Instate foes collide at the McKale Center on Wednesday evening, when the ninth-ranked Arizona Wildcats close out a four- game homestand to start the 2012-13 season against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks.
Sean Miller's fourth season in charge in Tucson has gotten off to a strong start, as Arizona has opened with three straight wins, topping Charleston Southern (82-73), UTEP (72-51) and most recently, Long Beach State (94-72).
Former Arizona assistant under Lute Olson, Jack Murphy returns in charge of Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks have yet to play a game at home, having begun the year with a six-game road swing that concludes against the Wildcats. The road hasn't exactly been kind to NAU, which enters this contest at 2-3 overall, including a 70-62 win over Campbell to close out play in Global Sports Classic in Las Vegas.
This marks the 122nd all-time meeting in this longstanding series. Arizona leads 94-27 overall and has won the last 28 meetings.
Senior guard Gabe Rogers had a strong tournament, being named to the All- Tournament team after averaging 14.0 ppg. Rogers was one of three Lumberjacks to score 13 points in the win over the Fighting Camels, joined by DeWayne Russell and Gaellan Bewernick. Max Jacobsen chipped in 11 points off the bench to round out the top offensive contributions for NAU.
The Lumberjacks aren't known for their offensive firepower, averaging just 66.0 ppg, while saddled with a -7.8 scoring margin. Rogers leads the team in scoring at a strong 16.6 ppg, but he is shooting just .322 from the floor overall and leads the team in turnovers (17). Russell is a viable second option at 15.8 ppg, but the scoring pool dries up after that, with Bewernick ranking third on the team with a mere 7.3 ppg.
The Wildcats are coming off their best offensive performance of the young season, racking up 94 points against Long Beach State, on 53.6 percent shooting. The team also dominated the 49ers on the glass, outrebounding LBSU 41-23. Brandon Ashley led the way with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom poured in 15 points each in support, while Nick Johnson chipped in with 12.
The Wildcats have been effective on both ends of the court. The team has shot the ball extremely well, connecting on 49.1 percent from the floor overall, including 42 percent from 3-point range. Ashley leads the team in both scoring (13.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg). Hill is next in the scoring column at 13.0 ppg, while Mark Lyons and Johnson check in at 12.7 and 10.3 ppg, respectively.