Mark Lyons scored 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting to lead No. 7 Arizona past Arizona State, 71-54, at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday.
Arizona-Arizona State was hyped for much of the week, due in large part to the backcourt matchup of Lyons and point guard Jahii Carson for Arizona State. It had all the important contrasts: veteran vs. freshman, favorite vs. underdog, transfer vs. patient redshirt.
Lyons has drawn criticism so far this season, with detractors citing Lyons’ move to point guard from shooting guard as a reason to be wary of Arizona, come March.
Carson, on the other hand, is the young, quick, scoring-oriented point guard in the modern mold. He’s able to score for himself off the dribble, but can also create for others.
Lyons ultimately won the battle Saturday, though both had their own struggles with foul trouble. Carson finished with 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
Arizona continues on its quest for a Pac-12 championship, while coach Herb Sendek on the Sun Devils have done an impressive job of turning around a 10-21 season last year to already have 14 wins in 2012-13.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)