Point guard combo steps up big for UA

2011-01-28T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T12:15:55Z Point guard combo steps up big for UAPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 28, 2011 12:00 am  • 

The poet laureate of the ever-more-popular Arizona Wildcats had picked apart the UCLA Bruins on Thursday night.

Not long after scoring 17 points, MoMo Jones explained why he and backup Jordin Mayes had combined for their best game of the season.

In quiet, slowly paced verbiage, Jones' verses were the opposite of the cacophony of sound that bathed McKale Center during the 85-74 UA victory.

"When you play with a sense of urgency and you play with fire in your heart, a lot of turnovers you get are from being tentative or are just trying to do things that you won't normally do," he said. "Or you overdo things you think you can do, it hurts you.

"Tonight, me and Jordin did neither. And it turned out good."

That it did.

Combine the numbers of the UA's two point guards, and you get a nominee for Pac-10 Player of the Week.

In a full 40 minutes - 28 for Jones and 12 for Mayes - the two combined to:

• Make 9 of 15 shots, 2 of 2 from three-point range and 5 of 6 from the free-throw line.

• Score 25 points.

• Have three assists and three turnovers.

• Swipe five balls.

Throw out the points and the Wildcats would probably take the ancillary numbers every night.

The two steered the offense to a 52 percent shooting clip, 6 percentage points better than the team's average in Pac-10 play.

"I thought we had some really good shots," UA coach Sean Miller said. "When we move the ball, and execute and share it and do a good job, we're a good offensive team.

"We've proven that."

Even Miller's main beef - 17 turnovers, or, as he figures, shots the hot-shooting Wildcats could have attempted - came from other sources.

Solomon Hill, Derrick Williams, Jesse Perry and Kyle Fogg each had two or more turnovers.

"Our offense relies a lot on ball movement," Miller said. "But if one guy puts the ball on the floor, or someone is out of place, then we're going to lose it.

"We have to do this as a team - to get the ball from one side to the next, and when we do that, we are better.

"When we don't, we're not."

UCLA did the UA two better, with 19 turnovers.

"UCLA turning the ball over really helped us," Miller said, "because it negated the fact we turned the ball over."

Credit goes, in part, to the Wildcats' two point guards.

UCLA guard Lazeric Jones entered the game averaging 11.5 points as one of the Bruins' key cogs.

Against the Wildcats, he missed all seven field goals and both free throws, finishing with zero points.

Jesse Perry knows Lazeric Jones "inside and out," he claims, after playing with him on the same junior college team. The Wildcats confused Jones by guarding screens - both on and away from the ball - well.

"Tonight just wasn't his night," Perry said.

UCLA guards Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson made a combined 2 of 9 three-point attempts.

"Our three-point field goal percentage defense continues to be excellent," Miller said. "It's one of the things that allows us to have the success we've had over 21 games."

Thursday marked another step of positive momentum for the Wildcats' once-maligned point guards.

In Saturday's win against Washington State, Jones scored 11 points and added five assists, while Mayes had three points in the same minute-split as Thursday.

Theoretically, the two have played their best games in each of the past five days.

Miller even praised Jones' 4-of-4 effort from the free-throw line.

"It's great when your point guard does that," he said.

Jones and his teammates know that he doesn't necessarily need to be a scorer for the team to be successful. Running an offense, on some nights, could be enough.

But the scoring certainly helped Thursday

"We know he can score the ball, and he's capable of going off like this every night," Fogg said. "It just takes pressure off, especially guys like Derrick."

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Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 16 2 0 0.889 34 4 0 0.895
Utah 13 5 0 0.722 26 9 0 0.743
Oregon 12 5 0 0.706 25 10 0 0.714
UCLA 11 7 0 0.611 22 14 0 0.611
Arizona State 9 9 0 0.500 19 16 0 0.543
Stanford 9 9 0 0.500 24 13 0 0.649
Oregon State 8 10 0 0.444 16 14 0 0.533
Colorado 7 10 0 0.412 16 16 0 0.500
Washington State 7 11 0 0.389 13 18 0 0.419
California 6 11 0 0.353 17 15 0 0.531
Washington 5 13 0 0.278 16 15 0 0.516
USC 3 14 0 0.176 12 19 0 0.387
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