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May 12, 2014

Arizona announces nonconference hoops slate



Arizona's 2014-15 nonconference basketball schedule will feature a pair of high-profile December home contests and the EA Sports Maui Invitational in November.

Of the 16 known or potential opponents, 11 qualified for the postseason and seven participated in the NCAA tournament - including Mt. St. Mary's, which will travel to McKale Center in the Wildcats' season opener on Nov. 14.

The known or potential opponents combined for a .629 winning percentage, and seven finished in the top 60 in the final NCAA RPI of the 2013-14 season.

"The purpose of this non-conference schedule is to prepare us for the Pac-12 Conference season and position us with numerous opportunities to play quality opponents that will be looked upon favorably in March," UA head coach Sean Miller said in a release Monday morning. "In addition to what will be a very challenging Maui Invitational, we have multiple marquee home games and two difficult true road games on the schedule. Our players and staff are ready to work hard this summer to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead."

The Maui Invitational will start Nov. 16 with an opening-round home contest against Cal State Northridge, which was a win shy of winning the Big West Conference tournament in March. Another Big West foe, UC Irvine, an NIT participant, will visit Tucson three days later.

UA will then turn its attention back to a Maui Invitational field that includes BYU, Chaminade, Kansas State, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Purdue and San Diego State. The group, including Arizona, includes five NCAA tournament participants who combined for six victories.

It could also mean a fourth consecutive year the Wildcats and Aztecs meet, not including UA's 70-64 win in the Sweet 16. The 'Cats also claimed a 69-60 victory in San Diego last season.

The championship rounds will be played Nov. 24-26 at Lahaina Civic Center in Maui.

When Arizona returns, waiting will be a Dec. 2 home contest against Gardner-Webb before another NCAA tournament rematch against Gonzaga four days later. The Wildcats thrashed the Bulldogs, 84-61, in a third-round contest in San Diego.

A Dec. 9 contest against Utah Valley, which qualified for the NIT, will precede another big matchup with fellow Elite Eight finalist Michigan on Dec. 13. The Wildcats grinded out a 72-70 road win over the Wolverines in the first leg of the home-and-home series last season.

Arizona's final home game of the nonconference slate will be Dec. 16 against Oakland.

The Wildcats will then play its lone true road contests, Dec. 19 at UTEP and Dec. 23 at UNLV, before starting Pac-12 play.

Before the regular season begins, Arizona will host Cal Poly Pomona in an exhibition contest Nov. 9.

The Wildcats will enter the 2014-15 season with a 27-game winning streak in nonconference play dating back to Dec. 20, 2011.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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