UA HOOPS

Arizona basketball: Miller still confident Lyons will fill the bill

2012-12-07T00:01:00Z 2014-08-01T11:22:31Z Arizona basketball: Miller still confident Lyons will fill the billBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 07, 2012 12:01 am  • 

You can break down Mark Lyons' transition to becoming an Arizona Wildcats point guard in a number of ways.

He has taken the third-most shots on the team and averages 12.3 points per game.

He's shooting 42.6 percent from the field, 39.3 percent from three-point range and making 85.2 percent of his free throws. He has five steals and seven rebounds in six games, over which he is averaging 25.8 minutes.

And, in probably the most widely discussed statistic of all, the senior guard has 14 assists and 18 turnovers. In his last five games Lyons has eight assists and 18 turnovers, more than a 1-to-2 ratio at a position where 2-to-1 is a standard for veterans.

But here's the ratio Lyons says he's most concerned about: The won-loss ratio.

"We're 6-0, and that's all I can ask for," Lyons said. "When I came here I said we were gonna win games, and we're 6-0. What more can I want?"

The Wildcats, who play at Clemson on Saturday, won their first five games easily in part because Lyons hit key shots at times, often when Arizona was stagnating. He was 0 for 7 from the field Tuesday in a close call with Southern Miss, but the Wildcats survived by a score of 63-55.

"We won without it being his night," UA coach Sean Miller said.

After UA beat Texas Tech 85-57 Saturday, despite four turnovers and no assists from Lyons, Miller was similarly supportive. He said he was concerned about Lyons' turnovers but that "he also brings things to the table that are very evident," referring to Lyons' early shooting.

Privately, the two appear to have had upbeat conversations. Miller was absent from UA's news conference Thursday, but Lyons said during it that he's had encouraging one-on-one meetings with Miller, a former point guard at Pitt. Lyons, who transferred from Xavier last spring in part to become UA's point guard, signed with Miller for Xavier out of high school.

"Most of my turnovers have been stepping out of bounds, things like that, things I can control," Lyons said. "So that's what he mostly tells me, that all my turnovers I can control.

"It's not like there's bad things that you keep doing over and over. It's just that I've gotta be more focused on the court and things like that.

"(Miller's) a great person to learn from."

Then again, it's not a seamless process. On Tuesday, Lyons' struggles shifted from turnovers to shooting, and Miller saw a different player.

"I thought that (Southern Miss') zone affected him," Miller said. "A couple of his shots didn't go in. But it wasn't as if he was trying to play bad or his attitude left him. I think his confidence left him, and I haven't seen that a whole lot.

"In fairness to Mark Lyons, he's playing with a new group, it's the beginning of December, and although there are a lot of similarities from where he came from (at Xavier) and where he's at, there's a lot of differences because we're asking him to play the point guard.

"So some of the things he's learning as an older player, we're going through that, but I have no doubt he'll continue to get better and better as the season goes on."

But, of course, this is Arizona, where passionate fan interest also means high-profile scrutiny. So as he goes through that transition, every struggle will be analyzed thoroughly.

He knows that, too.

"People want to talk just 'cause," Lyons said. "I just want to adapt. I came here to a new system, new team and everything. But we've been winning games. I feel I've been shooting the ball really well. I've just got to take better care of the ball and make better decisions down the stretch."

Lyons said he didn't really lose his confidence against Southern Miss as much as he simply missed open shots and was thrown off by an aggressive Golden Eagles defense that he said was "a little weird."

"I really wasn't that comfortable on the court," Lyons said.

He looked like a player in transition to a new role, on a new team.

And that's what Lyons says he is.

"Honestly, I felt I'd take care of the ball a lot better than what I'm doing, but I didn't come in thinking I was going to average 10 assists or something like that," Lyons said.

"I knew it was going to take a while to adapt. It's still early; we're only six games in.

"It's a long season."

On StarNet: See what some of the team had to say at Thursday's media gathering at azstarnet.com/video

Up next

• What: No. 8 Arizona at Clemson

• When: 6 p.m. Saturday

• TV; radio: ESPN2; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

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