Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Sean Miller needs just one more victory to become the fifth head coach in program history to reach the 100-win mark, as his Arizona Wildcats host the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights at the McKale Center as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
The Knights have yet to defeat a Division I opponent in 2012-13. Since defeating Division II foe Caldwell, FDU has dropped to 1-2 overall with consecutive losses to Hofstra (80-58) and Hartford (74-60). Coach Greg Herenda is in his first year with the program after spending the past five seasons at the Division II level. Herenda inherited a squad that went 7-24 in 2012-13, including a 2-16 mark in Northeast Conference play.
Arizona faced its first real challenge of the 2013-14 season on Thursday when it hit the road to tangle with San Diego State. The Wildcats improved to 3-0 with a 69-60 win over the Aztecs, who they outrebounded, 39-28. Miller's team has defeated its last nine non-conference opponents that have visited the McKale Center.
Arizona and FDU will be meeting for the first time in history. The Wildcats are 6-2 all-time against teams that currently comprise the NEC.
FDU lives and dies by the 3-point shot as over 41 percent of its field goal attempts have been from beyond the arc. The Knights have knocked down only 26.7 percent of their shots from behind the 3-point line and have converted 54.2 percent from inside the arc. Herenda's squad will have to hope to improve its efficiency from the perimeter to stand in chance in Tucson because the 6- foot-7 Mathias Seilund is the tallest player on FDU's roster with scoring ability. Seilund is the third leading scorer for the Knights at 10.3 ppg while Mustafaa Jones is pacing the unit at 12.7 ppg with Sidney Jones, Jr. close behind at 12 ppg.
The Wildcats' athleticism and size has helped them shot 60 percent from inside the 3-point line and limit their opponents to only 32.7 percent efficiency on two-point field goal tries. Arizona's offensive attack is very tough to defend due to its tremendous balance that has helped four different players develop double-digit scoring averages. Junior guard Nick Johnson is the team's leader with 16 ppg after tying his career-high with 23 points at SDSU. The highly- touted freshman forward Aaron Gordon has registered a pair of double-doubles already and leads the Wildcats with 2.3 blocks per tilt. Sophomore Brandon Ashley and sixth man Gabe York have both done their part on the offensive end as well. Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell is proving himself as one of the top distributors in the nation and leads the Pac-12 with 6.7 apg.