Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats release non-conference hoops schedule, which does not include NAU

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ARIZONA’S LONGEST SERIES
Rec: Arizona’s record against opponent. Last: Last meeting with Wildcats.
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Arizona has released its non-conference basketball schedule, which continues Sean Miller’s attempt to include quality regional matchups with likes of Texas-El Paso and UNLV. The Wildcats, however, will not play in-state school Northern Arizona for the first time since 2004.

The Lumberjacks, a Division I program in Flagstaff, have played Arizona 123 times since 1919. The series, dominated by Arizona since the 1940s, has taken a break before other than 2004. The programs played each other only once between 1992 and 2002.

Arizona, which leads the series 96-27 with 30 consecutive wins, has not played at Flagstaff since 1990. Arizona has tried to maintain its series with NAU, coached by the Wildcats’ former director of basketball operations Jack Murphy, whereas ASU has routinely not included the Lumberjacks.

ASU has played NAU only three times since 1999, losing to the Lumberjacks in the last two matchups at Wells Fargo Arena in 2007 and 2011.

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The Wildcats’ series with NAU is the third-longest in the program’s history.

Arizona rekindles its series with UTEP, whose 90 games with Arizona is the seventh-most involving the Wildcats.

Arizona’s last trip to El Paso was in 1994. The Miners and Wildcats are long-time rivals dating to their time in the WAC and Border Conference.

Former Arizona assistant Phil Johnson, a coach when the Wildcats won the 1997 NCAA title, is on Tim Floyd’s staff at UTEP. Floyd coached at USC and was a candidate for the Arizona coaching vacancy before Miller was hired in 2009.

The Wildcats’ home games with Michigan and Gonzaga should be RPI boosters come March. Arizona might also play BYU, Kansas State, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Purdue or San Diego State in the Maui Invitational. The game at UNLV on Dec. 23 will be the Wildcats’ most difficult challenge in a visitor’s arena, but it’s uncertain if it can match games at Michigan and Florida in recent years.

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ARIZONA NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
Game times yet to be released.
*Maui Invitational includes Chaminade, BYU, Kansas State, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Purdue and San Diego State. The game with Cal State Northridge is part of the tournament but does not factor into the bracket.

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The Running Rebels have one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, with three players ranked in the Top 50 of the Class of 2014, according to Rivals.com.

The matchup of Arizona’s high-profile recruit Stanley Johnson and UNLV’s Rashad Vaughn should be one of the highlights of the season. The shooting guards are among the top 10 recruits in the nation.

Michigan’s appearance in McKale Center will be the Wolverines’ first since 1993, when the Wildcats won 119-95 in the Fiesta Bowl Classic championship behind Khalid Reeves’ career-high 40 points. Michigan had four of its Fab Five in that game — Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. Chris Webber was a rookie in the NBA that season.

The Wolverines will be in rebuilding mode after significant losses to the NBA in the last two seasons after losing in the NCAA title game in 2013. John Beilein‘s team will feature six freshmen with prominent roles, including 6’6″ guard Aubrey Dawkins, son of Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins.

Michigan, Gonzaga and Mount St. Mary’s are scheduled opponents who advanced to the NCAA tournament in March. The Wolverines lost in the Elite Eight to Kentucky. Gonzaga was eliminated by Arizona in the Round of 32. Mount St. Mary’s, coached by former Shaka Smart aide Jamian Christian at VCU, lost to Albany in the First Four at Dayton.

Utah Valley, the last addition to Arizona’s non-conference schedule, is coached by veteran Dick Hunsaker, a former Utah assistant under Rick Majerus. He was also a head coach at Ball State when the Cardinals reached the Sweet 16 in 1990.

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

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