Arizona 81, Belmont 64

The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- Mark Lyons scored 23 points and red-hot Arizona used its superior athleticism and shooting to dominate Belmont in a 81-64 victory Thursday in an NCAA Tournament game at EnergySolutions Arena.

Lyons put an exclamation mark on his performance and his team's opening-round showing with a soaring one-handed jam with just over a minute remaining.

The quick 6-foot-1 guard hit 8 of 15 shots from the field, including 3 of 7 from beyond the arc, to lead four Arizona double-digit scorers.

Wildcats starters Kevin Parrom, Nick Johnson and Kaleb Tarczewski each scored 12 points.

Parrom and Tarczewski both grabbed eight rebounds for the Wildcats, who powered their way to a 46-20 advantage on the boards.

Arizona will face New Mexico or Harvard in the next round.

Kerron Johnson scored 22 points and Ian Clark had 21, but the Bruins (26-7) were outmatched early by Arizona (26-7).

Belmont made things interesting for a minute later in the second half after Arizona went up by 21 points.

Blake Jenkins and Johnson scored back-to-back layups and Clark and J.J. Mann (13 points) had consecutive 3-pointers. The 10-0 run trimmed Arizona's lead to 64-53 with 5:30 remaining.

Parrom ended Belmont's surge, though, by hitting a 3-pointer with 5:11 to go and the Wildcats never looked back.

Arizona took an early lead with free throws a minute in by Tarczewski.

Clark scored 11 points before the break, including a 3-pointer that put Belmont within a basket of Arizona at 16-14.

The Wildcats made a strong push to end the half, taking a 32-20 lead into the locker room thanks to an 11-2 run.

In the first half, Belmont hardly looked like a team that had won six games coming in. The Bruins only shot 25.9 percent from the field, including 2 of 13 from 3-point range, while falling behind by double digits.

Perhaps the most telling stat of the first half was the rebounding disparity. Arizona outrebounded Belmont 27-9 and benefited from an 8-0 difference in second-chance points.

NOTES: Arizona was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation and started 14-0 before cooling off during Pac-12 play. ... This is the 30th NCAA Tournament appearance for Arizona, which had a 46-28 March Madness record, including a 1997 championship. ... Belmont coach Rick Byrd, in his 27th season, is seventh among active Division I coaches with 663 wins. ... Miami Heat president Pat Riley was among the NBA executives in attendance. ... Belmont guard Ian Clark was the Ohio Valley Conference co-player of the year and the league's defensive player of the year. ... Belmont had never played Arizona, but the Bruins beat Pac-12 power Stanford 70-62 earlier this season.
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