Mark Lyons led four scorers in double figures with 23 points as No. 6 seed Arizona knocked off No. 11 Belmont 81-64.
Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark combined for 43 points, but the Bruins dug themselves a massive hole early in the game with their inability to get a defensive rebound — or, for that matter, make a shot — in the first half.
For the third consecutive season, Belmont entered the tournament as a trendy upset pick. And for the third consecutive season, the Bruins were sent home on the wrong end of a tail-whipping.
The biggest issue here is that the Bruins simply looked outclassed. Clark and Johnson are both terrific. They are mid-major all-american caliber guards, and Clark is good enough that he’s drawn some looks from NBA scouts. But Belmont simply didn’t have the size or the athleticism to handle Arizona, a team chock full of top 25 recruits and big men with NBA potential.
Arizona moves on to play the winner of No. 3 New Mexico and No. 14 Harvard. The Wildcats will be an interesting team to watch if they continue to play the way they did on Thursday. Talent isn’t the issue for Sean Miller’s club; they’ve got plenty of it. It’s point guard play and cohesion offensively.
We’ve seen teams with issues put it all together and make a run to — and through — the second weekend, and Arizona certainly has the talent to do that.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.