The Arizona Wildcats raced to a 9-0 lead in less than two minutes and generally cruised the rest of the evening in a 93-50 win over NAU tonight at McKale Center.
The ninth-ranked Wildcats (4-0) had minor issues against NAU’s press and gave up a few three-pointers but otherwise met their goal of playing improved perimeter defense. Arizona allowed NAU to hit 5 of 15 shots from three-point range while making 11 of 19 itself.
Mark Lyons led UA with 18 points and two assists while Solomon Hill had 17 points, three rebounds and two assists. Brandon Ashley had 11 rebounds while making his second straight start at power forward for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats put the game completely away with 5:16 left when Kevin Parrom made a layup but, in truth, they were never really challenged. Up 39-26 at halftime, after DeWayne Russell hit a three pointer for NAU at the halftime buzzer, the Wildcats forced four NAU turnovers in the first four minutes of the second half to expand their lead to 53-30.
In the first half, the Wildcats had been holding NAU to just 2 of 6 three-point shooting until the final second, but gave up a three-pointer from NAU freshman DeWayne Russell at the halftime buzzer when Russell became wide open at the top of the key via screens.
The Lumberjacks hit 3 of 7 three pointers in the half and shot 42.3 percent overall.
Arizona made 5 of 10 from long range and shot 55.6 percent overall.
Lyons and Johnson led the Wildcats in the first half, Lyons with eight points eight points and two assists, while Johnson had seven points and four assists.
Kaleb Tarczewski and Ashley, starting in the post together for the second straight game, each had five rebounds in the first half while UA held a 17-14 rebounding edge.
Arizona led 31-17 with 6:26 left in the first half. By then, the Wildcats had shot 62 percent from the floor and held NAU to 1 of 4 three-point shooting.
Arizona took a 9-0 lead early, getting a three-pointer from Solomon Hill and a steal that Johnson turned into a dunk.
The Wildcats were up 15-4 after Ashley sank a 14-foot jump shot and Lyons converted a three-point play.
The game was a homecoming of sorts for NAU coach Jack Murphy, a former UA basketball aide for eight seasons under Lute Olson.