Arizona defeated Harvard on Saturday to advance in the NCAA tournament. Read on for news and notes on how the Wildcats got it done.
It was as if TNT was airing a repeat of Arizona
's performance from Thursday night, because the Wildcats dominated Harvard in nearly the exact same fashion as they did Belmont two nights before.
Known as an excellent three-point shooting team, the Crimson could get nothing going from the outside and they simply weren't physically prepared to handle UA in the paint. The result was a big Wildcats' win and the right to keep fighting on in the big dance.
For the second straight game, Arizona brought the intensity on the defensive end of the floor and flustered a team that tends to generate a big portion of its offense from behind the three-point line.
Unfortunately for the Crimson, the shots they took from long range were mostly contested and tight defense made it difficult for them to find any sort of consistency shooting the ball. On the other end of the floor, the Wildcats got off to a hot start and built a big lead that Harvard simply couldn't overcome.
It was another strong performance by a pair of seniors while the supporting cast did more than enough to help keep the Crimson down big.
Mark Lyons put together another strong performance and seems to be excelling at the right time. The senior guard tied a career-high 27 points on a very efficient 12-for-17 shooting, including 3-for-6 from beyond the arc.
The senior picked apart Harvard's defense, which had no answer for Lyons' repeated field goals. On top of his scoring output, Lyons dished out three assists and collected a steal on the defensive end of the floor.
Looking like a player determined to take the confidence out of the opposition, senior Solomon Hill scored 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
Hill was a big factor in the first half, where he hit two big threes and brought the thunder with a huge dunk in the middle of a big run. Hill's presence on the floor was crucial to the success of the offense once again and if he continues to play with the level of energy he has during the first two tournament games, the Wildcats are going to continue to find success on offense.
Arizona's third leading scorer was Jordin Mayes, who continues to emerge from a slump that lasted for the majority of the season. Mayes scored eight points on 3-for-7 shooting, but perhaps the more important thing is that he seems to have regained the confidence that has eluded him since the end of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Mayes also dished out three assists in 19 minutes of playing time, putting forth yet another strong outing.
Defense was the key for UA on Saturday. Harvard was held to just 27.6 percent shooting overall and 27.8 percent from beyond the arc. One of the biggest concerns for the Wildcats heading into the NCAA Tournament was their ability to defend the perimeter.
After two games against squads known to light it up from long range, UA's opponents are shooting below 30 percent from beyond the arc and have been blown out because of it.
There was a significant size advantage in Arizona's favor on Saturday and the Wildcats did a good job taking advantage of it. UA outscored Harvard in the paint 30-20 and out-rebounded the Crimson 39-33. With Harvard shooting poorly from deep, UA was able to take care of business near the basket and prevent its opponent from finding success in the paint.