UA basketball: Fatigued Cats hoping to get Mayes back for stretch run

2012-02-20T00:01:00Z 2014-07-24T10:46:07Z UA basketball: Fatigued Cats hoping to get Mayes back for stretch runBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 20, 2012 12:01 am  • 

SEATTLE - When senior guard Kyle Fogg somberly exited the Arizona Wildcats' locker room Saturday, speaking softly with his arms folded, his mood matched the hard evidence.

Arizona had lost its second game of the season to Washington, 79-70, giving the Huskies an edge in NCAA tournament consideration as well as in the Pac-12 race

The Wildcats' five-game winning streak was over and, even with wins in their final three regular-season games, their RPI in the mid-60s doesn't figure to improve much the rest of the way. The Cats will be facing two plus-200 RPI teams in USC and ASU, as well as a mediocre UCLA team hovering in the 120s to 130s.

Fogg tried to be optimistic, saying he thought the Wildcats still remained in the Pac-12 race because they have two home games and only one road game left, but he was also realistic.

"I think it looks kind of bad right now," Fogg said.

Especially if the Wildcats can't execute the key goals of their scouting report. Fogg had nine rebounds Saturday, nearly matching his career-high of 10 on Thursday at Washington State, but was still stinging over the 20 offensive rebounds the Wildcats allowed the Huskies to grab.

"We knew that was their strength coming in and we didn't answer the bell," Fogg said. "To box a guy out doesn't really take talent. You've just got to want to go do it, and I don't think some guys were really willing to do that and that's why we lost."

UA coach Sean Miller was fighting similarly mixed emotions, though he managed to be more upbeat by looking at the big picture.

"A win would have been a thrilling win for our team, but a loss can't be devastation," Miller said, "We're not going to lose sight of a lot of the things that we've done.

"Really, at half time I felt good about how we had played. But as the game wears on against a team like that, they have a way of wearing you down. And to me they wore us down physically."

That was a trend Miller began noticing a week earlier, having been without forward Kevin Parrom (broken foot) since Jan. 28 and guard Jordin Mayes (foot stress reaction) since Feb. 2.

The Wildcats allowed both Utah and Washington State to shoot 50 percent from the field, after they had held opponents to just 38.4 percent in 12 previous Pac-12 games.

Then, on Saturday, they unraveled after cutting Washington's lead to just three points with 13 minutes left.

So, to Miller, the Wildcats' problems aren't as much with effort as with fatigue.

"One of the things I think we're dealing with right now is the reality of playing seven players," Miller said. "At first you can get some additional chemistry and you can experience good play, but one week becomes two, two weeks become three, and we played really hard at Washington State on Thursday night.

"With everything we did in that game, and with a quick turnaround on Saturday at noon, I believe it favors the home team."

It's a problem that could be fixed, or at least improved, soon.

Mayes has improved enough that he did not wear a boot Saturday and participated in limited pregame drills, and Miller said Mayes could return this Thursday for the game with USC.

Then, after the Wildcats host the even more shorthanded Trojans, they figure to get an adrenaline boost with five seniors playing their final home game on Saturday against UCLA.

And, next week, the Wildcats will have plenty of time to rest because they won't play again until they face ASU on March 4 at Wells Fargo Arena.

"Hopefully we can get Jordin back," Miller said. "We have to be smart leading up to this week and maybe getting our guys some extra time off.

"But we have a great homecourt on Thursday and Saturday, like Washington did, and if we're able to do what we can do this week, then the following week, having an extra six or seven days could really come at a good time."

Up next

• What: USC at Arizona

• When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

• TV; radio: FSAZ; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

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