There are only five teams in the nation left undefeated, and the number one reason the Arizona Wildcats are still one of them is because of their senior guard Mark Lyons keeps expanding their resume of double digit wins in games that should be a bit tougher.
Not that Miami are a powerhouse in College Basketball, but it should have been a bit harder for the Wildcats, winning 69-50 in their 11th consecutive win since the beginning of the season, something they haven’t done in 24 years.
Lyons had no problem improving his numbers and remaining as the team’s top scorer this season as he kept slicing and dicing through the ‘Canes defense, which was gutted and opened up every time the 6’1 senior began a penetration move towards the basket. Lyons led his team with 19 points, adding 4 assists while going 7-12 from the field and 3-7 from beyond the arc. He’s shooting much better than in his three years with Xavier, so far making 48% of his shots, and his ability to open up defenses with both his long range shooting and creating easy shots for his teammates (3.2 assists this season) puts Arizona as one of the best shooting teams in the nation, 14th with 48.6% from the field.
It hasn’t been that tough of a road, although there was the big win over Florida just over a week ago, beating the Gators 65-64. Playing San Diego State on Christmas shouldn’t be too easy as well, but the fact is that Arizona have their last three games by at least 19 points each.
Sean Miller, who earned his 200th win as the Arizona head coach, was really impressed with how his team played in the Hawai’i tournament, but knows this is only the beginning.
It was one of our best performances of the year and it came at the expense of a good team. We can always get better. Nobody is perfect. We’re jelling real well together. Mark has great belief in himself and he can really shoot the ball. He also has a competitive nature that can be contagious, but no question: He set the tone from the onset, and I thought that he was very good throughout.
Nick Johnson, Arizona’s second leading scorer, finished the game with 12 points while Kevin Parrom scored 11 off the bench. A bit night as well it was for Kaleb Tarczewski, the 7’0 Freshman who finished with 8 points and 13 rebounds, but his presence helped keep Miami scoreless for more than four minutes during the second half, as Arizona out rebounded the losing team 44-19. They also kept Miami at a very bad 36.5% from the field, taking bad shot after bad shot.
Is this the return of Arizona to the big stage in College Basketball? Not yet. Lyons is a top class play maker, but we’re going to need to see Arizona through the tougher tests, especially on the road, when it comes to the conference play.
We’re trying to be a team that can do some special things and I think that we want to be hard on ourselves. There’s always things that we can do better.