No. 4 Arizona rolls over Oral Roberts 89-64


Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. — Not long after Arizona knocked off Florida for its biggest win of the season, coach Sean Miller told his team not to get too high, to keep their focus. He told them the same thing the next day during the film session.

Seems the message got through loud and clear.

Showing no signs of a letdown after beating the Gators, No. 4 Arizona raced out to a big lead and never let up in an 89-64 rout over Oral Roberts Tuesday night.

“If you want to be labeled as a great team or a team that has a chance to win a national championship, you have to get over games like the Florida game,” Arizona forward Solomon Hill said. “You need to have focus and we were able to do that.”

Arizona (9-0) pulled off the improbable against then-No. 5 Florida on Saturday, overcoming a six-point deficit in the final 56 seconds for a victory that still had the campus buzzing on Monday. The Wildcats leave Thursday to play in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, so it would have been easy to lose focus against Oral Roberts.

Arizona had no trouble staying in the present, hitting shots from everywhere and hounding the Golden Eagles into mistakes while racing out to a 17-point first-half lead. The Wildcats kept rolling in the second half, hitting 8 of 16 from 3-point range while shooting 57 percent overall and scoring 27 points off turnovers.

Mark Lyons led Arizona with 17 points and seven assists. Grant Jerrett added 15 points and fellow freshman Brandon Ashley scored 14. Hill had six steals, six rebounds and five assists. Nick Johnson added 12 points and four steals while joining Hill in frustrating Golden Eagles’ leading scorer Warren Niles most of the night.

The Wildcats also had a 26-7 advantage off the bench, heading to Hawaii with their best start since opening the 1987-88 season with 12 straight wins.

“We weren’t perfect tonight,” Miller said, noting his team’s 17 turnovers. “We did some really good things, but the things we didn’t do so well we will learn from.”

Oral Roberts (5-5) has a history of knocking off power programs, but never had a shot against the rolling Wildcats.

The Golden Eagles had trouble against Arizona’s defensive pressure, shooting 38 percent while turning it over 17 times. Niles scored 22 points, but shot 6 of 15 and had eight turnovers, with most of his scoring coming after the game was out of reach. Shawn Glover added 18 points for Oral Roberts.

“I thought our guys would battle a little more given what was at stake, playing a top-5 team on the road,” Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton said.

The Wildcats capped one of the more memorable days in the history of the athletic program Saturday night, knocking off Florida 65-64 after Lyons capped the big rally by flipping a shot over the outstretched arm of Gators’ 6-foot-9 center Patric Young with 7 seconds left. Earlier in the day, Arizona’s football team scored twice in the final minute to beat Nevada 49-48 in the New Mexico Bowl.

The victory moved the Wildcats up four spots in the AP Top 25 for their best ranking since 2004 with their second trip to an exotic location — they played in the Bahamas over the summer — just around the bend.

The Golden Eagles appeared to be a team Arizona couldn’t afford to look past.

Oral Roberts won 27 games last season and was picked to win the Southland Conference this year. The Golden Eagles also have a history of knocking off opponents from power conferences under coach Sutton, including No. 8 Xavier at home last year, No. 13 New Mexico in 2009 and No. 3 Kansas in 2006.

They also have Niles, an athletic, 6-foot-5 guard, who’s 12th nationally with 20.9 points per game.

Turns out, there was no worry about a letdown.

Crisp on offense and aggressive on defense, the Wildcats hit five of their first six shots and forced five turnovers in the first four minutes to take a quick eight-point lead.

Arizona didn’t let up, either, pushing the lead to 45-31 by halftime after hitting 17 of 27 shots, including 7 of 11 from 3-point range. Lyons had 14 points, Johnson 12.

“They came out (focused); we needed them to come out flat,” Sutton said. “I think they hit six of their first 10 3s and it was an uphill battle for us.”

The Wildcats were just as good on defense, particularly against Niles.

Johnson stripped Niles on his first touch and joined Hill in hounding the senior around the court, denying the ball, getting help when the Golden Eagles set screens to break him loose.

Niles got three free throws when he was fouled nearly 30 feet from the basket, but was swatted by Angelo Chol on a drive his next touch and didn’t hit a shot until dropping in a contested 3-pointer at 2:00. Niles had consecutive shots blocked inside in the closing seconds of the half and was 2-for-8 from the floor, scoring half his 10 points on free throws.

“Nick did a really good job of defending his opponent,” Miller said.

Arizona gave the Golden Eagles no hope of making a comeback, scoring the first 11 points of the second half to go up 56-31.

Oral Roberts missed its first six shots, and even after knocking a few down spent most of the second half trailing by 20 or more as Arizona raced away toward a trip to paradise.

NO. 7 OHIO ST. 65, WINTHROP 55

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Deshaun Thomas scored 21 points — missing nine straight shots at one point and making five in a row at another — to lead Ohio State past Winthrop.

It was the last tuneup for the Buckeyes (9-1) before Saturday’s rematch with No. 9 Kansas. The Jayhawks beat them twice last year, once at Allen Fieldhouse and then in the Final Four.

Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 14 points for the Buckeyes, who have won four in a row, all at home, since a 73-68 defeat at No. 2 Duke on Nov. 28 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Thomas added nine rebounds and a career-high four assists.

Derrick Henry scored 12 points to lead Winthrop (4-5).

NO. 9 KANSAS 87, RICHMOND 59

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Jeff Withey had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Ben McLemore added 14 points and Kansas used another big first-half run to put away Richmond.

Travis Releford and Naadir Tharpe each added 11 points, and Elijah Johnson had seven assists for the Jayhawks (9-1), who will ride an eight-game win streak into Saturday’s showdown at No. 7 Ohio State — a rematch of last year’s national semifinal won by Kansas.

The Jayhawks used an 18-0 first-half run to bury the Spiders, allowing them to push their home winning streak to 28 games, tied for the sixth-longest in school history.

Derrick Williams had 14 points and Cedrick Lindsay finished with 12 for the Spiders (9-3).

NO. 18 SAN DIEGO ST. 76, POINT LOMA NAZARENE 49

SAN DIEGO — Xavier Thames scored 17 points and Chase Tapley added 15 as San Diego State beat Point Loma Nazarene, the Aztecs’ ninth straight win since opening with a loss to No. 3 Syracuse.

SDSU (9-1) was just fine without leading scorer Jamaal Franklin, who sat out with a back injury.

The Aztecs made it a clean sweep of San Diego-area schools. They’ve also beaten San Diego, San Diego Christian and, in exhibition games, Cal State San Marcos and UC San Diego.

SDSU now heads to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic.

The game was considered an exhibition for Point Loma, an NAIA school. Taylor Wetherell led the Sea Lions with 10 points.

NO. 20 MICHIGAN ST. 64, BOWLING GREEN 53

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine scored 12 points apiece to lead Michigan State to a victory over Bowling Green.

Branden Dawson added 10 points for the Spartans (10-2).

Michigan State held Bowling Green (5-5) to just two points over a six-minute stretch in the second half to take control.

The Spartans went on a 14-2 run highlighted by Dawson’s dunk after a steal, drawing a big cheer from the many Michigan State fans filling the Bowling Green arena.

Chauncey Orr led Bowling Green with 16 points.

NO. 25 N.C. STATE 88, STANFORD 79

RALEIGH, N.C. — Lorenzo Brown scored 18 of his season-high 24 points after halftime to help North Carolina State pull away and beat Stanford.

Scott Wood scored 15 of his 17 in the first half for the Wolfpack (8-2), who earned a fourth straight win with another high-scoring performance at home. It also allowed N.C. State to avenge a road loss last year in which the Wolfpack blew a 12-point lead in the second half.

Richard Howell finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Wolfpack.

Dwight Powell continued his recent strong play for the Cardinal (7-4), scoring 23 points, but Stanford gave up its highest point total of the season.

 

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