Weekend Homework: Arizona on the road

If there are any weaknesses on this Arizona roster -- and there are few -- then they can all be summed up like this: Sometimes even the best have bad nights, especially on the road.

That's the only legitimate explanation for what happened to No. 1 Arizona in its occasionally turbulent outing against Stanford. Utah gave the Wildcats trouble at home before that. Both teams pushed the Wildcats. Somehow.

Well, it's not the only explanation. In Arizona's 65-56 victory over Utah last Sunday, the Wildcats made only three of their 14 3-point attempts. Freshman star Aaron Gordon struggled in a 3-for-13 outing. He went 2-for-10 in a 60-57 victory over Stanford on Wednesday. The team missed 11 of 29 free throws.

But the Wildcats held on both nights.

The challenges, however, solidified what we all know about conference play. Regardless of the league, it's never easy. It's never a breeze. From the Missouri Valley to the Big 12, playing 16 or 18 games against familiar foes creates pitfalls at some point in the year, even for elite teams.

So it's not prudent to overlook Arizona's next test, a road game at Cal on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network). The Bears are spiraling downward, locked in a three-game losing skid with the No. 1 team in the country coming to town. That's not good. But they're desperate.

And Justin Cobbs (15.5 points per game, 6.0 assists per game) could have a big night. Maybe the Cal team that scored 96 on a ranked Oregon squad will show up.

Considering their recent efforts, however, that's unlikely. In reality, the Bears would need a near-perfect game to beat Arizona.

Sean Miller can win games in many ways.

That's the benefit of having so many capable athletes. Miller doesn't rely on one guy in clutch situations because he doesn’t have to. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (perhaps the future of the program), Gordon, Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell can all make plays, offensively or defensively, to give Arizona a boost in those scenarios.

Few teams in the past decade have had the luxury of employing so many gifted athletes.

The road, where the Wildcats have displayed some of their vulnerabilities, is often the platform for disaster, though.

No, they shouldn't have much trouble with Cal. But sometimes strange things happen on the road. Arizona's past two games have re-emphasized that notion.

So expect the Wildcats to come out strong and remove that possibility early.

Then again, maybe they'll end up in another scrap.