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Cats earn split, defeat Beavers

Arizona bounced back from its first loss of the season by soundly defeating Oregon State in Corvallis Saturday. The Wildcats made 10 three-pointers in a comfortable 80-70 victory, leading by double digits the majority of the second half in route their fifteenth win over the season.

Arizona (15-1, 3-1 Pac-12) used a 9-2 scoring run to close out the first half and lead 43-35 at the break. Oregon State’s Ahmad Starks scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in the opening frame. However, the play of Starks wasn’t enough against Arizona’s six treys by halftime and 46.9 percent shooting from the field.

The Wildcats quickly extended its advantage to 49-37 on a steal and dunk by Mark Lyons who, along with Solomon Hill, led Arizona with 16 points. A three-pointer by Hill with 9:41 to play gave Arizona its largest lead of the game at 67-50 as the Wildcats would coast to the finish line and earn a split on their first conference road trip of the season.

Oregon State (10-6, 0-3 Pac-12) continued to struggle in league in large part due to the suspension of the team’s leading rebounder and best defender Eric Moreland. Without Moreland in the lineup for the second straight game, OSU had few answers for Arizona’s size inside. Wildcat freshman Grant Jerrett had a career-high six blocked shots against the Beavers. Jerrett also scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds while fellow classmate Brandon Ashley finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.

The Wildcats, which have been struggling defensively since the start of conference play, turned things around against the Beavers as OSU shot just 39.3 percent from the floor while making only 5-of-15 three-point attempts. Arizona also found renewed success on the offensive side of the floor as the Wildcats made 28-of-59 field goals (47.5%) while connecting on 40 percent of their 3-Point attempts (10-for-25).

Arizona’s starting backcourt of Lyons and Nick Johnsons combined to score 30 points, grab 11 rebounds and dish out 10 assists.

The Wildcats led 13-6 early following a three-point make by Jerrett. However, as Arizona has done throughout the season, the Wildcats allowed its opponent to creep back into the game as the Beavers closed to within 34-33 with 3:29 left in the first half.

The second half was a different story as Arizona took away OSU’s perimeter game and forced the Beavers to try and score inside a crowded painted area. The Beavers used a 9-3 scoring run to cut into Arizona’s 17-point advantage at 70-59 with seven minutes remaining. However, a three-point play by Johnson with 5:37 to go and a Lyons scoring drive with 2:17 left kept the Wildcats ahead by 14 points before a final push by the Beavers resulted in Arizona’s 10-point victory.

Joe Burton finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for OSU. Roberto Nelson also scored 15 points while big man Devon Collier had a career-best 15 rebounds to go along with 13 points.

Arizona does not return to action until next Saturday when they travel to Arizona State. The Sun Devils (14-2, 3-0 Pac-12) play tomorrow in Eugene when they visit the Oregon Ducks with first-place conference bragging rights on the line.

Follow me on Twitter @GaryRandazzo, and follow the website @WSRArizona.

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