FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona Head Coach Jack Murphy will lead his Lumberjacks against the ninth-ranked Arizona Wildcats Wednesday night at 8 p.m. The game can be seen on the Pac 12 Network and heard on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 The Big Talker.
"They are a very well coached team and Coach Miller does a great job," said Murphy. "Their size is going to be a challenge for us. They have one of the bigger front lines that we will face all season."
Arizona (3-0) is ranked ninth in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls this week. The Cats' No 9 ranking is the highest for the program under Sean Miller during the regular season, and the first time UA has been ranked as high in-season since coming in at No. 8 in the Jan. 8, 2007, coaches' poll.
"We are expecting to see a lot of athleticism," said senior guard Michael Dunn. "They like to get up and down the court. They have a lot of good athletes and they have been shooting the three-pointer really well this year. We will need to get out on the shooters."
"I am excited about it," said Murphy. "I have not given it much thought in relation to my life because I am focused on the players on our team and the players on Sean Miller's team. It will be fun to be back in McKale Center because I spent a lot of time working in those offices. I'll see a lot of friendly faces but when the ball is tipped I'll know it is game time."
NAU travels to Tucson to face Arizona for the eighth consecutive season and 10th in the last 11 overall (2004-05). NAU and Arizona will be meeting for the 122nd time in school history with Arizona leading the all-time series with NAU 94-27. Arizona has won the last 28 meetings between the schools. It is the second-most games against any opponent for the Lumberjacks next to the Arizona State series.
"It will be a good challenge for us dealing with the McKale crowd," said Murphy.
The Lumberjacks last win over UA came in 1968-69 season. The two schools played regularly when both were members of the Border Conference often matching up to four times each season. NAU lost 53-39 last season in Tucson.
"We have been thru it already before at UNLV and Oregon," said Dunn about dealing with the crowd. "The guys are used to playing on the road and it is just another game."
Following the Wildcats, Murphy will coach his first regular season home game Saturday in the return to the Walkup Skydome against Sam Houston State. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:37 p.m.
The game will be the first collegiate game back in the Skydome since the $26 million renovation. The Skydome will feature all-new lower level chair back seating and a new court. The first 150 fans will receive the official "I Back Jack" t-shirts, in honor of Murphy's first home game as the head coach of the Lumberjacks.