NCAA BK

Arizona-ETSU Preview

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One of the bigger upsets in NCAA tournament history came in 1992 when East Tennessee State stunned Arizona.

More than 20 years later, these teams are finally meeting again – and the No. 4 Wildcats will be heavily favored.

Arizona is enjoying its best start in 25 years heading into Saturday night's matchup with the struggling Buccaneers in the quarterfinals of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.

Back in 1992, Arizona was seeded third and East Tennessee State 14th, but the Buccaneers posted an 87-80 first-round victory over a Wildcats team that included future NBA draft picks Damon Stoudamire, Chris Mills and Sean Rooks.

It remains the most recent NCAA tournament win for East Tennessee State.

This contest seems like a mismatch with Arizona (9-0) off to its best start since the 1987-88 team began 12-0 en route to reaching the Final Four. East Tennessee State (2-7) has used eight different lineups and has nine healthy players, most of them with limited Division I experience.

The Wildcats travel to Hawaii after cruising to an 89-64 rout over Oral Roberts on Tuesday. There was no sign of a letdown after Arizona's come-from-behind 65-64 home win over then-No. 5 Florida on Saturday.

"If you want to be labeled as a great team or a team that has a chance to win a national championship, you have to get over games like the Florida game," forward Solomon Hill said. "You need to have a new focus. Florida is behind us and now we are looking to Hawaii."

Xavier transfer Mark Lyons scored 17 points Tuesday to lead five players in double figures for Arizona, which shot 57.6 percent. The Wildcats lead the Pac-12 at 49.5 percent.

There were signs of sloppiness with 17 turnovers after Arizona averaged 10.5 in its two previous games.

"We weren't perfect tonight," coach Sean Miller said. "We did some really good things, but the things we didn't do so well we will learn from."

East Tennessee State lost its fourth straight Tuesday, 72-51 at home to Charleston Southern. The game was tied at 16 before the Buccaneers allowed 21 of the first half's final 23 points.

Coach Murry Bartow's team also gave up 12 straight points in the second half.

"We got off to a good start tonight, but the last 12 minutes of the first half were abysmal and a 10-minute stretch there in the second half was even more abysmal," Bartow said. "Right now we have so many holes to fill it's hard to know where to start."

East Tennessee State has lost by an average of 22.8 points during its slide. Tuesday's defeat was especially disheartening because Charleston Southern is the only Division I team the Buccaneers have defeated this season, 59-57 on Nov. 20.

Freshman Lester Wilson led East Tennessee State with 16 points Tuesday. He's averaging 17.9 for the season.

Lyons will be playing in this tournament for the second straight year. He averaged 17.5 points in two games for the Musketeers last season after missing Xavier's tournament opener due to a suspension for his role in a brawl with Cincinnati.

The winner will face host Hawaii or Miami in Sunday's semifinals.

Tagged: Arizona, Tennessee, Florida, Tennessee State, East Tennessee State, Hawaii

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