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Harvard vs. Arizona score: Wildcats find their identity in 2013 NCAA Tournament

The Arizona Wildcats have rolled through their first two games of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, and it appears they finally have an identity.

Harry How


The popular upset pick -- thrown aside.

The Cinderella darling -- crushed.

The Arizona Wildcats have taken the little talk about themselves as a reason to play with all the fire and urgency needed to down two teams that were simply overmatched. The Wildcats advanced to the Sweet 16 Saturday with a resounding 74-51 victory against the Harvard Crimson in Salt Lake City, and of course it would come behind Mark Lyons showing that it's not his point guard duties that would make him a deciding factor for Arizona.

It was all along taking good shots and creating opportunities for himself.

The senior abused freshman guard Siyani Chambers, tying a career-high 27 points, and the Wildcats overcame whatever little push the Crimson could muster. About the only drama came in the second half, when Kevin Parrom got into it, first hitting Chambers in the face and chipping his tooth and then essentially tackling a Harvard player.

Yet Arizona never wavered in its mission.

Sean Miller's club shot 55 percent for the game and held the Crimson to 28 percent shooting; moreover, the supposed poor three-point defense from UA didn't look like itself as the Wildcats held Harvard to 5-of-18 shooting.

And UA again dominated the interior. Harvard shot 2-of-22 to begin the game and made its first field goal 7:30 into it. Solomon Hill set the tone, posting up early to hit a turnaround jumpers, and he and Kaleb Tarczewski set up three-pointers by Nick Johnson, Kevin Parrom and Lyons.

Hill hit two early threes, then took a rebound coast-to-coast for a resounding dunk to give UA a 30-9 lead. From there, the Wildcats played about even -- although Harvard made a few pushes, especially after Parrom's few plays sparked them, Lyons and Arizona answered every spurt.

Hill finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and the big men and Johnson (six rebounds, four assists and three steals) filled in the holes elsewhere.

So with a ticket to Los Angeles in hand, the Wildcats face the winner of Iowa State or Ohio State with the obvious homecourt advantage already there.

If the Wildcats can harness all the silence, their level-headedness and confidence will likely continue.

A tempo team

This isn't the old Arizona squads of the past, where pressure defense led to fastbreak opportunities. Sean Miller is making the big men a big piece of this squad, and tempo is the main ingredient. Yes, Harvard did a good job about keeping possession of the ball; the Crimson only turned it over eight times.

Still, Arizona didn't look to run much off the many missed shots.

The Wildcats are comfortable playing the halfcourt, and it appears that they've embraced their identity as an inside-out offensive ball club that also takes it easy in part to set up its very solid man defense.

Seemingly, Arizona's biggest issues during the regular season have been answered. They'll pick-and-choose their spots, but mostly, this team will win by slowing it down and staying patient.

Injuries hit

The bad news in Arizona's win was two injuries on hard falls to Grant Jerrett and Nick Johnson. Both appeared to be arm injuries, and that coupled with foul trouble hurt the Wildcats down the stretch. Miller went with a lineup of Lyons, Hill, Mayes, Tarczewki and Johnson before the 2-guard's later fall.

Brandon Ashley and Parrom fouled out, and Angelo Chol saw a good amount of playing time.

Judging the first two games

The Wildcats seemingly had it easy against opponents that couldn't guard size nor the speed of Lyons especially. The point guard's best game of the year came with smart shot selection, as he continually slashed past defenders and to the bucket. Lyons also again proved his ability to hit spot-up three-pointers when passes came back to him out of the post.

As good as those passes were, the Wildcats could use some lessons in post-entry passes, especially of the lob variety.

Next game, Arizona will surely find itself playing with a team at its level as far as intensity and athleticism is concerned.

The bench shows up again

Jordin Mayes' play may have been in what could be considered garbage time, but there was still tension late in the game after the UA rotation was whittled down to the two fouled-out players and the two injuries.

Still, he put in eight points in a variety of ways then dished out three assists in 19 minutes.