Clemson, SC – The eighth-ranked Arizona Wildcats play just their second true road game of the season, as they travel to the east coast to take on the Clemson Tigers in non-conference action on Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Sean Miller's Wildcats have won all six games on the docket thus far, although the team needed to come from behind to get the job done against Southern Miss last time out, 63-58. The 6-0 start matches the team's best since the 1999-2000 season and is the best mark under Miller's guidance.
Brad Brownell is in his second season in Death Valley and the Tigers have also started strong with five wins against just two losses thus far. Clemson's two losses have come against Gonzaga and Purdue, but the team most recently posted a 64-55 victory over rival South Carolina in Columbia last weekend.
Arizona has won both of the previous meetings, including a 63-47 victory in Tucson last season.
The Wildcats trailed by double digits in the first half, but turned up the heat defensively after intermission, forcing the Golden Eagles into 17 turnovers over the final 20 minutes to earn a five-point win at home. Nick Johnson had a strong game, converting 9-of-14 shots from the floor to pace all scorers with 23 points. Kevin Parrom added 14 points in the win, 13 of which came in the second half.
Arizona has thrived on both ends of the floor this season and the result is a gaudy +21.8 scoring margin. The Wildcats have shot the ball well from all over the floor, converting 51.3 percent overall, including 41.7 percent from behind the arc. Three of the team's five starters are averaging double figures, led by Johnson's 13.7 ppg. Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons round out the potent trio with 13.2 and 12.3 ppg, respectively. Brandon Ashley and Parrom add depth at 9.3 ppg apiece.
The Tigers aren't as explosive offensively, with modest numbers across the board, averaging 64.4 ppg, on .449 shooting. Where the team has been strong is defensively, yielding just 53.7 ppg on the year. Clemson also boasts of three players averaging double figures, Devin Booker and K.J. McDaniels are tied for the team-lead with 11.9 ppg each. Booker is also the team's top rebounder, grabbing 7.6 caroms per contest. Milton Jennings adds 10.8 ppg to the cause. Jennings was suspended for the last two games, but is expected to return in this contest.
Despite being short-handed in Columbia, Clemson earned the win over rival South Carolina with another strong defensive effort. The Gamecocks were held to just .346 shooting in the game, while the Tigers forced 19 turnovers. McDaniels led the way offensively with 16 points. Rod Hall poured in 15 points, while Booker finished with 13. Booker added eight rebounds, two blocks and three steals for a solid stat-line all across the board.