Postgame Analysis: Belmont

Arizona opened the NCAA Tournament with a win on Thursday night. Read on to find out it they did it, including which player was most instrumental to the victory.

The Arizona Wildcats opened the NCAA tournament with big victory, beating upset-minded Belmont in a game that never seemed close after halftime. Here's an analysis of what happened.

Player of the Game:

Mark Lyons: The senior came out wild to start the first half, but eventually calmed down and took over the game. Lyons finished with a career-tournament-high 21 points, hitting three of seven shots from beyond the arc. He had just one assist to two turnovers, but managed the game much better in the second half, allowing Arizona to build a sizable lead.

Key Moments:

  • Jordin Mayes made his only attempted shot of the night eight minutes into the game. The three-pointer gave the Wildcats an early ten-point lead, allowing the team to play with more confidence.

  • The Wildcats used a 11-2 run heading into halftime. Arizona forced multiple bad shots and turnovers during the last five minutes of the half, putting a sizable distance between the two teams at the break.

  • After the Bruins used a 10-0 run to cut the Arizona lead to eleven late in the second half, both teams traded points for multiple possessions. Nick Johnson found a wide-open Solomon Hill on the wing, where he nailed his third triple of the night, sealing the game for the Wildcats with an eighteen-point lead.

    General Thoughts:

    With many national experts calling for the upset, Arizona came out with a chip on its shoulder early. Lyons and Johnson both tried to do too much too early in the game and it resulted in a slow start. However, once they slowed down and ran the offense the way it has been run all season, shots started falling.

    It really all started with the Mayes three-pointer from the corner. It was a possession that allowed the Wildcats to spread the floor and get a wide open shot for the first time in the game.

    After that, the offense started to get in a rhythm and there weren't many more times that Arizona struggled on the offensive end, save for a short stretch in the second half.

    Playing the early game on Thursday has definitely helped Arizona as well. The coaches know that they will be staying for the next round and were able to scout the late game of the night. It also gives the players a few extra hours of rest, as well as being able to watch the possible opponents.

    Sean Miller Quotable:

    "We just wanted to one by one point," Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller said. "If we won by one point in triple overtime, we'll take it. It's about advancing. Sometimes you can play really well in this tournament and leave.

    "The difference is that there is no more game ready and waiting for you. We focused in the second half. We finished well in the second half, no question we were trying to play well. Our defense slipped in the second half, but I tell you, Belmont is very difficult to keep up with for forty minutes."

    Wildcat Quotable:

    "It's confidence, that's the biggest thing he brings to this team, brings to me, a young player that has gone through some issues," Johnson said about what he appreciates most about Lyons. "So I mean, that's my big brother and that's the best thing."

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