Arizona downs Harvard to advance to Sweet 16
Salt Lake City, UT (Sports Network) - The clock struck midnight for one of the Cinderella teams of this year's NCAA Tournament.
Mark Lyons poured in 27 points and Arizona breezed into the Sweet 16 with an authoritative 74-51 victory over underdog Harvard in a West Region third round matchup.
Lyons made good on 12-of-17 field goal attempts to match a career scoring high to pace an offensive attack the Crimson had trouble containing, and Arizona (27-7) did its part on the defensive end as well in a wire-to-wire win that placed the sixth-seeded Wildcats into Thursday's Regional semifinal in Los Angeles against either Ohio State or Iowa State.
"The history of Arizona speaks for itself," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. "This time of year, we not only represent ourselves, but all the great players and teams of the past."
Solomon Hill added 13 points for Arizona, which held Harvard to a 27.6 percent shooting percentage two days after the 14th-seeded Crimson (20-10) produced a shocking 68-62 upset of New Mexico for the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
Kenyatta Smith was the lone Harvard player to reach double figures, finishing with 10 points.
Harvard shot over 52 percent from the floor in Thursday's ousting of New Mexico, but misfired on its first 13 field goal tries in this one as Arizona roared out to a 17-2 lead just over seven minutes in.
Siyani Chambers finally ended the Crimson's drought by knocking down a 3- pointer with 12:16 left in the first half, but Harvard continued to struggle offensively and dug itself an even larger hole shortly afterward.
Hill spearheaded a 13-4 burst that extended Arizona's margin, with the versatile forward draining a pair of treys during the surge and capping it with a thunderous transition dunk that gave the Wildcats a commanding 30-9 advantage with 8:21 remaining before intermission.
"We had some open opportunities early, and once we missed some, we kind of got our heads down and they took advantage of it," Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker said.
The Wildcats were up by as many as 22 during the period and cruised into the break carrying a comfortable 40-22 lead after limiting the Crimson to a 25 percent success rate from the field for the first half.
Harvard was able to slightly close the gap early on in the second half, with Christian Webster and Chambers each sinking 3-pointers during an 8-2 spurt that pulled the Crimson within 44-30 with three minutes elapsed in the session. Lyons put up five points on Arizona's next two possessions, however, and the Wildcats were never seriously threatened thereafter.
After Webster hit a three with 5:12 to go that cut Harvard's deficit to 67-49, the Crimson failed to score until reserve Michael Hall ended the game with a layup with two seconds left.
Arizona forward Grant Jerrett injured his right elbow after a hard fall with 14:37 left in the first half and did not return ... Lyons, a transfer from Xavier, also had 27 points while with the Musketeers against Saint Louis on Jan. 25, 2012 ... The Wildcats improved to 14-3 in the NCAA Tournament's Round of 32 since 1985, while head coach Sean Miller has now taken a team to the Sweet 16 four times in six career tourney appearances ... The 23-point victory was Arizona's largest in NCAA Tournament play since a 94-65 rout of Wisconsin in the first round of the 2006 edition ... The Crimson were bidding to become the first Ivy League school to reach the Sweet 16 since Cornell did so in 2010.
03/24 02:33:06 ET