Arizona-Miami Preview

The Associated Press

Arizona coach Sean Miller isn't complaining about the program's best start in 25 years, but he hasn't been very happy with his team's consistently sloppy play.

The fourth-ranked Wildcats will look to clean things up when they face upset-minded Miami in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic on Sunday night in Honolulu.

Arizona (10-0) hasn't started a season this well since the 1987-88 team won its first 12 before reaching the Final Four. If this team plans on reaching that stage, Miller believes it will have to protect the ball better.

The Wildcats committed 17 turnovers in Tuesday's 89-64 win over Oral Roberts and 18 in a 73-53 win over East Tennessee State in the first round of this tournament Saturday.

''I don't really want to even use the word 'frustrating.' It's more disappointing to be so far along in a tournament like this and we can't play without turning the ball over,'' Miller said.

Arizona is averaging 15.0 giveaways per game, ranking second-worst in the Pac-12. It may be able to survive against weaker competition, but Miami should present a more difficult challenge. Not to mention, No. 18 San Diego State looms as a potential opponent in the tournament's championship game Christmas Day.

''If we keep (playing sloppy), we're not going to win," Miller said. "It's amazing that we're 10-0 without (the) ability to handle the ball and take care of it. (Fifteen turnovers per game is) a lot for a good team.''

Freshman Brandon Ashley scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He's scored 30 points over his last two games after combining for 24 in his previous five.

"We had way too many turnovers," Ashley said. "I honestly think we got a little complacent in the second half. We didn't play as hard or as well as we should, so that's definitely one thing we can focus on, coming out and handling business like we should. And once we do that, I think we'll do all right.''

Miami doesn't plan to make things any easier on the Wildcats while attempting to add another impressive victory to its resume.

The Hurricanes (8-1) cruised past Hawaii 73-58 in Saturday's first-round game, outscoring the tournament's host team 51-37 in the second half. Durand Scott hit 4 of 8 from 3-point range and scored a season-high 20 points, while Julian Gamble added 16 and 13 rebounds.

Miami has won seven straight games since a surprising loss to Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 13.

"We just went into halftime knowing it was going to be a fight," Gamble said. "We wanted to get out in transition more and fight harder and make plays."

Miami will be looking to knock off its second ranked opponent after earning a 67-59 home win over then-No.13 Michigan State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 28.

That victory ended a six-game losing streak versus ranked non-conference opponents.

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