Mark Lyons goes up for two points in the second half against Ohio State. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES — The Arizona Wildcats’ final game was classic Mark Lyons.
The senior point guard did not have an assist but he scored 23 points to cap a superb NCAA Tournament in which he made 26 of 44 shots and poured in 73 points in three games. He has three turnovers in the Thursday loss to Ohio State in the Sweet 16 — not bad against the Buckeyes’ defense.
This was Lyons’ third time playing in the Sweet 16, the first two coming at Xavier before he transferred to Arizona this season as a graduate student. He also was part of a Xavier team that reached the Sweet 16 while he redshirted as a freshman while academically ineligible.
“The only thing I regret is not getting past the Sweet 16 because I’ve been here so many times and I just feel like I can’t get over that hump,” he said.
“I played with a great bunch of guys this whole year who had a lot of faith in me, and I’m just happy they accepted me to come into their program and try to help them win.”
Lyons averaged a team-high 15.6 points per game this season.
“I don’t know if he’ll ever play in anyone’s NBA,” said UA assistant coach Book Richardson. “But I do know as talented as he is, he’ll have an opportunity to take care of himself in basketball.”
ONE MORE SWEET 16
Senior Solomon Hill has become quite familiar with the intro video at McKale Center in which former Arizona Wildcats tout the accomplishments of the program.
The video will have to be updated before next season to include the phrase “15 Sweet Sixteens” … and perhaps Hill is the man to deliver those words. He just wishes he didn’t have to speak before Derrick Williams utters “nine Elite Eights.”
Said Hill: “Yeah, that would be cool, but in the back of my mind there’s Derrick and trying to get the Final Four one after him, or possible getting that Elite Eight one, getting in a position where it’s our time to say it. That would have been pretty cool. You never want to be anything less than that.
“You talk about being on the video after Derrick, that’s greatness. But we have to settle for a Sweet 16.”
HE SAID IT
“That was about as high-powered a college basketball game as I’ve been a part of. You look at the plays the Arizona players made, the plays that the Buckeyes made. They’re up 11, we get up 10. Just a battle.” — Ohio State coach Thad Matta
IN A RHYTHM
Before LaQuinton Ross made his game-winning 3-point shot, he was 5 of 5 from the free throw line. “When you make your free throws, you’re in rhythm,” said Arizona senior Solomon Hill. “I think that’s what he was in that rhythm to knock down a three.”
Forward Deshaun Thomas led Ohio state with 20 points, making 7 of 14 shots from the field, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range. He was, as expected, the most gifted offensive player on the court, looking like the All-American he is.
“He’s a natural scorer,” said Hill, who drew the primary defensive assignment. “He doesn’t need to dribble the ball to score.”
The Arizona pep band dusted off an old tradition, yelling, “Hi, Lute!” as former Arizona head coach Lute Olson made his way to his seats about a dozen rows up opposite the teams’ benches. Olson responded to the band’s waves.