The Arizona Wildcats will still be down to a seven-man rotation this week, as backup point guard Jordin Mayes is not likely to play.
Mayes, who has missed three games because of a stress reaction in his right foot, will travel with the team on its trip to the Washington schools, but is pointing toward a return next week, coach Sean Miller said.
“He’s progressing, but I’m not optimistic that he will play this weekend,” Miller said at his weekly news conference Tuesday.
“There is a side chance that he could, but we’re going to wait until he’s pain free so we don’t put him at further risk. He’s made progress. He’s in a much better place right now than he once was, but I don’t know if that is going to allow him to be with us this weekend.
“Maybe he can play a little bit Saturday.”
Mayes has increased his basketball activity, Miller said, but still runs into pain problems with the foot, which was injured during the game at Cal on Feb. 2.
“Right now, we’re keeping a close eye on his pain tolerance,” Miller said. “We’re increasing his activity, and as we increase his activity, we get to a certain point and he experiences some pain, and we shut him down.”
Freshman shooting guard Nick Johnson has been handling the point guard minutes behind starter Josiah Turner while Mayes is out.
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The Wildcats were leading the nation in 3-point field goal defense late last week, allowing opponents to make just 26.5 percent.
Then, Utah — one of the worst outside shooting teams in the Pac-12 — went out and made 9 of 18 attempts from behind the arc.
Arizona dropped from first to sixth in the nation in 3-point field goal defense (27.4 percent).
“You have to bring your strengths to every game,” Miller said. “If you don’t, you can see how close we were to losing to what would have been a pivotal home game.”
And by pivotal, Miller means it would have been a disastrous game to lose, considering Utah is 274th nationally in the NCAA RPI. Arizona, even after a sweep of Colorado and Utah, fell from No. 62 to 66th in the RPI.
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Turner is coming off an interesting game against Utah — seven assists, no turnovers and no shot attempts in 27 minutes. He wasn’t on the court at the end of the game, as Miller opted to use hot-shooting Brendon Lavender in the backcourt instead.
“I want him to be more aggressive,” Miller said of Turner.
“Playing against a zone is different for him. But seven assists and no turnovers is great. We like that. He struggled on defense and hopefully he’ll learn as a young player and be better on Thursday.”
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The start time and television network for the Feb. 23 home game against USC has been set. The game will tip-off at 6:30 p.m. from McKale Center and be shown on Fox Sports Arizona.