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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cougars streak into McKale

    Cougars streak into McKale

    Arizona head coach Sean Miller and BYU head basketball coach Dave Rose have just a game’s worth of familiarity with one another, but it was one to remember.

    Rose reminisced Sunday about his BYU squad’s two-point loss to Miller’s old Xavier team in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

    “”We were close,”” Rose said of his first NCAA Tournament appearance. “”What I really remember is they had a little point guard that was terrific — Drew Lavender. He dominated the last seven minutes or so of that game.

    “”He kind of reminds me of the point guard that Sean’s got this year.””

    With the 25th edition of the Fiesta Bowl Classic featuring the Cougars (12-1) and Wildcats (6-5) set to tip off at 7 p.m. Monday in McKale Center, it will again be UA point guard Nic Wise who will look to carry his team to a third straight victory. Wise hit two consecutive game-winning shots against Lipscomb and North Carolina State in Arizona’s last two games.

    But hopefully for the Cougars, it won’t come down to another McKale miracle.

    “”You have to somehow figure out a way to stop their initial transition,”” Rose said of the focal point for BYU. “”Nic Wise really pushes that ball and is really smart with it. He knows when to take it on attack, and then bring it out and get into a half court offense.””

    The Wildcats will likewise game plan around on an opposing guard. Junior Jimmer Fredette leads his team with 19.5 points per game and shoots the 3-pointer at a 38 percent clip, all while dishing out 5.4 assists per contest.

    “”I think he’s the best player we’ve played against all season,”” Miller said of Fredette. “”He’s not a good guard — he’s a great guard. He can score, he’s intelligent, he’s big and strong. We have our hands full with him.””

    Miller also said BYU is the best team the Wildcats have faced thus far. As both teams end their nonconference schedule, the UA head coached said the schedule has provided his team and coaching staff with a wide range of challenges he hopes will lead to the Wildcats’ improvement come January and February.

    The Wildcats have yet to defeat a Mountain West Conference team after falling in double overtime to University of Nevada-Las Vegas and losing handily to San Diego State University, 63-46. Facing the Cougars, who are currently on a seven-game winning streak, will be no easy task.

    “”That really left a long-lasting impression for me,”” Miller said of playing BYU in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. “”(Now), they have all of the elements that you want — great experience, great depth, a very, very high basketball IQ and skill level.

    “”That’s why they’re 12-and-1,”” Miller added. “”Just looking at their team, I don’t look at them trying to make the NCAA tournament. I look at them as being a team that’s going to vie for a very, very high seed.””

    And from BYU’s perspective, Rose won’t take Arizona lightly despite his team’s obvious advantage of experience. The Cougars have two 1,000 career point scorers on their team in Fredette and forward Jonathan Tavernari.

    In addition to stopping Wise, Rose said his team will concentrate on controlling the paint by stopping easy buckets and boxing out Arizona’s young but athletic big men, led by freshman Derrick Williams and his 14.8 points per game and 6.4 rebound average.

    “”I think it’ll be a really competitive game,”” Rose said. “”I think both teams are pretty similar. We’ve got two point guards who really score and handle the ball and strip you of the ball, and make plays for themselves and their teammates.

    “”Both teams like to push the ball,”” he added. “”If both teams can play at the pace they want to play, you’d think it will be a pretty entertaining, high scoring game.””

    And 1

    • Arizona leads the all-time series between the two schools with a 20-17 advantage. The Wildcats have a 15-3 record against the Cougars at home.

    •In the last meeting of UA and BYU on Dec. 1, 1999, the Wildcats, led by head coach Lute Olson, beat the Cougars 86-62 in Tucson.

    •UA guard Kevin Parrom will continue to see increased playing time after sitting out several weeks with a stress fracture. The freshman played 6 minutes in his return against NC State.

    “”One of the silver linings I hope as we forward is we have a player that is capable of giving us a lot more,”” Miller said. “”We’ll take it game-by-game, day-by-day, but I hope in a couple weeks his role is bigger than it is now.”” 

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