- Robbi Pickeral, College Basketball
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SALT LAKE CITY -- Arizona on Thursday didn't look like a team that had lost five of its last 10 games entering the NCAA tournament. In dispatching 11th-seeded Belmont 81-64 in the Round of 64 -- shooting better than 56 percent and controlling the backboards (44-18) in the process -- the No. 6 Wildcats performed much more like the higher seed they were expected to be back when they began January unbeaten.
A quick look at the game:
Turning point(s): Arizona led from the get-go, taking an early 10-point lead. Belmont had whittled its deficit down to 23-19 on a Reece Chamberlain free throw with 2:59 left in the first half, but the Wildcats closed the half with a 9-1 run to take a 32-20 lead into the break. Arizona guard Mark Lyons added a 3-pointer and Nick Johnson added a layup before Belmont scored in the second half, giving the Wildcats a 17-point cushion.
The Bruins remained feisty, though, and with 5:27 left, they cut a once-20-point deficit to 64-53 when Ian Clark hit a 3, and teammate J.J. Mann stole an inbounds pass and buried a 3 of his own. But that's as close as they got.
Key player(s): Lyons finished with 23 points on 8-for-15 shooting. It marked his highest point total since early February. Kerron Johnson led Belmont with 22 points.
Key stat: The Bruins -- who had averaged 77.2 PPG and 49.4 percent shooting entering -- finished with 64 points on 39.2 percent shooting.
Next up: Arizona will play the New Mexico/Harvard winner on Saturday in the NCAA round of 32.