Arizona Basketball

Three top storylines: No. 8 Utah Utes vs. No. 10 Arizona Wildcats



Sean Miller has at least a 5-0 record against four programs and Utah is one of them (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

Sean Miller has at least a 5-0 record against four programs and Utah is one of them (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

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PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

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Top three storylines for tonight’s game:

1. Sean Miller has Utah’s number so far.

The sixth-year Arizona coach is unbeaten against three programs in a series of at least five games. He is 8-0 against Stanford and Johnny Dawkins, 7-0 against Utah (all against Larry Krystkowiak), 5-0 against NAU, and 5-0 against St. Bonaventure while at Xavier.

The Cardinal have another shot at Miller’s Wildcats on Thursday.

Beating Arizona is one objective Krystkowiak has not completed. The Utes are itching to end their 10-game losing streak to the Wildcats overall. Hard to believe: The last time the Utes beat Arizona was in the 1998 NCAA tournament, when they routed the defending national champions in the Elite Eight.

Two of Miller’s wins over Utah last year came after an Arizona loss. The Wildcats beat Colorado on Thursday after losing at Oregon State last week.

“A year ago, I think they lost five games all year, and we got to play them after two losses,” Krystkowiak told reporters after Utah’s 75-59 win at ASU on Thursday. “That was one of those thumpings that sent them into the Pac-12 tournament after a loss, and we got them another time after they lost to Arizona State.

“I heard they beat Colorado tonight, so that’s always a positive thing.”

Lute Olson coached long enough — 34 years — that it was difficult for him to go unbeaten in five games or more against an opponent, although he was 7-0 against Texas and 13-0 against NAU.

Miller or Olson have not gone 0-5 or worse against an opponent, although Olson was 0-4 against UConn in his career. Miller’s worst record without a win is 0-2 against Ohio State, Tennessee and Bucknell … yes, Bucknell.


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NO. 8 UTAH (14-2, 4-0) vs. NO. 10 ARIZONA (15-2, 3-1)
Tip Time: 5:05 p.m. MST
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Ted Robinson/Bill Walton)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Overall: Series tied, 28-28
In Tucson: Arizona leads, 16-8
Current Streak: Arizona won 10
Last Meeting: Arizona won, 71-39, on March 13, 2014
Sean Miller vs. Utah: 7-0

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Present RPI ranking of Arizona’s non-conference opponents. Arizona is No. 11 with a strength-of-schedule ranking of No. 69. Colorado has an RPI ranking of No. 67.
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2. Top 10 teams playing in McKale resurfacing.

The game between No. 10 Arizona and eighth-ranked Utah is the Pac-12’s first conference matchup of top 10 teams at McKale Center since Jan. 10, 2004, when the seventh-ranked Wildcats lost to No. 4 Stanford 82-72.

The 11-year stretch is the longest without such games in the conference in McKale Center since Lute Olson was hired in 1983. From 1991 to 2004, the Wildcats hosted a fellow conference top 10 team on six different occasions. That was an average of once every 2.2 years.

After hosting No. 9 Gonzaga earlier this season, this is the fourth time Arizona has played another top 10 team in the same season in Tucson. The other seasons: 1999-2000 (No. 4 Michigan State and No. 2 Stanford), 1997-98 (No. 9 UCLA and No. 8 Stanford) and 1990-91 (No. 7 UCLA and No. 7 Duke).

Arizona is 10-3 overall in games pitting top 10 teams at McKale Center.

Top 10 Matchups at McKale
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No. 3 Utah toying with Pac-12 to date.

The Utes’ average margin of victory in their four Pac-12 wins is 24.5 points with the closest outcome the 17-point win at ASU.

That is an indictment of the weakness of the Pac-12, although the Utes are showing signs of turning the corner under Krystkowiak. Entering this season, the most significant question for Utah was how it would fare on the road. They were 2-8 on the road last season.

In true road games (at the opponent’s facility) this year, the Utes are 2-1 with wins over BYU and ASU and the loss at San Diego State.

Their biggest test on the road this season will be today at McKale Center, where the Wildcats have a 31-game winning streak, the second-longest home winning streak in the nation.

Chances are Krystkowiak won’t have the luxury to play 10 players in double-figure minutes today against the Wildcats as he has done against USC, UCLA, Colorado and ASU. Krystkowiak has also utilized the 10-player rotation with those minutes in all of the Utes’ games.

Miller, by contrast, has used eight players with an average of double-figure minutes in Pac-12 games and overall.

The caution for Miller and his staff is to not play their regulars too much against Krystkowiak’s deep team. The Wildcats can ill-afford foul problems that have plagued all of their regulars at least once this season.

Arizona has six disqualifications because of fouls compared to only three for Utah.


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Present RPI ranking of the Pac-12.
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[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has published articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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