Mark Lyons is the anchor of the Arizona Wildcats basketball team.
The senior transfer student from Xavier has been an integral part in why the Cats are 19-2, 7-2 Pac-12 and 10-1 at home. He has been the go-to guy in many of Arizona’s late-game heroics and many are calling him “Mr. Clutch” in Tucson.
Although there are many things that he does well, he is not perfect. In a couple of games this year, he has proven to be anything but clutch.
Thankfully, those games are few and far between, I will break down Lyons’ strengths and weaknesses and see what his future looks like in the postseason and beyond.
Great Court General
Lyons is a great captain and team leader. Although this is only his first season playing with the team, he practiced and bonded with the team last year.
He has started all 21 games this year and averages just under 30 minutes per contest. He is far and away the team’s leading scorer with 14.9 points per game on 42.6 percent shooting from the field.
Being a true point guard, he also leads the team in assists with 2.9 dishes per game. While this leads the team, he is 10th in the conference among point guards and even trails three non-guards.
When it comes to crunch time, there are few players that you would want running your team more than Mark Lyons.
Free Throw Accuracy
In these critical times, he needs to be at his best and come through and he does not falter. He has only missed 11 shots out of the 86 attempts this season for a team and conference-leading 87.2 percent. This also ranks him in the top 40 in the nation.
He has been perfect from the line in 11 games this year including a 10-10 performance against Colorado on Jan. 3.
When the game is on the line, you can trust Mark Lyons to come through at the free-throw line.
Shot Selection Is Questionable
This is an area that Lyons needs to work on in the immediate and long range future. He seems to get into the mode of having to carry the team and do it all. Unfortunately, for Coach Miller and the Cats, he takes bad shots when he should be moving the ball around more.
It was never more evident in the loss to UCLA when he had zero assists and only converted 37 percent of his shots before he fouled out of the game.
His 42 percent field goal percentage is the lowest on the team among the top six rotation players and his three-point shooting percentage of 33 percent ranks fifth on the team.
He has the precision to shoot well, he just needs to realize that he is not the only player on the team and keeping the ball moving is what will enable the team for a deep run in March.
Turnovers Are Getting “Out of Hand”
His 3.0 turnovers per game is the third most in the conference and his assist-to-turnover ratio of .98 percent is one of the worst in the nation.
The game versus UCLA on Jan. 24 was by far his worst game as he committed five turnovers to go along with five fouls.
Lyons hasn’t had a turnover-free game since the season opener against Charleston Southern and only escaped with one turnover on three occasions.
Mark Lyons is a great player that leads the team in several areas and he is one of the main reasons why the Wildcats are ranked No. 7 on both polls.
They would not be where they are at today if he were not on the roster. Although, he is a master on the court come crunch time, he needs to work on improving when it’s not crunch time.
If college basketball had closers like baseball, he would be my first choice, but they do not. When people talk about playing the full 40 minutes of the game, they are usually saying that the player has trouble finishing.
In Lyons’ case, it is the exact opposite.