Arizona Basketball

Three top storylines Xavier Musketeers vs. Arizona Wildcats



Arizona’s Sean Miller will look to senior leader T.J McConnell to get past his former school, Xavier, in the Sweet 16 (Arizona athletics video 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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Arizona notebook: Will nearby trip to Los Angeles be fun this time around?

A look at ASU hoops coaches during the Lute Olson, Sean Miller years with the Arizona Wildcats

— Arizona Point Guard U. member Reggie Geary on T.J. McConnell: “Competent, tough-minded floor leader”

— Ranking Arizona’s Top 5 Sweet 16 victories

— McConnell only Arizona player to rank in to five season assists, steals

— Good things usually happen when three or more Pac-12 teams make the Sweet 16

Social media reactions of Miller’s ties with Xavier


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NO. 6 XAVIER (23-13) VS. NO. 2 ARIZONA (33-3)
Tip Time: 7:17 p.m. MST
TV: TBS (Harlan/Miller/Bonner/Nichols)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Jeffries/Hansen)
National Radio: Westwood One (Larrivee/Marshall)
Overall: Never met
Sean Miller vs. Xavier: 0-0

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Top three storylines for today’s game:

1. No name badge required.

Arizona’s Sean Miller will become the 16th head coach in NCAA tournament history to face his previous school that he once coached in March Madness.

It will be the fifth time that has happened in the Sweet 16, including when Lute Olson coached against Iowa in 1988.

The coaches have a 3-1 record in the round against their former schools that they once coached in the NCAA tournament:

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Overall, coaches are 11-8 in March Mardness against their former schools they led to the NCAA tournament before. Olson beat Iowa again in the second round of the 1996 NCAA tournament in Tempe.

Other than Olson, Miller could have picked the brain of Roy Williams about such matchups. Williams is in Los Angeles coaching opposite the Xavier-Arizona matchup with North Carolina against Wisconsin. He could have consulted Miller in what not to do preparing for his former school.

Williams lost three times by double-digit margins against Kansas in a six-year span from 2008 through 2013 after taking the Jayhawks to the Final Four on four occasions (1991, 1993, 2002 and 2003).

2. Is T.J. McConnell the oldest Arizona player to compete in the NCAA tournament?

That distinction goes to former Xavier guard Mark Lyons, who was 23 years, eight months and 24 days old when Arizona was eliminated by Ohio State in the 2013 Sweet 16. Lyons spent a year at prep school and redshirted for a year at Xavier as a partial qualifier.


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McConnell turned 23 yesterday.

I researched the oldest players who have participated in the NCAA tournament for Arizona and here is the Wildcats’ “All 23 Team”, those who were 23 (the oldest age) when they played for Arizona in March Madness (the NCAA tournament column is the last appearance to date for that particular player):

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McConnell was asked yesterday about celebrating his birthday by practicing with the Wildcats at Staples Center.

“You know, spending your birthday in a gym, that’s not really how you picture it, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” McConnell said. “We’re trying to do something special here. Getting this win tomorrow would be a birthday present enough.”

Miller said McConnell joked to the team, “I may be the oldest player in the tournament”.

“His experience, that is number one,” Miller said. “He knows what to do and how to do it. He does it every day. To me, his talent is as much on defense as it is on offense. Because of that it’s hard when that point guard gives so much of himself on that side of the ball for others not to follow.

“I think what he brings to the table is just comprehensive in its ability to make his team win. That’s what we love about him. To me that will be his legacy at Arizona really. From the moment he stepped on our campus, a lot of great things happened in large part because he’s on our team.”

McConnell played Xavier twice during his days with Duquesne (both teams were in the Atlantic 10) and lost both, including a 78-50 defeat on Jan. 11, 2012. McConnell exaggerated by saying yesterday that Duquesne “lost by about 45 points”.

“I know what kind of team they are,” McConnell said. “They play really hard and they play with a chip on their shoulder. Something I kind of had to do at Duquesne. I know what kind of game it’s going to be (tonight). They’re going to come out ready and they’re going to play really hard. If we don’t come out ready, Xavier will beat us.”

3. Xavier put to the test vs. Arizona’s defense.

Xavier set a school record for field goal percentage in an NCAA Tournament game when it made 67.6 percent (23-of-34) from the field, including 81.3 percent (13-of-16) in the second half, in the win over Georgia State on Saturday. The 67.6 percent shooting marks the third-best shooting effort by any NCAA Tournament team over the last 15 years.

Xavier’s 19-point, 76-57, win over Ole Miss last Thursday marks the Musketeers’ most lopsided victory in 47 NCAA Tournament games. The previous high was an 18-point, 73-55, win over New Orleans in the 1993 NCAA first round.

After playing outmanned Georgia State and Ole Miss (which had to win the play-in game against BYU to advance), Xavier now faces an Arizona team that has a defense like few others pose.

Opponents are shooting 39.4 percent against Arizona, including 32.9 percent from three-point range.

Arizona’s defense is fueled by high-profile wings Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson and McConnell on the perimeter and Kaleb Tarczewski manning the post.

An interesting stat: Johnson has played 1,024 minutes while Hollis-Jefferson has logged 1,023. They showed against Ohio State they can benefit Arizona without producing on offense. They combined to shoot 4-of-24 but Johnson had 10 rebounds and two steals while Hollis-Jefferson had a double-double (11 points and 10 rebounds) with five assists. He also helped shut down Ohio State freshman phenom D’Angelo Russell.

Xavier does not have a go-to guy like Russell that Hollis-Jefferson can concentrate on with his defense.

The Musketeers have three players averaging in double figures in scoring and six that are at 8.5 points per game or more. Senior center Matt Stainbrook (12.1 points per game) leads Xavier followed by freshman wing player Trevon Bluiett (11.3), sophomore guard Myles Davis (10.7), sophomore power forward Jalen Reynolds (9.9), senior guard Dee Davis (8.9) and junior wing Remy Abell (8.5).


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First game: 20-13 (.606)

Second game: 17-3 (.850)

Third game: 9-7 (.563)

Fourth game: 4-5 (.444)

Final Four: 2-2 (.500)

Championship: 1-1 (.500)

Total: 53-31 (.631)


[table “” not found /] 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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