HONOLULU (AP) — Miami had 14 steals against No. 4 Arizona, and still wasn’t close to taking down one of college basketball’s few remaining unbeaten teams.
Arizona focused on Miami’s backcourt, holding the duo of Shane Larkin and Durand Scott to eight field goals as the Wildcats won 69-50 on Sunday night at the Diamond Head Classic.
“Shane Larkin and Durand Scott are a handful, and I thought that from an offensive perspective and a defensive perspective, our two guys were really ready,” said Arizona’s Sean Miller, who earned his 200th coaching victory.
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Kenny Kadji led Miami (8-2) with 19 points, matching the output of Arizona’s Mark Lyons.
“It was one of our best performances of the year and it came at the expense of a good team,” Miller said.
The score itself was nothing special for the Wildcats, who have won eight games by double digits and five by more than 20 points.
Nick Johnson had 12 points, and Kevin Parrom added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats (11-0).
Arizona, one of five unbeaten teams left in the country, advanced to Tuesday’s championship game of the eight-team tournament against No. 18 San Diego State, which beat Indiana State 62-55 earlier Sunday. Miami will play Indiana State in the tournament’s third-place game on Christmas.
After a close game early with several ties and lead changes, Arizona took a 14-point lead toward the end of the first half and pulled further away in the second. The Wildcats dominated on rebounds and spread their offense among several players.
Miami went scoreless for a four-minute stretch of the second half. Arizona scored 10 points during the drought to take a 26-point lead with less than three minutes remaining.
Arizona shot 48.1 percent (25 of 52) for the game, including 44 percent from 3-point range. Miami made only five 3-pointers, two in the second half.
Kadji took nearly half of his team’s shots. Durand Scott scored 15 points.
A putback dunk from Kaleb Tarczewski gave Arizona a 16-point lead seven minutes into the second half. A few minutes later, Lyons casually sank a long 3-pointer to push the lead to 19, then slowly walked backward down the court without expression.
“He has great belief in himself and he can really shoot the ball,” Miller said of Lyons. “He also has a competitive nature that can be contagious, but no question: He set the tone from the onset, and I thought that he was very good throughout.”
Lyons says he tries to stay serious on the court to set an example for his teammates.
“Your team is going to look at you, and that’s going to rub off on them, so I just try to stay with a straight face and let them know we still have to compete,” Lyons said.
Tarczewski scored eight points and had 13 of Arizona’s 46 rebounds. Miami had only 20 rebounds.
Arizona has played only one close game this season, a one-point victory over Florida on Dec. 15. One thing Miller said his club could improve on is cutting down on turnovers. The Wildcats had 16 against Miami.
“We’re trying to be a team that can do some special things and I think that we want to be hard on ourselves,” Miller said. “There’s always things that we can do better.”