NCAA Tournament: Arizona rolls past Harvard (with video)
By Steve Luhm
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Mar 23 2013 08:00PM
One of these days, Arizona will be tested in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
It hasn’t happened yet.
For the second straight game, the Wildcats went wire-to-wire against an overmatched opponent Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena.
This time, the victim was Ivy League champion Harvard.
Senior guard Mark Lyons scored 27 points and Arizona advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time in five years with a 74-51 victory over the cold-shooting Crimson.
Arizona, seeded sixth in the West Regional, also got a 13-point, 10-rebound effort from senior forward Solomon Hill while improving its record to 27-7.
"They’re a sensational basketball team," Crimson coach Tommy Amaker said. "... They have all the pieces, when you think about it, that’s necessary to have a championship-level team."
The Wildcats split their final 10 games heading into the tournament, but they have not trailed in wins over 11th-seeded Belmont or 14th-seeded Harvard.
They built a 14-4 lead over the Bruins on Thursday night and, when the Crimson missed their first 13 shots in this game, Arizona rolled to a 17-2 lead.
On Harvard’s first two possessions, Christian Webster and Laurent Rivard got open looks from the 3-point line, but they missed badly.
"We broke down," Miller admitted, "and they just missed. Sometimes when you get off to a slow start, it’s like you’re playing catch-up the whole game.
That’s exactly what happened to the Crimson.
Arizona took a 5-0 lead and, after Harvard’s Kenyatta Smith made two free throws 21/2 minutes into the game, Lyons triggered a 12-0 run by the Wildcats with a 3-pointer.
Just over five minutes later, Arizona owned a 15-point lead. It was even bigger than the 14-4 advantage the Wildcats started with against Belmont.
Certainly, Arizona had not overlooked underdog Harvard.
"You can’t take anybody lightly," said Hill. "Any game can go any way. That’s the way we look at it."
Said Lyons: "... We knew they were capable of beating anybody. It’s not the name on the jersey. So we went out there and played them like any other team we have to face."
Arizona owned a 40-22 lead at halftime, after holding Harvard to 7-for-28 shooting and outrebounding the Crimson, 21-13.
"We have a bigger team," Hill said. "So controlling the boards and limiting them on second shots really helped us control the game."
If there was anything close to a critical moment in the second half, it came after Webster and Siyani Chambers knocked down back-to-back 3-point shots.
The Crimson trailed, 44-30, with 17 minutes remaining when Lyons took over.
His baseline drive stopped Harvard’s momentum and, following a missed 3-pointer by Rivard, Lyons knocked down a 3.
Within a minute, Arizona regained control and coasted to its victory.
Lyons "was big off the ball screen and attacked the bigs," Chambers said. "... He did what most great guards do — tried to make plays for himself and his teammates. That’s what he did that I thought was very, very effective."