HALFTIME: No. 9 Arizona 39, Northern Arizona 26
The No. 9 Arizona men’s basketball team hadn’t played for 10 days coming into Wednesday’s game against Northern Arizona, but they didn’t show any rust after the long break, jumping out early and controlling throughout the first half at the McKale Center to lead 39-26.
The Wildcats opened the game with a perfect 4-for-4 shooting on way to a quick 9-0 advantage. The game never got closer than five points in the half as the Wildcat offense was lethally efficient inside and out.
Arizona shot 15-for-27 in the half, including 5-for-10 from three while keeping the Lumberjacks below 50 percent in the first half on 11-for-26 shooting. Senior guard Mark Lyons led the team with eight points on 3-for-6 shooting and also had two assists.
The Wildcats won the inside battle against their in-state rivals as well, grabbing 17 rebounds compared to NAU’s 14. Arizona had a four point advantage in the paint as well. Forward Brandon Ashley and center Kaleb Tarczewski both had five rebounds in the half.
The young freshmen frontcourt, specifically Ashley, have garnered a lot of the early season attention, but against NAU it was the veterans who helped build the double-digit lead.
Sophomore guard Nick Johnson scored five of Arizona’s first 10 points and finished the half with seven points on a perfect 3-for-3 shooting. Johnson also dished four assists, had three steals and added two big-time dunks that quickly built momentum for the Wildcats.
Senior Kevin Parrom went a perfect 2-for-2 from three and senior forward Solomon Hill started hot early and finished with five points in the half. Hill uncharacteristically missed both of his free throw attempts, though, and the Wildcats were just 5-of-10 from the line, well below their season average of 76 percent.
The Lumberjacks two leading scores coming into the game, Dewayne Russell and Gabe Rogers, also carried NAU tonight. The two guards both had seven points apiece on a mirror shooting performances, each going 3-for-6 and 1-for-2 from three.