GAME DATA: No. 4 seed Arizona (23-10, 12-6 Pac-12) advances to the 2012 Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament championship game Saturday afternoon vs. Colorado ... The Cats advance to the title game for the seventh time in school history and the second straight season … UA is 4-2 in its prior title-game appearances, winning in 1988-90 and 2002, and losing in 2005 and 2011 … Arizona’s win Friday was its 21st in Pac-12 Tournament action, making the Wildcats the only conference school to reach the 20-win plateau in the event’s 15-year history … In 15 tournament appearances, the Wildcats have advanced to the semifinals or better nine times and are 7-2 in semifinal action … Since the event was reincarnated in the Staples Center in 2002, the Cats are 12-9 in tournament play ... The number 70 looms large in conference tournament action as Arizona is 10-4 since 2002 when scoring 70 or more points and 2-5 when it does not.
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 189-80 (.703) and 69-33 (.676) 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 2-1 vs. Colorado as a head coach.
LAST TIME OUT: Trailing 34-27 at halftime, Arizona opened the second half on a 20-3 run over 8:04 to take control of the game en route to a 72-61 win Friday over Oregon State. All five Wildcats contributed in the run, as the quintet hit 7-of-10 shots from the floor, while limiting OSU to 1-of-15 shooting during the run. UA shot 61 percent from the field after the break, held the Beavers to 27 percent shooting, and outrebounded OSU 21-16 in the second period. Jesse Perry posted his second consecutive double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Kyle Fogg added a game-high 22 points and eight rebounds. Nick Johnson chipped in with nine points and five assists.
THE COLORADO SERIES: Today’s game is the 16th meeting of the two schools with Colorado holding a 9-6 series advantage. Arizona has won four of the last five meetings in the series, which dates back to Dec. 2, 1960, including the last, 71-57, in Tucson on Feb. 9. Ten of the previous 15 meetings came in the 1960s. All-time, Arizona is 4-3 in series games played in Tucson, 1-6 in Boulder, and 1-0 in neutral-site games. For more series information, please see page 47 in the UA media guide.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 71, Colorado 57, Feb. 9, 2012: Solomon Hill, Jesse Perry and Kyle Fogg combined for 48 points and 30 rebounds to lead Arizona to the 71-57 win Thursday over Colorado. Hill and Perry were frontline stand-outs, combining to make 12-of-21 shots and each registering a double-double, as the Wildcats posted a +12 rebound advantage. Fogg scored four points in a 12-3 burst midway through the second half that gave UA breathing room, and Arizona capitalized on a 26-9 advantage in scoring from the free throw line.
A CHANGE IN PRIORITY: Friday’s win marked Arizona fourth Pac-12 Tournament win over the last two seasons, and regardless of how this year’s event concludes, will be the most in the conference in that span. It marks the first time that Arizona has appeared in consecutive title game appearances since the Cats claimed four consecutive title from 1988-90 and 2002 (the Pac-10 Tournament went on hiatus from 1991-2000 before the event was reinstated). To play for the title in consecutive seasons certainly reflects a subtle change of mindset for the program relating to the importance that Sean Miller places on the event.
TOP OF THE HEAP: In logging 38 minutes and 22 points Friday vs. Oregon State, Kyle Fogg also accomplished something far more significant: he has now played in more games in an Arizona uniform than any other player in school history. Friday’s appearance was the 137th of his career, surpassing the 136 games played by Jason Gardner from 1999-2003. Additionally, Friday’s win was the 90th of Fogg’s collegiate career.
A PRODUCTIVE TRIO: In pouring in 16 points Friday, Jesse Perry has now scored 403 points this season (12.2 ppg). He joins Kyle Fogg (453 points/13.7 ppg) and Solomon Hill (422/12.8) as the three Wildcats to score 400 or more points this season. That marks the first time since 2008-09 that Arizona has had three different players score 400 points in the same season. Back then, Chase Budinger (630/18.0), Jordan Hill (621/18.3) and Nic Wise (548/15.7) led the Cats in scoring. For the current trio of Wildcats, each current point total is a career best.
HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS: Whatever Sean Miller told the Wildcats in the lockerroom at halftime, it definitely worked, as the squad rallied from a 34-27 deficit, outscoring OSU 45-27 in the period. UA shot just 35.7 percent (10-of-28) from the field in the first half, allowed OSU to connect on 50 percent of its attempts (14-of-28), and was outrebounded 18-15. In the second half, Arizona shot 60.9 percent from the floor (14-of-23), held the Beavers to 27.3 percent shooting (9-of-33) and outrebounded OSU, 21-16. Perhaps most importantly, Arizona turned up the assertiveness in the second half, as 18 of the Cats’ 22 free throw attempts came in the second half, and UA made 13 of those.
THREE THINGS MATTER: Due largely to a stellar second half Friday (see note above), Arizona was able to accomplish three key things statistically: UA outshot (.471-.377) and outrebounded (36-34) its opponent and committed fewer turnovers (12-13). Each of these numbers loom large for the Cats, as the team is 19-5 when outrebounding the opposition, 19-1 when outshooting them and 13-1 when committing the same or fewer turnovers.
DOUBLE-UP: Senior Jesse Perry registered his second double-double in as many nights, posting 16 points and 11 rebounds Friday against Oregon State. It marked the 12th time this season that Perry has finished with double-figure points and rebounds, tops on the team. It was also the first time since Nov. 23 and 29 that the 6-foot-7 St. Louis, Mo., native has collected double-doubles in back-to-back games, His 12 double-doubles currently ranks second among Pac-12 players.
ON TARGET: As has been the case for much of the season, Arizona’s three-point shooting was on the mark. Friday against Oregon State, the Wildcats connected on 9-of-18 (.500) attempts from behind the arc, marking the sixth time this season that Arizona has shot 50 percent from three-point range. On the year, Arizona has connected on 38.4 percent of its long-range attempts (247-of-644), and here in Los Angeles, the Cats have made 14-of-33 (.424) three-point field goals.
NICELY DONE: Freshman Nick Johnson put forth a nice effort in Friday’s win, totaling nine points, three rebounds, five assists, a block and steal. But most impressively, the 6-foot-2 guard from Gilbert, Ariz., handled the point guard duties quite well, passing out a game-high five assists against only one turnovers in a season-high 36 minutes played. On the season, Johnson ranks second on the team with 81 assists and carries a solid 1.31:1 assist:turnover ratio to go with a 9.1 points per game scoring average.
RARE AIR: With the win-or-go-home mentality of March upon us, it’s worth noting that one Arizona player is on the verge of joining some elite company. Heading into today’s Pac-12 Tournament championship game, Brendon Lavender has made 50.5 percent (53-of-105) of his three-point field goal attempts. Should he manage to finish the season at 50 percent or better, he would become only the fourth player in Arizona history to accomplish the feat. Only Steve Kerr (.573/114-of-199/1987-88), Derrick Williams (.568/42-of-74/2010-11) and Salim Stoudamire (.504/120-of-238/2004-05) have made half or more of their three-point shots (min. 40 att.).
A NICE LIFT: Another UA freshman, Angelo Chol, also contributed nicely in Friday’s win, registering four points, four rebounds and three blocked shots in 17 minutes. The 6-foot-9 forward from San Diego, Calif., knocked down 2-of-3 shots from the field and his three swats were the second-highest total of the season. On the year, Chol averages 2.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game to go with a .578 (37-of-64) field goal percentage.
UP NEXT: A win today puts Arizona into the 2012 NCAA Tournament. A loss sends the Wildcats back to Tucson to await Sunday’s word on its postseason fate.