BERKELEY, Calif. – The first time Justin Coleman came back from his dislocated left shoulder, he lasted only four minutes against Colorado and threw a pass away.
On Saturday, three days after taking a hit in the same shoulder at full speed by Stanford 7-footer Josh Sharma, Coleman had no such adjustment.
Coleman played 32 minutes in UA’s 87-65 win at Cal and turned the ball over only once when the Wildcats coughed up the ball eight times in the first half.
Coleman was particularly steady early in the second half, when the Wildcats went eight minutes without a turnover and turned their 40-28 halftime lead into a blowout win.
During that period, Arizona hit its first eight shots and Coleman assisted three of them. He finished with five assists to three turnovers.
“Justin Coleman was terrific the whole game,” UA coach Sean Miller said. “He had a couple of turnovers late, but he really set the tone for the first six, eight, 10 minutes of the second half, where he took the game into his hands and played on both ends. He got his teammates shots, got himself shots and that’s what you look for a senior point guard.”
Coleman wasn’t available for comment all week but Miller said he took Thursday off and returned to practice Friday, having taken a hit on Wednesday but not re-dislocating the shoulder.
“He’s sore but he’s a tough kid,” Miller said. “I don’t think he felt anything here tonight.”
Another senior-type performance came from Chase Jeter, who is actually both a junior and a grad student. Jeter graduated last semester in three and a half years between his time at Duke and Arizona, finishing with a degree in general studies.
But he’s still only a redshirt junior athletically and, the way Miller sees it, actually less experienced than that considering his back injury and limited role over two previous seasons at Duke.
Jeter keeps setting new career-highs, this time in scoring with 23 points, while he also pulled down nine rebounds.
“I thought Chase had an outstanding game,” Miller said. “Offensively he’s really finding a rhythm scoring (with his) left hand, right hand. He’s more comfortable further away from the basket than maybe he would have been at the beginning of our season which makes sense, because he doesn’t have a ton of game experience and as he keeps practicing and learning he’s such a hard worker that you can see his improvement almost right in front of you.”
A classic Bill Walton moment occurred at the end of Jeter’s postgame Pac-12 Networks interview.
A widely grinning Walton told Jeter "you're really good, and you're really tall, and you're very cool. Your parents should be really proud."
Ira Lee’s strong move to the basket around 7-foot-3 Connor Vanover and subsequent dunk earned No. 2 billing on Richard Jefferson’s top plays Saturday during the Pac-12 Networks postgame show.
RJ gave the No. 1 spot to Utah guard Parker Van Dyke, who raced in with a two-handed dunk that was his first for the Utes.
Even though both teams will be coming into McKale, Miller is bracing for two potentially tough games. The Ducks were picked to win the Pac-12, though they lost star center Bol Bol (foot) for the season and are still without forward Kenny Wooten (broken jaw).
They are also coming off a historic final-minute meltdown against UCLA.
“Oregon, obviously they have a great program,” Miller said. I know they’ve gone through a number of tough moments. I know you lose a guy like Bol Bol and they’ve had some other injuries. That can really set a team back.
“But (coach) Dana Altman is one of our game’s best coaches. He’ll get ‘em right. Wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t play a great game (Sunday) and we know we’re gonna get ready for a terrific team, that’s going to be well coached, they play with terrific effort.
“And Oregon State is one of the most experienced teams on our schedule. Not only because they have upperclassmen but they have a number of players who are two and three-year starters. They play great zone and they’re a physical team. Both games will be tough. Every game we’ve played has been difficult and it’s so much about our attitude and us getting better. Hopefully we can continue to maintain our health.”
Our full coverage and PDFs of the box score and stats are attached.