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Arizona advances to Sweet 16 after sending home upset-minded Harvard

Mar 23, 2013, 8:19 PM EDT

Mark Lyons AP

No. 14-seeded Harvard’s moment in the spotlight has ended, coming to its conclusion Saturday evening with a 74-51 loss to Arizona at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Arizona was led by the senior duo of Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill, who had 27 points and 13 points respectively. Those two carried the offensive attack while the defense used its length to disrupt anything that Harvard tried to get going on that end of the floor. It wasn’t a matter of forcing turnovers (the Wildcats turned the Crimson over just eight times) but more about making the Crimson uncomfortable and unable to hit shots.

But how much can we really know about Arizona after the Wildcats made the Sweet 16 by getting wins over Belmont and Harvard? Give credit to them for beating teams that they should have beaten and beating them in the way that they should have. At the same time, both Belmont and Harvard have no real size on the interior, an area where Arizona could wilt against a challenge.

Without experience in the post between Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, and Kaleb Tarczewski, a tough front line in the paint could spell trouble like it did at points in the Pac-12 season.

The other major question will be if the Wildcats can take care of the basketball against a team like Ohio State, who Arizona could meet if the Buckeyes get past Iowa State and advance to the Sweet 16. Mark Lyons is proving that he is the best ball handling option on the roster, but how will he fair against the defensive pressure that point guard Aaron Craft and Ohio State would bring?

Craft would be able to harass Lyons and force the ball elsewhere offensively. Considering that Lyons went 12-of-17 from the floor Saturday, Arizona would have to find a way to score without him if Craft locks him down. In back-to-back losses to UCLA and USC late in the conference season, Lyons shot a combined 6-of-24 from the floor. Effectively eliminating him changes the way Arizona plays.

Just as the 2013 tournament has been so far, it will come down to a matchup. Arizona now must await word of what that match up will be in the Sweet 16.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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