The University of Arizona

Arizona, Memphis to Duel in NCAA Tourney

Arizona Athletics | March 16, 2011

There will be Wildcat ties on both sidelines as two members of the Memphis coaching staff – head coach Josh Pastner and assistant Jack Murphy – started their coaching paths at the UA.

Wilbur and the Wildcats roll into Tulsa and the NCAA Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics)
Wilbur and the Wildcats roll into Tulsa and the NCAA Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics)

No. 5 seed Arizona (27-7, 14-4 Pac-10) will open play in the 2011 NCAA Tournament's West Region second/third rounds against No. 12 seed Memphis (25-9, 10-6 C-USA) in Friday's second-round game in Tulsa, Okla.

Not counting vacated appearances, this will be the University of Arizona's 27th NCAA Tournament appearance overall, and the program has a 43-25 (.632) record in its previous NCAA Tournament action.

It will be Arizona's first-ever NCAA appearance in Tulsa and the program's second-ever appearance in the city (December 1985). 2011 marks Arizona's 18th appearance in the West Region – the most of any tournament regional – and 26 of the UA's 43 NCAA Tournament victories have come while playing in the West.

The Conference USA Tournament champion Tigers will enter Friday's game with a 25-9 record (10-6 C-USA) following Saturday's 67-66 win over UTEP in El Paso. 

As a team, Memphis shoots 45.0 percent from the field (865-of-1,921), including 32.7 percent (204-of-624) from three-point range, while averaging 72.0 points per game. Opponents shoot at a 41.5 percent clip and are averaging 68.1 points per game. Three Tiger players average in double figures, led by Will Barton's 12.3 ppg figure. Tarik Black leads the team with a 5.2 rebounds per game average.

The game will mark the eighth meeting of the two schools, with Memphis holding a 4-3 advantage. Arizona has won the last three of the last four meetings, but Memphis captured the last, a 76-63 win in Memphis on Dec. 29, 2007.  All-time, Arizona is 2-1 in series games played in Tucson, 1-3 in Memphis, Tenn., and 0-0 in neutral site games.

There will be Wildcat ties on both sidelines as two members of the Memphis coaching staff – head coach Josh Pastner and assistant Jack Murphy – started their coaching paths at the UA. 

As a player, student assistant and full-time assistant, Pastner served under Lute Olson from 1996-97 through 2007-08, while Murphy was student manager and administrator from 1998-99 through 2005-06.

Their time in Tucson was definitely productive, as Pastner was a part of the UA's 1997 national championship club as a player, and in their time at the UA together, Pastner and Murphy, helped Arizona post a 199-66 (.751) record, win four Pac-10 titles, make eight NCAA Tourney appearances, including the 2001 Final Four.

In Arizona's last game, Washington made every play it needed in earning the 77-75 Pac-10 Tournament title-game win in overtime on March 12. 

Isaiah Thomas' step-back 18-footer at the buzzer capped a Husky effort that saw it erase a four-point deficit with 26 seconds to go in regulation and force the extra session prior to Thomas' heroics. The UW's efforts on the glass led to a 17-7 second-chance-point advantage and erased a 24-point, 11-rebound effort from Derrick Williams.

2011 marks the second time that Arizona enters the NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed, and the Cats are 0-1 pervious, dropping a 71-62 decision to Miami, Ohio on March 16, 1995. Additionally, Arizona is 33-11 (.750) as a seeded favorite. 

After establishing itself as a tournament regular under Olson, Arizona is returning to the event after a one-year hiatus. Previously, Arizona has appeared in 28 tournaments, dating back to 1951, including a streak of 25 straight from 1986-2009 (minus vacated appearances in 1999 and 2008). 

To date, Williams has earned a pair of All-America honors, as the sophomore forward was a second-team selection by both the USBWA and foxsports.com. Williams is the 25th Wildcat to earn a total of 88 All-America honors since 1950-51. He is also a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, given to college basketball's player of the year, as voted by the USBWA.

Williams was also an all-district pick by both the USBWA and NABC. The 6-foot-8 native of La Mirada, Calif., was a first-team all-District 20 selection by the NABC, as well as the district player of the year. Additionally, he was an all-District IX selection by the NABC.

Williams and Sean Miller were named Pacific-10 Conference Player and Coach of the Year, respectively, as the league announced its postseason honors March 7.  It marks the seventh time a Wildcat player has earned the honor, and the first since Jason Terry in 1999. 

Miller joins Olson as UA mentors to win Pac-10 Coach-of-the-Year honors. A seven-time honoree, Olson last won the award in 2003.

Up Next

A win Friday moves Arizona into Sunday's West Region third-round game against the Texas-Oakland winner. Game time is TBA.