In their impressive win over New Mexico on Thursday, Harvard shot 22-42 from the field (52.4%) and 8-18 from three-point range (44.4%). On Saturday night, that same Harvard offense was held 16-58 shooting from the field (27.6%) and 5-18 from three-point range (27.8%). I wouldn’t say that the entire story is told in those two stat lines, but it’s pretty close.
The Arizona defense used their superior size, length, and quickness to befuddle the Harvard offense, and this wasn’t simply a case of Harvard shooting the ball poorly, but rather an instance of their entire game being changed by high-level defense. The Arizona offense was impressive in their own right, finishing the day having shot 55% from the field, but they started the game with a 30-9 run (in which Harvard shot 2-for-20 from the field), and they never looked back.
Mark Lyons led the charge for Arizona with 27 points (on 12-17 shooting), and he was flanked by a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double from the uber-talented Solomon Hill. Even with that duo taking the lead role, however, this was an extremely solid team effort, and they defended across the board.
The offensive output from the Crimson was really disappointing (see above), but no one player struggled as mightily as their leading scorer, Wesley Saunders. Saunders entered the game averaging nearly 17 points per game on the season (on 53.8% shooting), but he was overwhelmed on Saturday night, finishing just 1-of-11 from the field, and he simply couldn’t get anything going. There was no shame in the effort from Harvard, but they needed to shoot the lights out to compete with Arizona, and it went the exact opposite way.
One interesting/random note from this game was an obscure record by Lyons. The Arizona senior becomes the first player in the modern history of the NCAA Tournament to reach the Sweet 16 in back-to-back season with two different schools. He spent the majority of his career at Xavier (where he appeared in the tourney in 2012), and used an exception to transfer to Arizona to complete his studies.
Arizona advances to the Sweet 16 to square off with the winner of the Iowa State/Ohio State battle, and they are a legitimate threat in that ballgame. The Wildcats returned to the intensity level that they showed before the Pac-12 season began (when they knocked off Florida and San Diego State), and with their really high level of talent, they are capable of making a deep, deep run through next weekend and into Atlanta.
Be sure to stay tuned to FanSided.com and BustedBrackets.com throughout the entire tournament as we keep you up to date with the latest results. Will there be a Cinderella story in 2013? We will have to tune in and see.