Nov. 9, 2010
Date: Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010
Time: 3 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: KWBA/FSAZ (Dave Sitton/Corey Williams)
GAME DATA: Arizona (0-0, 0-0 Pac-10) hosts Idaho State (0-0, 0-0 Big Sky) Sunday in McKale in what is the Wildcats' first game of the regular season ... UA faces a Big Sky opponent for the second consecutive year and third time in the last four - Northern Arizona fit that role previously - and won both games by an average of 12 points ... All-time, UA is 102-32 (.761) against Big Sky members ... Idaho State and Arizona meet on the hardwood for the eighth time in series history, but the first since 1979-80 ... The first two weeks of the 2010-11 season will be a hectic fortnight, as the Wildcats will play six games in the first 13 days ... Today's contest also opens the 107th season of Arizona basketball, and the 39th in McKale Center.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona was not included in either the Associated Press or ESPN/USA Today Coaches preseason poll. It marks just the fourth time in the last 24 seasons that Arizona will open the year unranked.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH Sean Miller . . . begins his second season at the University of Arizona and his seventh overall as a college head coach with a record of 136-62 (.687) and 16-15 (.516) 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, 41, earned a degree in communications from Pitt in 1992 ... He is assisted by Archie Miller, Emanuel Richardson and James Whitford.
LAST TIME OUT: Led by Derrick Williams' 19 points and six rebounds, Arizona posted a 70-59 exhibition win over Augustana College, Nov. 7, in McKale Center. The Cats opened the game with a trey 45 seconds in and never trailed. Arizona shot 45.8 percent from the field (22-of-48), limited Augustana to 39.0 percent accuracy (23-of-59) and attempted 26 more free throws than the visiting Vikings. All 10 Wildcats to see action scored and all logged double-figure minutes. Kyle Fogg chipped in with 11 points of his own.
SCOUTING IDAHO STATE: Coach Joe O'Brien returns one starter and four letterwinners from last season's squad that went 7-22 and finished in eighth place in the Big Sky Conference. ISU opens the season Friday at Colorado. Broderick Gilcrest and Kenny McGowen combined to average 37 points in the Bengals' two exhibition games - a 92-79 win over Montana State-Billings on Nov. 2, and a 75-71 loss to Carroll College on Nov. 6. The Bengals allowed opponents to shoot 48.1 percent (52-of-108) from the floor and 43.9 percent (18-of-41) from three-point range.
THE SERIES: This afternoon's contest is the eighth meeting of the two schools with Idaho State holding a 4-3 series advantage, though Arizona has won three of the last four. The teams first met Dec. 20, 1958, an 86-58 ISU win in Pocatello, but have only met once (1979-80) since Arizona joined the Pac-10, an 89-83 UA win. All-time, Arizona is 3-1 in series games played in Tucson, 0-2 in Pocatello, Idaho, and 0-1 in neutral-site games.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 89, Idaho State 83, Dec. 15, 1979: Joe Nehls tallied 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half and John Belobraydic added 16 points and 13 rebounds as Arizona pulled away in the second half for the six-point win. Arizona collected eight steals, forced 21 Bengal turnovers and mustered 12 more field goal attempts in the contest to offset 52.5 percent shooting (31-of-59) by Idaho State, including 57.1 percent shooting in the second half. The contest featured 15 ties and 13 lead changes.
FOR OPENERS: Arizona has a record of 82-21 (.796) in season openers (results are unavailable for four seasons - 1905-06, 1908-09. 1909-10, 1911-12), including a 21-4 (.840) ,mark in the previous 25 seasons. All-time, the Cats are 63-12 at home, 10-9 on the road and 9-0 in neutral-site games.
HOME SWEET HOME: Sean Miller continued a streak in his UA debut last season, an 87-70 win over Northern Arizona on Nov. 15, as the Wildcats have won eight consecutive home openers. The last time Arizona lost a home opener came on Dec. 1, 2001, in a 105-97 loss to No. 8 Kansas. Prior to that, Arizona hadn't dropped a home opener since the start of the 1992-93 season.
ANOTHER STREAK WORTH CONTINUING: Sean Miller begins his seventh season as a college head coach today, and in those previous six years he has never lost a season opener. He was a spotless 5-0 in season debuts while at Xavier and won his Arizona opener, 87-70, over Northern Arizona last year. Miller has built that streak in convincing fashion, winning those six games by an average of 27.5 points. Additionally, no game has been closer than 11 points - a 69-58 victory over Oakland on Nov. 19, 2004, in Miller's head coaching debut.
BACK AT IT: The Wildcats return 11 letterwinners from last season's club. Statistically speaking, the Cats bring back 79.5 percent of the scoring (1,773 of 2,229), 89.4 percent of the rebounding (949 of 1,062) and 83.2 percent of the minutes played (5,282 of 6,350) registered a year ago.
IN NOVEMBER: Fast starts have become a regular occurrence for the Wildcats. The program is a cumulative 67-20 (.770) in the month of November over the last 26 seasons. Those numbers are even more impressive considering the strength of the opposition, as nearly one-third of those foes (28 of 87) were nationally ranked at the time of the game. In those contests, Arizona is 18-10 (.643).
CLAMPING DOWN: In working for an 11-point win Sunday, Arizona held Augustana to just 59 points (20.1 points below its scoring average from last year) and limited the Vikings to just 39.0 percent shooting (23-of-59), including 6-of-23 (.261) marksmanship from three-point range. The Cats held Augustana to just 31.0 percent shooting (9-of-29) in the second half. Last season, Arizona held 10 of its opponents to less than 40 percent shooting and was 8-2 when doing so.
A LEADING INDICATOR: Despite the seemingly narrow 11-point margin of victory, it's worth noting that Arizona never trailed in the 70-59 win over Augustana (there were two first-half ties). Additionally, Arizona held a double-figure lead for a total of 12:55, including the final 11:44.
MARKED IMPROVEMENT: Led by forward Derrick Williams, who tallied two blocked shots, Arizona amassed five blocks in last Sunday's win. Reality says it was an exhibition game, but it was a step in the right direction for a club that averaged 2.5 blocks per game a year ago. Last season, Arizona registered more than five blocks in a single game just three times in 2009-10.
BALANCE THE EQUATION: One thing that was nice to see in the exhibition was the fact that much of the UA effort was balanced. Of the 10 players to see action, every one played 11 minutes or more, each tallied at least two points, and each grabbed at least one rebound.
ON THE GLASS: Bolstered by four players with five or more rebounds, Arizona posted a 39-32 rebounds advantage in the Nov. 7 exhibition win. Derrick Williams (6), Alex Jacobson (6), Jamelle Horne (5) and Kevin Parrom (5) helped Arizona with the rebound battle in each half. The +7 rebound margin is an improvement over last year's -0.1 figure. How important is the rebound margin? Over the last five seasons, Arizona is a cumulative 56-25 (.691) when outrebounding the opposition - a percentage that is 10.1 percentage points higher than the program's overall winning percentage in that same span.
MAKING POSITIVE STRIDES: Sophomore forward Solomon Hill continues to show an improved and evolving game. Sunday vs. Augustana, the 6-foot-6 native of Los Angeles, Calif., tallied an efficient seven points (3-of-5 FG), four rebounds, five assists (corrected postgame) and three steals in 28 minutes.
JACOBSON STEPS UP: Junior center Alex Jacobson put forth a nice effort in the exhibition game, posting two points and six boards in 13 minutes. The seven-footer from Santa Ana, calif., shared game-high honors on the boards. Entering this season, Jacobson is averaging 1.2 points and 1.1 rebounds in 43 career appearances.
AN UNBIASED OPINION: According to media members who regularly cover the league, Arizona was picked to finish second in this season's Pacific-10 Conference race. The Wildcats received 296 points and one first-place vote, trailing only Washington. It's the highest preseason predicted finish for the Cats since 2006-07, and the 296 points earned is the most since 2005-06. Historically speaking, Arizona has been the preseason favorite 11 times in the last 21 years.
A STEP UP: Sophomore Derrick Williams isn't going to sneak up on anyone a year after earning Pac-10 Freshman-of-the-Year kudos. A handful of publications have tabbed the 6-foot-8 native of La Mirada, Calif., a first-team all-conference pick at season's end, while four publications, Sporting News, cnnsi.com, Lindy's Sports Annual and ESPN magazine, have predicted that Williams will be the Pac-10's player of the year.
DOUBLE FIGURES ON THE NEXT LEVEL: Ten former Arizona men's basketball players were on active National Basketball Association rosters, as the league opened the 2010-11 season Oct. 26. The list of players includes Gilbert Arenas (Washington Wizards), Jerryd Bayless (New Orleans Hornets), Mike Bibby (Atlanta Hawks), Chase Budinger (Houston Rockets), Channing Frye (Phoenix Suns), Jordan Hill (Houston Rockets), Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers), Richard Jefferson (San Antonio Spurs), Jason Terry (Dallas Mavericks) and Luke Walton (Los Angeles Lakers). Arizona is tied for seventh nationally in terms of active NBA player production. There have been at least eight former Cats in the NBA in each of the last 11 seasons with 10 or more in eight of those campaigns.
CONFERENCE FOOTPRINT: Bolstered by a combined 24 players from Arizona (10) and UCLA (14), the Pacific-10 Conference has 48 former players currently playing in the National Basketball Association, a figure that ranks fourth nationally among NCAA Division I athletic leagues. Here is a look at the top six conferences: 1.) Atlantic Coast, 56; 2.) Big East, 54; 3.) Big 12, 51; 4.) Pac-10, 48; 5.) Southeastern, 40; and 6.) Big Ten, 29.
UP NEXT: The Wildcats return to action on Thursday, Nov. 18, when the team hosts New Mexico State. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MST and will be televised by FS Arizona.