Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons combined for 10 turnovers (five each) and only 20 points on 8-of-22 shooting. The Wildcats cannot win with performances like this from their leaders and two biggest scorers.
Mark Lyons as a player can be summed, in totality, in just a few moments late in the first half against the Bruins. He scores to bring the Wildcats within two. He gets in Larry Drew's face, claps a bunch and talks some trash. Just a minute later, when the Wildcats tie the game, he gets a pass, starts a one-on-three fast break (with himself as the one), attempts to run through two Bruins (that doesn't work), Larry Drew Two takes the ball from him, and assists to Kyle Anderson on a three point play.
Lyons is a really talented player, and I like what he brings. He plays with passion, confidence and a nastiness that has won Arizona a bunch of games this year. And these are the traits that make him effective.
Yet the mindless plays like the one described above need to stop. Pausing to think every once in a while wouldn't take away his passion, confidence and nastiness. It is just a little smarter.
He has been playing basketball close to 20 years. He must know that running into the middle of a bunch of the opposing players is a bad idea. Plays like this explain how a guy ends up with five turnovers for the third time since the Pac-12 season started.
He also shoots too much when he is having a bad night. I am all for a "heat check" here and there, but there is a time and a place for that. The time and place for jacking up a long three without running any offense isn't Pauley Pavilion, late in the second half, while attempting to come back. Lyons is a senior leader on this team, and overall he must make better decisions.
The problem with Hill's game is the opposite. He doesn't shoot enough. Now, in the UCLA game he might have some excuse because he was defending one the nation's great scorers and was in foul trouble, but seven shots is not enough.
Hill, in every game, should be attacking and take at least 13 shots. I've said this many times this year: When he is aggressive, every player on the team is better. Even if he isn't connecting, by making himself a threat, the defense must take into account one of the most versatile players in the country.
When he sits back, lets the game pass him by and shoots a three here or there, the Wildcats hurt for it. If Arizona is to reach its potential, Solomon Hill must be involved and in attack mode from the start. Hopefully he can use the Wildcats loss as a lesson to improve this team moving into the final stages of the season.