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NCAA tournament: University of Arizona glad to be in Utah

Published: Friday, July 31 2015 9:51 p.m. MDT

Arizona's Nick Johnson (13) goes up for a shot against UCLA in the first half during a semifinal Pac-12 tournament NCAA college basketball game, Friday, March 15, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)  (Julie Jacobson, AP) Arizona's Nick Johnson (13) goes up for a shot against UCLA in the first half during a semifinal Pac-12 tournament NCAA college basketball game, Friday, March 15, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) (Julie Jacobson, AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — Arizona coach Sean Miller is glad the Wildcats wound up at EnergySolutions Arena for the NCAA tournament. They’ll take on Belmont Thursday.

“I know this is a city that loves college basketball. This NCAA tournament, itself, has great history here,” Miller said. “But the fact that Utah is in our conference’s footprint. We have played here not too long ago. There is familiarity.”

More importantly, Miller noted, is that Arizona’s fans didn’t have to travel across the country to support their team.

“Our fans are among the best in the country,” he said. “And to put them in position to get here, we can’t ask for anything more.”

The Wildcats defeated Utah 68-64 in Pac-12 play Feb. 17 in the Huntsman Center.

ALMOST AT THEM ALL: Former University of Utah sports information director Bruce Woodbury has worked at 17 of the 18 NCAA tournaments that the school has hosted a portion of over the years. The streak includes covering games in 1971 for The Daily Utah Chronicle. Woodbury’s lone miss came in the inaugural contests in 1968 when he was serving an LDS Church mission in California.

BACK IN TOWN: Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson, who is in town to watch league member New Mexico play Harvard, said he couldn’t remember how many times he has flown into Salt Lake City over the years.

“It’s neat,” he said. “I’ve got a great affinity and remembrances of both Utah and BYU and we’re looking forward to starting a new chapter with Utah State.”

Thompson is especially excited about how the MWC’s Lobos are playing right now. They’re 16-3 down the stretch and seeded third in the region.

“They’re well-rounded. They don’t have a singular part that if you pull out there’s a major hole to fill,” he said. “They are the ultimate team.”

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