UA HOOPS

Arizona basketball: Wildcats count on returnees in clutch

2012-12-06T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:22:30Z Arizona basketball: Wildcats count on returnees in clutchBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 06, 2012 12:00 am  • 

After six games, UA's three freshmen big men and transfer guard Mark Lyons have pretty much lived up to their preseason hype.

"We love those guys," UA coach Sean Miller said. "They've already shown what they can do."

But, with UA trailing 35-27 to Southern Miss and its pesky zone defense at halftime Tuesday, Miller popped senior wing Kevin Parrom into the second-half starting lineup over previously surging freshman Brandon Ashley.

That said something about Miller's belief in experience.

"When you play against a zone like Southern Miss, and the game gets like it was, we went with our oldest, most experienced players," Miller said. "You (media) guys asked me a lot of questions about this year's team, but the gift isn't just our size or our youthful talent - it's also having a lot of different players who have been through a lot.

"Kevin Parrom, with all the things he's been through, I was happy to see him playing well."

Parrom scored 13 of his 14 points in the second half and grabbed eight rebounds, his most productive game of the season.

Overall, returnees scored 81percent of the Wildcats' points on a team that typically plays exactly half returnees and half newcomers.

"We knew what we had to do," Parrom said. "I've been in situations like that. I know. In the second half, you've gotta play better and put the first half behind you. Solomon (Hill) and Mark (Lyons), and Nick (Johnson) is a super sophomore, so he knew what we had to do, too."

Here's a breakdown of the four most productive veterans in Tuesday's game:

Kevin Parrom

About: Senior forward, 81 career UA games played

Season: 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 50 percent three-point shooting (10-20), 20.8 minutes

Vs. Southern Miss: 14 points, eight rebounds, 1-for-4 three-point shooting, two assists, five turnovers, 30 minutes

What he did: Parrom was 0 for 3 from the field with one point in the first half but grabbed four rebounds and had the kind of constitution Miller knew would stand up to the Golden Eagles' zone defense. So Parrom started after halftime.

Miller said it: "Against the zone, he's a terrific passer. When he gets the ball in the high post, he makes people better. He rebounds, he's physical, he's been there. Kev's not a nervous guy. I think we all know that. We missed him in these type of moments last year. He had plenty of moments like this as a young sophomore (in 2010-11). He just has that about him."

Nick Johnson

About: Sophomore guard, 41 UA career games played

Season: 13.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.5-1 assist-turnover ratio, 28.0 minutes

Vs. Southern Miss: 23 points, four assists, four steals, six turnovers, three rebounds, 37 minutes

What he did: Johnson almost single-handedly kept the Wildcats in the game during the first half, with 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting before halftime, including a three-pointer just before the halftime buzzer. He finished with his best overall game yet this season.

Miller said it: "Nick Johnson, a year ago, would have never been able to fight through (a game like this) because he was a freshman. Although he had six turnovers, I don't think it was close that he was the best player. He has incredible ability. He's grown and matured. You want players when they leave their freshmen year and enter their sophomore year, to be more responsible, more of almost like, 'I know what this takes.' Nick is a great example of that."

Solomon Hill

About: Senior forward, 110 UA career games played

Season: 13.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 50 percent three-point shooting, 1.6-1 assist-turnover ratio, 29.2 minutes

Vs. Southern Miss: Nine points, four rebounds, four assists, four turnovers, two steals, 3-for-5 three-point shooting, 37 minutes

What he did: Having hit just 38.9 percent of his three-pointers last season, Hill was a clutch three-point shooter Tuesday, hitting a final three from the left side of the wing to give UA a six-point lead with 1:49 to go.

Miller said it: "A year ago, they were daring him to shoot. (He improved from) all of his hard work, particularly this summer. When he shot the ball in front of the bench, I thought it was the biggest shot of the game. And I knew it was going in. Those guys have been through a lot, and they were ready to win this game."

Jordin Mayes

About: Junior guard, 73 UA career games played

Season: 4.8 points, 1.3-1 assist-turnover ratio, 30.8 percent three-point shooting, 15.3 minutes

Vs. Southern Miss: Four points on 4-of-4 free-throw shooting, two assists, two steals, 13 minutes

What he did: Still working his way back from an injury-plagued sophomore season, Mayes provided solid help off the bench.

Miller said it: "I thought he gave us some good minutes on offense and defense. As you know, he's been through a lot as well. It was clearly a veteran's night."

On StarNet: Find more photos from the Arizona-Southern Mississippi game at azstarnet.com/gallery

Old vs. new

How UA's five returning players did against Southern Miss compared with the four newcomers the Wildcats played Tuesday:

Category Returnees Newcomers

Points 51 12

Rebounds 15 13

FG pct 54.8 18.1

3-PT 6-15 0-5

Assists 12 4

Turnovers 16 11

Steals 8 2

Up next

• What: No. 8 Arizona at Clemson

• When: 6 p.m. Saturday

• TV; radio: ESPN2; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

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