NCAA tournament West region: No. 6 Arizona 81, No. 11 Belmont 64: Something to prove

Arizona senior Mark Lyons, trying to shoot around Belmont's Brandon Baker, finished with a game-high 23 points on 8-for-15 shooting.

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

Arizona has been handling the road pretty well so far this season, and it’s not just because the Wildcats now fly charter almost all of the time.

Thanks in large part to veterans who are playing as well or better away from McKale Center, UA won road games at Texas Tech and Clemson even before it won the Diamond Head Classic in the preconference season. Now, it is  holding Pac-12 opponents to four fewer points per game away from home.

Among the major differences between UA’s three conference road and four conference home games, entering the Wildcats' trip this week to Washington and WSU:

Mark Lyons is averaging 20.3 points and shooting 47.7 percent on the road but is at 15.3 and 32.7 percent on the road.

Nick Johnson has made 4 of 9 threes on the road and just 3 of 15 at home.

Solomon Hill, not surprisingly, is consistent at 15.0 points both away and at home and his rebounding average slips only from 7.3 to 6.0 on the road.

However, Hill has gotten to the free-throw line only five times in the three road games while he's 12 of 14 from the line in four conference home games.

And while Johnson has taken nearly as many free throws on the road (14) as at home (18), he’s made only 9 of 14 free throws on the road.

Across the board the UA’s freshmen big men have slightly lower production on the road.

"We’ve played good basketball on the road to this point," UA coach Sean Miller said. "You think about how we played in Hawaii or Clemson, Texas Tech, Arizona State, Oregon was (a loss against a) great team, and then Oregon State. Hopefully that will continue."

When I asked Miller about the better road numbers of Lyons and the veterans, he said:

 “I’m sure it’s a coincidence,” he said. “It will even out over time. Older players are generally more comfortable on the road and again it goes back to that experience. This is Solomon’s fourth time to Washington, he knows what to expect, from the travel, to the arena, to the style (of play). It helps them. They’re more of the same whether they’re at home or on the road.”



Todd Dybas of the News-Tribune writes about at some UW-UA history.


Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo looks at ASU's resurgence.


WSU's Que Johnson will remain unable to practice with the Cougars this season.


Scott Wolf considers whether KO's old job at USC is a good one.


Other games tonight:

USC at UCLA, 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks). The Bruins are confident Shabazz Muhammad will play despite his flu bug.

Oregon at Stanford, 9 p.m. (ESPN2). The Ducks are still running even without point guard Dominic Artis.