BASKETBALL

Arizona basketball: Pac-12 honors Lyons, first Cat of season

UA moves up to 6th in AP poll after beating ASU; UCLA not ranked
2013-01-22T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:24:29Z Arizona basketball: Pac-12 honors Lyons, first Cat of seasonBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Arizona Wildcats finally picked up their first Pac-12 player of the week award this season, when Mark Lyons was given the honor Monday.

Lyons had 24 points, three rebounds, three assists with four turnovers and three steals in the Wildcats' 71-54 win at ASU on Saturday. He also shot 53.3 percent from the field and hit all six free throws he took.

The senior guard scored 15 of his points in the second half, including six during a decisive 15-5 run after halftime.

The Wildcats did not have a player win the weekly honor the first 10 times it was awarded this season, prompting UA coach Sean Miller to ask a Pac-12 official during a Jan. 8 media teleconference call why that was the case considering the Wildcats' success this season.

Wildcats ranked sixth

Arizona moved up one spot to No. 6 in both The Associated Press Top 25 media poll and ESPN/USA Today coaches polls.

In the AP poll, Duke was ranked No. 1, followed by Michigan, while Kansas and Syracuse tied for third and Louisville was fifth. All of the top four teams have one loss while Louisville has lost only to Duke and Syracuse.

Oregon moved up to No. 16 in the AP Top 25 after its sweep of USC and UCLA, while the Bruins dropped out.

Arizona has a Sagarin rating of No. 8 and an RPI of 2, behind only Duke.

Backcourt meshing

Lyons' partnership with sophomore Nick Johnson in the UA backcourt continues to improve.

Johnson and Lyons combined for 61 percent of the Wildcats' points and five of their 12 total assists at ASU on Saturday, while also playing key defensive roles.

"Every single game we're getting better and better," Johnson said. "I know what he's going to do and he knows what I'm going to do. So I mean it's just a process, and people have to realize that."

In five Pac-12 games so far, Lyons has emerged as a clear scoring leader for UA with an average of 19.4 points a game, and 20.3 in UA's past three games. He also had 18 assists to 14 turnovers in conference play.

Johnson has an average of 12.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in Pac-12 play while continuing to evolve as UA's defensive stopper on the perimeter. In UA's win at ASU on Saturday, Johnson helped keep ASU's Jonathan Gilling to six points on 2-of-5 shooting.

"He's a great defender," Lyons said. "He has all the energy in the world. We rely on him to make great plays defensively and offensively and he came ready to play" at ASU.

White-out time

Arizona has designated Thursday's game against UCLA as its "white-out" game and, if history is any indication, the game will go down to the wire.

The Wildcats are 1-1 in their two previous white-out games, in which fans are asked to wear white. They beat Washington 87-86 in 2010-11, thanks to Derrick Williams' game-saving block, and lost to the Huskies last season 69-67 when Tony Wroten blocked a last-second layup by former UA guard Josiah Turner.

Gordon impresses

UA recruiting target Aaron Gordon had 27 points and 12 rebounds Monday, including several acrobatic dunks on ESPNU, in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield, Mass. But his Archbishop Mitty team lost 81-46 to Lone Peak High School of Utah.

Gordon, who is considering Arizona, Washington and Kentucky, told MassLive.com that he wanted to maximize his considerable potential.

"I don't know what that is, or what that means, or what it could possibly be, but just the highest level of my basketball potential I can live up to," Gordon said.

According to MassLive.com, Gordon was greeted by a chorus of young fans who cheered, "Come to Arizona!"

Up next

• Who: UCLA at No. 6 Arizona

• When: 7 p.m. Thursday

• TV: ESPN2

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)

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