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December 24, 2012
Fourth-ranked Arizona gave head coach Sean Miller an early Christmas gift Sunday night with coaching victory No. 200.
Win No. 201 may not be as easy.
The Wildcats received a game-high 19 points from Mark Lyons in a 69-50 blowout over Miami (FL) at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. The victory puts the 'Cats in the Christmas Day championship game against No. 18 San Diego State.
The Wildcats dropped a 61-57 decision to the Aztecs in Tucson last season.
Arizona (11-0) also moved to within a victory of matching the program's best start since the 1987-88 season - a campaign that was highlighted by the program's first-ever Final Four.
Lyons converted 7 of 12 shots and handed out a game-high four assists for the Wildcats, who shot 48.1 percent. Nick Johnson chipped in 12 points and Kevin Parrom added 11 off the bench.
Playing without Reggie Johnson (thumb) - who is averaging a double-double this season with 12.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game - Miami (8-2) was beat on the glass, 44-19.
UA freshman 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski led the way in the rebounding department with 13 - including six of the team's 12 on the offensive boards.
The depth of the Wildcats also proved to be too much, outscoring the Hurricanes 22-1.
Turnovers, however, were once again an issue for Miller's squad. The 'Cats, who came in averaging 15 per game, coughed the ball up 16 more times to give them 34 in their past two games.
Ahead by 12 at the break, UA overcame a slow start to the second half and extended its advantage to 53-37 following a Tarczewski putback slam dunk and a Parrom 3-pointer with 12:12 to play.
Eventually, the 'Cats regained the rhythm that helped them to a double-digit lead through the first 20 minutes. Another Tarczewski rebound and dunk in one motion highlighted a 12-0 surge to give the team a 26-point cushion - its largest of the game.
Kenny Kadji paced the Hurricanes with 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting to tie Lyons for game-high honors. Durand Scott, Miami's leading scorer, finished with 15 but made just 4 of 11 shots.
Trailing 7-5 early, the Wildcats received an immediate spark from Parrom, who scored seven quick points as part of an 8-0 run and helped UA pull in front, 17-11, with under 10 minutes to play in the first half.
The Hurricanes battled back to tie the game at 17, but the 'Cats quickly answered with 10 of the next 12 points capped by a Johnson 3-pointer. Back-to-back jump shots by Jordin Mayes and Grant Jerrett extended the run to 13-2 and the UA lead to 14 points with 2:04 left.
Opponents came in shooting below 40 percent against Miami, but Arizona converted six of its first 10 shots and finished at a 51.9 percent clip in the half.
The Wildcats took a 37-25 advantage into the locker room.
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor
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