Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats return to place of Sean Miller’s worst regular-season game with UA


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Sean Miller

Sean Miller

Not-so-welcome back. Sean Miller experienced his worst regular-season loss with the Arizona Wildcats in his first season of 2009-10 at San Diego State on Dec. 12, 2009. The Aztecs, who never trailed, defeated Arizona 63-46. The Wildcats made only 2 of 10 from three-point range and 35.6 percent overall (16 of 45).

Miller returns with the Arizona Wildcats to Viejas Arena tonight for the first time since that game.

“The last time that we went to San Diego State was my first year,” Miller said Monday after the Arizona Wildcats defeated Long Beach State 91-56. “That was probably as big of a whooping as I had ever taken since I was in about second grade.

“I think they had 11 offensive rebounds in the first eight minutes. We could not match their physicality. They have a very good team this year, so we will have to be at our best to win.”

The 46 points was the lowest output for the Arizona Wildcats since the 1984-85 season, when the UA lost to Alabama 50-41 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats also lost 43-40 to Oregon that season at McKale Center.

Chol hungry for Cats. Former Arizona Wildcats forward Angelo Chol did not mince words with San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Mark Ziegler about his hunger to beat his former team. The San Diego State transfer must sit out this season before possibly playing Arizona in the Maui Classic next season.

“I want to play them,” Chol told Ziegler. “I want them to know that I made a good decision to transfer, to make them see the mistakes they made by not letting me play. I’m going to do that by improving here and getting better, then playing against them and actually beating them so they can see.

“It’s not a malicious thing. I just want to prove that it was a mistake not letting me play.”

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Arizona (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. San Diego State (1-0, 0-0 MWC)

Nov. 14, 2013
8 p.m. MST
San Diego, Calif. — Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (12,414)
Tip: 8 p.m. MST
Television: CBS Sports Network (Rich Waltz/Doug Gottlieb/Kristine Leahy).
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Corey Williams).
Satellite Radio: Sirius 93; XM 190.
Rankings: Arizona – No. 6 AP/No. 5 USA Today Coaches Poll; San Diego State – NR/NR.

Angelo Chol

Angelo Chol

Chol is a 6-9 power forward who can be a solid defender around the basket. The problems he had with Arizona was losing focus on the defensive end and getting beat. Offensively, he was good with putbacks but squaring up to the basket was not a strength. Chol blames the inadequacies on his lack of playing time.

“I lost touch with the game,” Chol told Ziegler. “The opportunities, they weren’t there. They were so limited I felt like I couldn’t get my feet wet. I couldn’t get on the court and get loose and get comfortable. If I made one mistake, I was out and I didn’t know if I’d get back in.

“That was always an issue. That messed up my mind. It got to the point where I felt like, dang, I didn’t want to be there any more. Basketball is supposed to be fun, right? It wasn’t fun any more.”

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T.J. McConnell

T.J. McConnell

McConnell looking to get uncorked. From a pure point guard point of view, T.J. McConnell has played as well as possible against Cal Poly and Long Beach State. He had 14 assists and only four turnovers in those games.

From an overall standpoint, McConnell has not been involved with the game flow as much as he’d like. Arizona can win with McConnell producing assists rather than points but as the season progresses, and the Wildcats are in the middle of a long Pac-12 season, the Wildcats will need more scoring punch from that position to keep defenders honest.

When Arizona plays Dec. 14 at Michigan, which includes frontcourt stars Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, Arizona’s inside players will need scoring help from their perimeter teammates.

McConnell has attempted only seven field goals, making three, in 59 total minutes. Give him credit because his performance played to Arizona’s strength in the frontcourt and wing against Cal Poly and Long Beach State. His transition following his transfer year from Duquesne should improve.

As of now, McConnell is struggling. He is an uncharacteristic 0-of-5 from the free-throw line, and he went without a steal against Long Beach State.

San Diego State starts Xavier Thames, a former Washington State player, at point guard. Get this: In one game against Cal-Riverside, Thames attempted more field goals (12) than McConnell has tried in the UA’s first two games. Thames also had only one assist in the game against Riverside, won by San Diego State 77-41.

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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.

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