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December 8, 2012

Lyons leads, keeps No. 8 Arizona unbeaten



Mark Lyons said coming into Saturday's contest at Clemson that he relished playing on the road. The point guard backed up his words when eighth-ranked Arizona needed him most.

Lyons started hot and finished strong, scoring a game-high 20 points to lead the Wildcats to a 66-54 road win at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The 6-1 combo guard bounced back from his worst shooting performance of the young season and connected on 7 of 13 shots. Backcourt mate Nick Johnson added 13 points and five of the team's 13 steals.

The Wildcats (7-0) overcame a 35.5 percent shooting effort and Clemson's 12 blocked shots. UA was strong at the free-throw line, converting 17 of 20 attempts, and limited the Tigers (5-3) to just 38.5 percent shooting.

Arizona also won the rebounding battle, 44-33.

Milton Jennings paced Clemson with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting and had the Tigers in front past the midway point of the second half after a sluggish start.

Trailing 47-44 after Jennings' 3-pointer with 8:45 remaining, the Wildcats snapped out of a funk that had plagued them dating back to the midway point of the opening half.

Jordin Mayes' 3-pointer knotted the score at 47 and ignited a 20-2 run highlighted by six key Lyons points to pull away.

Leading by four but with little momentum at the half, Arizona quickly found itself in a 35-all tie on Adonis Filer's 3-point play with 16:16 to play. Rod Hall's layup at the 13-minute mark then gave the Tigers their first lead of the game, 37-36, to put the 'Cats on their heels, and a Hall 3-pointer - his first of the season - extended the advantage to 42-36.

But UA scored eight of the next 10 points capped by a Brandon Ashley basket to tie the game at 44 and set the stage for the final push.

A game removed from being held without a field goal, Lyons came out firing and helped the Wildcats build a 17-5 lead at the midway point of the first half.

UA scored 10 consecutive points during one stretch and connected on nine of its first 20 shots.

But, then, the 'Cats started to settle for long jump shots and allowed the Tigers to quickly claw back. Arizona missed 13 of its last 14 shots in the half, and a K.J. McDaniels putback dunk inside the final minute pulled Clemson to within two points.

The Wildcats, who shot below 30 percent in the half, scored just eight points over the final 6:54 and but held on for a 28-24 advantage heading into the locker room.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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