2009-10 Opponent Preview: Arizona

As the 2009-10 season men’s basketball season approaches, BYUCougars.com continues to preview each of the Cougars’ opponents. Today’s preview-Arizona.

Game Preview

BYU will close out the 2009 calendar year at Arizona on Dec. 28. The Wildcats were 21-14 last season and 9-9 in the Pac 10. They received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament where they defeated Utah in the first round and Cleveland in the second as a No. 12 seed. Arizona is led by senior point guard Nic Wise, who averaged 15.7 point and 4.6 assists per game last season.

The Wildcats, who welcome Sean Miller as their new head coach, lead the all-time series with BYU 20-17. The last time the teams met was Dec. 1, 1999 and then-No. 4 Arizona won 86-62. The Wildcats are 15-3 all-time against the Cougars in Tucson.

Season Outlook

Arizona finished 21-14 and 9-9 in the Pac 10 in 2008-09. The Wildcats extended their streak of consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances to 25, receiving an at-large bid as the No. 12 seed in the Midwest region. They advanced to the Sweet 16 where they lost to Louisville.

Sean Miller comes to Arizona after a successful run at Xavier where he was 120-47 and led the Musketeers to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Xavier reached the West Regional final in 2008. He welcomes back three starters including Nic Wise (15.7 ppg, 4.6 apg), Kyle Fogg (6.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and Jamelle Horne (6.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg). Miller will be tasked with finding replacements for NBA Draftees Chase Budinger (18.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Jordan Hill (18.3 ppg, 11.0 rpg). Arizona has five freshman on the roster.

Player to Watch

Nic Wise, G, Sr., 5-10, 177

Wise was Arizona’s third-leading scorer last season, averaging 15.7 ppg while leading the Wildcats in assists at 4.6 per game and steals (52). He shot .452 from the field and was first on the team in three-point (.415) and free throw percentages (.848). Wise figures to be the focal point of the offense with the departure of Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill.

Other Key Players

Kyle Fogg, G

Jamelle Horne, F

Solomon Hill, F

Kyryl Natyazhko, C

Game Implications

The game will be one of BYU’s last tests before opening MWC play. The McKale Center is traditionally a tough place to play. Arizona was 14-3 at home last season.

Wildcats at a Glance

Head Coach Sean Miller
At Arizona 1st year / 0-0
2008-09 Record 21-14 overall, 9-9 Pac 10
Home/Road/Neutral 14-3, 2-9, 5-2
Starters Ret/Lost 3/2
Lettermen Ret/Lost 7/5

2008-09 Team Stats

Points/Game 72.3
Points Allowed/Game 69.2
Field Goal % .474
Opponent FG % .438
Rebounds/Game 33.8
Assists/Game 14.3
Steals/Game 6.2
Blocks/Game 3.0

Returning Stat Leaders

Points/Game Nic Wise, 15.7
Rebounds/Game Jamelle Horne, 5.1
Assists/Game Nic Wise, 4.6
Steals Nic Wise, 52
Blocks Jamelle Horne, 15
Three-pointers Nic Wise, 66