Final score: Arizona 66, Clemson 54
Twitter recap: Zona starts strong, finishes stronger—wins sloppy, fast-paced game. Veteran Clemson bigs go quiet as Lyons jolts the young, dormant Cats.
The Lyons share of the work. He’s only been around for a few months, and already Mark Lyons is the lifeblood of a team that would lack a steady pulse without him. The Xavier transfer notched a game-high 20 points, six in the game’s final 5:22 to allow the Cats to pull away late. The senior guard has been a calming influence for Arizona, which has otherwise looked off-kilter in the early goings this season.
Arizona plays young. The Wildcats committed more turnovers (11) than they dished out in assists (10) for the fourth game this season (third straight). Lyons and Solomon Hill have provided the requisite floor leadership necessary to contend in March—excluding Hill’s performance Saturday night—but the Cats will need more growth from their freshmen and improved play out of their bench to make good out of their talented roster.
Helter-skelter pace. Arizona doesn’t shy away from an up-tempo game—though Sean Miller certainly prefers a more controlled pace—but if the Cats could have a do-over, they would have slowed this game down from the start. The game took on a frenzied pace sometime midway through the first half and spiraled out of control thereafter. Between the poor shot selection by both teams and the rampant turnovers throughout, the quick cadence of this game certainly impaired the quality.
Underperforming frontcourt play. So much for Clemson’s edge in experience down low. Devin Booker failed to assert himself on the offensive end, passing out of the high post rather than shooting his patented elbow J or attacking the teeth of the Arizona defense. Fellow senior pillar Milton Jennings scored a quiet 15 on just seven shots. That’s commendable efficiency, but for a team littered with question marks in the backcourt and saddled with a young, unproven bench, the Tigers need more volume out of their senior co-captain. Both of them, that is.
Solomon Hill. He was a menace on the boards, but that’s all the do-everything senior forward has to write home about. Hill finished with just seven points on 2-of-16 shooting from the floor and was responsible for five of Arizona’s 11 team turnovers. The Florida Gators–who loom in horizon–won’t be so forgiving next time.