Wildcats finalize non-conference schedule - The Explorer: Sports

Wildcats finalize non-conference schedule

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Posted: Monday, May 12, 2014 3:47 pm | Updated: 3:49 pm, Mon May 12, 2014.

The Arizona men’s basketball program has announced its 2014-15 non-conference schedule, featuring nine home games, two true road games and a loaded EA Sports Maui Invitational.

Of the 16 known or potential Division I opponents on the Wildcats’ non-conference schedule, 11 made postseason appearances in 2014, including seven NCAA Tournament participants (BYU, Gonzaga, Michigan, Kansas State, Mt. St. Mary’s, Pittsburgh and San Diego State). UA is also set to face UC Irvine (NIT), Utah Valley (NIT) and UTEP (CBI), and could also see NIT participant Missouri in Maui.

The known and potential Division I teams on Arizona’s non-conference schedule combined to post an overall winning percentage of .629 and a conference winning percentage of .639 in 2013-14, while seven finished in the top 60 in last season’s final NCAA RPI.

“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,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “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.”

UA has been victorious in 27-consecutive regular-season non-conference games, a streak that started with an 85-73 win over Oakland on Dec. 20, 2011.

The Wildcats will get the regular season underway on Nov. 14 when they host 2014 NCAA participant Mt. St. Mary’s before opening the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Nov. 16 with an opening-round game against Cal State Northridge at McKale Center. UA will wrap up its season-opening three-game homestand on Nov. 19 when it squares off with UC Irvine.

The field for the 2014 edition of the EA Sports Maui Invitational is comprised of Arizona, BYU, Chaminade, Kansas State, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Purdue and San Diego State – a group that produced a combined .686 winning percentage, five NCAA Tournament appearances and six NCAA Tournament victories last season. The championship round of the event is slated for Nov. 24-26 at Lahaina Civic Center in Maui.

Arizona is making its sixth overall appearance in the EA Sports Maui Invitational, and its second in Miller’s tenure. The Wildcats claimed the tournament title in 2000 behind an MVP performance from Michael Wright.

Upon returning home from Maui, UA will host Gardner-Webb on Dec. 2 before a home showdown with Gonzaga on Dec. 6. Arizona defeated GU by an 84-61 in San Diego in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament and has taken four of the five all-time meetings between the programs.

A home game against Utah Valley on Dec. 9 precedes a tilt with fellow 2014 Elite Eight participant Michigan at McKale Center on Dec. 13. In their first week as the nation’s No. 1 team last season, the Wildcats traveled to Ann Arbor and pulled out a thrilling 72-70 victory at Crisler Center. UA will wrap up the home portion of its non-conference schedule against Oakland on Dec. 16.

Arizona’s non-conference slate will come to an end on the road, as the Wildcats are set to travel to UTEP on Dec. 19 and UNLV on Dec. 23. UA was 8-3 in true road games last season and has won a Pac-12-best 32 true road games since Miller took the reins of the program prior to the 2009-10 season (6.4 per season).

Prior to the start of the regular season, Arizona will play an exhibition game against Cal Poly Pomona on Nov. 9.

Times and television information, along with the 2014-15 Pac-12 schedule, are expected later this summer.

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