The return of Arizona Wildcats point guard Jordin Mayes is still uncertain, but it shouldn’t be much longer now.
Mayes, who has missed five games because of a stress reaction in his right foot, is experiencing less pain than he was last week and was “almost pain free” in a Monday workout, coach Sean Miller said on his weekly radio show on KCUB (1290-AM).
“But it’s a delicate balance,” Miller said.
“The one thing we don’t want to do is put Jordin at more risk than we need to. Although he can play this weekend, what’s best for him, I don’t know.”
Arizona plays host to USC on Thursday night and then takes on UCLA in its home finale on Saturday at noon. The Wildcats end the regular season at Arizona State on March 4.
If Mayes doesn’t play this week, Miller said he would “become very, very optimistic” of Mayes being ready to play at ASU.
“The good news, if there is good news in this, is that I’m confident he will return to our team this year,” Miller said.
“He might not play on Thursday. Maybe he plays some on Saturday. That will completely depend on Jordin and what he’s telling us about his improvement.”
Mayes, who started 12 games, had settled into a backup role behind Josiah Turner at the time of his injury. He is averaging 5.5 points and 18.2 minutes per game. Without Mayes and forward Kevin Parrom (who suffered a season-ending foot injury on Jan. 28), Miller has used a seven-man rotation.
The coach said after a 79-70 loss at Washington on Saturday that his team wore down at the end of the game, which is one reason why he gave the players the day off on Monday — no practice, no film study.
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Arizona’s split on the Washington road trip was a wash; the Wildcats dropped only one spot — to No. 67 — in the NCAA RPI. Arizona’s RPI numbers doesn’t figure to move much if Arizona wins its final three regular-season games because the opponents are so poorly rated.
USC is 238th in the RPI, UCLA is 134th and Arizona State is No. 236.
A loss, though, would be devastating to UA’s NCAA Tournament at-large hopes.
The Wildcats are projected as a 12th seed in ESPN.com’s bracket posted Monday morning.
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Former Arizona guard Gilbert Arenas, who has avoided the spotlight for several months, sat down for a long interview with SI.com. Arenas, who recently had a workout with the Los Angeles Lakers, covers a lot of ground in part one of the Q&A. … The Wildcats are back up to No. 2 in the nation in 3-point field goal defense (27.2 percent, 137 of 503). … Senior guard Kyle Fogg has 179 3-pointers, good for eighth place on the UA career list. He has a chance to get to No. 4, held by Jason Terry (193). Damon Stoudamire is at No. 3 with 272.