Arizona Basketball

Notebook: Arizona Wildcats vs. UCLA




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— This the first matchup between Sean Miller and Steve Alford since “Attendance-gate” happened a short while back. Miller indirectly referenced meager crowds at places like UCLA saying, “I watched a couple of games last night and it was like, ‘Wow. That is amazing. Who’s not at the game?’ … As a young kid, why would you ever want to come to a program or a place where nobody comes to the game? I mean, that puts a lot of pressure on recruiting.” Miller’s comments were fresh after 5-star wing player T.J. Leaf, who de-committed to Arizona a few months prior, chose to play for UCLA. Alford retorted indirectly: “Why come to UCLA? When you’re in the second largest market in the country, and you’re in an academic institution that is top-10 in the world, the most applied to university in the world, those are special things. Then you add our tradition here of 112 national titles–most in the country–11 in basketball–most in basketball. You almost have to find a reason why not to come here. It’s a culture of excellence.”

— Alford then took this jab: “Now that we’ve been here two years, I think now these young players are seeing how we let them play. We don’t handcuff them, we don’t micromanage, we give them the freedom to play through the teaching and fundamentals of what we’re trying to do.” Tough words. But not one mention of UCLA’s average attendance of only 7,016 in eight games at the 13,800-seat Pauley Pavilion. this season. The crowd should be in excess of 10,000 tonight because it’s Arizona playing. Check back on Saturday when ASU visits and see what the crowd is then.

We don’t handcuff them. The handcuffs, if there were any, are off this season for the Wildcats. Miller’s team is seeking its seventh consecutive game of scoring 80 points or more and its ninth game overall at that total. The six-game streak is tied for the longest such streak since the Wildcats broke the 80-point mark in 11 straight games during the 1997-98 season. Entering this season, Miller’s teams in his his first six years at Arizona averaged 9.6 games a year of scoring at least 80 points in a game. Arizona can come close to matching that number tonight with 16 games left in the regular season. Freshman guard Allonzo Trier has four games already with at least 20 points. Stanley Johnson, an NBA lottery pick, had only three all of last season.

— This is the first time since the 1994-95 season that Arizona is opening the Pac-12 (Pac-10 then) with three consecutive road games. Arizona lost the opener at ASU that season before beating Cal and Stanford on the road to start 2-1 en route to a second-place finish in the conference at 13-5. It also happened in 1984-85 with Arizona visiting ASU and the Bay area schools to start league play. Arizona beat ASU but lost at Stanford in Lute Olson’s second season. Arizona went on to finish third in the league with a 12-6 record. Miller’s team is hopeful for a sweep this season but a 2-1 Pac-12 record to start would be fine despite the previous two results. The league is strong and balanced but does not have a clear-cut dominant team aside from Arizona.

Kaleb Tarczewski stands a good chance tonight of becoming the 50th Arizona player to reach 1,000 points in his career, a rarity these days because of it being the one-and-done era. He has 992 career points from 2012 to now. Since 2000, 16 of the 49 have reached 1,000-point mark, however. Only two of those players since 2000 played center like Tarczewski: Channing Frye (1,789 points from 2001-05) and Jordan Hill (1,208 points in three seasons from 2006-09). And Frye and Hill were not prototypical space-eating centers in college. They were more like power forwards playing at the post.

— Trier is making a strong case to become Arizona’s third consecutive Pac-12 Freshman of the Year following Aaron Gordon and Johnson the last two seasons. Miller also produced a conference freshman of the year winner in Derrick Williams in his first season at Arizona in 2009-10. Trier has played his best basketball in the last six games. He is averaging 18 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game in that span while shooting 55.9 percent from the field, 45.8 percent from beyond the arc and 77.5 percent from the free-throw line. Trier is also shooting 62.9 percent from inside the arc during those six games.

— The game within the game will be how Arizona’s frontcourt trio of Tarczewski, Dusan Ristic and Ryan Anderson match up against UCLA’s Tony Parker, Thomas Welsh and Alex Olesinksi. The double-double production of Anderson and Parker is especially interesting. Parker, who seems like he is in his 10th year at UCLA, ranks third in the Pac-12 in rebounding (9.9 a game) and has produced seven
double-doubles. Anderson also has seven double-doubles with 27 in his career. He is averaging 15.1 points and 10.2 rebounds a game.

— The game might come down to who has the hotter hand — UCLA’s Bryce Alford or Arizona’s Gabe York — on the perimeter opening space inside for the frontcourt players and penetration. Alford ranks fifth among Pac-12 players in scoring average (16.9 points a game) and also leads UCLA’s team in assists (5.1 a game), free throw percentage (a league-leading 88.1 percent), 3-point field goals made (29), free throws made (74) and minutes per game (37.4). He scored a season-high 30 points in the Bruins’ double overtime loss at Washington last week. York is making 43.6 percent of his three-point attempts. He is averaging 13.1 points a game and is second on the team with 12 steals.

— UCLA also poses a major scoring threat with junior guard Isaac Hamilton. During the Bruins’ last nine games, he has averaged a team-leading 19.1 points per game. In that nine-game span, he has connected on 50.7 percent of his shots (68 for 134). Hamilton has also registered 24 assists, 16 steals and just 10 turnovers in those nine games. The combination of Alford and Hamilton along with capable perimeter players Aaron Holiday and Jonah Bolden (who is 6’9″) will present plenty of challenges for Arizona’s defense tonight.


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NO. 7 ARIZONA (13-1,1-0) VS.
UCLA (9-6, 0-2)

Tip Time: 7:05 p.m. MST
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch/Bill Walton)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Jeff Dean)

Overall: UCLA leads 53-40
In Los Angeles: UCLA leads 32-14
Current Streak: Arizona won 2
Sean Miller vs. UCLA: 8-8
Last Meeting: Arizona won 70-64 in Las Vegas (3-14-15)

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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Previous result:

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Rank: Overall school ranking.
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Present RPI ranking of non-conference opponents Arizona has played according to The Wildcats’ rating is No. 17.
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Present RPI ranking of Pac-12 teams according to
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*-John Wooden Legacy in Fullerton/Anaheim (Calif.)
[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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