The Arizona Wildcats continued on to the Sweet Sixteen with a victory over Harvard. Here’s an analysis of what happened.
Player of the Game:
Mark Lyons – The senior played what may have been his best offensive performing game of the season. He finished the game with a career-high 27 points on 12-17 shooting.
Lyons had just three assists as Arizona’s point guard, but only turned the ball over twice and was a vital component throughout the game, answering Harvard’s mini-runs and keeping the Wildcats ahead for good.
Over the course of the first seven minutes of the game, Arizona shut down Harvard defensively. The Wildcats forced the Crimson to miss their first thirteen shots and allowed Arizona to jump out to a commanding 17-2 lead at the midway point of the first half.
Four minutes into the second half, Lyons drove to the basket and made an acrobatic layup, falling to the ground. When he returned to the defensive end of the court, the guard was holding his stomach, motioning to the bench for a sub. Harvard missed a jumper, with Solomon Hill grabbing the board. On the ensuing trip down the court, Lyons swished a trey form the corner, putting Arizona back up nineteen points after the lead had been cut to fourteen.
Five minutes before advancing to the Sweet Sixteen, Jordin Mayes cut through the lane, making a layup and drawing the foul. He converted the free throw for the and-1, sealing the game for Arizona.
It may have seemed as if Arizona didn’t play well for parts of the game, but closer inspection of the box score shows that the Wildcats didn’t play bad at all. There were a few plays that some Wildcats took off or played poorly, but the overall effort was good for Arizona.
The Wildcats had just twelve turnovers on the day, forcing the Crimson to turn it over eight times. Arizona also out-rebounded Harvard by eight and dished out thirteen assists on the game. Even without one of the key role players, Grant Jerrett, for a majority of the night, the Wildcats were able to pull away and win by a large margin.
Sean Miller Quotable:
“Mark is filled with confidence and when he gets his confidence going it's contagious on our entire team,” Sean Miller said. “He's been in the tournament; there is no game he hasn't really played in other than an Elite Eight or Final Four."
“You know, it's a great feeling,” Lyons said of his opportunity at Arizona. “I'm playing for my original coach who recruited me, playing with a bunch of guys who believe in me and got faith in me; we've been coming together as a team. It's great to be back in the Sweet 16 and trying to advance.”