Rushed Reactions: #6 Arizona 74 #14 Harvard 51Posted by AMurawa on March 23rd, 2013
Andrew Murawa is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Round of 32 game between #6 Arizona and #14 Harvard at the Salt Lake City pod this afternoon.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Physical Mismatch. It was clear just a couple of minutes into the game that Harvard was going to need to catch a lot of breaks to keep up in this game. As good as Wesley Saunders has been all year, he had no chance guarding Solomon Hill in the post. Harvard’s Kenyatta Smith was tough on Thursday against the New Mexico bigs, Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley were a whole different ball game. Freshman point guard Siyani Chambers looked overmatched and intimidated early by Mark Lyons, while Nick Johnson and Hill largely stuck with the Crimson’s shooters Laurent Rivard and Christian Webster, using their length, athleticism and confidence in the rest of their team’s defense to limit any good looks. In short, barring some seriously strange goings-on, Harvard never really had a chance in this one.
- Is Arizona Playing Well?. At times, as the lead hovered somewhere around 20 for the final three-quarters of the game, the Wildcats lost focus and let up some. Kevin Parrom wound up inexplicably fouling out in just 14 minutes of action. Grant Jerrett bruised an elbow early in the first half and never returned. Johnson attempted just three field goals in the 34 minutes of action (to be fair, he made two threes in those attempts). Ashley again showed glimpses of excellence intermingled with frustrating decision-making. But in a game where the talent mismatch was so apparent, it was really hard to gauge just how well this team was playing as a whole. But, give them credit for doing to Harvard exactly what a team with this size and talent should have done to Harvard.
- New Mexico Redux. If anybody associated with the New Mexico program watched this game, from Steve Alford on down to the lowliest Lobo fan, they had to be going absolutely crazy. A Harvard team that shot a 61.9 eFG% on Thursday night shot 31.9% tonight. The Lobos definitely didn’t have quite the athletic advantage that Arizona did, but it was pretty close. But, the Lobos failed to close out on shooters, couldn’t stop Chambers’ dribble penetration and never found a guard who could make an impact against inferior defenders. Can’t feel too bad for the Lobos.
Star of the Game. Mark Lyons, Arizona. The much-maligned Wildcat point guard had perhaps the best game of his time in Tucson today, getting past Harvard defenders with ease, knocking down threes whenever the mood struck him and zipping up Chambers defensively. With Aaron Craft potentially looming next week in Los Angeles, things are about to get much more difficult, but Lyons has certainly picked a perfect time to peak.
Sights & Sounds. Despite a mostly full arena (85-90% capacity?), the noise in Energy Solutions Arena rarely bettered a low hum. Certainly much of that was due to the non-competitive nature of the game, but despite huge crowds to support New Mexico on Thursday and Arizona on both days, still the most vocal support this weekend was from neutral fans for Southern and Harvard.
Wildcard. March Mayes. Two seasons ago, Jordin Mayes made a name for himself in March on the national stage by knocking down all four of his threes on the way to 16 points in a round of 32 win over Texas, a game that figured to be his breakout. In the rest of that year’s tourney he tallied five points in 24 minutes. Last year he got off to a nice start, averaging ten points per game over the first five games, but saw his minutes and production dwindle the rest of the season as he was largely written off by Arizona fans. This season he averaged career lows in minutes, points and almost everything else. But it is March again, and Mayes made a big impact today, scoring eight points, handing out three assists and earning a standing ovation for his effort in the second half of a blowout game.
What’s Next? Arizona heads to Los Angeles for the Sweet Sixteen, where they’ll face the winner of tomorrow’s Ohio State/Iowa State matchup. Arizona played in the Sweet 16 in southern California in 2011 as well, when they knocked off Duke in Anaheim, before watching a Jamelle Horne potential game-winning three rim out at the buzzer against Kemba Walker and Connecticut in the Elite Eight. As for Harvard, they lose only Christian Webster from this year’s team and could get Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry back next year for a team that will be a heavy favorite to win the Ivy League for a third consecutive year.