Previewing Arizona

NC State (6-3) returns to action today in a huge nonconference game against Pac-10 power Arizona (9-2). Pack Pride takes a closer look at the Wildcats -- tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m.


    G Kyle Fogg (8.0 pg, 1.9 rpg)
    G Lamont Jones (8.0 ppg, 1.2 rpg)
    G Jamelle Horne (9.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
    F Solomon Hill (9.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
    F Derrick Williams (19.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg)

    Derrick Williams - One of the top forwards in the country, Williams is a physical presence capable of controlling the paint. By the way, he's also hit 10-of-14 3-pointers this season.

    Arizona Game Notes

    Game Data:  Arizona (9-2, 0-0 Pac-10) embarks on its longest road trip of the season when it travels to Raleigh, N.C., to take on North Carolina State (6-3, 0-0 ACC) Sunday in the RBC Center ... The Wildcats seek its second true road win of the year in as many attempts ... In four games away from home this season (counting neutral-site games), UA shoots 45.5 percent from the field (101-of-222) and averages 77.5 points per game, down slightly from its season-long statistics (48.6/79.4 ppg), though four players average 9.0 points or better away from home ... This is Arizona’s second appearance in the RBC Center, as the Cats dropped an 80-76 decision to Seton Hall on March 18, 2004, in an NCAA Tournament Atlanta Region first-round game.


    The Rankings:  Arizona remains unranked in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls.  The Cats started the season unranked for just the fourth time in the last 24 seasons.


    Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller . . . is in his second season at the University of Arizona and his seventh overall as a college head coach with a record of 145-64 (.694) and 25-17 (.595) 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, 42, earned a degree in communications from Pitt in 1992 ... He is assisted by Emanuel Richardson and James Whitford ... Miller is 1-0 vs. N.C. State as a head coach.


    Last Time Out:  Kevin Parrom’s bucket and free throw with 51 seconds remaining broke a 58-58 tie and Brendon Lavender’s steal and dunk 34 seconds later sealed Arizona’s come-from-behind 63-58 win Thursday in the Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic.  UA trailed by a 20-8 count 10 minutes into the contest and slowly worked its way back by taking care of the ball (season-low eight turnovers) and with solid shooting from behind the arc (10-of-22/.455).  Parrom earned Most-Valuable-Player honors with a career-high 14 points to go with five rebounds, four assists and two steals.


    Scouting North Carolina State:  The Wolfpack enter today’s game with a 6-3 record (0-0 ACC) following Thursday’s 67-50 win over Youngstown State.  On the season, NCSU averages 71.3 points, shoots 43.9 percent from the floor (226-of-515), 33.1 percent (46-of-139) from three-point range and 67.9 percent (144-of-212) from the line.  Opponents average 67.8 points, outrebound the ‘Pack by 0.1 boards per game and shoot 39.9 percent from the floor (222-of-556).  Individually, four N.C. State players average in double-figures, led by Scott Wood and Ryan Harrow, who each average 11.1 points per game.  C.J. Leslie leads NCSU with a 7.1 rebounds per game average.


    The Series:  Today’s game is the second meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 1-0 series advantage. UA won the only previous meeting, 76-74, in Tucson on Dec. 23, 2009.  All-time, Arizona is 1-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Raleigh, and 0-0 in neutral-site games.  For more series information, please see page 43 in the UA media guide.


    Last Meeting:  Arizona 76, North Carolina State 74, Dec. 23, 2009:  For the second time in 48 hours Nic Wise saved the day for the Cats, as his driving layup with one second remaining enabled UA to hold off North Carolina State.  Wise, who scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, gave just enough to stave off a Wolfpack rally that saw NCSU erase an eight-point deficit with 53 ticks to play.  Derrick Williams scored 24 points, while Jamelle Horne added 12 points, eight boards and four steals.


    Against the Atlantic Coast Conference:  All-time, Arizona is 19-16 (.543) vs. Atlantic Coast Conference members. The Wildcats have faced at least one ACC opponent in five of the last six seasons. Prior to this home-and-home series with the Wolfpack, Arizona lost to Virginia, 75-72, on Nov. 17, 2007, in its last game against an ACC foe.  For a conference breakdown, see page 46 in the UA media guide.


    Ties To Raleigh:  Two members of the Arizona coaching staff have very direct ties to North Carolina State University.  UA head coach Sean Miller served as an assistant coach for the Wolfpack for five seasons (1996-97 through 2000-01), while UA associate head coach Archie Miller was an NCSU letterman (‘98, 2000-02) and a member of the coaching staff (2002-03, 2004-06).  In that span, the Millers helped NCSU amass a 170-122 (.582) record, three 20-win seasons, eight postseason trips (4 NIT/4 NCAA), including a run to the 2005 NCAA Sweet 16.


    A rarity:  With 1,858 miles separating Tucson and the capital city of Raleigh, it’s not too surprising that Arizona has played just six games within the state of North Carolina.  Entering play today, Arizona has a 1-5 record in the state that is “First in Flight:”  L, 79-92 vs. North Carolina, Dec. 2, 1988, Tournament of Champions in Charlotte; W, 68-50 vs. Temple, Dec. 3, 1988, Tournament of Champions in Charlotte; L, 78-76 at Duke, Feb. 25, 1990; L, 91-81 vs. Arkansas, April 2, 1994, NCAA Final Four in Charlotte; L, 80-76, vs. Seton Hall, March 18, 2004, NCAA Tournament first round in Raleigh; and L, 86-69 at North Carolina, Jan. 28, 2006.


    A Valuable Effort:  In what Coach Miller said was “the best game that his has played at Arizona,” sophomore swingman Kevin Parrom earned Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic Most-Valuable-Player honors after posting a career-high 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals Thursday vs. Northern Arizona.  The 6-foot-6 native of the Bronx, N.Y., connected on 5-of-10 field goal, including 3-of-6 from three-point range, and tallied the go-ahead bucket with 51 seconds remaining.  His 26 minutes played Thursday equaled a season high.


    Digging Out:  Arizona managed to dig itself out of quite a hole Thursday, as the Cats made just 3-of-its-first-17 field goal attempts and found itself in a 20-8 hole with 10 minutes to go in the first half.  UA did manage to connect on 17-of-it-last-31 attempts (.548), including 8-of-16 (.500) from three-point range.  All told, Arizona outscored Northern Arizona, 55-38, over the last 30 minutes to earn the five-point win.  It marked Arizona’s first win this season when trailing at the half.


    Making Them Count:  The Wildcats tallied a season-low 63 points in Thursday’s win and needed almost every one of them in what turned out to be a five-point win.  Interestingly, it was the fewest points scored for Arizona in a victory in the 42-game Sean Miller era.


    Rimming, no:  Arizona’s shooting eye has been a bit off target recently, as the club has connected on just 40.4 percent (67-of-166) of its field goal attempts in the last three games, while averaging just 67.0 points per game in that span.  Certainly, it’s an interesting development for the team that shot a cumulative 51.7 percent (222-of-429) from the field through its first eight games.  Incidentally, UA hasn’t lost its shooting eye from the free throw line of late, as it’s sunk 43-of-53 (.811) charity tosses in the last three games.


    Gotta Clamp Down:  In addition to the offensive struggles mentioned above, Arizona has had difficulties recently in making things tough for the opposition.  In the last three games, UA opponents have a cumulative .510 field goal percentage (78-of-153), including a .429 clip (15-of-35) from three-point range, to go with a +0.3 rebound margin and a 69.0 ppg scoring average.  Each of those figures is a significant boost over the UA opponent marks for the season.


    A Long-Distance Connection:  With four different Wildcats sinking multiple treys Thursday, Arizona managed to post double figures in terms of three-point field goals  for the fifth time this season.  Kevin Parrom knocked down 3-of-6 long-range attempts, while Derrick Williams, Jordin Mayes and Brendon Lavender each sank two, helping the Cats to an efficient 10-of-22 (.455) from behind the arc.  On the season, Arizona is shooting 39.0 percent (97-of-249) and averaging 8.8 treys per game.


    Taking care of the Ball:  One of the keys to victory Thursday was Arizona’s ability to take care of the ball.  The Cats committed a season-low eight turnovers, marking the first time the team had been in single digits in 2010-11.  UA also converted 16 NAU miscues into a 20-11 advantage in turnover points.  Additionally, the +8 turnover margin was Arizona’s best of the season.


    Making a Move:  The Cats were able to move past Northern Arizona Thursday by outscoring the Lumberjacks 39-27 in the second half.  A quick glance at the statistics shows that UA is outscoring opponents by a solid margin in the second period, posting a +9.8 scoring margin.  In addition to averaging 43.4 points in the second half, Arizona has outscored six of 11 foes this season by 10 or more points in that particular period.


    He’s Gaining on them:  Derrick Williams continues to impress with his offensive game, as he leads the team in scoring (19.3), field goal percentage (.631), free throws (70) and offensive rebounds (32), but what continues to open eyes is his ability to hit the trey.  The 6-foot-8 sophomore forward has connected on an impressive 75.0 percent (12-of-16) of his three-point tosses and continues to gain ground on the team lead.  After connecting both attempts Thursday, Williams now has 12 treys on the year, and is just five behind team-leader Jamelle Horne.


    We’ll Take it:  Brendon Lavender tallied eight points, two assists and a steal in 15 minutes Thursday, but each of those individual statistics was meaningful.  The 6-foot-5 junior guard from Mesa, Ariz., hit treys on back-to-back possessions to give the Cats its first lead of the second half, he had assists on two field goals late that enabled UA to retake the lead late, and his steal and dunk with 17 seconds to go sealed the win.  On the season, Lavender averages 5.4 points and 1.2 rebounds per game, while shooting .444 (20-of-45) from the field.


    A Point Forward:  Forward Kevin Parrom has proven himself to be one of Arizona’s most versatile performers.  Thursday against Northern Arizona, Parrom collected four assists against zero turnovers in 26 minutes played.  It was the fourth time this season that the sophomore has played 15 or more minutes in a game and collected an assist without a turnover.  He currently leads Arizona with a 2.9:1 assist:turnover ratio and has 14 assists and just two turnovers in 77 minutes of action in his last four outings.


    For What it’s Worth:  On this date last year, UA had a 4-5 record and would get buzzer-beaters in consecutive games by Nic Wise to up that mark to 6-5 by Christmas.


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