There's been something different about No. 19 Arizona through two games.
The Wildcats are playing fast.
Sean Miller is more of a grind-it-out coach -- pack-line defense and patient, efficient offense -- but an infusion of newcomers has Arizona looking for more opportunities to run as it prepares for Thursday night's home game against San Jose State.
In a 90-69 victory over Illinois on Sunday, six newcomers accounted for 76 of those points.
"We have a lot of talent on offense, not just guys who can score around the rim but playmakers, 3-point shooters, guys who come in off the bench," Miller said. "You feel that. When we get out on transition and move the ball, a lot of good things happen."
It helps to have five-star freshman point guard Nico Mannion, a potential 2020 NBA Draft lottery pick who had 23 points and nine assists against the Illini. Fellow freshmen Josh Green (20 points, 4 of 7 3-pointers) and Zeke Nnaji (19 points, 9 of 12 shooting) were the other stars.
"We want him to have that attack mentality," Miller said of Mannion.
"Not only does that make him the best that he can be, but it sets the tone for our team's offense -- and, for that matter, our defense. We want him to be like that, and he took a big step forward."
Arizona (2-0) will be taking on a San Jose State team that opened with a 79-71 win at Hofstra to snap a 21-game road losing streak. But the Spartans, who went 4-27 last season, lost 72-57 at home to Portland on Sunday to drop to 1-1.
San Jose State made only 5 of 16 free throw attempts Sunday.
"There are a lot of ways you can lose a game," said coach Jean Prioleau. "We didn't shoot it well from the free throw line. If we did, it just changes the dynamic of the game. Now, it doesn't mean we win the game, but it changes the dynamic."
The Spartans are getting a boost from junior college transfer Richard Washington, a former Wake Forest player who has averaged team highs with 17.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in two games off the bench.
Arizona had 14 steals against Illinois, but Miller pointed to early-game breakdowns on defense that he is sure to use as teaching moments, especially to his freshmen.
"If you would pin what are we the most worried about ... it's on the defensive end," Miller said.
"There are breakdowns that we had on defense that we can't have moving forward. That's really where our focus is, because that right there is the substance. That is going to win the most games for us."
Arizona sophomore guard Devonaire Doutrive has missed the first two games because of a team suspension, although Miller said "there's a chance" he could play Thursday night. He would join a rotation that appears to comfortably go 10 or 11 deep, which is helping the Wildcats play that faster brand of offense that harkens to the program's Lute Olson era.
"We want to push the ball," Miller said. "That's one way we can use our depth."
--Field Level Media