Dec. 3, 2012
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012
Time: 7:30 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,538), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Ted Robinson/Don MacLean)
GAME DATA: Eighth-ranked Arizona (5-0, 0-0 Pac-12) hosts Southern Miss (6-1, 0-0 C-USA) Tuesday in McKale Center ... It's a contrast of styles tonight, as Arizona, who ranks sixth nationally in scoring offense, averages 85.2 points per game, while Southern Miss averages 64.9 ppg ... Additionally, UA is shooting 52.3 percent (139-of-266) from the field as a team - No. 5 nationally - and faces a team surrendering just a 38.8 percent accuracy (104-of-268) rate from the floor against them.
THE RANKINGS: UA is ranked eighth in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls this week. The Cats' No. 8 ranking is the highest for the program under Sean Miller, and the first time UA has been ranked as high in-season since coming in at No. 8 in the Jan. 8, 2007, coaches' poll.
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 194-82 (.703) and 74-35 (.679) at Arizona ... In his eight-plus year career, Miller's teams have won 20 games six 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 23 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 0-0 vs. Southern Miss as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona used a balanced offensive attack and solid defense to cruise to an 85-57 victory Saturday at Texas Tech in its first road game of the season. Nick Johnson's 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting keyed five players in double figures, as the Cats shot 56.6 percent from the field. The UA defense limited Tech to just 34.9 percent shooting and posted a +15 rebound margin. UA took a 6-4 lead 1:59 into the game and never again trailed.
SCOUTING SOUTHERN MISS: The Golden Eagles enter tonight's game with a 6-1 record (0-0 C-USA) following a 68-60 loss Saturday at New Mexico State. On the season, USM averages 64.9 points per game, shoots 46.0 percent from the floor (160-of-348), 30.9 percent (30-of-97) from three-point range and 77.0 percent (104-of-135) from the line. Opponents average 58.9 points, are outrebounded by 5.1 per game and shoot 38.1 percent from the floor (131-of-344). Individually, two Southern Miss players average in double figures, led by Dwayne Davis' 15.1 ppg figure. Jonathan Mills leads the Golden eagles in rebounding at 7.6 rebounds per game.
THE SERIES: Tonight's game is the third meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 2-0 series advantage. UA won the first meeting, 90-56, in Tucson on Dec. 22, 1950, and captured the return, 79-72, on Dec. 30, 1954, in the Wichita Classic in Wichita, Kan. The Wildcats are 81-42 (.658) against current Conference USA members. All-time, Arizona is 1-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Hattiesburg, Miss., and 1-0 in neutral-site games. For more information, please see page 48 of the UA media guide.
THE LAST MEETING: Arizona 79, Southern Miss 72; Dec. 30, 1954: Led by Haddie Redd's 24 points, Arizona rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to win. The back-and-forth battle featured six lead changes. UA went to the free throw line 46 times and outscored USM, 27-22, from the stripe. Redd was joined in double figures by George Rountree (20), Jim Brower (14) and Bill Reeves (11).
LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Nick Johnson guided Arizona to pair of wins last week by posting strong numbers across the board, averaging 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals. The sophomore guard connected on 71.1 percent of his field goal attempts (10-of-14), including 2-of-3 from three-point range (.667), and 75.0 percent of his free throws. Perhaps most impressively, Johnson logged 53 minutes of action last week and committed just one turnover. He opened the week with 10 points, three rebounds and career-high totals of seven assists and four steals in the win over NAU and followed that up with 18 points, five boards and two steals in UA's 28-point road win over previously unbeaten Texas Tech. His field goals (7), three-point field goals (2), rebounds (5) and minutes played (31) were all season highs. Johnson averages 11.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game to go with a .538 field goal percentage, and leads Arizona in assists (21) and steals (10).
CHECK THIS OUT: UA posted an 85-57 win over Texas Tech in its first true road game of the season, holding the Red Raiders to 31.8 points less than its season scoring average. Additionally, it was the largest road winning margin for the Wildcats in the Sean Miller era and was the second-largest winning margin ever for a Miller-coached team, topped only by a 87-58 Xavier win at George Washington on Feb. 10, 2007.
MAKE WHAT YOU TAKE: In cruising to a pair of wins last week, Arizona did so by shooting the ball extremely well, connecting on a cumulative 57.1 percent (60-of-105) of its shots. The Cats have now shot better than 50 percent from the floor in three consecutive games (90-of-161/.559) and in that span UA has shot better than 60 percent in three of those six halves. The three-game effort has boosted Arizona's season-long field goal percentage 56 points to .523 (139-of-266). Further, of UA's 10-man regular rotation, seven have field goal percentages of 50 percent or better.
WINDEX MEN: Another area of strength for the Wildcats has been rebounding, as Arizona enjoys a +12.4 rebound margin to date. In the wins over Northern Arizona and Texas Tech, UA outrebounded the two by a cumulative 80-53 tally. Leading the way for the Cats on the glass was freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski, who averaged 9.5 rebounds per game last week, including a season-best 13 Saturday vs. Texas Tech. Incidentally, since being outrebounded in the season opener, Arizona has outrebounded each of the last four opponents by at least 12 per contest.
AT THE OTHER END: The Wildcats limited opponents last week to a cumulative .356 field goal percentage (42-of-118) and an average of 53.5 points. In fact, no UA opponent has shot better than 44.0 percent from the field and three of five foes have been held to less than 40 percent shooting. One area that has improved of late has been Arizona's three-point field goal defense, where opponents hit just 28.9 percent (11-of-38) last week.
LOOK INSIDE: Freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski continues to patiently go about his business, as the 7-footer is averaging 6.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game, while shooting .579 (11-of-19) from the floor. His 19 field goal attempts are the fewest among Wildcats playing at least 15 minutes per game. Saturday at Texas Tech, the Claremont, N.H., native hit all three field goal attempts, grabbed 13 rebounds and added two assists and two blocked shots.
A MAN OF MANY TALENTS: Solomon Hill continues to make contributions in a number of areas for the Wildcats, as witnessed by his 14-point, four-rebound, three-assist, three-steal effort Saturday at Texas Tech. The 6-foot-7 senior forward has proven to be an improved outside shooter, as he shares the team lead with 11 treys and a .478 three-point field goal percentage (23 att.). Hill has made two or more treys in a game four times in five starts this season. He's currently averaging 14.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game through five starts. A start Tuesday would be the 100th for Hill in 110 career appearances.
IT STARTS WITH HIM: Guard Mark Lyons shares the team lead with a 14.0 ppg average, while averaging 2.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game. While considerable attention has been paid to his transition to the point guard position, make no mistake that the 6-foot-1 senior simply gives Arizona a strong on-court presence, which was on display early in Saturday's game. In what was Arizona's first road game of the season, Lyons tallied 12 first-half points, all coming in the first 11 minutes to get the Cats off on the right foot. He's shooting 50 percent from the floor (20-of-40), including 47.8 percent (11-of-23) from three-point range.
MORE ON NICK: Guard Nick Johnson posted a season-high 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with five boards and two steals Saturday at Texas Tech. While his 11.8 ppg average and his .538 (21-of-39) field goal percentage are marked improvements over last year, take note of this: he leads Arizona with 21 assists and has just four turnovers in 131 minutes of action this year, an impressive 5.3:1 assist:turnover ratio.
A TALL ORDER: Freshman Grant Jerrett enjoyed a breakout performance Saturday at Texas Tech, posting 11 points, his first double-figure scoring game. The 6-foot-10 native of Chino Hills, Calif., hit 3-of-5 FGs and all four free throws to go with two boards, two assists and a steal. Jerrett is averaging 6.6 points per game with five of his 11 field goals this season coming from three-point range.
ON THE RUN: Arizona has displayed a knack for timely runs so far this season. Saturday at Texas Tech, the Wildcats unleashed its biggest at the season (26-3 over 8:41) that immediately answered a Tech burst that had trimmed UA's lead to 13 points. Here is a look at Arizona's 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
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
TO YOUR ADVANTAGE: On the way to the 28-point win Saturday, Arizona managed to score 44 points in the paint, outscoring Texas Tech by 16 points in that category. Furthermore, Arizona converted 10 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points, and even outscored the Red Raiders by nine points in that category despite giving up two more offensive boards.
TEMPERATURE CHECK: The Wildcats stand at 5-0 on the young season and in the Sean Miller era his teams have been a combined 17-3 through the first five games of the season. The 2010-11 and 2012-13 teams were 5-0, the 2011-12 team was 4-1 and his debut squad in 2009-10 was 3-2.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 85 points Saturday at Texas Tech, topping the 80-point plateau for the fourth time this year (4-0). Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 210-20 (.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: Following tonight's game, the Wildcats travel to Clemson, S.C., to take on the Clemson Tigers on Saturday, Dec. 8. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST and can be seen nationally on ESPN2.