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Arizona Wildcats basketball: Hangover avoided against Oral Roberts

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Mark Lyons set the tone early as the Arizona Wildcats avoided any hangover against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles

Christian Petersen

If there was a worry the Arizona Wildcats would experience a Florida game hangover on Tuesday, consider Sean Miller feeding his team a metaphorical B vitamin supplement and Gatorade -- or whatever cures hangovers.

The Wildcats never trailed the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, winning 89-64 in McKale Center, and it was their hero from the victory against the Gators that set the tone early.

Lyons had his best showing of the season in controlling the game, using the experience from Florida press defense to seemingly enhance his handle on the offense all in one weekend. He came out aggressively, hitting the first shot of the game, a three-pointer, and looking for his teammates on dribble-drives that attracted rotations by the Oral Roberts defense.

The Xavier transfer finished with 17 points and seven assists, and he very well could have had more had it not been for missed shots. Early in the first half on consecutive plays, Lyons attacked the rim and wrapped the ball around a defender to Grant Jerrett, who missed a dunk. On the next play, he drove and kicked the ball out to Parrom to a wide open three that was missed.

There weren't many other missed shots. The Wildcats hit 57.6 percent of their shots and 8-of-16 of their three-pointers.

Twenty-point a game scorer Warren Niles struggled early on, and credit could go to Nick Johnson's defense. Niles had two turnovers in the first two minutes and didn't have a field goal until two minutes remained in the first half in which Arizona led 45-31 by halftime.

Niles finished with 22 points and went 6-of-15 from the floor to go with his eight turnovers -- that after coming in as one of the most efficient scorers in the nation. As a whole, the Oral Roberts defense struggled to keep control of the ball, turning the ball over 20 times. Solomon Hill had six steals and Johnson had four.

Hill added 12 points, six rebounds and five assists.

After hitting two big jumpers late in the Florida game, Jerrett had his best game as a young freshman, scoring 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. Fellow freshman big Brandon Ashley scored 14 points and had five rebounds while leading the team with three blocks.

For the second game in a row Kaleb Tarczewski struggled with his aggressiveness and fouled out. He did add eight points and showed two impressive moves -- a left-handed hook shot, and a spin move off a roll and catch to the hoop that ended with a soft hook shot off the glass.

The biggest positive note for the Wildcats was Angelo Chol. The last-man in line in the paint got 13 minutes of time as Miller clearly expected him to finally get prolonged minutes, and Chol didn't disappoint. Though he's by far the least polished of the big men, Chol still affected the game with six rebounds and three blocks.

Arizona's rim-protection was the biggest reason they had such an easy time on Tuesday. While the perimeter defense did its job in forcing turnovers, Oral Roberts struggled to get in a rhythm, and the Golden Eagles shot just 38.3 percent from the field.

Going into the Diamond Head Classic, the victory against the Golden Eagles was yet another sign that the Wildcats aren't an up-and-down squad. The consistency in the 9-0 season hasn't wavered. That can only mean better days are yet to come as the team grows.