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Arizona basketball: Wildcats not expected to change starting lineup against USC, UCLA

Don’t expect to see Parker Jackson-Cartwright back in the starting five in Los Angeles

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats are in the midst of a 10-game winning streak, so don’t expect Sean Miller to try to fix what isn’t broken.

Last week, Miller said Parker Jackson-Cartwright’s return to the starting lineup “could happen here soon”, but the UA head coach said Monday at his weekly press conference that he has no plans to change the Wildcats’ starting lineup for the team’s upcoming road games against USC and UCLA.

“I don’t think we’ll change our (starting) lineup right now,” Miller said. “We could moving forward. Whatever’s best for our team, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Jackson-Cartwright started in Arizona’s first seven games, but suffered a high ankle sprain against Texas Southern on Nov. 30 and, after six-game absence, has come off the bench since.

Production-wise, Jackson-Cartwright certainly has a case to be in Arizona’s starting lineup. Since returning, he has posted an excellent assist-to-turnover ratio, recording 30 assists to just five turnovers. Plus he is the team’s only true point guard.

Still, Miller has noticed that Jackson-Cartwright limps or favors his ankle at times, and he believes that one reason Jackson-Cartwright has played as well as he has is because he isn’t being asked to play major minutes, which could change if he’s back in the starting five.

“You haven’t seen him really struggle because we’ve never asked him to play 34 minutes in a game,” Miller said. “It’s been the right amount, which has allowed him to help us and maybe not put him in a bad [spot].”

Jackson-Cartwright still isn’t 100 percent yet, but this week will give him a good opportunity to get closer to that mark. Arizona has seven days between games, allowing him to take two extra days off this week.

“This week came at a great time for him,” Miller said. “As of Wednesday, he’s now seven weeks since he had his injury. As you guys have watched him, he’s been able to play and play well.

“I think the combination of him having seven weeks behind him, him playing in games and practicing, and now recently giving him some extra time, I hope that he’s as close to 100 percent moving towards Wednesday as he’s been. As long as he doesn’t have a setback sometime in the next two weeks, he’ll return to form.”

He’ll return to form, but not necessarily the starting five, which Jackson-Cartwright and Miller have downplayed the importance of anyway.

“It’s obviously important but I like to win,” Jackson-Cartwright said last week. “And if that means coming off the bench and helping my team contribute, it’s fine.”

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire