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The Palouse Awaits: Cats at WSU on Thursday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/13/2012
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 13, 2012

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Date: Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012
Time: 6 p.m. PST
Location: Friel Court (11,671), Pullman, Wash.
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Matt Muehlebach)
TV: FOX Sports Net (Kevin Calabro/Ernie Kent)

GAME DATA: Arizona (18-8, 9-4 Pac-12) opens its final two-game road trip of the regular season Thursday at Washington State (13-12, 5-8 Pac-12) at 6 p.m. PST on FOX Sports Net ... UA has led at the half in each of its last five Pac-12 road games and has gone on to win four of them ... In amassing a 4-2 conference road record to date, Arizona enjoys a +7.6 scoring margin in those contests ... Look no further than field goal percentage for a measure of success tonight, as Washington State ranks third in the league (.471), while Arizona ranks second in FG percentage defense (.400).

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 184-78 (.702) and 64-31 (.674) 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 3-2 vs. Washington State as a head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: Arizona found itself in an early 13-point deficit and spent much of the rest of the game digging itself out of that hole in earning a 70-61 come-from-behind win Saturday over Utah. Led by Nick Johnson and Brendon Lavender, who combined to score 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the second half, UA outscored Utah 45-28 in the period with Johnson’s trey at 1:24 giving Arizona the lead for good. The Wildcats outscored the Utes 17-6 from the line and turned 15 UU miscues into 15 turnover points, including 13 in the second half.

SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars enter tonight’s game with a 13-12 record (5-8 Pac-12) following Saturday’s 78-69 loss at Oregon. On the year, Washington State averages 70.5 points, shoots 47.1 percent from the floor (603-of-1,280), 37.6 percent (166-of-442) from three-point range and 72.8 percent (390-of-536) from the line. Opponents average 67.4 points, are outrebounded by 1.0 boards per game and shoot 42.8 percent from the floor (588-of-1,373). Individually, two WSU players averages in double figures, led by Brock Motum’s 17.4 ppg average. He also leads the Cougs with a 6.8 rebounds per game average.

THE SERIES: Tonight’s game is the 71st meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 54-16 series advantage. Arizona has won 47 of the last 53 meetings in the series, which dates back to Dec. 22, 1959, including the last, an 85-61 win on Jan. 26 in Tucson. All-time, Arizona is 27-8 in series games played in Tucson, 22-8 in Pullman, Wash., and 5-0 in neutral-site games. For more series information, please see page 50 in the UA media guide.

LAST MEETING: Arizona 85, Washington State 61, Jan. 26, 2012: Kyle Fogg scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half and ignited a 22-9 run over the last 8:28 of the period as UA cruised to the 24-point win. Fogg scored 10 of those points in the run, as the Cats outshot and outrebounded the Cougs, while forcing 17 turnovers. UA shot better than 50 percent from the field for the first time in Pac-12 play and committed just nine turnovers. Solomon Hill added 17 points and 11 boards.

STEPPING UP: Nick Johnson helped Arizona to a sweep in two games last week by averaging 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists as the Wildcats won its fourth straight game. The freshman guard connected on 33.3 percent of his field goals (6-of-18), 33.3 percent (4-of-12) of his three-point attempts and 84.6 percent (11-of-13) of his free throws to go with a block and three steals. Included in the effort was the decisive field goal in UA’s come-from-behind win Saturday. He opened the week with nine points, five boards and two assists Thursday vs. Colorado and added 18 points (3-of-7 3-pt. FG/5-of-5 FT), four rebounds, three assists and three steals Saturday vs. Utah. He scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half against the Utes, as Arizona erased a 12-point deficit, and one of his treys tied the contest with 6:34 to go and another gave UA the lead for good at 1:24. All told, 10 of Johnson’s 12 second-half points Saturday came in the final 6:34. On the season, he averages 9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

TOP HALF: With its ninth conference win of the season, Arizona has guaranteed itself a .500 record in conference play for the 26th time in the last 27 seasons. Only an 8-10 record in 2007-08 breaks up that streak. In that same span (since the start of the 1984-85 season), UA has finished in the top four of the league standings 24 times.

SURGING TO 70: Arizona managed 70 points in both games last weekend, marking the first time in Pac-12 play this season that the Wildcats had scored at least 70 points in back-to-back games. The Cats last scored 70 or more in consecutive games on Dec. 20-22. This season, Arizona is 12-1 when scoring at least 70 points. Conversely, UA opponents are averaging just 58.8 points per game over the last four outings and 59.5 points in Pac-12 play.

BOARD WORK: The Wildcats outrebounded Colorado and Utah by a cumulative 71-58 margin this week, including a +12 margin over the Buffaloes. Arizona has outrebounded 19 of 26 opponents overall and 10 of 13 conference opponents to date. UA is 15-4 this year (7-3 Pac-12) when outrebounding the opposition. Further, UA’s 36.3 rpg rebound offense figure in conference play ranks second in the Pac-12.

FIGHTING BACK: On the way to victory Saturday, Arizona first dug itself into a 13-point hole vs. Utah. Trailing 26-13 with 6:45 to go in the first half, UA answered with a 57-35 run to close the game ahead by nine points. After missing nine of its first 10 shots from the field, Arizona connected on 20-of-39 (.513) field goal attempts. Leading the way for the Wildcats were guards Nick Johnson and Brendon Lavender, who combined to hit 8-of-11 shots in the second half, and account for 24 of Arizona’s 45 second-half points. Included in the effort was a 15-0 run over 3:40 of the second half where Lavender was responsible for nine of those points himself.

MISCUES MATTER: One of the keys to Saturday’s come-from-behind win was turnovers, as Arizona committed eight (one shy of a season low), while Utah committed 15. UA held a 15-0 advantage in turnover points, including a 13-0 bulge in the second half as Arizona forced nine Utah miscues, while UA had just two second-half turnovers of its own. It marked just the ninth time this season that the Cats had fewer miscues than its opponent, and UA presently averages 12.4 turnovers per game.

2-FOR-26: Utah managed to shoot 50 percent (23-of-46) from the field in Saturday’s game, becoming the first UA opponent to reach the 50-percent plateau in 22 games. St. John’s was the first opponent to shoot 50 percent or better against Arizona, connecting on 24-of-47 attempts (.511) on Nov. 17 in an 81-72 Wildcat win. On the season, opponents are shooting just 40 percent (585-of-1,463) from the field. Not since 2000-01 has Arizona held its opponents to a field goal percentage of 40 percent or less for the entire season.

HONOR AMONG THIEVES: Led by Kyle Fogg’s career-high six steals, Arizona equaled a season high of its own with 10 steals against Utah (equaled four times). UA had managed 10 steals against both Arizona State (Dec. 31) and Utah (Jan. 19) prior to Saturday’s game in Pac-12 play. Through 26 games, the Wildcats average 5.9 steals per game. Individually, Fogg and leads the Cats with a 1.2 steals per game average.

GETTING TO THE LINE: Saturday’s win was another example of Arizona assertively getting to the free throw line, as UA went 17-of-22 from the stripe and outscored Utah, 17-6. Over the last five games, Arizona attempted 140 free throws, more than double that (65) of the opposition. In that span, Arizona has averaged 28 free throws per game and 19.4 made FTs per game, 15 more than its foes attempt and 10 more than it scores. That recent increase is 5.3 more attempts per game than its average through 26 games (22.7). Over the course of the entire season, Arizona attempts 4.6 more free throws per game that its opponent and scores 4.0 more points from the charity stripe.

ASSISTING THE CAUSE: The Wildcats collected 18 assists on 21 made field goals last Saturday, and the assist percentage of 85.7 percent was its best of the season, and the 18 helpers equaled the fifth-highest single-game total of the season. Arizona ranks fifth in the Pac-12 with a 14.2 assists per game average. Two Wildcats – Josiah Turner (7) and Jesse Perry (5) – set new career highs in assists against the Utes. Bolstered by just eight turnovers Saturday, UA’s 18:8 assist:turnover ratio was the Cats’ third-best ratio this season.

SEVEN-OH!: Freshman guard Josiah Turner posted a career-high seven assists Saturday against zero turnovers in 27 minutes of action. The 6-foot-3 native of Sacramento, Calif., is averaging 2.8 assists per game in Pac-12 play and carries a 1.4:1 assist:turnover ratio against conference foes. Additionally, he also leads the club in steals in conference play with 19. On the season, Turner averages 6.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

MORE TIME: In the wake of injuries to Kevin Parrom and Jordin Mayes, senior Brendon Lavender has seen his minutes rise. Over the last three games, Lavender has averaged 22.7 minutes per contest, more than 10 minutes more than his season-long average (12.6 mpg), and is averaging 6.0 ppg and 1.3 apg in that span. Against Colorado and Utah, Lavender logged season-high totals of 24 minutes in each contest.

ON THE RISE: The Wildcats improved to 18-8 on the season (9-4 Pac-12) courtesy of its second consecutive weekend sweep of the Pac-12 slate, and its first at home. Arizona’s current four-game winning streak is the longest active streak in the Pac-12 and equals UA’s longest win streak of the season (Nov. 7-17). Also, the Wildcats join California, Oregon and Washington as the only Pac-12 teams to win at least four consecutive conference games this season.

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: The Wildcats cross the state of Washington to face the University of Washington on Saturday, Feb. 18. Tip-off is scheduled for noon PST and can be seen nationally on FOX Sports Net.

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