Oral Roberts-Arizona Preview

Arizona will want to avoid a letdown after its biggest victory

of the season since its next game precedes a trip to Hawaii.

The fourth-ranked Wildcats can start 9-0 for the first time in a

quarter century when they host Oral Roberts and high-scoring Warren

Niles on Tuesday night.

Arizona scored the game’s final seven points in the last 56

seconds to stun then-No. 8 Florida 65-64 at home Saturday. Xavier

transfer Mark Lyons made the game-winning layup with 7 seconds

left, calling it the biggest shot he has hit in his life.

“We believe in a lot of guys on this team, but no one believes

in Mark Lyons more than me,” coach Sean Miller said. “I’ve seen him

since he’s been in 10th grade. Some guys are wired for the big

moment, big stage. That big shot, he wants to take it or make the

big play and no question when he drove I knew that something good

was going to happen.”

The Wildcats can begin with nine victories for the first time

since the 1987-88 team went 12-0 en route to the Final Four.

Arizona will try to improve to 7-0 at home before it begins play

Saturday in Honolulu at the Diamond Head Classic.

Rebounding could be a concern for the Wildcats, who were

outrebounded 33-22 by the Gators and gave up 12 offensive boards

while grabbing four. Improving that aspect of their game is

something that Miller probably needs to get through to his


“We did a good job on offensive rebounding tonight, but there

are a lot of things we can improve on,” forward Solomon Hill


The coach must also help his team guard against


“We’re the real deal,” sophomore guard Nick Johnson said.

“Everybody said something about our schedule before this and this

was the opportunity to prove ourselves in front of the nation.”

The Wildcats’ defense will set their sights on Niles, who is

averaging 20.9 points to lead all Southland Conference players.

Niles, a 6-foot-5 senior swingman, has made 28 of 54 3-pointers

(51.9 percent) and has demonstrated consistency with three straight

21-point efforts.

Oral Roberts (5-4) has not played since an 86-77 victory at

Texas State on Dec. 5. The Golden Eagles allowed the Bobcats to

make their first eight shots to fall into an early 12-point deficit

before recovering to build a five-point advantage at the break and

leading the rest of the way.

“We came out flat and missed shots,” coach Scott Sutton said. “I

thought we got great looks early and couldn’t make anything and

then we allowed them to get in transition.”

These schools have never met, although Lyons may have some

familiarity with Oral Roberts. The guard was serving a suspension

with the Musketeers last season for his role in a brawl with

Cincinnati and sat out Xavier’s 64-42 home loss to the Golden

Eagles on Dec. 18, 2011.