If the first step to recovery is acknowledgement, Winston Shepard is on his way to rediscovering his shooting touch.

He puts his hand in the air. He nods. He admits it.

He’s in a slump.

“From the NBA level all the way down, players go through stretches like this,” Shepard said Monday. “It happens to be my turn right now. I’m not going to let it get me down, I’m not going to let it shake my confidence. I’m not hurt. I don’t have any excuses for it. It’s one of those things that happens to all players.

“I’m just a little down and a little upset that it’s happening now.”

The numbers aren’t pretty. In the 22 games after a one-game suspension that seemed to ignite his sophomore season, Shepard shot 46.4 percent and averaged 12.5 points. In the four games since: 23.3 percent and 7 points.

He’s been 2 of 11, 4 of 15, 3 of 11, 1 of 6.

And no, he insists, his left wrist is not still injured. He fell awkwardly on it at Boise State on Feb. 5, then wore a small brace three days later against Nevada. He had 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting against the Wolf Pack and figured, why not, he’d keep wearing it.

“Every game is another opportunity,” Shepard said. “Both my parents played Div. I basketball at Texas. I talked to both of them. My mom told me she went through the same thing, and the only thing you can do is shake it off and focus on the next game. I live in today and not the past.

“The only thing I’m happy about and most thankful for is that even though I’ve been in a little slump, my team has been able to get to the Sweet 16. I promise I’ll be there to help them.”

He’ll start, too, as he has 33 times this season. Dwayne Polee II, who played 30 minutes in Saturday’s 63-44 win against North Dakota State, will continue to come off the bench.

“I think this is the best way for our team to be successful,” coach Steve Fisher said. “There’s a body of work, and I haven’t forgotten that. I haven’t even given it a thought of starting anybody other than the five guys who are starting.”

Scouting from home

The Aztecs flew home from Spokane a few hours after beating North Dakota State on Saturday night, meaning the coaches were in town in time to see Sunday night’s Arizona-Gonzaga game at Viejas Arena that would decide their Sweet 16 opponent.

There are no rules against them buying tickets and scouting in person. They opted against it.

“In the spirit of things,” Fisher said. “They didn’t have an opportunity to watch us play. If you start trying to sneak a camera in to watch a guy practice or try to get an extra look, it serves no purpose and it probably shouldn’t happen. So we just decided that would serve everyone, including ourselves, best.”