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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona Wildcats basketball: Some thoughts, notes and quotes from Salt Lake City

%09Harvard+guard+Christian+Webster+was+all+smiles+in+Harvard%26%238217%3Bs+post+game+press+conference+after+the+13th-seed+Crimson+defeated+third-seed+New+Mexico+in+the+NCAA+Tournament+at+EnergySolutions+Arena+in+Salt+Lake+City+on+March+21%2C+2013+
Tyler Besh

Harvard guard Christian Webster was all smiles in Harvard’s post game press conference after the 13th-seed Crimson defeated third-seed New Mexico in the NCAA Tournament at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on March 21, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s cold, and snowy here.

Even so, the Arizona Wildcats are feeling pretty cozy right now, heading into a matchup with 14-seed Harvard after anticipating a matchup with third-seed New Mexico.

Check back later today for quotes from players and head coach Sean Miller on Saturday’s matchup (which will be at 3:10 p.m. on TNT), as I will be speaking with them after today’s practice at EnergySolutions Arena.

In the meantime, here’s some stuff from last night about the Wildcats and their prospects going forward.

Lyons on point

Mark Lyons has been here before.

He had already played in seven NCAA Tournament games with Xavier coming into Thursday’s Belmont game.

“Me being here for three years in a row, it helped me,” Lyons said. “I wasn’t nervous coming to the game. I told the guys its just another game you just gotta focus. It’s another game we gotta play, you just gotta focus.”

But it’s not as though he lit it up for the Musketeers.

Here are his year-by-year numbers with Xavier.
2011-12 (three games): 10.3 points per game, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 3.3 turnovers per game with 32 percent shooting in 34.3 minutes per game.
2010-11 (one game): 6 points, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 3-of-9 (33.3 percent) shooting in 25 minutes.
2009-10 (three games): 1.7 points per game, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals with 20 percent (2-of-10) shooting in 16.3 minutes per game.

He might’ve had his best tournament game, on his eighth try, against Belmont. Lyons led all scorers with 23 points and only had two turnovers — well, he only had one assist, but still not terrible. He shot 53.3 percent from the field on 15 shots, which is unheard of from Lyons, especially recently.

In his last five games, he shot 30.5 percent from the field and was getting 12.4 points, 2.0 assists and 2.6 turnovers per game.

“I expected him to do what he did tonight,” said guard/forward Kevin Parrom, “and hopefully he’ll carry on Saturday like he should. He’s a veteran, he’s supposed to be doing what he’s doing.”

Stifling Cinderella

Just as many might have overestimated Belmont, you shouldn’t underestimate the Crimson.

Harvard comes from the Ivy League, not exactly a top-tier conference, but you don’t beat a 3-seed without having some semblance of ability.

Arizona doesn’t have very much experience being knocked off by mid-majors, but Saturday certainly wouldn’t be the time to start doing that.

The last time a technical “mid-major” beat Arizona in the NCAA Tournament came in the Elite Eight in 1998 against Utah, now a member of the Pac-12 but formerly the Mountain West. The Utes, though, were a three-seed and wound up in the National Championship game before falling to Kentucky.

So, you’d have to go back to 1995 to find the last real mid-major UA upset. That’s when the fifth-seed Wildcats, led by Damon Stoudamire and a freshman Miles Simon and, fell to 12th-seed Miami (Oh.) in the first round.

The matchup with Harvard with the Sweet 16 on the line feels similar to the Wildcats matchup to a 13-seed Cleveland State in 2009, which Arizona won.

Harvard on Arizona

In celebrating their win over the Lobos last night, I was able to ask a few of the Crimson’s players about their matchup with Arizona. Supposedly, people who go to Harvard are pretty smart. The players understand how difficult it will be to win tomorrow.

“Theyre a very, very, very talented team,” said freshman point guard Siyani Chambers. “From top to bottom they have great athletes. They’re a great, great team. It’ll be a great challenge and we’re ready to face it.”

“We know they’re a talented team, very aggressive,” forward Kenyatta Smith said. “And it’s just something we have to pay attention to in our scout and be prepared for.”

Tommy Amaker, Harvard’s head coach, called Arizona “one of the more talented teams in the country.”

Las Vegas has the Wildcats as a 9.5 point favorite for Saturday’s game.

Keep an eye on the (2) Ohio State-(15) Iona game tonight at 5:15 p.m, because if Arizona advances to the enxt round as expected, the Buckeyes are their likely opponent for the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles.

Although, it would be pretty cool to see Momo Jones-Arizona matchup.

— Zack Rosenblatt can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or via Twitter at @ZackBlatt.

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