Arizona-USC postgame: Long weekend proved fruitful for Wildcats

2014-01-13T00:38:00Z 2014-01-13T11:35:03Z Arizona-USC postgame: Long weekend proved fruitful for WildcatsBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Updated to note that Arizona has picked up one extra first-place vote in the AP Top 25 -- the Wildcats now have 61 of 65 --and is now followed by Syracuse, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Wichita State in the top 5.

San Diego State is No. 10, while Colorado is 21 and UCLA is 25. Oregon is the second-leading vote getter of the unranked teams.

The changed vote belonged to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News. All AP voters in the Pacific and Mountain Time Zones put UA in the top spot this week.

Syracuse will play at Boston College tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.


The LOS ANGELES – The Wildcats finally flew out of town late Sunday night after four full days on the road.

They might as well get used to it.

All of Arizona’s two-game Pac-12 road trips this season have two full days between games, meaning they’ll be spending four nights away from home and flying out on the fifth evening. (UA always leaves home the afternoon before a Pac-12 road game).

So far, so good. The Wildcats took Friday off after beating UCLA, then practiced on Saturday and hung out earlier Sunday before facing USC.

“It’s tough because you’re together a lot and in another city,” UA coach Sean Miller said. “You have to be together a lot but it at the same time it can’t be all about the next game. So there’s a balancing act and as a coach you really trust the leaders of our team.

"T.J. (McConnell) and Nick (Johnson) really do a great job on and off the court and we kind of follow their lead so to speak.”


Some perspective of the weekend: Not only did UA’s 20-point win over USC give the Wildcats their best-ever start in school history, but also gave them their first sweep in Los Angeles since 2004-05.

UA, in fact, was also just 2-5 at USC since Lute Olson’s final season of 2006-07, and technically 1-5 if you consider (as the NCAA does) the 2007-08 win as vacated because of NCAA sanctions.

FWIW, Kevin O’Neill beat USC that season but then turned around to beat the Wildcats while he was coaching the Trojans two seasons later.


Nobody was probably happier to see T.J. McConnell score 19 points on 5-for-7 three-point shooting against the Trojans than Nick Johnson was.

“I’ve been trying to get him to shoot all year,” Johnson said. “He finally did it, so that’s what we need. It opens up a lot of other shots for people.”

McConnell is now shooting 35.1 percent from three-point range after having gone 0 for 6 in UA’s first three Pac-12 games.

“I’ve been struggling past couple of games,” McConnell said. “I thank my teammates for getting me the ball. … It’s about time, because I haven’t been hitting them in a while.”


Naturally, Miller was cautionary after Sunday's game, even as he said how excited the Wildcats were about it.

“We have a lot of pride in what we’ve done, but whether it’s about the No. 1 ranking or winning the most games in a row at the beginning of the season, it’s not as if that’s the end goal,” Miller said. “This is our path and now we have to move towards a rivalry game against ASU. And every team we play it’s such an incredible opportunity for them. We have to really be ready.”


Gabe York limped out of the Wildcats’ locker room, after playing just three minutes in the second half because of an ankle injury, but Miller was optimistic about his recovery.

“I think he’ll be fine,” Miller said.


Our full coverage from the Galen Center: A game story, sidebar, notes and a photo gallery.

Here's the official box score and UA's updated stats.


Elsewhere in the Pac-12:

-- Colorado lost at Washington and, perhaps more importantly, may have lost Spencer Dinwiddie for a while with a knee injury. During the game, C.J. Wilcox tied the Alaska Airlines Arena record for three-pointers with seven. Washington also received a commitment from point guard David Crisp, who is expected to enroll in 2015.

-- Its defense struggling, Oregon has lost three games in a row.

-- Zach LaVine helped UCLA take care of ASU. LaVine comes off the bench for UCLA but he may be in the NBA soon.

-- Road-weary WSU took advantage of an actual game in Pullman by winning it. For Utah, it was yet another close loss.

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