Salt Lake City, UT – Mark Lyons scored a game-high 23 points on Thursday, as the sixth-seeded Arizona Wildcats handled the Belmont Bruins, 81-64, in the second round of the West Regional at EnergySolutions Arena.
Kevin Parrom, Kaleb Tarczewski and Nick Johnson poured in 12 points apiece for the Wildcats (26-7), who will take on Harvard in Saturday's third round after the Crimson upended New Mexico.
"I thought from our perspective our players locked in on what we were trying to do," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "I'm proud of these guys and I thought they did a great job. We're excited to be playing on Saturday."
Kerron Johnson netted 22 points and Ian Clark followed with 21 for the 11th- seeded Bruins (26-7), who fell to 0-6 all-time in NCAA Tournament tilts.
"I think this was pretty simple. Arizona just outplayed us," Belmont coach Rick Byrd admitted. "They played a better game than we did."
Arizona jumped out to a 14-4 lead just under eight minutes in before a 10-2 Belmont run brought the Bruins within two with 8 1/2 minutes left in the half.
The margin was four, 23-19, with just under three minutes to play, but the Wildcats closed the half on a 9-1 burst to take a 32-20 advantage into the break.
Arizona continued its surge in the second, as Lyons opened the final frame with a 3-pointer to spark a 9-3 spurt that pushed the lead to 18 just under three minutes in.
The Wildcats held Belmont at bay from there and extended their lead to 64-43 with 7:45 to play before Clark and J.J. Mann knocked down back-to-back treys to cap a 10-0 sprint that brought the Bruins within 11 with under 5 1/2 minutes left.
Belmont would get no closer, however, as Parrom stopped the run with a layup and after Johnson split a pair at the line, Solomon Hill drained a triple to give Arizona a 69-54 lead with 4:40 to play.
Belmont never got closer than 13 the rest of the way.
Belmont had won six straight en route to winning the OVC Tournament to earn an automatic bid ... Arizona improved to 47-26 all-time in the NCAA Tournament ... Belmont managed a season-low 20 points in the first half ... Arizona shot 56.9 percent (29-for-51) from the field, including a 9-of-17 mark from 3-point range.