Arizona scouting report

2012-12-08T00:00:00Z 2012-12-08T16:19:15Z Arizona scouting reportCompiled by Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star
December 08, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Projected Starters

Arizona

• 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)

Southern Miss

• G Rod Hall (6-1 sophomore)

• G Demarcus Harrison (6-4 soph.)

• F K.J. McDaniels (6-6 sophomore)

• F Milton Jennings (6-9 senior)

• C Devin Booker (6-8 senior)

Sidelines

Long-distance friends

None of the current Wildcats have traveled as far as the 1,626 miles Arizona flew to play at Clemson, but there's a reason: UA coach Sean Miller and Clemson's Brad Brownell, born two days apart in 1968, have been friends since the 1990s, when Miller was an assistant at North Carolina State and Brownell was an assistant at UNC-Wilmington.

After being Wilmington's head coach from 2002-03 to 2005-06, Brownell was named head coach at Wright State in Ohio, while Miller was the head coach at Xavier.

"He's a guy I like a lot for the way he runs his program," Brownell said. "We have similar philosophies."

So, after Brownell was hired at Clemson in 2010, the two men agreed to a home-and-home series, with Clemson visiting McKale Center last season and hosting UA tonight.

"It's a great game to have Arizona coming in here," Brownell said. "They're extremely talented. Defensively, they're outstanding in the way they guard you, and they shoot it really well. I think they're going to have a good year."

UA looks forward to test

For Miller, there's also benefit to tonight's game. After playing four unchallenging home games, the Wildcats played at Texas Tech last Saturday and survived a scare from Southern Miss at McKale Center on Tuesday.

Tonight represents another potentially valuable test before UA's Dec. 15 showdown with Florida.

"These are the types of games that will bring out the best in our team," Miller said. "I think we'll learn a lot about our team in the next two games. I don't think it's a defining part of our season, but I do think we'll have a team that will be ready for both."

Grandfather on his mind

You might not know it by the way he's playing, but Clemson's Devin Booker nearly lost his grandfather late last month - and has continued to commute an hour each way to visit him in the hospital.

Just before Clemson's Nov. 28 game against Purdue, Booker returned home to Whitmire, S.C., to be with family after his grandfather first suffered a heart attack. But Booker returned an hour before tipoff - and scored 18 points with eight rebounds.

"It was a distraction at first," Booker said. "The first couple of days it was hard on me."

HOW THEY MATCH UP

• The series: Arizona is 2-0 all-time against Clemson, having beaten the Tigers 94-68 in the second round of the 1989 NCAA tournament and 63-47 at McKale Center last season.

• Clemson overview: Sound defense has helped the Tigers get off to a 5-2 start. Opponents average just 53.7 points against them, shooting an average of 39.9 percent and only 30 percent from three-point range. The Tigers don't push the ball much in the open court, and they often succeed in forcing a slower tempo. Rod Hall is a pesky defender at point guard, while athletic wing K.J. McDaniels leads the team in steals. But it's inside where Clemson gets much of its production on both sides of the court: There's versatile forward Milton Jennings and rugged post player Devin Booker. While Jennings is effective both inside and out, Booker is a reliable post player who is comfortable battling bigger bodies.

KEY PLAYERS

Milton Jennings

Clemson

The Tiger forward has a history of suspensions - two last season, and one this season that kept him out the past two games - but when he's on, Jennings is a good shooter who can score all over. He excels at setting screens and popping off them to shoot.

Brandon Ashley

Arizona

The fast-rising freshman forward was only a limited factor against Southern Miss and he could be in for a major learning experience tonight against big men in Jennings and Booker, two veterans of ACC competition.

Numbers game

12

Years since Clemson has hosted a Top 25 nonconference team at Littlejohn Coliseum

13

Years since Arizona started a season 6-0, when the Wildcats finished 27-7 in 1999-2000

101

Career starts for Solomon Hill if he's in tonight's lineup, putting him in a tie for 10th all-time in UA starts

He said it

"(The Tigers) are very physical. Those two big guys (Jennings and Booker) have tremendous experience. They can really defend. We tend to shoot quicker, and that usually leads to a faster-paced game, but they control the tempo much better. This is a game that's going to demand patience and execution. We've got to take care of the ball."

UA assistant coach James Whitford, who scouted Clemson

No. 8 Arizona (6-0) at Clemson (5-2) • Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson, S.C. • 6 p.m. today • ESPN2 • 1290-AM

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