SALT LAKE CITY — Before Mark Lyons finishing putting a pit in the stomachs of Harvard alumnae everywhere, he had one of his own.
About three minutes into the second half Saturday, before the Arizona Wildcats’ senior guard tied a career-high with 27 points in a 74-51 laugher against the Crimson at EnergySolutions Arena, Lyons was hit as he made a layup to go up 16.
He grabbed his stomach, doubled over in pain and waved at Sean Miller to send a replacement, Jordin Mayes, to the scorer’s table to take his place.
Then he ran back to play defense.
Harvard’s Laurent Rivard went at the UA senior, who emerged from bent over to in a defensive crouch. With Lyons contesting, his missed a three-pointer.
Lyons ran down the floor and made one of his own, catching a pass and draining the shot from the left hand-wing.
Finally, an official noticed Lyons in pain, and stopped play amidst the Wildcats’ mad dash for momentum.
“Nobody wants to go home,” Lyons said afterward, his white shorts blood-splattered. “It’s going to be physical.
“If you don’t come physically ready, you’re going to be sent home early.
“We came ready to play, and a lot of our guys stepped up tonight.”
It was because they had to.
By the time the game ended, the Wildcats had two players fouled out and another out for the game with injury.
Freshman forward Grant Jerrett landed on his elbow after one minute of play, and didn’t return.
Guards Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson each were hit in the gut, literally, and had to leave the game; they declared themselves fine afterward.
Forwards Kevin Parrom and Brandon Ashley fouled out after playing a combined 30 minutes.
“It really got my wind toward the end of the game,” said center Kaleb Tarczewski, who played a career-high 31 minutes. “I was exhausted, and I was wondering why coach wasn’t putting a sub in.
“It was because everyone was either getting hurt or fouling out.”
Johnson said he merely had his wind knocked out when his stomach landed on top of his wrist as he fell.
“It’s the NCAA tournament,” Johnson said. “We all got athletes. We all got big people.
“It was definitely physical.”
Forward Angelo Chol, who was not used in Thursday’s blowout, had a tip-in and two rebounds in eight minutes.
“When he left the game, I had to tell myself, ‘I have to help the team,’” Chol said.
“It’s good to know I’m still part of the team and I can contribute. I don’t need to go out there and score. Just go out there and play defense and block shots.”
Physical play went both ways.
Minutes before Lyons’ stomach pain, Harvard guard Siyani Chambers was inadvertently hit by Parrom’s elbow after he grabbed a rebound and tried to pass.
“My tooth!” he screamed, after a whistle.
Teammate Christian Webster bent over and picked up a shard of one of his front teeth, which was sitting feet away on the hardwood floor.
Parrom apologized, and joked that officials checked the video monitor to ensure it wasn’t an intentional foul because of his reputation.
“It’s me, though,” he said, “so they always look at everything.”
Parrom’s elbow began bleeding, cut by Chambers’ tooth. He had to wear a navy padded sleeve to re-enter the game.
“That’s Kev’s elbow for you,” Hill joked.
It was hard to stay focused, Parrom said, “when you’re up 20 and you’re thinking about L.A. and you’re thinking about the Sweet 16.”
This week, they’ll live it — albeit with a few bumps and bruises to show for Saturday.
“It was physical,” Chol said, “but you gotta expect that sometimes.
“This is the tournament. Everybody’s trying to play to win.”