Cats' early road success a product of not being 'a different team' when playing away

2014-01-09T00:00:00Z Cats' early road success a product of not being 'a different team' when playing awayBy Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Arizona Wildcats are taking their first Pac-12 road swing this weekend, and you might say they couldn’t be more ready.

The Wildcats are led by a nervy, veteran backcourt and are powered inside by a precocious bunch of freshmen and sophomores.

They won two true road games over well-regarded opponents in hostile environments, at San Diego State and at Michigan, while also sweeping neutral site games with Drexel and Duke in the NIT Season Tip-Off.

And, factoring in their stiffer quality of competition they have faced away from McKale Center, their statistical production has been almost comparable across the board.

Just the way UA coach Sean Miller likes it.

“All coaches feel this way: You want to do the things you do well, whether you’re at home or on the road,” he said. “You don’t want to be a different team when you’re not playing at home. To this point, this year, we’ve had that. That doesn’t mean it’s going to continue, but it’s the key to us playing on the road.”

But that trend will be subject this weekend to what has been the Wildcats’ roughest road swing of the Pac-12 under Miller: They’re heading to Los Angeles.

UA hasn’t won at UCLA since Miller’s first season of 2009-10, even losing 65-58 to the Bruins in Anaheim, Calif., when UCLA was temporarily displaced during the Pauley Pavilion renovations in 2011-12.

“The trip in and of itself has historically been difficult,” Miller said. “So for us, we’re looking at it as a great challenge, starting against UCLA.”

While USC is rebuilding this season under first-year coach Andy Enfield, the Trojans haven’t been an easy out over the years at the Galen Center, either. The Wildcats were 1-2 against former UA interim coach Kevin O’Neill at USC and also lost to the Trojans last season under interim USC coach Bob Cantu.

However, that Feb. 27 loss to USC preceded a five-point loss at UCLA on March 2 that, even despite the final score, was cited as a turning point toward the Wildcats’ late-season finish. UA went on to defeat ASU by 15 points at McKale Center, then reached the Pac-12 tournament semifinals and eventually the NCAA Sweet 16.

The USC game “was a tough loss,” center Kaleb Tarczewski said. “We really knew that we needed to play our best basketball the rest of the season to get where we wanted to go. From there, we knew what we had to do. We definitely played better after that trip.”

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
USC 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Cal Poly Pomona at
Stanford
11/6 8:00 pm
Azusa Pacific at
Washington State
11/7 12:00 am
Cal Poly Pomona at
Arizona
11/9 4:00 pm
Mount St. Mary's at
Arizona
11/14 6:00 pm
Coppin State at
Oregon
11/14 10:00 pm
Detroit at
Oregon
11/17 9:00 pm
Cal-Irvine at
Arizona
11/19 7:00 pm
Oral Roberts at
Oregon State
11/21 7:00 pm
Texas-Pan American at
Utah
11/26 6:00 pm
Northern Colorado at
Colorado
12/13 4:00 pm
Washington State at
Santa Clara
12/13 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Oregon State
12/15 8:00 pm
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