No. 9 Arizona beats up on NAU 93-50

  • Article by: JOHN MARSHALL
  • Associated Press
  • November 28, 2012 - 11:12 PM

TUCSON, Ariz. - Mark Lyons scored 18 points, Nick Johnson had 10 points and seven assists, and No. 9 Arizona rolled over Northern Arizona 93-50 on Wednesday night.

Arizona (4-0) overwhelmed the Lumberjacks from the get-go, showing no signs of rust after an eight-day break.

Dropping in 3-pointers and soaring in for dunks, the Wildcats built an 18-point lead in the first half and shut down Northern Arizona in the second for their 29th straight win over the Lumberjacks (2-4).

Arizona shot 58 percent, made 12 of 21 from 3-point range and had 22 assists on 30 field goals to kick off a stretch of four games in 11 days.

Solomon Hill had 17 points, Brandon Ashley grabbed 11 rebounds and Johnson added four steals for the Wildcats.

Dewayne Russell had 13 points and Blake Hamilton 11 for Northern Arizona, winless in 24 all-time games against ranked opponents.

The game marked the return of Northern Arizona coach Jack Murphy to McKale Center.

Murphy spent eight years at Arizona under coach Lute Olson, working his way up from student manager to director of operations. He also spent time as an advance scout for the NBA's Denver Nuggets under George Karl and was an assistant to Josh Pastner at Memphis, so he's worked for some of the best minds in basketball.

Murphy will need that knowledge to turn around Northern Arizona, a program that lost its coach last season and its final 16 games to finish 5-24.

The Lumberjacks did manage to pull off a big upset during their forgetful 2011-12 season, knocking off Arizona State 69-68 in Tempe when Stallon Saldivar hit a 3-pointer with less than a second left.

The Wildcats gave them no shot of a repeat, spoiling Murphy's return shortly after the opening tip.

Arizona scored the game's first nine points and had a 16-point lead midway through the first half.

Johnson was the catalyst early, forcing a turnover to set up a breakaway dunk and sailing in for a dunk on an alley-oop pass from Jordin Mayes to score seven quick points. He also gave NAU trouble by repeatedly getting into the lane, setting up Grant Jerrett for a dunk with an in-traffic bounce pass for one of his four first-half assists.

The Wildcats had 10 assists on their 15 first-half field goals — in 27 shots — and led 39-26 after NAU's Russell hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Lyons led Arizona with eight points in the first half and put the game way out of reach to open the second, hitting two 3-pointers that helped push the lead to 53-28 in the first 4 minutes.

Arizona's starting backcourt gave NAU's guards all kinds of trouble defensively.

Lyons forced Russell into a 5-second violation on the Lumberjacks' opening possession of the game and defensive pressure on the perimeter led to another turnover to start the second half.

Combined, they helped force NAU's top four guards into 10 of the team's 15 turnovers.

The Lumberjacks didn't shoot particularly well, either, missing 16 of their first 20 shots before hitting a few down the stretch, after the game had long been out of reach.

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