CLEMSON, S.C. — Once again, Clemson had a chance to pull off the upset against a ranked opponent. Just like the first time, it didn't work out for the Tigers.
Clemson erased an early 14-point deficit and grabbed the lead in the second half, but Mark Lyons helped No. 8 Arizona rally for a 66-54 victory at Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday night.
Last month, the Tigers led No. 10 Gonzaga at the Old Spice Classic before going on to a 57-49 loss.
"This is still a situation where we've played two high-level teams and played reasonably well at times," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "But for whatever reason, we haven't been able to finish."
Youth could have something to do with it. The Tigers have just two upperclassmen on the roster in seniors Devin Booker and Milton Jennings. Clemson's depth took a hit this week, too, when guard T.J. Sapp decided to transfer.
"We don't have that go-to scorer that can settle your team down and go make something happen when you need something to happen," Brownell said. "That's a problem at times."
Arizona had squandered a double-digit lead from the opening half and was trailing 42-36 when Lyons and his teammates dug in.
The result was a back-breaking 25-7 surge over the next 10 minutes that gave Arizona a 7-0 record for its best start in 14 years. Lyons finished with a season-high 20 points.
"He has a confidence in our huddle and a toughness about him when going against confident players because he's been in so many big games," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "He's contagious. And I thought one of the reasons we continued to stay with it and fight in the second half was his disposition."
This is Lyons' first season at Arizona. He spent three years at Xavier, helping the team to three NCAA tournament appearances.
Eligible to play immediately as a graduate transfer, Lyons has thrown himself into his new surroundings.
"It's an easy transition for me because of the guys I'm playing with," he said. "My coach is a great point guard back in his day and he's just making me better every day."
That was apparent at Clemson, especially in the second half.
The Wildcats were staggering after they wasted a 22-8 lead and were down by six after Rod Hall's 3-pointer with a second left on the shot clock. Lyons steadied the team and got back to work.
Lyons and Solomon Hill had two free throws apiece and Brandon Ashley had two baskets to tie it at 44.
Clemson took its last lead moments later at 47-44 on Milton Jennings' 3-pointer with 8:38 to go.
After Jordin Mayes tied it for Arizona with a 3, Lyons found a wide-open Kaleb Tarczewski for the go-ahead layup and the Wildcats never trailed again.
When Lyons went in for a layup with 2:19 remaining, the Wildcats were ahead 61-49.
"This will help our morale," Lyons said. "When we go on the road, we'll be ready. And if we're ever in a close game, we know what it takes to overcome it."
Clemson (5-3) scored just two field goals in the final 8:45. Jennings led the Tigers with 15 points in his return from a two-game suspension because of a drug arrest.
Nick Johnson had 13 points and Hill had seven points and 10 rebounds for Arizona. But it was Lyons' steady control that bailed the Wildcats out down the stretch.
GEORGIA TECH 73, UNC WILMINGTON 66
In Atlanta, Georgia Tech freshman Robert Carter Jr. scored a career-high 19 points, and the Yellow Jackets (6-2) used a late 9-0 run to rally past UNC Wilmington (4-5).
Daniel Miller scored 12 points for Georgia Tech (6-2), and freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt added 10.
UNC Wilmington’s Chris Dixon scored a game-high 20 points.
NO. 1 INDIANA 100,
CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE 69
In Bloomington, Ind., Christian Watford scored 21 points, Cody Zeller had 19 points and 19 rebounds, and Indiana (9-0) routed Central Connecticut State (4-4).
NO. 2 DUKE 90, TEMPLE 67
In East Rutherford, N.J., Seth Curry scored 23 points, big men Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly had double-doubles and Duke (9-0) beat Temple (6-1) in a matchup of unbeatens.
NO. 3 MICHIGAN 80, ARKANSAS 67
In Ann Arbor, Mich. Jordan Morgan scored a season-high 12 points and matched a season high with 10 rebounds to Michigan (9-0) beat Arkansas (4-4).
NO. 4 SYRACUSE 108, MONMOUTH (N.J.) 56
In Syracuse, N.Y., Michael-Carter Williams had 15 points and a career-high 16 assists, C.J. Fair had 14 points and 10 rebounds, the second consecutive double-double for both players, and Syracuse (8-0) routed Monmouth (5-5.
NO. 5 LOUISVILLE 99, MISSOURI-KANSAS CITY 47
In Louisville, Ky., Russ Smith scored a career-high 31 points and Louisville (8-1) cruised past Missouri-Kansas City (4-5).
NO. 7 OHIO STATE 89, LONG BEACH STATE 55
In Columbus, Ohio, Deshaun Thomas had 18 points, including a 3-pointer in an 11-point run in the first half, to lead Ohio State (6-1) past Long Beach State (3-6).
NO. 9 KANSAS 90, COLORADO 54
In Lawrence, Kan., Ben McLemore scored 24 points, Kevin Young added 16 points and eight rebounds and Kansas (7-1) rolled over former Big 12 member Colorado (7-2).
NO. 11 CINCINNATI 92, MARYLAND-EASTERN SHORE 60
In Cincinnati, Cashmere Wright set a career high with six 3-pointers, and Sean Kilpatrick scored 19 of his 23 points in the first half, helping Cincinnati (9-0) rout Maryland-Eastern Shore (0-9).
NO. 12 MISSOURI 68, TENNESSEE STATE 38
In Columbia, Mo., Stefan Jankovic scored all 14 of his points in the second half, helping Missouri (8-1) overcome a sloppy first half en route to a victory over Tennessee State (4-6) .
NO. 15 GEORGETOWN 46, TOWSON 40
In Washington, Georgetown held Towson scoreless over the final 4½ minutes, and the Hoyas (7-1) won their second home clankfest in a row, recovering from a 17-point first half to beat the Tigers (4-5).
Georgetown shot 17 percent in the first half and 29 percent for the game. The Hoyas won with defense, forcing 22 turnovers .
NO. 19 MICHIGAN STATE 73, LOYOLA OF CHICAGO 61
In East Lansing, Mich., East Lansing, Mich., Gary Harris scored 20 points and Michigan State (8-2) pulled away in the second half to beat Loyola of Chicago (6-3).
NO. 20 NORTH CAROLINA 78, EAST TENNESSEE STATE 55
In Chapel Hill, N.C., Leslie McDonald scored 14 points and North Carolina (7-2) held East Tennessee State (2-5) to 12 points in the first half of a rout.
NO. 22 NOTRE DAME 84, BROWN 57
In South Bend, Ind., freshman Cameron Biedscheid had a career-high 17 points and Notre Dame (8-1) routed Brown (3-5).
NO. 23 OKLAHOMA STATE 62, MISSOURI STATE 42
In Stillwater, Okla., Markel Brown scored 15 points, Michael Cobbins and Le’Bryan Nash added 10 apiece and Oklahoma State (7-1) beat Missouri State (2-7).
NO. 24 WICHITA STATE 80, NORTHERN COLORADO 54
In Wichita, Kan., Cleanthony Early scored 16 points to lead Wichita State (9-0) past Northern Colorado (1-6).
NO. 25 N.C. STATE 80, CLEVELAND STATE 63
In Raleigh, N.C., Richard Howell had 17 points and 10 rebounds to help North Carolina State (6-2) beat Cleveland State (6-3) in its annual return to Reynolds Coliseum.
KENTUCKY 74, PORTLAND 46
In Lexington, Ky., Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin scored 15 points each to help lead Kentucky (6-3) past Portland (3-6).