Projected Starters


• G Mark Lyons (6-1, senior)

• G Nick Johnson (6-3, sophomore)

• F Solomon Hill (6-7, junior)

• F Brandon Ashley (6-8, freshman)

• C Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, freshman)

Northern Arizona

• G DeWayne Russell (5-11, freshman)

• G Gabe Rogers (6-2, senior)

• G Michael Dunn (6-0, senior)

• F Gaellan Bewernick (6-6, soph.)

• F Ephraim Ekanem (6-7, senior)


Murphy aided father-in-law Livengood

NAU coach Jack Murphy might qualify for an assist in bringing Sean Miller to Arizona. According to Star columnist Greg Hansen, when then-USC coach Tim Floyd was mulling over the UA coaching job in April 2009, then-UA athletic director Jim Livengood called Murphy to help arrange a conversation with Miller as part of his backup plan. Murphy, Livengood's son-in-law, arranged information to be shared through then-Sacramento Kings executive Jason Levein, who knew Miller.

"People have been telling me, 'You're not going to get him,'" Livengood told Hansen before he spoke to Miller. "But I think we will."

Familiar with McKale

Tonight at McKale Center will actually be the second homecoming of sorts this season for Murphy and assistant coach Al La Rocque. On Nov. 12, the Lumberjacks played at UNLV, where Murphy used to help with the basketball program, and La Rocque obtained a master's degree. Murphy also served as a manager for La Rocque at Durango High School, about seven miles from the UNLV campus. La Rocque said it was "crazy" sitting on the visitor's bench at UNLV, while Murphy said he saw Livengood, now UNLV's AD, and his family while trying to stay focused on the game, which UNLV won 92-54.

Murphy said he also expects tonight will be unique. "It'll probably be a little strange at first," he said. "It was very strange a couple of years ago in the (2011 NCAA) tournament when I was at Memphis and I heard 'Bear Down.' I hadn't heard that in a while."

Although La Rocque has no Tucson ties, he used to bring his Durango staff to McKale every fall to soak up Olson's preseason practices. "We let Coach get in a week or so of practices, so I wasn't there for all of the torture," La Rocque said, chuckling. By the second week, "there was more teaching and instruction."

Rosborough back - on radio

Murphy won't be the only former UA staffer returning to the McKale floor. Longtime former UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough will be the guest radio color commentary host in place of regular Matt Muehlebach, who will be working the Pac-12 Networks TV broadcast tonight. Rosborough, now a volunteer assistant coach for the UA women's tennis team, is a veteran of sorts on the radio circuit, working color for Iowa games during the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons after ex-boss Lute Olson left Iowa for UA. "It was really fun," Rosborough said of the radio work.


• The series: Arizona has a 94-27 edge over its in-state cousin and has won the past 28 games (though the 2007-08 win was vacated because of NCAA sanctions). The Wildcats beat NAU 53-39 last season at McKale Center after Kyle Fogg hit three treys in the first 2:24 of the second half.

• NAU overview: Former UA aide Jack Murphy took over a program that went 1-15 in Big Sky play last season. The Lumberjacks are rebuilding around versatile scorers in senior Gabe Rogers and freshman point guard DeWayne Russell. Once a USC commit, Russell led all Arizona high school players in scoring with 27 points per game last season at Peoria. The frontcourt is led by Gaellan Bewernick, a skilled if undersized power forward who is a strong offensive rebounder. NAU likes man-to-man defense, but against the bigger UA, it likely will use three different zones.


Gabe Rogers


The Lumberjacks' scorer from Houston is back to form after shoulder surgery limited him last season. He's a smart guard who won't take bad shots and can shoot from many distances, hitting from the outside or driving in for a pull-up jumper.

Nick Johnson


With all the buzz over UA's freshmen and seniors, coach Sean Miller says Johnson isn't getting much hype - despite being one of the Wildcats' most valuable players so far. Johnson will face a defensive test against Rogers and the Lumberjacks' backcourt.

Numbers game


Arizona's rebounding margin through three games


Points that NAU's Gabe Rogers needs to become a 1,000-point career scorer for the Lumberjacks


Points Arizona has averaged in its first three games

He said it

NAU's Gabe Rogers and DeWayne Russell 'make a great 1-2 combo, coming off screens, and they're terrific in transition, scoring in a variety of ways. They really push the ball hard in transition and get a lot of easy baskets. In the halfcourt they do a good job of executing. (Inside) they rotate three post players in and get the ball inside to them a lot.'

UA assistant coach Joe Pasternack, who scouted the Lumberjacks

Northern Arizona (2-3) at No. 9 Arizona (3-0) • at McKale Center • 8 p.m. today • Pac-12 Arizona • 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)