Arizona Basketball

Notes of Arizona Wildcats’ bracket in West Subregional

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Sean Miller offers the Pac-12 tournament title trophy to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (YouTube screen shot)
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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Texas Southern guard Tyree Bynum, both sophomores, share a heated Philadephia past. Hollis-Jefferson hails from Chester (Pa.) High School while Bynum prepped at Penn Wood High School. Chester defeated Penn Wood 78-55 two years ago when Hollis-Jefferson and Bynum were seniors. They were involved in a skirmish in that game. According to a report in the Delaware County Times, Bynum showed his frustration when he took out a Chester player with a hard foul in the third quarter as that player drove the lane. That riled up both sides of the crowd and incited a confrontation between Bynum and Hollis-Jefferson. They had choice words for each other which earned them both technical fouls and “added more fuel to the ever-burning fire of the rivalry,” the report states.

— Texas Southern has one player from Pac-12 country — junior forward Chris Thomas of Denver, Colo., who once considered Arizona during the recruiting process out of high school. He attended school in Arizona at one time before finishing his prep career at South Kent (Conn.). NBCSports.com went so far as to write: “Thomas was at one time considered a lock to go to Arizona, and later considered schools such as Kentucky, Xavier, and others.” Thomas, who needed work with his academics, attended Chipola (Fla.) Junior College and Marshall before becoming eligible at Texas Southern this season. Thomas averages 12.6 points and five rebounds per game.

— Arizona (31-3) has never faced Texas Southern (21-12). Mike Davis coached against Arizona while with Alabama-Birmingham in the infamous Jamelle Horne intentional-foul game in 2008. Horne inexplicably lunged to foul Paul Delaney III with one second left and the game tied at 72. Delaney, who was on the other side of the court from the basket, made one of two free throws to give the Blazers a 72-71 win and a berth in the Preaseason NIT semifinals in Madison Square Garden.

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— Texas Southern had one of the most difficult schedules in the country, playing 15 of its first 16 games on the road. The Tigers were victorious at Michigan State and Kansas State during non-conference play. They lost on the road to Indiana, Tennessee, SMU, Baylor, Florida, Gonzaga and Auburn.

— The Tigers’ record at the turn of the year was 3-10. They are 18-2 since, including an 11-game winning streak (that matches Arizona’s run) entering the NCAA tournament.

— The subregional in Portland includes three Final Four coaches — Ohio State’s Thad Matta, VCU’s Shaka Smart and Davis — and one who wants to get there — Sean Miller.

— Matta and Miller have a history that extends to Xavier, where Miller served as his assistant coach. They are close friends. They shared a house in Cincinnati, and before that, a tiny office at Miami (Ohio).

— Ohio State eliminated Arizona from the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16 two years ago in Los Angeles. At that time, Miller’s son Austin contemplated becoming a Ohio State student manager. Austin decided to stay close to his new Tucson home and fills that capacity with Arizona.

— Smart was hired at VCU after Anthony Grant was lured away from there to coach Alabama. The Crimson Tide fired Grant on Sunday. Smart has the Rams in their fifth consecutive NCAA tournament.

— The Wildcats are 0-2 against Ohio State and have never played VCU.

— The distance from each school to Portland: Arizona (1,451 miles), Texas Southern (2,270), Ohio State (2,421) and VCU (2,868).

— The Millers (Sean and Archie) can share notes about VCU with the Rams playing in the same conference as Dayton. VCU beat Dayton in the Atlantic 10 tournament game today. The teams split their two games this season.

— A potential Round of 32 matchup looms between talented freshmen Stanley Johnson of Arizona and De’Angelo Russell of Ohio State. Russell passed Jared Sullinger for the No. 2 spot in the freshman record book for single-season scoring (638). He needs 21 points to pass Michael Redd (658) and become the top freshman scorer in Ohio State history. Russell’s 168 assists ranks him No. 10 spot in season assists in Ohio State history. He ranks third all-time for an Ohio State freshman and needs 10 to pass Aaron Craft’s freshman season (177). Russell is the leading freshman scorer in the country averaging 19.3 points per game and 5.6 rebounds.

— One noted Texas Southern alumni: New York Giants defensive lineman turned TV personality Michael Strahan.

— Texas Southern senior guard Madarious Gibbs earned the Southwest Athletic Conference player of the year. He is a veteran of playing substantial minutes since his freshman season, when he averaged 19.5 minutes a game.

— Smart’s program is a rare one without transfers on the roster. VCU is comprised entirely of high school recruits. Nine of the Rams’ 13 players are freshmen or sophomores.

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

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