No. 4 Arizona wins in dominant fashion against Oral Roberts, 89-64
Mark Lyons leads Wildcats with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting
Mark Lyons drives to the basket against Oral Roberts on Dec. 18 at McKale Center. Arizona won the game 89-64 and Lyons led the UA with 17 points and seven assists.
Against then-No. 5 Florida on Saturday, Arizona trailed for the majority of the game before coming out on top in the final seconds.
That wasn’t an issue against Oral Roberts (5-5) on Tuesday night, as the No. 4 Wildcats (9-0) decisively beat the Golden Eagles 89-64, despite committing 17 turnovers.
“Anytime you come off such a physical game and emotional thrilling victory like against Florida on Saturday night, and have such a quick turnaround,” head coach Sean Miller said. “You worry, is your team going to be ready?…Can we come out ready to go? I give the guys credit. They were ready to play the game.”
Mark Lyons, Arizona’s starting point guard and hero in making the game-winning shot against the Gators, had another solid outing for the UA in scoring 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, and dishing out a season-high seven assists. It was the most assists Lyons had since the Atlantic 10 tournament in 2011 against Charlotte when he still played for Xavier.
“It gets guys going,” forward Solomon Hill said of the impact of Lyons’ seven assists. “He understands he can get people the ball and still get himself some shots as well.
“His toughness is what we live on and it keeps him going.”
With 1:37 remaining in the first half, Lyons was on the receiving end of a Jordin Mayes alley-oop and finished with authority, essentially jumping over a much larger defender to finish the play and put Arizona up 16 points. His muscle-flexing celebration, though, led to a technical foul and head coach Sean Miller removed him from the game for the final minute and a half.
The Wildcats went into the intermission leading Oral Roberts 45-31, and extended that to 20-plus points within the first few minutes of the second half.
An 11-0 run, highlighted by a baseline alley oop to freshman forward Brandon Ashley, gave the Wildcats a 22-point lead with 17:26 remaining.
Seven of Arizona’s points on that run came from Grant Jerrett, who started the second half in place of the usual starting center Kaleb Tarczewski because of foul trouble.
Jerrett finished with 15 points on 6-of-8 from the field and 3-of-3 from long range, while Tarczewski struggled to the tune of six points, zero rebounds and four fouls.
“I thought that was the best game that he’s played,” Miller said. “He’s one of our team’s best shooters. He had a couple inside baskets tonight which was nice to see.”
Added Jerrett: “[The key was] to stay aggressive and stay confident whenever I catch the ball. Look for my open teammates and just try to make a simple play.”
Thanks to Johnson, Jerrett and Lyons, the Wildcats combined to shoot 8-of-16 from long range. Entering the game Arizona was the best 3-point shooting team in the Pac-12.
ORU’s Warren Niles, who entered the game leading the Golden Eagles with 20.9 points per game, had 22 points but on 6-of-15 shooting thanks to stout defensive play from Johnson, who guarded him for much of the game. Niles turned the ball over eight times.
“He’s a prolific scorer,” Hill said. “He’s gonna get his shots up. He got going at a crucial time in the second half when they made a run. We just tried to contain him as much as possible.”
Johnson, who entered the game second in the Pac-12 in steals, recorded another three against Oral Roberts, plus 12 points and three assists, but he didn’t lead Arizona in steals on Tuesday night.
Solomon Hill had Arizona’s all-around best performance in tallying game-highs of six steals, six rebounds, plus 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting and five assists. Ashley added 14 points and six rebounds.
Related: See the photo gallery of Arizona’s decisive win against Oral Roberts.