Arizona vs. Harvard: Keys to the Game

There are numerous aspects of the game that Arizona will have to excel at in order to beat Harvard on Saturday. Read on to see the keys to the game.

Arizona kicked off its NCAA Tournament on a high note on Thursday with a convincing victory over Belmont, a team that seemed to be a popular choice on a national level to upset the Wildcats.

Not only did that fail to happen, but Arizona came away looking like one of the better teams in the round of 64 and the Wildcats didn't even come through with a clean performance.

There were numerous things UA did well – shooting, on-ball defense and offensive movement, just to name a few. However, the Wildcats turned the ball over far too often and also experienced a couple of periods where mental lapses seemed to run rampant.
After facing Belmont, a squad that was well known for knocking down the shot from long range, the Wildcats will now matchup against the nation's sixth leading three-point shooting squad in Harvard. The Crimson do not possess a lot of size, but if they can locate their long-distance stroke, Arizona will be in for a very tough battle.

The team's performance on Thursday does need some tweaks, but if the Wildcats can carry over what they did positively on both ends of the floor while tying up some loose ends, they should be able to come away with another victory. It will likely be a tough battle, but if a few key things occur in UA's favor, the Crimson's run will end on Saturday.

Mark Lyons must continue to play under control: Lyons only picked up one assist and generally a team will want more from its starting point guard, but his 23 points on 8-for-15 shooting is a figure most Wildcats' fans will take on any night. Lyons hit a bit of a funk in the late portion of the season, but if his confidence is rolling and he is playing within the flow of the offense, he is the Wildcats' best scoring option.

Kaleb Tarczewski must be involved: The tallest player Harvard puts on the floor is 6-foot-8, so Tarczewski should be able to win any physical battle in the paint. His perfect shooting performance against Belmont is yet another indicator of the freshman's growth as a college basketball player. It would be wise for UA to find ways to constantly feed him the ball against a defense that he will tower over.

Arizona must cut down on turnovers: Committing 15 turnovers against a team that's at a severe disadvantage in terms of talent should be viewed as a red-flag. Harvard's ability to knock down the three can already be a tool to use to cut into deficits and extend leads, so if Arizona doesn't take better care of the ball, the Crimson are going to have a very good shot at pulling off another upset.

Arizona must dominate the glass once again: Belmont wasn't much of a factor on the boards on Thursday as UA was somehow able to hold the Bruins to a dismal 18 rebounds as a team. Meanwhile, the Wildcats pulled down 44 boards as a team and could have similar success over a Harvard squad that is at a serious size disadvantage.

Three-point shooting must continue to be a strength: There were numerous poor shooting stretches during Pac-12 play for Arizona. Thursday night's game, however, was reminiscent of how UA performed in non-conference play before the shooting struggles surfaced. If the Wildcats can shoot over 50 percent from the beyond the arc on Saturday, Harvard is going to have its hands full.

Seniors must continue to lead the way: As Solomon Hill showed against Belmont, stats aren't always reflective of a player's impact. A nine point performance isn't going to draw much attention from the national press, but the Wildcats were clearly a better team – especially in the first half – with the senior forward on the floor.

Throw in the performances of Lyons and Kevin Parrom, and UA had a solid trio leading the way in a winning effort and those three are going to need to bring their A-games for their college careers to stay alive.

Perimeter defense must be even stronger than Thursday: Belmont received a lot of attention for being a strong outside shooting team, but the Crimson have been even more impressive from long range. If Arizona can build off of Thursday's defensive performance, Harvard may find it difficult to locate the kind of shots it needs to advance to the Sweet-16.


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