LOS ANGELES - Jordin Mayes spent his off day Sunday at Tucson Mall - and was surprised to see the reactions of UA fans who recognized him.
"I had a lot of people come up and shake my hand - 'Great game, way to play,' and stuff like that," said Mayes, who scored eight points in Arizona's win over Harvard on Saturday. "It felt good to know I'm able to help my team out, and be recognized for what I'm doing out on the court.
"It's a good feeling. You have little kids looking up to you and wanting to take pictures and get your autograph."
Mayes, a Los Angeles native who has given his eight tickets to today's game to family, considers moments like Sunday to be one of the best parts of the game.
"It's a good feeling," he said. "I love this game. I love to play this game. That's just the perks that come with it."
UA's Johnson out to stop 'real cool' guy
If Nick Johnson ends up guarding 6-foot- 7-inch OSU star Deshaun Thomas - a scenario that, believe it or not, could happen - he'll be dealing with a familiar foe.
The UA sophomore guard attended the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio, in 2010. There, he played on the same team with Thomas, in addition to Texas star Myck Kabongo and Michigan State's Adreian Payne.
"We had a decent team," Johnson said with a smile.
Johnson called Thomas "real cool." Today, he'll be part of a trio designed to stop him.
"Solomon (Hill) will be on him to start," senior wing Kevin Parrom said. "I may be on him. Nick will be on him as well. It'll be three guys."
The Wildcats had spoken publicly about deploying freshmen forwards Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett, too, to stop Thomas and his 19.7 points per game.
Red uniforms just a matter of preference
Ohio State coach Thad Matta once insisted his teams eat at the same restaurant, every night, as along as they were on a tournament winning streak.
"Superstitious," Brian Brigger understated.
He should know.
Brigger, who last year was hired as the UA assistant director of equipment operations, was a student manager at Xavier from 2000-04.
He worked under Matta, the head coach, and, from 2001 on, the assistant coach Miller.
He said the UA coach was "pretty much the same" back then.
"He's intense," Brigger said. "He knows the game. He makes everybody around him smarter, I think."
Brigger's previous two stops - Xavier and Pitt - didn't have the temptation of red jerseys.
The Wildcats' decision to wear red today, Brigger said, was all about the players.
"It's really what the guys want," he said. "If the guys wanna wear red, we wear red.
"If they wanna wear blue, we wear blue."
Does he have a preference?
"I'm starting to get partial to the reds," Brigger said. "I like the reds."
Explorers on Wichita: Wherefore art thou?
The Explorers are horrible with maps.
The following was an actual exchange among La Salle players Wednesday when asked where Wichita State, their opponent today, was located:
Ramon Galloway: "No, I don't know."
Tyreek Duren: "No, I've never been to Wichita."
Galloway: "I don't even know where it's at."
Tyrone Garland: "I saw a store down here called Which Wich?"
They were asked specifically what state Wichita was in, and only Garland knew; he remembered passing a Wichita exit in Kansas City.
WSU guard Malcolm Armstead, meanwhile, knew La Salle was in Philadelphia.
Teammate Cleanthony Early smiled when told of the Explorers' gaffe.
"I didn't know where Wichita was either, before I went there," he said.
'Not rags to riches'
Yes, La Salle is a 13 seed, but it's got plenty of cred
Were it not for Florida Gulf Coast, La Salle might be the toast of the tournament.
Whereas FGCU won two games last week to become the first No. 15 seed to ever reach the Sweet 16, the No. 13 seed Explorers have won three NCAA tournament games.
La Salle beat Boise State eight days ago in the First Four, then defeated Kansas State on Friday and Ole Miss on Sunday.
"What they're doing is exactly what we're doing," guard Ramon Galloway said.
La Salle coach John Giannini - who has a doctorate in kinesiology - said the attention "is great, but that's not what motivates" his team.
"This is our 12th NCAA tournament. It's not our second year of eligibility," he said. "This is a school that has the third-most national players of the year. We play in one of the top six conferences in the country.
"So we're not rags to riches."
Chicken and waffles for all
Roscoe's on everyone's place-to-dine-in-LA list
Fans visiting Los Angeles should take the word of the Wildcats who hail from the Southland: Go to Roscoe's.
"Everybody on the team loves to go to Roscoe's," guard Jordin Mayes, an Angeleno, said. "My favorite place."
Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles first opened in Hollywood in 1975 and has since expanded to six locations. It is wildly famous, having been popularized by everyone from Redd Foxx and Natalie Cole to Snoop Dogg and Notorious B.I.G.
"Roscoe's - Roscoe's," said guard Gabe York, from Orange, Calif. "It's great."
The Wildcats went to Roscoe's the last time they were in L.A., between the USC and UCLA games.
Mayes said he wasn't sure if the team would get back there this week.
"I don't know how it will be now, on a bigger stage," he said.
West Region: No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 2 Ohio State • Los Angeles • 4:47 p.m. • TBS • 1290-AM, 107.5-FM
The last time
The Wildcats and Buckeyes have played once, ever.
Strangely enough, it was in Los Angeles.
On Dec. 29, 1971, Ohio State routed the UA, 90-47, in the first round of the Bruin Classic at Pauley Pavilion.
They said it
"They won a Stanley Cup, so it's all good."
UA forward Grant Jerrett, on the Wildcats being stationed in the Los Angeles Kings locker room for the week
"I'd take a tour."
OSU guard Aaron Craft, on if he'd be interested in seeing Kobe Bryant's locker