Things looked bleak. For all the talk of lineup changes with the end goal of igniting a sense of urgency, Arizona scored a cool 8 points in the games first 11:53. It suddenly appeared there was an urgency for urgency.
And then Mark Lyons attacked the basket and sank two free throws. And then Mark hit a three. Another attack and two more free throws. And then he hit another three and the Wildcats reclaimed the lead they would not yield again.
That one man 10-3 run reminded the twelfth ranked Wildcats that it's ok to score. That they're a talented and athletic group built to out run teams no matter their offensive philosophy. In those moments, Mark Lyons returned to his role as offensive facilitator, abandoning talk of his true point guard-hood, back to his best position in which he makes things happen for his teammates. And it doesn't have to be an assist as proven by his effort Wednesday night.
Alas, the off shooting Wildcats used the painted area to pull away in this game, most specifically in transition where this group of athletes can thrive. Particularly a one Mr. Nick Johnson. Here's a kid who's fallen into a bit of a slump and could use some easy buckets to break out of it. So it came as no surprise that Johnson hit an in rhythm three shortly after he scored his first four points of the game: a breakaway dunk and layup both assisted by...you guessed it...Mark Lyons. Like a seeing eye single, the springy young man just needed an easy win.
To pile on the positivity, holding an opponent to 30% shooting will make Sean Miller smile. It's his recipe to victory and his team brought the appropriate ingredients. After allowing their last three opponents to shoot 48% from distance, Arizona held the Dawgs to 9% shooting from beyond the. They played better defense. They handily won a basketball game.
Though Solomon Hill missed that dunk, things appeared to move back towards equilibrium for the Wildcats. With Lyons being aggressive and Hill scoring 19 and it was one of Kaleb Tarczewski's best games as a Wildcat. He forced N'Diaye out of the game and was decisive with the basketball. And his fellow bigs complemented his game as Brandon Ashley once again played well off the bench (10/5) and Jerrett and Chol controlled the paint, swatting away four shots.
It was a team win, ignited by its seniors. And while issues surrounding urgency remain, for the first time in some while we got to see a stretch of the best basketball these Cats can play.
And that's good to see again.