Arizona Basketball

Notebook: Arizona Wildcats vs. Santa Clara




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— With Santa Clara winless, Arizona stands a good chance starting the season with five consecutive double-digit victories. When is the last time that has happened? Actually only five years ago in Sean Miller’s second year (2010-11). The fifth victim that season? Santa Clara. The Wildcats beat the Broncos 82-59 in the Las Vegas Invitational before losing to Kansas 87-79 in the championship game. Arizona opened that season with double-digit wins over Idaho State (90-42), New Mexico State (83-57), Northern Colorado (93-70) and Bethune-Cookman (78-45) before playing Santa Clara. Not exactly Murderer’s Row — like this season — but Arizona went to the Elite Eight and was a couple of missed three-point attempts by Jamelle Horne and Derrick Williams against UConn from going to the Final Four.

Lute Olson’s teams started 5-0 all with double-digit victories in 1999-2000 and 1991-92. The 1987-88 and 1999-00 teams had the most impressive starts with double-digit wins. Arizona’s first Final Four team 1987-88 broke on to the national scene with a 79-64 win over Michigan and 80-69 over Syracuse in the Great Alaska Shootout. They won their fifth game by only five points, however, at home against Pepperdine and Jim Harrick (73-68). The 1990-00 team beat Notre Dame 76-60 and Kentucky 63-51 en route to the Preseason NIT title. After an 86-62 win over BYU to start 5-0 with double-digit wins, the Wildcats beat Texas 88-81 in Austin.

— Never has an Arizona team in the modern era started 6-0 with double-digit wins. Fred Snowden’s Elite Eight 1975-76 team started 4-0 with double-digit victories but then lost its next three games.

— Arizona is the 11th-ranked team in the country but it is No. 11 in the Pac-12 in RPI, rated at 205. With Santa Clara’s RPI at No. 274, the Wildcats’ RPI will continue to fall even if they win.

— The Wildcats have won six consecutive games against Santa Clara dating to … dating to … I have to write it … when the 15th-seeded Broncos upset No. 2 seed Arizona 64-61 in the first round of the 1993 NCAA tournament in Salt Lake City. Steve Nash, then a freshman, had 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Former Arizona player Corey Williams, a guest this week on The Sports Guys show, said of the Santa Clara loss: “It was a disappointing loss because it was a mental loss. Our second string should have beat Santa Clara.”

— Sunday’s win over Northwestern State was the 167th win for Miller at Arizona, tying him for
third place in program history with Snowden (1972-82). Miller trails only Olson (589 wins) and Fred Enke (509 wins) for victories in Arizona coaching history.

— A 2014-15 first-team All-West Coast Conference pick and a preseason all-league choice, junior guard Jared Brownridge is leading Santa Clara in scoring at 15.4 points per game. He had a season-high 27 points in the season-opening 65-63 double-overtime loss to Lipscomb. He has been held to 28 percent shooting from the field. He hit 44 percent of his field-goal attempts last season, including 43 percent on 3-pointers

— Senior center Kaleb Tarczewski is only 12 points away from becoming one of the top 50 career scorers in school history. He has 972 points and No. 50 Ed Stokes is at 984. Stokes is the No. 9 leading center scorer in Arizona history, which means Tarczewski can move up that chart as well.

— Senior guard Gabe York has scored in double figures in each of the first four games of the season for the first time in his career. Included in the four-game stretch, York had a career-high 23 points againstBoise State. That game, coupled with his 18-point performance versus Northwestern State, gives him the highest scoring back-to-back games of his career at 41 points.

— Oh, Anaheim. Arizona returns to face its demons in the Wooden Classic. Anaheim is where the Wildcats’ NCAA tournament runs of 1998, 2003, 2011 and 2014 came to an end — all at the Elite Eight round. Miller hopes the distraction of players coming home does not affect the outcome this weekend. Ten members of the Arizona roster are from California with seven growing up within 60 miles of the Anaheim area.


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NO. 12 ARIZONA (4-0)

Tip Time: 9:30 p.m. MST
TV: ESPN2 (Roxy Bernstein/Sean Farnham/Jeff Goodman)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)

Overall: Arizona leads 6-4
At Neutral Sites: Series tied 3-3
Current Streak: Arizona won 6
Sean Miller vs. Santa Clara: 1-0
Last Meeting: Arizona won 82-59 in Las Vegas (11-26-10)

Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father (a Vietnam War POW) and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:

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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Present RPI ranking of non-conference opponents Arizona has played. The Wildcats’ RPI rating is No. 205. Santa Clara (0-5) has an RPI of No. 274.
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Rank: Overall school ranking.
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[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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