Over the course of Lute Olson’s 24 years at Arizona, the Wildcats put together at least a four-game stretch of scoring 80 or more points 30 times.
Sean Miller’s team is presently on that type of run for only the second time in his eight-year tenure.
The scores include 92-78 over Colorado, 86-75 over UCLA, 83-80 over Oregon and 100-82 over North Dakota, all postseason games. Miller said in a press conference yesterday the increased scoring especially at a crucial juncture is a sign that his players are enjoy being part of this team.
“You want your guys to enjoy being here,” Miller said. “It’s hard to get here. It’s hard to stay here. There’s a lot of pressure on the win, did you win? Did you lose? If you lose, everybody knows the season is over.
“I think the balance of being serious, businesslike, understanding that you have to be ready to go, but a day like today you can do both. And we really try to encourage and foster an environment where guys can enjoy being here and at the same time recognize the task at hand.”
Olson’s teams achieved a four-game scoring stretch of at least 80 points in the postseason twice in his tenure — 1987-88 in Arizona’s first trip to the Final Four with Sean Elliott and Steve Kerr and 2002-03 when the Wildcats with Jason Gardner and Luke Walton advanced to the Elite Eight before losing to Kansas.
The only other time Miller’s teams have enjoyed this type of scoring spree was last season when the Wildcats put together 10 consecutive games of 80 or more points from Dec. 9, 2015, against Fresno State through Jan. 16, 2016, against Washington State.
Twice during the Olson years did Arizona score that many points in 11 straight games — to start the 1990-91 season with Chris Mills, Brian Williams and Sean Rooks, and during the 1997-98 season when Arizona behind Miles Simon, Mike Bibby and Michael Dickerson, defended its national title.
During that season, Arizona scored at least 80 points in 30 of of its 35 games. The Wildcats had a six-game stretch of that kind of scoring, including three games in the NCAA tournament, before Utah’s triangle-and-2 defense stopped them with a 76-51 win in the Elite Eight.
For Arizona to continue its high-scoring ways today, it must solve the man-to-man, switching defenses of Randy Bennett at Saint Mary’s.
Get this: The Gaels have not allowed a team to score at least 80 points against them all season. The most was 79 points to Gonzaga in a 79-56 loss in Spokane, Wash., on Jan. 14. VCU had 77 points against them Thursday in an 85-77 victory.
“They can be really dangerous in transition,” Bennett said of Arizona. “And they’re big on the boards, very similar to VCU that way. They have a few more ways to score.
“I think they have a lot of guys — they’re pretty balanced. They have a lot of guys that can make a basket on that team. They get in transition. Some guys get baskets in transition.”
Saint Mary’s ranks second nationally allowing only 57.1 points a game. Virginia tops the nation at 56.1.
WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY RATING?:
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)
SEASON PRODUCTIVITY RATING
|AVG 5-9.9 MIN|
|AVG 1-4.9 MIN|
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:
|Derrick Williams (2011)||38||38||1190||1141||1.043|
|Sean Elliott (1989)||33||33||1128||1125||1.003|
|Chris Mills (1993)||28||28||838||870||.963|
|Sean Elliott (1988)||38||38||1167||1249||.934|
|Damon Stoudamire (1995)||30||30||964||1092||.883|
|Mike Bibby (1998)||35||35||905||1124||.805|
|Jason Terry (1999)||29||29||877||1107||.792|
|Nick Johnson (2014)||38||38||848||1254||.676|
ARIZONA 100, NORTH DAKOTA 82
* — STARTERS
|LESS THAN 10 MIN|
ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS
e-Salt Lake City
|11/11||a-Michigan St||W||65-63||.395||Kobi Simmons||SG||22||26||.846|
|11/15||CS Bakersfield||W||78-66||.560||Lauri Markkanen||PF||48||36||1.333|
|11/18||Sacred Heart||W||95-65||.805||Dusan Ristic||C||31||22||1.409|
|11/21||N. Colorado||W||71-55||.565||Parker Jackson-Cartwright||PG||35||34||1.029|
|11/24||b-Santa Clara||W||69-61||.510||Keanu Pinder||PF||12||12||1.000|
|11/30||Texas So.||W||85-63||.705||Lauri Markkanen||PF||35||29||1.207|
|12/10||at Missouri||W||79-60||.556||Rawle Alkins||SF||27||37||.730|
|12/14||Grand Canyon||W||64-54||.450||Dusan Ristic||C||19||31||.613|
|12/17||d-Texas A&M||W||67-63||.545||Dusan Ristic||C||27||26||1.038|
|12/20||New Mexico||W||77-46||.680||Chance Comanche||PF||25||23||1.087|
|1/19||at USC||W||73-66||.490||Lauri Markkanen||PF||34||35||.971|
|1/21||at UCLA||W||96-85||.735||Kobi Simmons||SG||34||33||1.030|
|2/2||at Ore. St.||W||71-54||.545||Allonzo Trier||SG||25||28||.893|
|2/4||at Oregon||L||85-58||.365||Rawle Alkins||SF||27||28||.904|
|2/16||at Wash. St.||W||78-59||.565||Lauri Markkanen||PF||36||33||1.091|
|2/18||at Washington||W||76-68||.510||Lauri Markkanen||PF||47||35||1.343|
|3/4||at ASU||W||73-60||.540||Rawle Alkins||SF||22||26||.846|
|3/16||e-North Dakota||W||100-82||.825||Rawle Alkins||SF||38||29||1.310|
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.