Miller’s mantra this week has been simple: Two and four. That’s the record the Wildcats have acquired at both UCLA and USC since he took over for the 2009-10 season, counting a 2011-12 game the Wildcats lost to UCLA in Anaheim, Calif., while Pauley Pavilion was being renovated.

Over all their games during the Miller era — Pac-12 regular season, conference tournament, NCAA Tournament and in-season neutral site events — the Wildcats are 11-16 overall in Southern California.

In their last game, the Wildcats allowed ASU to shoot 56.7 percent and hit 10 of 18 3-pointers in the second half of UA's 91-75 win on Jan. 12. A week earlier, both Colorado and Utah hit over 50 percent for a half during games at McKale Center.

In both games this weekend, the Wildcats will likely be trying to impose their defensive-oriented style on their more uptempo opponents. But they are averaging 12 turnovers a game in Pac-12 play so far, not a terrible number but one that can feed into an uptempo opponents’ hands.

The Pac-12's Colorado-Utah swing offers the threat of snow and high altitudes that drain stamina. The Washington trip makes for the trickiest travel, requiring more flights and bus rides than anywhere else.

USC is the worst-shooting team in Pac-12 games (39.5 percent), but the Trojans mostly make up for it with volume and a defense that can feed its offense with turnovers and stops. Athleticism helps USC average six steals and four blocks in Pac-12 games, while their opponents average 12.8 turnovers per game, third most in the conference. USC deploys a mix of a 2-3 zone and man-to-man. Jordan McLaughlin and De’Anthony Melton average more than a steal per game, while Chimezie Metu, Melton and guard Elijah Stewart are also effective shot-blockers. While forward Bennie Boatwright is doubtful with a sprained knee, he’s most effective as a stretch-four in the Trojans’ offense. While USC is smaller without Boatwright, they can play grad transfer Charles Buggs or Nick Racocevic to get more size alongside the offensively explosive Metu. If they go with a smaller lineup, they'll often turn to Louisville transfer Shaqquan Aaron, a big wing. 

“I think the biggest thing is their tenacity on offense and on defense. No one talks about these guys. Metu is an NBA four-man and Melton is really good. He and Jordan (McLaughlin) are so overlooked. They both play the point. Melton has really great size, he can shoot and defend and rebounds the hell out of the ball. He’s very good. They change defenses and they don’t turn it over. They’ll use a 2-2-1 press that backs into a 2-3 zone and it’s very good. (USC assistants) Jason Hart and Tony Bland went to Syracuse, and they have some Syracuse principles in it. The forwards in the wing area are up high, and they’re really aggressive on the ball. (Their type of defense) will be according to how we handle it. If we can handle the zone, they’ll play it less. If we can’t, they’ll play it more.” — UA assistant coach Book Richardson, who scouted the Trojans.  

While New Yorker Rawle Alkins says his Arizona experience has been “amazing” so far, there are times when he’s less enthusiastic.

Alkins wasn’t the first New Yorker to arrive at UA without his driver’s license, since the city’s comprehensive transit system makes it unnecessary. Former UA forward Kevin Parrom of the Bronx, “didn’t have a clue” how to drive when arriving in Tucson, assistant coach Book Richardson said.

Majok Deng may only be a sophomore at Salpointe Catholic High School, skilled and athletic but still somewhat gangly at 6-foot-5, yet he showed off a couple of reasons why he might someday become a Wildcat.

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