Scouting report: Arizona
Game info: 4 p.m. Saturday at McKale Center (14,545 capacity).
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas and Bobby Knight.)
Radio: KJR 950 AM and 102.9 FM (Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton).
Record: 14-7, 5-3.
Stats/schedule: Click here.
Game notes: Click here.
Coach: Sean Miller is 60-30 in his third season with the Wildcats. He is 180-77 overall in eight seasons.
Prediction: Picked to finish third the Pac-12 by the media.
Series: Arizona leads 44-26 in a series that began Jan. 8, 1965. The Huskies are 6-27 at the McKale Center and Arizona has won the past five games. The last UW win there was March 4, 2006. Lorenzo Romar is 11-10 against the Wildcats.
Last meeting: Isaiah Thomas delivered the most dramatic finish in Pac-10 Tournament history when he nailed a long step-back jumper at the buzzer to lift Washington to a 77-75 overtime win. He finished with 28 points, seven assists and five rebounds while playing all 45 minutes. Terrence Ross, who made his third start, had 16 points.
Last outing: Arizona throttled Washington State 85-61 (above) on Thursday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
— Junior Solomon Hill (right) has started every game the past two seasons. Before tallying 17 points and 11 rebounds – his seventh career double double – on Thursday, Hill averaged 4.5 points and six rebounds in two previous wins. The 6-6, 226-pounder leads Arizona in assists (2.9) and rebounds (8.1). Hill averaged 10.7 points in three games against Washington last season. He scored 12 points twice. Hill is tied for fifth in the Pac-12 with a 44.4 percentage on three-pointers in conference games.
— Senior Kyle Fogg was a defensive specialist early in his career. This season, Arizona has needed his offense. He leads the team in scoring (12.2 points per game) and has taken more three-pointers (90) than anyone else on the team. Fogg ranks 10th on Arizona’s all-time three-point list. He was a non-factor last season against Washington. He never scored more than four points.
— Jesse Perry appears more comfortable than he did last season, his first with the Wildcats after transferring from John Logan Community College in Illinois. The senior forward is playing at an all-conference level, Miller said. Perry scored a career-high 23 points in a 78-72 loss at Florida. He’s tallied at least 20 points in three games. Perry is Arizona’s tough guy, but at 6-7 he’s shorter than most opposing big men.
Photo credit: Getty Images – Ronald Martinez
FIVE QUESTIONS FOR SEAN MILLER:
(Games like Saturday, is this what college basketball about?) “I hope so. For me to act as if it’s not going on around our team would be foolish. There is a certain element that as a coach and as a team when you’re in a game like this that you really do have to stay on task. It’s about preparing for Washington. It’s about making sure that we practice the right way (Friday).
“It’s a little bit easier to be distracted and to make the game bigger than it is or really have your mind in the wrong place for the wrong reasons without you realizing it. We went through this a little bit when we played Oregon on national TV, on CBS. Oregon did a great job against us, but I can only judge our team by our standards and for whatever reasons why didn’t do a very good job of getting ready for that game and we go what we deserve. I only hope rather we win or lose against Washington that it’s not about our effort level or preparation and that our mind is in the right place.”
(What do you think of Tony Wroten Jr.?) “Powerful. Explosive. It’s tough to call him a guard even though he is because he’s so strong in and around the basket. He loves the physicality and can really score through bigger people. Almost awkward when you see it because there aren’t many guys that play his style that he plays. And I mean that in the most complimentary way that I can. He’s just a real difference maker.”
(Are you concerned about containing Terrence Ross and Wroten?) “It’s tough to beat Arizona State when you make one three and I think it says a lot about Washington’s ability to score inside the arc. Obviously they’re a terrific offensive rebounding team. I think that’s always where it starts when you play Washington to make sure you don’t let them get to the foul line to get those second shots, third shots and those momentum plays that they are so good at getting off of their offensive rebounding.”
(Why has Arizona been so inconsistent in the Pac-12?) “It’s probably our level of play more so than our age and experience. It’s kind of who we are as a team right now. A year ago, we experienced tremendous improvement from mid to late January through the month of February and into the March. We were a better team almost each passing week from that point on.That’s our goal to keep getting.
“Kevin Parrom watching him recently, he’s more of himself right now. We’ve played virtually an entire season I would say with a mirror image of who he is. But in the last three games he’s really stepped up. Not just because he’s shooting the ball a little, but he’s making a lot of plays for us. He’s an important piece to our future. For us to take off, he has to keep playing well.
(Has the team gotten over losing Pac-10 MVP Derrick Williams?) “Are team has really gone from that. I don’t think anyone thinks about it. I think our guys watch him play in the NBA. They’re friends with him. The one thing that’s unique about Derrick leaving Arizona is it’s one thing to leave a program early when everything is in place over a long period of time, but the timing of Derrick leaving is right when we were building. It’s knocked us back.
“Any team that loses the No. 2 pick in the draft will feel it’s effects especially when you’re just trying to gain that momentum as a new coaching staff and as a program. When that is taken from you at that point, that can really knock you back a little bit. And it has. I’ll also say I think we’re playing well right now and hopefully our best is yet to come.”
— Arizona has lost three Pac-12 games by a total of 10 points.
— Freshman guard Nick Johnson has converted just 3 of 13 field goals in the past two games, but he’s been able to score in bunches at times this season. He’s scored 19 points in two games, including against Oregon State. Johnson is the nephew of former Sonics great and Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson.
— Freshman guard Josiah Turner was ranked the No. 10 prospect in the country and No. 2 point guard by Rivals.com. He’s struggled making the transition to big-time college basketball. He started the season-opener, but was benched for 13 games before returning to the starting lineup Jan. 5. Turner is averaging 7.3 points and 2.2 assists.
— Freshman forward Angelo Chol visited Washington last year before choosing Arizona. He’s had difficulty finding minutes and establishing a role. Chol is averaging 2.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 11.3 minutes.
— Over the last four games, Arizona has limited opponents to an average of 58.8 points. No team has scored more than 64. This season UA opponents are averaging 61.9 points. It’s been 27 years since a UA team has allowed fewer points.
— Teams are shooting 40 percent from the field against the Wildcats. They’ve held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting in eight games. Arizona is 12-1 this season and 43-4 under Miller when outshooting the opposition.
— Arizona’s 85 points Thursday marked the sixth time the Wildcats have topped the 80-point plateau. The Wildcats are 6-0 when scoring more than 80.
— The Wildcats began the Pac-12 season with a 68-51 victory over Arizona State, which started win-lose pattern. In three attempts, they have not been swept and they haven’t gotten a sweep.
— Arizona has used five starting lineups this season. The group (below) has started the past seven games and has a 4-3 record.
C – Jesse Perry, 6-7, 217, Sr., 11.5 ppg., 7.3 rpg., 1.3 apg.
F – Solomon Hill, 6-6, 226, Jr., 11.9, 8.1, 2.9
G – Josiah Turner, 6-3, 192, Fr, 7.3, 2.8, 2.2
G – Kyle Fogg, 6-3, 188, Sr., 12.2, 2.8, 2.2
G – Nick Johnson 6-2, 198, Fr., 9.4, 2.9, 2.4
— Arizona is one of the shorter teams in the Pac-12 and it will be interesting to see if Washington can exploit that with 7-foot center Aziz N’Diaye. In the game last year at the McKale Center, he was removed from the starting lineup due to a disciplinary action and wasn’t much of a factor. He had two points and two rebounds in nine minutes. In three games against the Wildcats last season, N’Diaye averaged 2.6 points and 5.7 rebounds. It’s not as if Washington needs N’Diaye to be an offensive threat, but it’s important for the Huskies to contain Perry and Hill.