Arizona was able to defeat Charleston Southern on Sunday. Read on for a closer look at why the Wildcats were able to win their season opener.
had an impressive debut as an Arizona
Wildcat and was able to lead the UA to an 82-73 victory over Charleston Southern on Sunday.
Arizona survived a scare as the Wildcats fell behind by as many as eight early in the first half to the Buccaneers and CSU was able to keep the game close for the majority of the contest.
UA ultimately pulled away late in the second half to come away with the victory, but it didn't come without a fight as the Wildcats were able to fend off a pesky Charleston Southern squad.
Lyons' start was a bit rocky, but he became more comfortable down the stretch in the second half when he scored 15 of his 17 points. He became more assertive with the ball in his hands as time passed and when he started being more aggressive, the Wildcats began to gain control of the contest.
It wasn't just Lyons' scoring that was impressive. The senior also dished out six assists without committing a turnover - both encouraging statistics for a player who has played mostly as a shooting guard during his time at Xavier.
The play of Jordin Mayes in the first half was one of the biggest reasons Arizona was able to crawl back and keep it close after falling behind earlier in the contest. The junior finished with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting in just 15 minutes of playing time. Mayes had his shooting stroke going from long range connecting on two out of four attempts from behind the three-point line.
Senior Solomon Hill had a solid outing, finishing with 14 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists. Hill did most of his scoring from beyond the arc, knocking down four out of eight shots from three-point land.
Despite spending a decent portion of the second half in foul trouble, the senior was still one of the biggest factors in the UA victory and seems to have picked up where he left off at the end of last season.
Brandon Ashley had the most impressive debut of any freshman. Coming off the bench, Ashley finished with 12 points and brought a physical brand of basketball to the floor as he led the team in rebounds with eight.
Ashley's aggressiveness led to several trips to the foul line, where he connected on eight out of 12 foul shots. He also made a big impact on the defensive end of the floor by blocking a pair of shots.
Sophomore Nick Johnson put forth a strong all-around performance on Sunday. The guard scored 12 points, dished out six assists, grabbed three rebounds, blocked one shot and collected a steal in 30 minutes of action. Johnson's performance was a good complement to what Lyons brought to the floor as the duo had a strong night collectively.
There was a bit of focus on Kevin Parrom, who is returning from a season plagued with injuries and tragedy. The forward finished opening night with just six points, but found other ways to contribute by picking up five assists and five rebounds. It's evident that Parrom is still getting accustomed to everything again, but he was a very positive influence in UA's victory on Sunday.
As a team, the Wildcats dished out 25 assists while committing just eight turnovers. Head Coach Sean Miller has to be satisfied with that ratio, especially considering all of the new faces on the team.
There were periods of time throughout the game where UA struggled on the glass and Arizona actually lost the overall rebounding battle to Charleston Southern 30-29. The Wildcats seemed to get more efficient on the boards down the stretch, but there were times where Arizona couldn't keep the Buccaneers off the glass.
Arizona has found its fair share of trouble in the paint on the defensive end of the floor over the past couple of years. The size added to the roster was supposed to remedy that concern and, on Sunday, the Wildcats played a tough brand of defense at times that led to seven block shots as a team.
The Wildcats took 32 three point attempts, which is a figure that needs to be reduced as the season progresses. Arizona has something it didn't possess a season ago – size – and the Wildcats need to find ways to get the big men more touches.
CSU played a zone for much of the contest and there were periods where the Wildcats were finding success in breaking the Buccaneers' defense down, but UA was forced to settle for the three-point shot far too often against a seemingly weaker opponent.