With both actions and words, Arizona point guard Mark Lyons has made it obvious this season that he thrives on negative feedback. So there's one particular tweet that he's probably become aware of this week.
That would be the one dated Dec. 25, 2012, when ASU freshman guard Jahii Carson posted this on his Twitter page:
"I Dnt (sic) think there is a PG in the PAC better then me. Just me. I think I've played the best so far, and it's my first year playin. Salute."
Carson is averaging 36.3 minutes, 17.1 points and 5.2 assists per game, numbers that are also doing some talking.
"There's nothing wrong with believing in yourself, as long as you can back that up," UA coach Sean Miller said. "He's backed that up."
Lyons wasn't around to offer a response Thursday because Arizona selected Solomon Hill and Nick Johnson for its weekly news conference.
But Hill filled everyone in.
"I'm pretty sure Mark is more geared up than anybody for this game," Hill said. "That's something that keeps him going in practice, that keeps him more focused in practice, and we love that because other guys feed off that. It just all helps in preparation."
Later, when asked if they used Carson's words to "prod" Lyons, Hill and Johnson smiled and nearly broke into laughter.
"Oh no," Hill said. "Especially an East Coast guy? He's already ready. He's one of the more vocal guys in practice. He looks forward to every competition."
Hill said Arizona's 15-1 record is evidence that Lyons "is our guy, our engine" and that Lyons was more focused on team than individual goals. As a result, Hill said Lyons was just taking the tweet for what it was worth.
"There's nothing really you can do about a situation like that," Hill said.
"That comes with all the social media stuff. He's feeding into that Arizona-ASU hype, this is his first rival game, and a guy like that, who has a lot of confidence like that, you really can't say nothing to."
Carson is leading the Pac-12 in minutes played, is second in assists and fifth in scoring. However, he is a distant fifth to UCLA's Larry Drew in assist-to-turnover ratio: Drew has an eye-opening 4.9-to-1 ratio while Carson's is 1.5-to-1 (Lyons' is 1.2-to-1).
Carson is "putting out numbers - he has a little stuff to back it up - but it's not like he's played through the Pac-12 yet," Hill said. "So to say something like that is very strange. If he ran through the Pac-12 undefeated and put up 20 (points) a game, that could be understandable."
Lyons leads the Wildcats in scoring (14.6 points) and assists (3.3), having made clutch plays down the stretch to help UA beat Florida, San Diego State and Colorado.
"I think we have the best point guard in the conference on our team," Johnson said.
In order to keep shot-blocking whiz Jordan Bachynski closer to the basket on a full-time basis, ASU coach Herb Sendek has swapped his matchup zone defense for a man-to-man that is among the Pac-12's best so far.
ASU's four Pac-12 opponents have averaged just 60.0 points, with a field goal average of 36.9 percent from the field, and 25.4 percent from three-point range.
None of this is a surprise to Miller, who worked under Sendek at Miami (Ohio) and N.C. State.
"Before Herb went to ASU, he was a man-to-man coach - he's always been a very good defensive coach - and he's back to that right now," Miller said. "He probably has a team that fits that better."
• Arizona's Feb. 6 home game with Stanford will be televised by ESPNNEWS instead of ESPN2, but tipoff time remains 7 p.m.
• Miller has joined the Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge, in which fans can vote for a favorite coach in four regions, with the winner earning $100,000 for the charity of his choice. Miller has chosen the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona.
On StarNet: See video of Sean Miller talking about the game against ASU and the Wildcats' rebounding at azstarnet.com/video
• What: No. 7 Arizona at ASU
• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
• TV; radio: FSAZ; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM
Pac-12 at the point
Where Carson and Lyons sit among conference leaders in the two most relevant categories for point guards.
Assists per game
1. Larry Drew II, UCLA 8.0
2 Jahii Carson, ASU 5.2
9. Mark Lyons, Arizona 3.3
1. Larry Drew II, UCLA 4.9
5 Jahii Carson, ASU 1.5
9. Mark Lyons, Arizona 1.2