Arizona-Southern Cal Preview

The Associated Press

The easiest part of Arizona's road to at least a share of the Pac-12 title is Wednesday night's matchup at Southern California, but coach Sean Miller isn't expecting anything easy.

Miller's 11th-ranked Wildcats blew out the Trojans last month, but he is guarding against what could be a costly slip-up in Los Angeles.

Arizona (23-4, 11-4) is seeking a fourth straight win overall and fifth in a row over Southern California (12-15, 7-7) after winning 74-50 at home Jan. 26. That was Trojans interim coach Bob Cantu's fourth game in charge since the school fired Kevin O'Neill on Jan. 14.

"We know that when we played USC we probably had them at an ideal time," Miller said. "They're really playing much better."

Arizona cruised in that contest after taking a 29-7 lead, building its advantage to as many as 34 points. USC shot a season-low 28.1 percent, and did not have a player reach double figures in points.

The Wildcats did not see a starter log more than 25 minutes, with Nick Johnson scoring a team-high 14 points in 22. Solomon Hill netted 13 points and Brandon Ashley 11.

Arizona is tied for first place with No. 24 Oregon, with UCLA one-half game behind. The Wildcats visit the Bruins on Saturday before hosting arch-rival Arizona State the following week in their regular-season finale.

"I'm selfish; I don't want to share with anybody," forward Kevin Parrom said. "I'm a senior and I want to cut down the nets on senior night. We want to do what we do because we can't control what the other team does. The next few games we have to buckle down on defense and play consistent."

Cantu's Trojans won four straight after last month's defeat at Arizona before losing their last two games. USC fell behind by 21 points at halftime of Sunday's 75-59 home defeat to the Bruins.

Wake Forest transfer J.T. Terrell has turned in back-to-back 17-point efforts, and is averaging 14.3 points in six games since being limited to three on 1-of-7 shooting in the loss to the Wildcats.

Miller is concerned about his team's defense after Arizona allowed Washington State to shoot 45.0 percent in Saturday's 73-56 home victory. The game would have been closer had the Cougars not missed 14 of 28 free throws.

"Our team is having a hard time playing very, very hard for 40 minutes," Miller said. "The one thing that I know is we're not the most talented, prolific offensive team, so when we don't play over the top hard and together, it really shows up."

The Wildcats turned in their best shooting performance in Pac-12 play at 55.6 percent. Parrom scored a season-high 19 points and leading scorer Mark Lyons added 14.

Parrom was 5 of 6 on 3-pointers after entering the contest shooting 25.6 percent from long range in conference play.

"I've been in a slump the past few games but coach told me to keep playing," he said. "There are a few things we can do better as a team but we have to keep practicing to get better on defense."

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