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Lyons helps Arizona end two-game skid

The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Arizona point guard Mark Lyons took turns looking like the best and worst player on the court.

But Lyons, a graduate transfer from Xavier, was there at the end for the No. 9 Wildcats, who ended a two-game losing streak by holding on to beat Utah 68-64 at the Huntsman Center on Sunday.

Arizona (21-4 overall, 9-4 Pac-12) never trailed but had to rally after the Utes came back from a 13-point deficit with 16:03 left, tying the game at 51 on a tip-in by Jason Washburn with 7:27 to go. Lyons took charge late in the game, scoring nine points in the final six minutes.

He scored a game-high 18 points and had five assists, but he also had five turnovers and was 1-of-9 from 3-point range. He was 5-of-5 inside the arc, including three drives to the basket in the final six minutes.

"He was the difference down the stretch," said Arizona coach Sean Miller. "And he was, in some regards, probably the reason we were in a tough game because he couldn't make a three and defensively he let his guard down for a segment.

"But when the chips are down, he's done it through the course of the season. He's one of the reasons why we're 21-4, because, at the end of the game, he makes big plays and big shots."

Solomon Hill and Brandon Ashley each had 10 points for Arizona.

Senior guard Jarred DuBois led Utah with 16 points, and Washburn added 15. Freshman post player Jeremy Olsen, averaging 2.9 points, tied his career high with 12 points.

Utah, which was coming off a home win over Arizona State, has yet to win consecutive conference games since joining the Pac-12 last season. The Utes fell to 11-14 overall and 3-10 in the conference.

"After coming off the big win against ASU, to beat the No. 9 team in the country, it would have been big," Washburn said. "More importantly, we need to get those consecutive wins that keep evading us."

The game was reminiscent of the teams' first meeting in Tucson, when Utah trimmed a 10-point second-half deficit to one and missed a last-second 3-pointer as Arizona survived 60-57. The Utes never led in either game but made it interesting both times, including going on a 21-8 run that tied the game in the second half Sunday.

"To me, we wore down," Miller said. "We weren't responsible. We didn't try to smother them to get back-to-back stops and really break it open. All of a sudden, shooters were free. We fouled. We reached. We put ourselves in a position we've put ourselves in very often this year -- a one-possession game and really a tough battle to the end."

After the game was tied at 51, Arizona answered with a 5-0 run. Hill followed a 3-point miss with an offensive rebound and drive to the basket for a layup. After Washburn missed a jumper, Lyons finished a fast break with a three-point play with 5:52 remaining.

The Utes closed to three points on two occasions but couldn't make it a one-possession game in the final minute. Jordan Loveridge missed what would have been a key 3-pointer from the corner with 45 seconds left and Utah down 64-59.

Lyons missed the front end of a one-and-one with 15 seconds left and Arizona up 66-61, but he came up with a steal on the other end to secure the victory.

Utah shot just 39.6 percent and committed 15 turnovers, nine in the first half.

"I'm proud of our guys," said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. "We had some mindless turnovers. But I was encouraged that we came back and were a couple of plays away from making it happen."

Miller made a rare change in his starting lineup, inserting senior wing Kevin Parrom for Ashley, a freshman power forward. Miller said he wanted to give a senior more responsibility down the stretch and to shake things up to help solve the team's recent slow starts at the beginning of games and after halftime.

Parrom wasn't a factor offensively early, but the Wildcats got off to a decent start, making six of their first seven shots. Parrom finished with nine points and nine rebounds, doing all his scoring in the second half, including two layups in the final four minutes.

Notes: Utah played host to a top 10 team in the Huntsman Center for just the second time since 2002. ... Arizona has won the past seven meetings with Utah. ... Every Utah player wore "Freedom" instead of his last name on the back of his jersey. The team was honoring military personnel and first responders, who could attend the game at no charge. ... Loveridge, who played only five minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, was 1-of-9 from the field en route to five points.
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