Nov 11, 2012 9:10 PM
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Mark Lyons scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half of his debut for Arizona and the 12th-ranked Wildcats escaped with an 82-73 season-opening victory over Charleston Southern on Sunday.
The senior transfer from Xavier, who had six assists and no turnovers, led five Arizona players in double figures. Solomon Hill scored 14, Brandon Ashley and Nick Johnson 12 apiece and Jordin Mayes 10 for the Wildcats. All of Mayes' points came in the first half.
Arlon Harper scored 20 and Mathiang Muo 16 for Charleston Southern (0-2). Saah Nimley added 11 points and seven assists for the Buccaneers.
Arizona went 11-for-32 from 3-point range against the Charleston Southern zone defense. The smaller Buccaneers outrebounded Arizona 34-31 but committed 15 turnovers to the Wildcats' eight.
Charleston Southern trailed just 59-57 with eight minutes to play. Hill, on the bench much of the game with foul trouble, re-entered the game and sank a 3-pointer that put Arizona up 62-57 and the Wildcats slowly pulled away from there.
Nimley's two free throws with 4:29 to play cut Arizona's lead to 69-64, then Lyons drove the baseline, scored and was fouled. He converted the three-point play to make it 72-64 with 4:06 to play. Nimley was fouled on a three-point try and made two of the free throws, but Kevin Parrom responded with a three-point play to put Arizona ahead 75-66 3:25 from the finish.
Lyons' layup and Parrom's 3-pointer gave Arizona its biggest lead at 80-66 with 1:59 to play.
Charleston Southern, down 43-37 at the break, outscored the Wildcats 10-4 to start the second half, tying it at 47-47 on Cedrick Bowen's inside basket. Hill's 3-pointer put Arizona up for good, 50-47.
Ashley, one of four freshmen in the Wildcats' 10-man rotation, scored six in the final 1:34 of the first half.
Harper's two free throws gave the Buccaneers a 39-36 lead with 1:20 left in the half. Ashley's two free throws cut it to 39-38 with 1:01 to play, then after a Charleston Southern turnover, Johnson sank a 3-pointer to put Arizona up 41-39. The Wildcats' defense forced a five-second violation, and Ashley scored inside with 2.4 seconds to play to make it 43-39. He was fouled on the play but missed the free throw.
The Buccaneers, a preseason favorite in the Big South, made their first four shots to jump to an 11-4 lead and were up 25-19 when Jeremy Sexton sank a 3-pointer with 6:55 left in the half. But Arizona scored the next 10, the final eight by Mayes, to take a 29-25 lead on his 3 with 4:21 left in the half.