BASKETBALL

Beckham? Pitt? Freshman Turner steals spotlight

2012-02-24T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:40:30Z Beckham? Pitt? Freshman Turner steals spotlightPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 24, 2012 12:00 am  • 

A rumor circulated around campus Thursday that two of the world's most recognizable faces - soccer star David Beckham and movie giant Brad Pitt - were headed to McKale Center to watch basketball.

If they were there, they went mostly unnoticed by the Arizona Wildcats faithful.

The fans were treated, however, to something they'd seen only on film before - an aggressive Josiah Turner.

How's this for the night's best picture: In 31 minutes, the freshman point guard scored 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting and dished out six assists without committing a turnover.

"That was the best game that he's played at Arizona," UA coach Sean Miller said after the UA's 70-54 victory against USC. "He was more aggressive. The fact he shot 12 shots tells you his mind was in the right place."

Turner had been anything but aggressive all season.

He had 13 shot attempts, total, in the four games leading up to Thursday.

On Feb. 11 against Colorado, he played 21 minutes without so much as attempting a shot.

His 12 shots Thursday were a career high, and almost triple his 4.6-per-game average entering the game.

"I think he's come a long way since he was playing in the beginning of the season," senior Kyle Fogg said. "Even in the summer, I saw flashes of a great point guard.

"To be honest, I still don't think he's played his best basketball."

Credit Solomon Hill, Thursday's winner for best actor.

During the team's Thursday shootaround, the junior forward encouraged, if not demanded, that Turner be more aggressive.

"Solomon kinda got after me," Turner said after the game. "It was motivating."

Turner began the game on the bench after starting 14 consecutive games.

Miller said he chose Brendon Lavender to start as a show of appreciation for the senior in his last week of home games.

"It was what was right," Turner said. "I knew what I had to do during the week."

The coach wasn't totally sure why Turner chose to be aggressive against USC.

"The light goes on at different times," he said. "I will tell you that I personally have invested a lot of time to get him thinking in those terms."

A lack of aggressiveness, especially for a high-profile recruit such as Turner, is rare.

"It's his personality," Miller said. "He's really unselfish to a fault.

"It took him a while to adjust to the college game. He's adjusted. His progression is heading in the right direction. Maybe it didn't come all at once."

With about 45 seconds left in the first half, Turner jumped into a lane and stole Garrett Jackson's pass - he would finish with two swipes - and turned it into a fast-break dunk.

For an encore, he made a jump shot at the buzzer to give the UA a four-point lead.

"I just came out and was more aggressive," Turner said.

USC coach Kevin O'Neill said the Trojans "wanted to back off and make (Turner) shoot over the top."

But, he admitted, "we didn't do that very well."

Having another double-figure scorer would aid the Wildcats down the stretch, Miller said. He believes that person could be a more aggressive Turner, and even said he is "a much better" three-point shooter than his 22.6 percent season mark would indicate.

"When he's calm and he's out there playing, I think he's one of the best freshman point guards in the country," Fogg said.

Miller challenged his freshman point guard to stay aggressive in Saturday's home finale.

"I don't want him to take two shots, or to be passive," Miller said. "When he's aggressive, he makes our team better."

The Beckham and Pitt rumor started when the son of a UA administrator posted on Twitter that they were using his family's tickets.

Two UA officials - athletic director Greg Byrne and operations director Suzy Mason - said Pitt and Beckham were not, to their knowledge, at McKale Center.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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