SALT LAKE CITY -- Mark Lyons scored 23 points and red-hot Arizona used its superior athleticism, size 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 to put sixth-seeded Arizona into a weekend matchup with the winner of the region's late-night New Mexico-Harvard game.
"We're very excited to still be in the tournament," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "Our players really locked in."
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, and the red-hot Pac-12 squad shot 56.9 percent from the field.
The 7-foot Tarczewski, 6-8 Brandon Ashley and 6-6 Parrom combined to grab 23 rebounds for the Wildcats, who held a dominant 44-18 advantage on the boards.
Kerron Johnson scored 22 points and Ian Clark had 21, but the Bruins (26-7) were outmatched early by Arizona (26-7). Belmont only shot 39.2 percent for the game, and that was after hitting 54.2 percent in the second half.
"I think this was pretty simple," Belmont coach Rick Byrd. "Arizona just outplayed us."
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.
"I was more impressed with the team that I saw tonight than I was in scouting them," Byrd said. "I thought they were more engaged and more focused, and I think if they play that way, they can beat a lot of people."
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.
"The stat that's overwhelming is rebounding," Miller said. "That shows the effort that we played with."
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.