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Arizona-Duquesne game blog: Mayes leads Cats to victory

Not only did sophomore Jordin Mayes get his first career start because Josiah Turner was late for shoot-around, Mayes made a case for more playing time.

He finished with a team-high 19 points — including eight coming within a one-minute span, ending with 4:31 to play — to help give Arizona the cushion it rode to a 67-59 victory over Duquesne.

Things got dicey in the final minute as a steal and layup pulled the Dukes within 63-57. A UA turnover on the inbounds pass gave Duquesne a chance to make it a one-possession game, but Solomon Hill stole a pass in the lane, was fouled, and made one free throw.

T.J. McConnell kept Duquesne breathing with a driving layup with 21.2 seconds left to make it 64-59.

Kyle Fogg pretty much put the game away with two free throws with 17.1 seconds to go.

Should Mayes be this team’s starting point guard?

* * *

Mayes with another 3-pointer for a 57-48 lead with 4:31 to play, UA’s biggest lead of the game. He has 18 points and is 4 of 7 from 3-point range.

* * *

Big possession for Arizona, as Jordin Mayes misses a 3-pointer, but Angelo Chol grabs the rebound. Chol kicks it back out across court to Mayes, who then buries the shot from 3.

After a Duquesne miss, Mayes tries again from beyond the arc and is fouled. He makes 2 of 3 free throws for a 54-48 lead with 5:08 to go.

* * *

Tweets ex-Cat Derrick Williams, on Nick Johnson: “Nick got so much bounce. It’s ridiculous”

* * *

This is a sequence we might see plenty of in the next couple of years: Josian Turner bounces a pass to a cutting Nick Johnson, who goes up for the dunk but is fouled.

He’ll shoot free throws after a timeout, with Arizona up 46-45 with 7:05 to play.

The Cats have 17 turnovers, which has helped keep Duquesne close.

Shooting guards Kyle Fogg and Nick Johnson each have four fouls.

* * *

Jordin Mayes has a mini-flurry to give the Cats the lead. He hit a floater along the left baseline to tie the game at 36, then came back and drilled a 3-pointer from up top after a pass from Brendon Lavender from the right corner.

* * *

Arizona has picked up several offensive fouls tonight, which has contributed to its high turnover total. If the stats can be trusted (which they can’t quite be trusted with the computer issues tonight), the Cats have 14 turnovers with 15:57 to play.

The game is tied at 32.

Problem for Arizona: Nick Johnson has four fouls.

* * *

Arizona starts the second half with its super-small lineup — Jesse Perry at center.

* * *

A glitch from the stat crew; that’s the problem with computerized stat-keeping. Not like the days where everything was done by hand.

Anyway, no halftime stats to report yet.

* * *

Halftime. Duquesne leads.

Arizona led almost all the way, but a 3-point shot by Duquesne’s Jerry Jones with a little more than a minute to go in the half gave the Dukes a 28-26 lead.

The Wildcats’ Nick Johnson then missed two free throws on the other end, but Angelo Chol bailed out UA by grabbing the rebound and following up with a layup to tie the game.

In the final minute, Josiah Turner had the ball stolen from him, and the Dukes set up for the final shot of the half. Point guard T.J. McConnell then beat Johnson badly on a crossover move and put in a wide-open mid-range jumper near the buzzer for a 30-28 lead.

* * *

Coach Sean Miller has said he wants to increasingly look at using a three-guard lineup, which he used the majority of the time in the first half tonight against Duquesne. PF Jesse Perry, at 6-foot-7, saw several minutes at center against a small Dukes team.

* * *

Arizona had missed five 3-pointers in a row since Kyle Fogg made on in the first minute of the game, but Jordin Mayes curls off a screen and drains a 3-pointer for a 23-19 lead with 3:57 to play in the half. This hasn’t yet been the wild, wide-open affair that might have been anticipated.

* * *

Ah, freshmen. After center Angelo Chol took about a 17-footer jumper — at the edge of his range and not necessarily the best shot Arizona can get — Sean Miller gave the freshman an earful during a stoppage in play.

“Angelo,” Miller barked, “what are you doing?!”

* * *

Arizona started with its traditional lineup, with center Kyryl Natyazhko and power forward Jesse Perry in the frontcourt.

Then, the Cats went with a three-guard lineup featuring athletic Angelo Chol (who has a power forward’s body) at center. Then, Sean Miller went with an even-smaller three-guard lineup that had Perry at center.

This team has a lot of combinations, for sure.

* * *

Arizona guard Kyle Fogg, who didn’t take a 3-point shot in the first game, launches from beyond the arc in in the first 30 seconds tonight — and makes it.

The Duquesne press defense that coach Sean Miller talked about has been mild so far — more of a nuisance than a turnover-creating machine.

* * *

Sophomore point guard Jordin Mayes will make his first career start tonight against Duquesne, replacing freshman Josiah Turner, who started both exhibitions and the season opener against Valparaiso. Turner was late to a shootaround.

The two have nearly equally split minutes through those three games, so perhaps the move is more a message than anything. We’ll see.

Turner was 1 of 6 from the field against Valpo, and he hasn’t looked completely comfortable running the offense.

* * *

This should be fun. Arizona takes on Duquesne tonight from McKale Center, and the Dukes will make the game “as chaotic as they can,” UA coach Sean Miller said.

“They are going to press for 40 minutes like you have never seen a team press,” Miller said. “Our guards are really going to have to take care of the basketball.”

Makes you wonder if you will see more three-guard lineups from the Cats tonight, not only to handle the press but as a way to get more playing time for freshman guard Nick Johnson. That is something Miller said he wants to do.

Miller is good friends with Duquesne coach Ron Everhart is familiar with the Dukes’ style of play because of battles in the Atlantic 10 when Miller was the coach at Xavier.

“It’s never fun to play Duquesne,” Miller said. “When we were at Xavier, we had some great teams, teams that could have gone to the Final Four, and Duquesne always played us very, very tough.”

Miller especially raved about Duquesne point guard T.J. McConnell (or maybe Miller just likes point guards from Pittsburgh, like he was).

McConnell averaged 10.8 points, 4.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game last year. He made 40.2 percent of his 97 3-point shots.

“I think he is one of the best point guards in the country,” Miller said. “He is the consummate point guard. He makes his team better.”

The big news today is that Arizona’s four-player recruiting class is ranked No. 1 in the country by all the major websites and scouting services.

Miller won’t talk about the class tonight, though, because not all the letters-of-intent have been faxed to Arizona. No worries, but a couple of the players are waiting a few days until they can have signing ceremonies/celebrations with family and friends.

He likely won’t comment on the class until Monday.

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