. 19, 1923, but the Bruins captured the last two, including a 74-69 win in Westwood on March 2. All-time, Arizona is 22-15 in series games played in Tucson, 13-31 in Westwood, and 2-5 in neutral-site games (includes last year's game in Anaheim). For more series information, please see page 49 in the UA media guide. The Wildcats and Bruins have met five times in Pac-12 Tournament action and UCLA holds a 3-2 advantage. The last time the two teams met in the Pac-12 Tournament was March 8, 2012, a 66-58 Arizona win in the quarterfinals.
LAST MEETING: UCLA 74, Arizona 69, March 2, 2013: Slow starts at the beginning of each half spelled doom for the Wildcats in what was a five-point loss. UA was a combined 2-of-10 from the floor and was outscored 20-6 in the first four minutes of each period. UA managed to fight back and had possession with 24 seconds to go with a chance to tie the game, but failed to convert. Grant Jerrett led four Wildcats in double figures with 14 points, while Kaleb Tarczewski added 10 rebounds.
SEMIS ARE FINE: While Arizona has amassed an 11-6 (.647) record all-time in the Pac-12 Tournament first round or quarterfinals, the program finds the semifinals much more to its liking, as the Wildcats are 7-2 (.778) in those games. During the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 2-0 in the semifinals, including a 72-61 win over Oregon State last year in its last appearance in the event's semifinals.
WHAT ARE THEY WEARING?: The Wildcats enter Friday's semifinal as the seeded underdog vs. UCLA. In its 33-game Pac-12 Tournament history, Arizona has worn the dark jerseys as the lower seed just five times. Unfortunately for the Cats, the team is 0-5 in those contests, dropping games in 2004, '06, '07, '08 and '09 by an average of 11.8 points.
PRODUCING AGAIN: Led by Nick Johnson, who tallied a game-high 18 points, Arizona posted 79 points in Thursday's win, which was the most points scored by the Cats in more than a month. Arizona posted 79 points on Feb. 2 in a 79-65 win at Washington State, a span of 10 games. In fact, UA's 152 points scored in its last two outings is the most for the club in back-to-back games since Feb. 2-6, when the Wildcats tallied 152 points in wins over Washington State (79) and Stanford (73). Arizona averages 73.6 points per game this season and is 17-2 this year when scoring 70 or more points.
BEATEN ON THE BOARDS: Arizona entered play Thursday as one of the Pac-12's best rebounding teams, but was outrebounded by Colorado, 33-31, in the quarterfinal win. It marked just the ninth time in 31 games this season that UA was beaten on the boards, and the Cats are 5-4 in those contests. Though 31 games, Arizona carries a +6.0 rebound margin and has outrebounded 13 of 19 conference foes.
FORCING THE ISSUE: The Wildcats forced Colorado into 13 turnovers in Thursday's game, converting those miscues into 17 points of its own. The +6 advantage in turnover points proved influential in what was a 10-point margin of victory. On the year, Arizona carries a +1.0 turnover margin and is 17-2 this season when turning it over less than the opposition. UA tallied just 10 turnovers of its own vs. Colorado, marking the eighth time this season that the Cats have had 10 or fewer turnovers in a game, and the first since Feb. 6 vs. California.
THAT'S EFFICIENT: Nick Johnson posted 18 points on just seven field goal attempts Thursday. The 6-foot-3 sophomore guard was 6-of-7 from the field, including 2-of-2 from three-point range, and 4-of-5 from the line. Johnson was one missed FG shy of equaling the Arizona record for field goal percentage in a Pac-12 tournament game. He missed second field goal attempt of the game at 17:34 of the first half before running off five straight makes, including his jumper in the lane with 34 seconds remaining that kept the Cats in the lead. On the season, Johnson is shooting .458 (125-of-273) from the field and averaging 11.8 points per game.
HERE'S AN INTERESTING NOTE: Nick Johnson enters Friday's game as Arizona's leading assist man with 97 through 31 games (3.1 apg). What's interesting is that should Johnson tally three helpers in the semifinal vs. UCLA, he would become the first Arizona player in three seasons to pass out 100 or more assists. The last Cat to accomplish the feat was Nic Wise (103/3.3 apg) in 2009-10. Teammate Mark Lyons isn't too far behind, checking in with 92 assists to date (3.0 apg).
WHEN IT COUNTS: Even though Colorado outscored Arizona from the free throw line (20-14), the Wildcats proved to be efficient at sinking them, connecting on 14-of-16 (.875) for the game and a spotless 7-of-7 in the second half, including all six (4 by Lyons/2 by Jerrett) in the final 24 seconds. On the year, Arizona shoots 74.7 (491-of-657) percent from the free throw line as a team. In the second half of games this year, that percentage jumps to .773 (300-of-388).
THE GUY JUST PRODUCES: Throughout the course of the last two seasons, Solomon Hill has established himself as Arizona's most consistent stat sheet stuffer. The 6-foot-7 senior forward from Los Angeles, Calif., tallied 13 points, a team-high seven rebounds and four assists in the win over Colorado. Hill, who has more than 1,300 points and 750 rebounds in his career, currently ranks first, second or third on the team in scoring (13.5 ppg), rebounding (5.3 rpg), assists (2.7 apg) and steals (1.3 spg).
BIG OFF THE BENCH: Junior Jordin Mayes continues to bring quite a bit of productivity off the bench, as he tallied eight points and a rebound in the win over Colorado. The 6-foot-3 junior from Los Angeles, Calif., knocked down 2-of-3 shots from behind the arc and has now hit 5-of-his-last-8 treys over the last four games. In that span, he is 9-of-17 from the field (.529) and is averaging 6.3 points per game. His nine FGs in the last four games is more than he made in the previous 19 games combined. On the season, Mayes is averaging 2.8 points and 0.9 assists per game.
STEPPING UP: Grant Jerrett put forth a nice effort in his first career postseason appearance, collecting seven points, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals in 21 minutes vs. Colorado. It was the ninth time this season that the 6-foot-10 forward from Chino Hills, Calif., pulled down five or more rebounds in a game and was the third time with three or more blocks. Through 30 appearances, Jerrett is averaging 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
IN MARCH: Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Arizona has a 65-34 (.657) record in the month of March. In that span, 40 of those games have been played in the NCAA Tournament and UA is 28-12 (.700) in them. In the Sean Miller era, Arizona is 13-7 (.650) in March.
UP NEXT: A win puts Arizona into tomorrow's championship game at 8 p.m. PDT on ESPN. A loss sends the team back to Tucson to await its postseason tournament possibilities.