Senior Mark Lyons came to Arizona with plenty of hype, especially since Arizona did not really have a point guard before he made the decision to be a Wildcat. Lyons may not be the point guard that Arizona needs, but he has added numerous positive elements to Arizona.
When in clutch time, Lyons seems to be the player that is going to get the ball. In addition, he has added a confidence to Arizona that it did not have last year. Whether or not that erases the frustration with his inconsistency is an argument that people will have, but it is hard to deny that Arizona is a better team with Lyons on board.
The Good: Lyons started the season with consecutive 17-point games, including a game against Charleston Southern in which he had six assists. Lyons had 15 of his 17 points against CSU in the second half and finished with no turnovers as well.
Lyons had one of his best shooting nights of the season in Arizona's first road game at Texas Tech. He finished with 17 points on 4-7 shooting, including 3-5 from behind the arc.
In fact, Lyons seems to thrive in road games. Days after saying he would rather play on the road than at home, the guard went to Clemson and scored 20 points while helping Arizona to a 25-7 second half run that helped the Wildcats pull away.
In addition, Arizona was heavily favored against NAU and Lyons did exactly what he needed to do, scoring 18 points and only missing three shots. NAU's guards had absolutely no shot in the game, as Lyons and Nick Johnson completely shut them down, forcing an 8-30 shooting night.
Unless Arizona wins a title, Lyons' biggest memory at Arizona may be what he did against Florida. Lyons drove the court and scored with seven seconds left to give the Wildcats the win over the Gators, which included coming back from a six-point deficit with 56 seconds left. Arizona fans liked Lyons to begin with, but the Florida game was when he was truly embraced by fans.
Lyons used that Florida game for momentum, scoring 17 points against Oral Roberts and getting a season-high seven assists as well. Against Miami in the Diamond Head Classic, Lyons helped Arizona pull away in a game that many thought would be close. He scored 19 points on 7-12 shooting and stopped numerous attempts by Miami to make a comeback.
The Bad: Arizona may have blown out Long Beach State, but it was not because of what Lyons was able to do. He finished with four points and had just as many turnovers while only taking two shots in 24 minutes of action.
Against Southern Miss, Lyons finished 0-7 from the field for the first game in years that he went without a field goal. Lyons was able to make four free-throws, but Arizona struggled throughout the game and finished with 27 turnovers.
East Tennessee State will probably be the worst team Arizona faces all season, but Lyons was unable to get going for some reason. He only hit three of his ten shot attempts, scoring eight points. In addition, Lyons turned the ball over four times and struggled with fouls throughout the game.
The Verdict: Mark Lyons is exactly what Arizona fans should have expected. Yes, he struggles at times and does some things that make you want to pull your hair out. However, minutes later he can come up with a huge play that makes you forget about the negatives. Lyons is part of a big debate as to whether or not teams can win without a true point guard, but Arizona is off to a great start with him.
There are going to be more games where Lyons struggles, but there will also be more moments like the Florida game that will make people wonder if Lyons is Arizona's MVP. Lyons is what he is and at this point, it is hard to complain about that.