Arizona Wildcats sophomore Jordin Mayes didn’t score against UCLA. He missed six shots.
But he was more than a pointless point guard as he went 25 minutes as the emergency starter for suspended Josiah Turner — about three times the minutes he had played in about five weeks since suffering a stress reaction in his left foot.
With no other true point guard on the roster, that was a big 25 minutes in Arizona’s 66-58 victory in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
“Really valuable,” assistant coach James Whitford said on the KCUB (1290-AM) postgame show.
“The thing about Jordin Mayes that a lot of people don’t realize is that when he leaves here and goes back to hotel, he has the boot back because he’s still dealing with the foot.
“He doesn’t have his conditioning base. He’s only running around when he gets on the court and plays. That’s really hard. Basketball is a rhythm game, and he doesn’t have his rhythm right now.”
Mayes has two assists, two steals, two rebounds and two turnovers.
“He had some shots that didn’t fall that probably will as he gets his conditioning back, but he didn’t let that effect the rest of his game,” Whitford said.
“The reality is, if he doesn’t play tonight, we don’t win.”
Head coach Sean Miller said last week that Mayes wasn’t likely to jump back into his pre-injury playing time of about 17 minutes per game. Sure enough, Mayes played just six minutes in the loss at Arizona State on Sunday.
Now, one of the big questions for Friday night’s semifinal matchup vs. Oregon State is how does Mayes’ foot and conditioning hold up when playing on consecutive days with heavier-than-expected minutes.
Turner isn’t with the team, so Mayes and freshman shooting guard Nick Johnson will divvy up the point guard responsibilities as they try to solve the Beavers’ changing defenses — from man-to-man to various zones, including a 1-3-1.
As for Turner, Miller said in his postgame press conference:
“Well, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed for Josiah, and hopefully this latest incident or lesson will really serve him well moving forward. But he’s one of us. He’s part of our program. Everybody here likes him an awful lot.
“Good people sometimes can make a bad decision or bad decisions, and we’re hoping that this is a lesson learned on his behalf.”