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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


McKale whiteout part deux

Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats hosted the Washington Huskies in a battle of Pacific 10 Conference basketball leaders Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011, in McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. A defensive stop highlighted by a Derrick Williams block with 1.8 seconds remaining sealed the 87-86 Arizona win.

Sean Miller is a busy man.

Between recruiting, scouting and coaching, he watches enough basketball to scramble a normal man’s brain.

But through all the late nights and headaches, there’s one thing Miller’s never concerned about.

“I never worry about our atmosphere,” Miller said. “We have the best fans in the world. It’s sickening when we lose, especially at home. That’s something we’ve talked a lot about — honoring McKale.”

Miller will put his team on one of college basketball’s biggest stages on Saturday night, hosting Washington with ESPN’s College GameDay crew in town, a prime-time tip off slot and, for the second consecutive year, a crowd of more than 14,000 white-clad fans.

The third-year head coach said the McKale Center whiteout crowd helped Arizona win a game last year when it might not have been the better team, adding that the crowd can account for as much as a five-point swing in Arizona’s favor.

“The whiteout a year ago was the single biggest home court advantage that I’ve ever experienced,” Miller said. “Hopefully this weekend will be more of the same.”

Forward Jesse Perry held a similar sentiment after last year’s thrilling one-point win where the Wildcats used the crowd to open the game on a 9-2 run.

“I’ve never played in a game like this before, with the type of crowd,” Perry said.

But not only does the electric environment make the match a good time for players and fans alike, it also shows recruits the type of games they could be playing in if they choose to come to Arizona.

Junior forward Kevin Parrom said players like Josiah Turner, Nick Johnson and Angelo Chol all came to Arizona to play in big games in a sold-out McKale Center — the Pac-12 arena with the second-highest capacity.

Miller also recognized the lasting impact that a game under a national spotlight can have.

“We have a national audience, we have some important people in the stands,” he said.

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