GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Nick Johnson had barely begun practicing at point guard this week when he started at the position on Wednesday.

In a high-profile game at Florida, no less.

Johnson finished with five points on 2-for-8 shooting, three rebounds, two assists and five turnovers -- including a critical one with eight seconds left in regulation and Florida leading by only one.

Not great numbers, to be sure, but an effort UA coach Sean Miller was happy with considering the circumstance.

"We threw Nick to the fire," Miller told the Star after UA lost 78-72 to Florida. "It's unfair to give a freshman the ball and let him play point guard for that many minutes, especially at Florida. He's not really done it.

"But he did a nice job. He really did. It's not one turnover that beat us, it's all of them. But the physical size of Florida and the way they pressure wore us down."


Miller said he opted to start Johnson at the point in order to get a chance to boost Kevin Parrom's confidence by starting him for the first time this season.

Parrom responded with 11 points before halftime.

"I think the biggest part of our story tonight was Kevin," Miller said. "He did more tonight than he's done in the previous eight (games). It's awfully nice to see him (do that). Sometimes confidence goes a long way and that's why we started him. He looked more like himself tonight and it was a great sign."

Parrom said he still is not 100 percent recovered from gunshot wounds suffered in September.

"I'm still working (on the injury) every day," Parrom said. "But there is some improvement."


Miller also started Parrom and shifted Johnson over because Jordin Mayes has been struggling as the starting point guard -- and Arizona was plagued with slow starts until Wednesday.

"Jordin has to play better. He does," Miller said. "He's not playing well. But each player goes through those phases and we have to get him going and hopefully on Saturday it will be his time to get back."

Mayes had two points on 0-for-3 shooting, with one rebound and no assists in 13 minutes off the bench, leaving the majority of the point guard time with Johnson.


Jesse Perry suffered cramps late in the game -- "which didn't help our cause," Miller said -- but the UA coach didn't really use that as an excuse.

"To Florida's credit, they got some huge extra shots," Miller said. "When we turn it over in crunch time and give teams an extra shots in crunch time, especially in games like this, it's tough to win. But I know this: We played very hard and together and we're moving on to the next game."


More from Miller on Josiah Turner, who was suspended for what Miller termed a number of events.

"Josiah is a really good kid and it's been a big adjustment for him to learn all that goes into being a college basketball player," Miller said. "It's being responsible, giving great effort, going to class and just comprehensively each day doing the best you can do. He's made great progress. He's a good kid. I want nothing more than for him to continue to grow so he can help our team. We believe in him but at the same time there are certain standards that we as coaches have to go by. I think part of what he's learned is those standards are for everybody."


Apologies for not getting the game thread up during the Florida game; technical problems with both the wireless internet and 3G service at the McConnell Center made it impossible from where I was sitting.


Our game coverage today: A game story and some seen-and-heard notes that included Miller detailing Turner's situation. 


And a link to the boxscore and play-by-play if you need it.


Sportswriter for the Arizona Daily Star covering Arizona Wildcats basketball