UA senior walk-on guard Quinton Crawford, right, horseplaying with T.J. McConnell in October, wants to get into coaching after graduation.


GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Nick Johnson's appearance as the Arizona Wildcats' starting point guard Wednesday at Florida wasn't about Nick Johnson.

Nor was it all about the unavailability of suspended point guard Josiah Turner. Nor the struggles of the former starting point guard, Jordin Mayes.

It was a lot about squeezing Kevin Parrom back into the lineup, the next step on the junior forward's long recovery from gunshot wounds he suffered in September.

The move paid off: Parrom recorded a season-high 11 points in the first half of UA's 78-72 overtime loss at Florida, then finished with 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and no turnovers.

"I think the biggest part of our story (against Florida) was Kevin," UA coach Sean Miller told the Star. "He did more tonight than he's done in eight (previous UA games). It's awfully nice to see him do that. Sometimes confidence goes a long way, and that's why we started him. He looked more like himself tonight, and it was a great sign."

If Parrom had a weakness Wednesday, it was his perimeter shooting, which may still be affected by the nerve and tissue damage in his lower right leg. Parrom was 1 of 4 from beyond the arc, and he's now shooting only 30 percent (6 of 20) from three-point range over the season.

Miller said Parrom isn't suffering any pain but is clearly not 100percent.

"You can see it," Miller said.

Then again, Parrom was actually supposed to be 0-0 from three-point range at this point. Initially, Miller wouldn't even place an estimate on Parrom's return from the Sept. 24 shooting, and once he did, he spoke of a December return.

Parrom has been back since UA's Nov. 13 game with Ball State.

"I'm still recovering, still working, but it'll come," Parrom said. "It's still early. You guys got to remember that I was supposed to come back in December. I'll be all right."

Parrom, who started 12 of 55 games over his first two seasons, said he was working hard and having good practices recently before Miller tabbed him as a starter for the first time this season.

"Coach is wanting to put his best five guys out there and that's what we did today," Parrom said. "I'm working every day and there is some improvement. And if I grow, my team's going to keep growing, too."

Mayes struggling

Miller said he might continue using Wednesday's starting lineup, although he also wants to jump-start Mayes back into a better rhythm.

Mayes scored two points Wednesday, was 0 for 3 from the field, had one rebound and no assists while committing four fouls in 13 minutes. He is averaging 4.0 points and 0.4 assists in his past five games.

"Jordin has to play better. He does," Miller said. "He's not playing well. But each player goes through those phases, and we have to get him going.

"Hopefully on Saturday it will be his time to get back."

Rough baptism

Johnson, meanwhile, had played point guard only sparingly in UA practices and games this season before taking over this week.

He played 35 minutes Wednesday, most of them at the point, and finished with five points, three rebounds, two assists and five turnovers, including a critical one with eight seconds left in regulation and the Gators leading by a point.

"We threw Nick to the fire," Miller said. "It's unfair to give a freshman the ball and let him play point guard for that many minutes, especially at Florida. He's not really done that.

"But he did a nice job. He really did. It's not one turnover that beat us; it's all of them."

Fair and foul

Florida coach Billy Donovan said he was a "little annoyed" about the three-point shooting foul by the Gators' Casey Prather on Solomon Hill with four seconds to go in regulation, but Miller said it was warranted because Hill made an immediate catch-and-shoot effort instead of just catching and facing the basket - which would have warranted only two shots.

"I thought it was a great call," Miller said.

Hill said he assumed Prather was going to foul and was just able to turn for the shot.

"I caught it almost trying to face the basket," Hill said. "He waited too long, and he fouled me."

After the foul, Hill still had to make three free throws to tie the game and send it into overtime, but he said he was not nervous. The way Hill figured it, the Wildcats shouldn't have been in that situation in the first place.

"Actually, I was more mad at myself," Hill said of his emotions at the line. "It's not the fact of having to score in the last four minutes; it was me not putting my touch on the game. I'd normally dish off to Kev, dish off to Jesse (Perry.) I was in a rhythm early."

ASU tipoff set

Arizona's Pac-12 opener against ASU on Dec. 31 at McKale Center has been set for 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net.

On StarNet: Follow the Cats as the Pac-12 season approaches

Up next

• What: Clemson at Arizona

• When: 2 p.m. Saturday

• TV; radio: FSAZ; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)