TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona senior point guard Mark Lyons knew the pregame hype. His Arizona State counterpart, freshman Jahii Carson, had tweeted last month that no point guard in the Pac-12 was better than him.
Lyons, a graduate transfer from Xavier, gave his reply on the court Saturday, scoring 24 points to lead seventh-ranked Arizona to a 71-54 victory in front of 10,900 at Wells Fargo Arena.
And Lyons one-upped Carson after the game, too.
"Honestly, I don't want to be the best point guard in the Pac-12," he said. "I want to be the best point guard in the country. I aim for the moon. If I miss, I'm still amongst the stars."
Lyons tied his Arizona career high in scoring but fell three short of his career high, set last season vs. St. Louis.
Carson countered with 22 points but started the second half with three fouls, and Arizona (16-1 overall, 4-1 Pac-12) took advantage of his timid defense. He picked up his third foul with 9.7 seconds left in the first half, plowing over Kevin Parrom for a charge on a drive to the basket. Lyons, among others, attacked Carson in the second half, scoring 15 points after the break.
"Once Carson picked up his third foul, I thought that was a big turning point in the game," Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
"It's tough to be as aggressive when you have three. And when he got his fourth, we really tried to attack that fact. We did that well. It put him in a bad position with our strong drivers, and a lot of those strong drives happened just because he was playing to not commit his fifth foul."
Sophomore guard Nick Johnson added 19 points for Arizona. Senior forward Solomon Hill added 13 points and five assists.
Arizona led throughout the second half, but ASU (14-4, 3-2) cut the deficit to 46-44 with 10:26 to play on a layup by Carson. Arizona pulled away from there, taking advantage of Carson's brief absence after he picked up his fourth foul trying to defend Lyons' drive with 9:50 to go.
Arizona led by nine by the time he came back in with 8:06 to go, and the Wildcats finished the 11-0 run on a spinning drive to the basket by Lyons to make the score 57-44 with 6:24 left.
Arizona's final seven baskets of the game, spanning more than eight minutes, were layups.
"I mostly keep the point guards in front of me, but with me being in foul trouble it puts my teammates in an awkward position to have to get out there and guard a smaller guard," Carson said. "I think it had a huge swing. I just think the tempo changed when I had four fouls."
Miller said his team's defensive effort was the foremost key to the game. Arizona State's other major offensive weapons -- wing Carrick Felix and Jordan Bachynski -- were held to a season-low five and three points, respectively. They came into the game averaging nearly 27 points combined.
Felix, averaging 16.8 points, was held to 1-of-8 shooting, often guarded by freshman Brandon Ashley.
"We've been relying so heavily on Carrick," ASU coach Herb Sendek said. "He's having a sensational senior year and today wasn't his day in any way, shape, or form.
"For us to absorb a kind of game like that from Carrick is a lot to ask of our team right now, because we depend on him in so many different ways. This just wasn't his day at the ballpark."
Arizona avenged a 64-62 loss in Tempe in last year's finale, a defeat that likely kept UA from earning an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament.
NOTES: ASU guard Chris Colvin was not in uniform because of a violation of team rules. He has been the team's top reserve, averaging 5.7 points per game. Sendek said he did not know whether Colvin would play Saturday vs. USC. "He's having a really good senior year for us," Sendek said. "We'll get through this and come back." ... Sendek dropped to 2-5 against Miller, who was an assistant to Sendek at Miami (Ohio) and North Carolina State. Sendek is 7-7 vs. Arizona. ... ASU honored its football team at halftime and brought out the Territorial Cup it won by beating Arizona in the regular-season finale in November.