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Mark Lyons scored 17 points and hit three of Arizona’s nine three-point field goals, and the no. 12 Wildcats closed the game with a 15-2 run en route to a 72-51 win over UTEP on Thursday at the McKale Center.
Arizona (2-0) fired away from long range in the first half, shooting 8-for-13 from beyond the arc, then punished the Miners inside in the second period with 16 points in the paint. The Wildcats also crushed UTEP on the boards, 35-15. The 15 rebounds were the fewest by a Miner team since Feb. 17, 1979, when they also had 15 in a 28-27 loss to Wyoming.
“I really like this Arizona team,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “They can rebound it and destroyed us on the glass tonight. Lyons gives them great pressure on the ball at the 10-second line, and the guys seem to follow suit behind him by getting up the line and making it difficult for you to get into what you’re doing.”
Despite their deficiencies, the Miners (1-1) found themselves in position to spring the upset, trailing 57-49 when Julian Washburn drained a jumper with 7:48 to play. That capped a 16-7 spurt over 5:15 that cut a 17-point deficit (50-33) in half.
The Miners wouldn’t score again until 1:22 to play, however, as the next 13 points went to the Wildcats.
“They beat us off the dribble for 10 straight minutes at the end of the game, just drove us,” Floyd said. “We had no fill and help from behind with our big guys. Screen and roll coverage kind of broke down.”
The Washburn brothers – Julian and Chris – each scored 11 points to lead the Miners. Jacques Streeter added 10 points. UTEP shot 36 percent. Arizona shot 58 percent in the second half, heating up to 49 percent for the game.
“We didn’t really respond and had no real answer down the stretch,” Floyd said. “I really like their team, and we’ve got a long way to go.”
Solomon Hill tallied 10 points for the Wildcats. Six other players scored between six and nine points.
John Bohannon, who led the Miners in scoring in the opener versus Oral Roberts, totaled zero points and a rebound in 21 minutes. It ended a string of 26 straight games that he scored.
The Miners will get back to work on the practice floor before traveling to Orlando to participate in the Old Spice Classic Nov. 22-25. UTEP will start the tourney by taking on Oklahoma Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22) at 5 p.m. MT. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2.
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