New Orleans: Day one wrap-up

By Eric Sorenson - March 17, 2007

Some exciting moments to say the least. But there was really only one game that came down to the wire as Nevada edged Creighton in overtime. But if you wanted some of the most exciting halves of basketball, you came to the right place. That nightcap of Jackson State and Florida was incredible. Of course, only for a half though. Here's a quick recap of what happened here in the Big Easy.

North Texas - 58
Memphis - 73

I have to admit, for about 27 minutes of this game, I thought these teams were pretty even. But the Memphis talent and depth eventually took over. A 13-2 spree in the middle of the second half ended up being the difference. Reserve point guard Andre Allen was the main catalyst, playing like a man on fire, keying that nine-point run with a driving layup, a steal, an assist on a dunk, a pair of free throws and a jumper to put Memphis up for good at 57-42.

Allen ended the day with 14 points, four assists and, three steals and playing 36 minutes. Coach John Calipari didn't seem to mind playing Allen that much either. "It was nothing against Willie (Kemp, the starter), it's just that Andre was so effective out there, I didn't want to take him out."

Joey Dorsey was a monster underneath, handling 15 rebounds. But the Eagle's aggressiveness took a toll on him. "Man, every time I got a rebound it felt like I was taking two or three hits with it. They were much more physical than I thought they would be."

Robert Dozier chimed in with 11 points, seven rebounds and showing his athleticism with five blocks.

Creighton - 71
Nevada - 77 (OT)

This was a great game. One of the best in the tournament's entire first round.

Both teams had their chances. Nevada missed a trio of shots in near the end of regulation, but got offensive rebounds on each one. Eventually, the Pack threw the ball away on a turnover with 20 seconds left. But CU's chance at glory came down to sharpshooter Nate Funk getting the ball knocked out of his hands on the way up to his game-winning attempt.

In overtime, UNR got to every loose ball and made three straight acrobatic shots to eventually put the game away. All this was done after All American Nick Fazekas had fouled out too. But a pair of gutty lay-ups by Kyle Shiloh and Ramon Sessions, sandwiched around a Sessions jumper, put the Pack up by six with 40 seconds left, essentially icing the game.

It's weird that Nevada won the game considering stats like these:
- a 48-31 rebounding advantage.
- seven three-pointers to just three for CU.
- 14-of-17 free throws.
- 9-to-1 in blocked shots.
But 19 turnovers and foul trouble by Fazekas kept things closer than it needed to be.

Purdue - 72
Arizona - 63

I can only gloss on about the Boilmaker style of play so much before it becomes horribly redundant. But I was thoroughly impressed with the way the hit the tenacity meter. it was a relentless way of playing basketball, man. No two ways about it. And they are also very smart. You can't help but like the way Matt Painter is handling his program so far.

Carl Landry looks like he's in one of those vintage heavyweight boxing matches, and he's always in the 14th round. He provided another double-double going for 21 and 13. Freshman Chris Kramer played beyond his years, coming up with hustle play after hustle play and tying a season high with 16 points.

Arizona closed the gap at one point to a two-point game at 51-49 with just over five minutes left. But the comeback left them out of gas to take advantage and make it any closer. Purdue went on a 19-10 run to all but salt it away.

Lead lunch pail Carl Landry put his teams status in perfect terms, "We rely on hustle plays. That's our identity. We dive for loose balls, we cut off passing lanes, we beat people to the ball. That's our game." This could be an interesting game with Florida on Sunday. At least a great contrast in styles.

Jackson State - 69
Florida - 112

It's hard to describe how much fun it was to be in the crowd for this game tonight. Sure, we all knew Florida would eventually put some distance between themselves and the pesky Tigers. But for 20 minutes, it was fun to dream.

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be unbiased here. But it's kind of when you go to a pro baseball game and the other team's guy is throwing a perfect game. You kind of want it to happen just to say you were in the crowd to see history that night.

Give it to J-State for sticking their chest out chicken-hawk style and playing mano-a-mano for as long as they could.

But let's face it, Florida won a national title last year for a reason. They're the bad ass team here in this Regional. Everyone knows it. That's why this was still a sure W, from the word go. Despite the six point game at the half. Still, wasn't it fun while it lasted?

The Gators out-rebounded J-State 62-19, which is an NCAA tournament record.

Posted by Eric Sorenson at 12:51 AM on March 17, 2007

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