Arizona men's basketball unveils nonconference schedule

The Arizona men’s basketball team released its nonconference schedule for the 2014-15 season on Monday.

The season begins on Nov. 9 against Cal Poly Pomona and continues with some familiar competitive opponents. It also has the Wildcats traveling to Maui, Hawaii, for the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

“The purpose of this nonconference 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,” said Arizona head basketball coach Sean Miller in a press release.

The opponents that stand out on Arizona’s nonconference schedule include home games against Gonzaga (Dec. 6) and Michigan (Dec. 13). Besides the Maui Invitational (Nov. 24-Nov 26), Arizona’s only road nonconference games are at UTEP (Dec. 19) and at UNLV (Dec. 23). They are the two final nonconference games before the Pac-12 Conference schedule begins.

Last season, the Wildcats defeated UNLV 63-58 at home on Dec. 7 and also beat Michigan 72-70 on Dec. 14 in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Arizona also topped Gonzaga 84-61 in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament this past season.

As for the Maui Invitational, this is the Wildcats’ sixth appearance in the Thanksgiving tournament — tied with North Carolina for the most appearances. The Wildcats won the Maui Invitational in 1993, 1997 and in 2000.

It’s unsure yet with whom Arizona will open the invitational against or how the bracket will look, but the field is set. Also making the trip to the 50th state is BYU, Kansas State, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Purdue and San Diego State. The host school is Chaminade.

The Wildcats defeated San Diego State 70-64 last season in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Former Wildcat Angelo Chol transferred to SDSU following the 2011-12 season, but because of the NCAA transfer rules, Chol was unable to play this past season.

Prior to the Maui Invitational, Arizona will also play Mount St. Mary’s (Nov. 14), Cal State Northridge (Nov. 16) and UC Irvine (Nov. 19) in McKale Center. They have home games scheduled against Gardner-Webb (Dec. 2), Utah Valley (Dec. 9) and Oakland (Dec. 16).

“Our players and staff are ready to work hard this summer to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead,” Miller said.

—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella