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November 6, 2012

No. 12 Arizona looks to fine tune in exhibition finale



Twelfth-ranked Arizona will have a final tune-up to work out the kinks Tuesday when it hosts Chico State at McKale Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

After defeating Humboldt State by 41 points on Halloween, a scheduling "error" on head coach Sean Miller's part, the fourth-year head coach also realized that the final exhibition contest falls on Election Night.

"If you ever want to find out the passion of our fans, we're going to really test them here," Miller joked. "And I also know we play on Christmas Day (in Hawaii)."

The Wildcats will face, well … the Wildcats of Chico State, based in the north Sacramento Valley in California. Like Humboldt State, the Division II school competes in the California Athletic Association and won a school-record 25 games last year before falling in the second round of the Division II tournament.

Chico State, which dropped a 66-60 exhibition decision Sunday against Pacific, was picked to win its league this year.

Despite the wide margin of victory and standout performances of freshmen Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett last week, the Wildcats will attempt to improve upon its perimeter defense - specifically, at the 3-point line.

A season ago, teams shot just 28.5 percent from beyond the arc against Arizona to lead the Pac-12 Conference and rank third in the nation. Against Humboldt State, however, the team watched the Lumberjacks sink 9 of 19 (47.4 percent) from long distance.

"For our team to give up 9 of 19 from 3, you're really playing with fire," Miller said.

Also, the lack of discipline against Humboldt State's jump shooters did not please Miller.

"I thought some of Humboldt's open 3s came because of our rotation and just irresponsibility," Miller said. "You think about us fouling the jump shooter four times in one game. I think we fouled the 3-point shooter three times.

"If there's a positive spin on it, you can imagine the outcome of the game or how much we could've done even better defensively."

Chico State will present a similar challenge. The team made 9 of 30 attempts in the loss Sunday.

There were very few things to pick apart on offense, however.

UA's frontcourt freshman trio of Tarczewski, Jerrett and reserve Brandon Ashley combined for 39 points and 23 rebounds. The team was plus-20 on the boards and got to the free-throw line 32 times.

The only downer: 13 missed free throws.

"When you get there, you have to convert," Miller said. "We're a better free-throw shooting team than that. That's going to be something to watch all season long because if you get there a lot, making them and missing them is a big, big difference.

"But, all things considered, I thought it was a good opening night. … I think it's something for us to learn from and build."

Arizona opens the regular season at home Sunday against Charleston Southern.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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