SALT LAKE CITY — Solomon Hill wanted to send Harvard a message: the Wildcats were not the New Mexico Lobos that the 14th seed Crimson upset one night earlier.
As if a 17-2 start wasn’t enough, with 8:21 remaining Hill took control. First, he knocked down a 3-pointer. Then, after a Steve Mondou-Missi missed lay-up, Hill grabbed the rebound and dribbled the length of the court. At the free throw line, he picked up his dribble, took two quick steps and slammed it home with two Harvard defenders trailing him and one looking up at Hill from the low post. The dunk gave the Wildcats a 30-9 lead.
“I just wanted to stay aggressive,” Hill said. “Send them a little message that we’re not going to be the same team you played against. We’re not going to sit back and let you take the driver’s seat.”
Hill led all scorers with 12 points in the first half, but only scored one more the rest of the way. He also completed his second double double of the season in grabbing 10 rebounds.
Arizona won the game 74-51.
Lyons, Mayes make a connection…thrice
On three separate occasions, Jordin Mayes set up Mark Lyons with an alley oop. Point guard to point guard alley oops aren’t exactly commonplace, especially when the one on the receiving end stands 6-foot-1.
The play was designed to have Hill set a ball screen for Lyons, who then cut to the basket in anticipation of a Mayes lob. It worked 2-of-3 times.
“Don’t say the name of the play,” Miller quipped to Hill at the post-game press conference at EnergySolutions Arena.
“They didn’t attack the gaps,” Hill said, “so when Mark made the pass I saw an open possession to screen his guy and my guy didn’t help and we got the lob.”
Lyons prefers Mayes’ lobbing prowess to Nick Johnson, who typically would be on the receiving end of an alley-oop because of his high-flying abilities.
“When Nick has it he throws a regular chest pass, not a regular lob,” Lyons said. “When Jordin does it he throws it in the air so it looks better.”
The wild and wacky West region
When the seedings were announced last week, the West Region was widely considered the weakest.
Well, through the first three days of the NCAA Tournament, four of the top five seeds have already lost, capped by ninth-seed Wichita State’s 76-70 win against the top-seeded Gonzaga on Saturday night. If second seed Ohio State were to lose to 10th seed Iowa State today, all of the top five seeds will already be eliminated before the Sweet 16.
“I don’t even know what’s going through my head right now,” said Gonzaga senior forward Elias Harris. “It is what it is. It was a heck of a year. It’s just over now, and it’s sad. It hurts, but that’s life.”
Heres what happened to the rest of the top five seeds:
– No. 3 New Mexico lost to No. 14 Harvard on Thursday
– No. 4 Kansas State lost to No. 13 La Salle on Friday
– No. 5 Wisconsin lost to No. 12 Mississippi on Friday
There’s no such thing as an easy path to the Final Four, but Arizona’s route to Atlanta certainly feels less did 72 hours ago. The Wildcats will face the winner of today’s OSU-Iowa State game at 11:15 a.m. The Sweet 16 matchup will take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday.
“Whatever team we play is gonna be a great team,” Johnson said. “Whether it’s Iowa State or Ohio State.”
•This story was courtesy of the Arizona Daily Wildcat.