Between the chest-thumping MoMo Jones at point guard last season, and the highly touted Josiah Turner this season, it's easy not to notice Jordin Mayes sometimes.
"He gets no sugar," UA coach Sean Miller says.
But Mayes, given a chance to start when Turner was late for a pregame shootaround, was impossible to ignore Wednesday. He helped the Arizona Wildcats escape another homecourt scare, scoring a career-high 19 points, making 4 of 7 three-point shots in Arizona's 67-59 victory over Duquesne at McKale Center.
Arizona, 2-0 heading into a home game Sunday against Ball State, has won 21 straight regular-season games at McKale.
Mayes' previous career high was 16 points against Texas in the third round of the NCAA tournament last season, when he went 4 for 4 from beyond the arc against the Longhorns.
"Jordin is a winner," Miller said. "Jordin's played in big games, and in many ways you can kind of pick up where he left off."
Mayes' only trouble has been picking it up this season. Besides the competition from Turner, there was a stress fracture in his foot that required surgery in July. But he's nearly back to full speed, posting what he said was probably one of his best games yet.
"I had a lot of confidence," Mayes said. "Coach stays in my ear, hyping me up and telling me to stay confident. I'm going to play my game the way he wants me to play and help the team the best way possible."
On Wednesday, that was running the team, fighting off Duquesne's pesky pressure defense, and hitting three-pointers. He also excelled in the second half, when the UA started with a smaller lineup that featured guards Nick Johnson and Kyle Fogg, while center Kyryl Natyazhko sat on the bench.
With about five minutes left, Mayes had two threes and two free throws to put UA ahead 57-48, though Duquesne cut UA's lead to five points in the final minute.
Earlier in the second half, freshman center Angelo Chol recorded the first block of his career, against Duquesne's Jerry Jones. Chol had four steals but no blocks against Valparaiso. But the Dukes still scored on the possession, on a 10-foot shot by B.J. Monteiro, and cut UA's lead to 39-38.
Chol's presence helped complement the job that forward Jesse Perry did when forced to slide to center in the smaller lineup. On UA's unofficial stat sheet - its computers had issues Wednesday - Perry was credited with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
"As you saw, it kind of worked for us," Mayes said of the smaller lineup. "We can push the ball. You gotta give credit to Jesse for battling and getting those rebounds."
In the first half, Arizona realized quickly it was in for another scare. The Wildcats already lost to Seattle Pacific during the exhibition season and led Valparaiso by only two points at halftime before winning 73-64 in their regular-season opener Monday.
This time, Duquesne guard T.J. McConnell hit a 12-foot jumper with two seconds remaining to give the Dukes a 30-28 halftime lead.
The UA had 11 first-half turnovers against the Dukes, who deployed full-court pressure after made shots. UA made just 2 of 7 three-point attempts, and Duquesne shot 6 of 17 from the field.
Turner entered the game after the first four minutes and played alongside Mayes at times, a combination Miller said he has been hoping to use.
Miller said he didn't know if Mayes would start over Turner in the future, and that Turner has never been late for a basketball function until Wednesday. Miller said the discipline could have affected Turner in the game, when he was scoreless with three turnovers and three assists.
"Any coach" would have to discipline Turner for being late, Miller said. "It's nothing personal. But that period of time is over and hopefully he learned from it."
• What: Ball State at Arizona
• When: 4 p.m. Sunday
• TV: FSAZ, Channel 58
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM