TEMPE – Backcourt mates Nick Johnson and Mark Lyons combined for 43 points Saturday, both putting in what UA coach Sean Miller called “tremendous” efforts.
Kaleb Tarczewski had eight rebounds, while Brandon Ashley and Kevin Parrom played key defensive roles.
Miller discussed just about everyone after UA’s 71-54 win on Saturday – “it was a total team win,” as he said – but he went particularly out of his way to talk about Solomon Hill, again.
Hill had 13 points, six rebounds, five assists, a steal and just one turnover, with many of his shots being of the dagger variety, including two jumpers that pushed UA’s second-half lead to nine points and a three pointer to give the Wildcats a 51-44 lead with 9:27 to go.
“Solomon was excellent” today, Miller said. “I thought he was the best player on the court because when he scored it really mattered. The game was in huge doubt and from an offensive perspective, he had three or four baskets that broke the game open.”
Miller said UA’s defense excelled not only because it was able to defend the Sun Devils inside with bigger players but also because Brandon Ashley was able to contain Carrick Felix from the outside.
Felix shot 1 of 8 overall and 1 of 7 from three-point range.
“There’s two types of players (Ashley) has to guard at this position,” Miller said. “Inside players and a lot of face up players and it’s hard for a freshman especially with his length, to always be comfortable doing both.
“But today, he guarded excellently. He did it in the first half and the second half. The minutes he played, he contributed in a huge way and he knows that, and everybody on our team knows that. It’s one of the reasons that our defense was better today.”
While Lyons has often been big when the Wildcats need help the most, he played with consistent intensity and aggressiveness Saturday. Lyons made 8 of 15 from the field and hit 6 of 6 free throws.
Lyons “brings qualities to our team. Every point guard does,” Miller said. “He has great belief in his ability. He also believes in our team. He’s used to winning and used to playing in big games. He’s used to performing in games. When one player feels that way it can become contagious.”
While Lyons said he was more interested in being the best point guard in the country, in reference to Jahii Carson’s best-in-the-Pac12 tweet, he did have compliments to offer the dynamic Sun Devils freshman.
Carson had 22 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and four turnovers while playing 33 foul-plagued minutes.
“He’s a great player,” Lyons said. “He has a lot of upside and he is one of the best point guard in the country if you ask me. He does that every game."
Here's the official box score.