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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bayless broken

    UA signee Jerryd Bayless, a St Marys High School senior, drives down the court past Tucson High School junior Rojer Castro during the No. 3 Knights 66-61 loss in McKale Center last night. Bayless, ranked as the nations No. 10 overall recruit, had a poor shooting game, hitting just 5-of-22 field goals and 1-of-10 3s.
    UA signee Jerryd Bayless, a St Mary’s High School senior, drives down the court past Tucson High School junior Rojer Castro during the No. 3 Knights’ 66-61 loss in McKale Center last night. Bayless, ranked as the nation’s No. 10 overall recruit, had a poor shooting game, hitting just 5-of-22 field goals and 1-of-10 3s.

    It was not Jerryd Bayless’ night Wednesday. In fact, it was far from it.

    Playing on his future home court, the UA signee was practically make-less, shooting 5-of-22 from the field (22.7 percent), including a miserable 1-of-10 from 3-point range in No. 3 St. Mary’s 66-61 loss to Tucson High School.

    After a brief rest at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Bayless tried to turn it on, but on his worst shooting performance of the season and possibly his career, his shots rarely found the bottom of the net. As his final shot with five seconds fell to the floor without hitting the rim, a shot that served as a metaphor for Bayless’ first game in McKale Center, Tucson High fans who jeered him all game rushed the floor around him.

    “”By far in four years, it was the worst I’ve ever seen him shoot the ball,”” St. Mary’s assistant coach Damin Lopez said.

    Bayless, who still ended with 23 points, started slow, turning the ball over on his first foray to the basket, then missing two 3-pointers before electrifying the crowd with a one-handed fast-break dunk. But his perimeter shot continued to rattle the McKale rims as Bayless didn’t make a perimeter shot until connecting on his only outside field goal, a meaningless 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in the game.

    “”I’ve shot like this in the first half before and it didn’t fall, but today it was just something else,”” said Bayless, the nation’s No. 10 overall prospect according to recruiting service “”It was just not going. No matter what I did. I tried everything. It just wouldn’t fall for me today.””

    The game was tied at 52 with 4:22 left in the fourth quarter, but Tucson (3-4) pulled away with a 7-0 spurt behind junior Rojer Castro, who led the Badgers with 24 points.

    Castro started the run by stripping Bayless and scoring a layup on the other end while drawing a foul. He knocked down the free throw and a few possessions later converted another layup as Bayless missed on a steal attempt. He closed the run with two more free throws and was 7-of-7 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

    “”It’s definitely a challenge,”” Castro said of playing against Bayless. “”He’s a great player, one of the best in (Arizona). If you want to be the best, you’ve got to play against the best.””

    St. Mary'(4-4) led throughout much of the first half, but Tucson took a 36-35 advantage with 4:48 left to play in the third quarter.

    Bayless was 1-of-5 from the field in the final quarter. His lone bright spot was from the charity stripe as he made all 12 of his free throws in the game.

    “”I’ve seen him bounce back from bad quarters before, and you just expect him to kind of be Superman out there and all of a sudden catch fire and pull the game out, and it just didn’t happen,”” St. Mary’s head coach David Lopez said.

    Lopez said Bayless, who has previously shot around and played at camps in McKale Center but has never played in an official game, may have had some extra pressure playing in Tucson.

    “”I think sometimes he just wouldn’t let the game come to him a little bit,”” Lopez said. “”Although he doesn’t admit it, I think he was pressing a little bit and almost trying too hard, and I think we all do that. We all want to look good in front of our home people, and I think he’s considering this his home now.””

    Bayless said he was not affected by the atmosphere, though.

    “”Every game is like that, so the crowd didn’t have anything to do with that, it was just the ball wasn’t falling tonight,”” Bayless said.

    Matt Skelly added 12 points for St. Mary’s while Stefan Oropeza scored 13 points for Tucson and Brian Hill added 12 points.

    Tucson played zone for most of the game, sending waves of players against Bayless, but Castro found himself matched up one-on-one with Bayless a few times.

    “”We wanted to see if he could shoot from the outside, and he didn’t prove it,”” Castro said. “”We didn’t want to let him go inside the paint. We wanted to let him pull up.””

    Arizona freshmen Nic Wise, Jordan Hill, and Chase Budinger as well as sophomore Marcus Williams took in the action in McKale.

    Wise, who has known Bayless for two years from camps, said Bayless will be a good addition to Arizona.

    “”He’s humble, he’s down to earth, he’s a good team player, and I think he’ll fit in well in our system next year,”” Wise said.

    UA assistant coach Miles Simon said Bayless is an elite talent despite his poor shooting effort.

    “”Jerryd is a heck of a talent, and he’s an unselfish player,”” Simon said. “”He’s a team guy, and he wants to win first and foremost.””

    “”He’s going to be one of the best athletes to step on the floor here,”” Simon added.

    St. Mary’s will next take on Salpointe High School in McKale on Friday night.

    “”You have to put a smile on your face and just bounce back from it,”” Bayless said. “”There’s nothing I can do about it, it’s over now.””

    And 1

    Asked how he felt about playing in McKale Center, Bayless responded, “”It was a great experience, coming in here and playing. I’m going to be playing here the next couple of years.””

    Bayless briefly spoke with Wise and Hill prior to the game and said they were “”just catching up pretty much.””

    – Michael Schwartz contributed to this report

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