The Arizona Wildcats overcame occasional sloppiness to finally put away UTEP 72-51 tonight at McKale Center.
UA (2-0) coughed up 19 turnovers and saw its lead cut into single digits on several occasions, but held the Miners to just 36.4 percent shooting and crushed them on the boards, 35-15.
Mark Lyons led the Wildcats in scoring with 17 points, with one assist, while Solomon Hill had 10 points and six rebounds. Kaleb Tarczewski added eight points and six rebounds for UA.
UA shot 48.9 percent from the field and made half of its 18 three-point attempts.The Wildcats also were 19 of 23 from the free-throw line.
UTEP had three players in double figure scoring, with brothers Julian and Chris Washburn each scoring 11.
The Wildcats didn’t lead by double figures for good until the final seven minutes of the game and it wasn’t until Angelo Chol dunked with just under two minutes to go that UA held a commanding lead, 70-49.
The Wildcats led 63-49 at the final media timeout (3:47) of the game but at that point they were 1-5 from three point range in the second half and had eight turnovers after halftime.
UA led 35-22 at halftime but UTEP made 5 of 6 free throws in the first and outrebounded UA 4-1 in the first four minutes of the second half. However, the Miners never led in what was the first game played in 17 years between the former Border Conference rivals.
In the first half, Arizona beat UTEP on both ends of the floor to take a 35-22 halftime lead.
The Wildcats made 8 of 13 three-point shots, with Mark Lyons hitting 3 of 5 en route to a team-high 10 points, and played sound defense. UTEP managed to make only 34.6 percent of its field goals and just 3 of 8 three pointers.
Five players had at least one three for UA, with forward Grant Jerrett hitting two on consecutive UA possessions early in the game.
The Wildcats never trailed in the first half, though the Miners never trailed by more than 15 points and cut it to nine, 31-22, on a jumper from Chris Washburn with 1:56 to go in the first half.
UA had built a 30-16 lead with four minutes left in the half after Nick Johnson and Hill hit three pointers, while Chol dunked.
Midway through the half, Lyons hit his second of three three-pointers to give UA a 19-11 lead.
UA started off by making 5 of 7 field goals then missed seven of its next eight.
UA coach Sean Miller started the same lineup he had for UA’s two exhibitions and season opener: Center Kaleb Tarczewski, forward Grant Jerrett, forward Solomon Hill, guard Nick Johnson and guard Mark Lyons.
Arizona has received letters-of-intent from recruits Rondae Jefferson and Elliott Pitts though UA has not announced it yet.