This weekend's games are the last at McKale Center for this season and matchups against USC and UCLA will only help the Wildcats get above 20 wins for the year. Previously, Arizona beat USC 57-46, but fell to the Bruins 65-58 in Los Angeles.
USC defensively proves to be a tough matchup because it plays that hardnosed Kevin O'Neill style that Arizona fans know well. However, the Trojans have difficulties scoring due to a slew of injuries. Sean Miller knows how hard USC works, but even he feels bad for a conference foe.
"My heart really goes out to their team and to Kevin [O'Neill] because it is difficult to have any type of fun when you have had so many injuries," said Miller. "I don't think I've seen one team experience so many injuries in one season to key players. And not just a couple of weeks, but season ending injuries. There is no team that can overcome that and I give them credit with fundamentally what they do on defense, they lost a lot of height for rebounding, but they are playing each game to the best of their abilities.
"We know from our own perspective that Thursday's game is going to be very tough for us because they are going to play hard on defense. They have had a week to prepare coming down the final stretch of the season."
Getting a win will be important against the Trojans as the Wildcats just need wins to help out their resume for the NCAA tournament. Once again, Arizona fans find their beloved team on the bubble and while many people may place Arizona in the tournament at this point, Miller is not optimistic about his odds.
"I don't feel that they are favorable at all," said Miller. "For us, it is no different than it was three weeks ago before we went to play California and Stanford and I don't know if we had a believer in the world on our side. We worked very hard and approached each game separately and each day one at a time. There has never been a big picture for us and that is where we are at right now."
A lot of attention this weekend will be on Arizona, but the program will make sure that its seniors will enjoy their last moments playing in front of fans at McKale.
"Our senior class is really filled with some quality people," Miller explained. "There are five of them and all five are headed towards graduation in May, which I give them tremendous credit. Very few programs have five seniors in one class and we do."
Kyle Fogg, Jesse Perry, Brendon Lavender, Alex Jacobson and Dondre Wise will all have a special day on Saturday against UCLA and Miller will never forget what this group has meant to him and staff when they arrived at Arizona.
"Each guy has worked tirelessly over the last three or four years and have invested a lot of themselves in the summer academically," said Miller. "Each of those guys, except for Jesse Perry, came to Arizona at a time of uncertainty, of change. It is difficult going through a coaching change and in some cases two, three almost for a guy like Alex. Their loyalty towards the University of Arizona and their loyalty to us as a new coaching staff is greatly appreciated and never will be forgotten."
"My hope is we as a coaching staff can take these guys as far as we can and vice versa that they as a group can really lead our team and take us as high a ceiling a team has. We don't have very many games left, but for us to focus first and be ready here on Thursday would be a great accomplishment for these guys to finish up strong knowing all they have been through. They are a resilient group and a group of great people and I know their families are very proud of them."