Sacramento: I'm Out

By Jason Owens - March 16, 2007

Well the news from Sacramento wasn't that exciting today, but that means Saturday's games have to be great to make up for it, right? While that's obviously not the case, there is potential for a pair of good matchups for the right to advance to round three.

In the early game today, Washington State beat Oral Roberts playing to its strength -- defense. Ivory Clark stepped up for a huge game with five tone-setting blocks and a killer instinct that is absolutely necessary in March.

"Robbie (Cowgill) was doing a good job on (Oral Roberts star Caleb Green)," Clark said. "It was easy for me to come in and help Robbie out... Caleb had a smile on his face like everything was ok. I just wanted to wipe that smile off his face."

He did just that as Green and Oral Roberts' upset hopes were sent home packing.

Now the Cougars are set to face Vanderbilt, a team that wins, and won today, with strength on the other side of the ball. The Commodores crushed George Washington's spirit early today in what was the most lopsided win of the day from start to finish. I mean the Colonials may as well have not even stepped on the floor today.

With plenty of garbage time bringing down their numbers, the Commodores shot 39 percent from behind the arc while holding George Washington to 27 percent shooting from the field. And before they hit cruise control, the Commodores shot 10-of-19 from behind the arc in the first half.

"We realized if we took care of the ball, we were going to get any shot we wanted," said Vandy's Shan Foster, who scored 18 points.

That was certainly the case. It won't be on Saturday against Washington State though. Several teams have learned the hard way that shots don't come easy against the Cougars. It should be an interesting matchup of contrasting strengths.

As for the late games, UCLA got off to a slow start before obliterating Weber State, 70-42. After allowing the Wildcats to hang around for a 15-14 game early on, the Bruins did just about everything right on both sides of the ball. They shot 47 percent from the field while hitting 10-of-20 3-pointers and spread the ball around.

On defense, they forced the Wildcats into bad shot after bad shot that led to a 34 percent clip from the field. And that defense keyed the success on the offensive end.

"We hang our hat on our defense," said All-America guard Arron Afflalo. "We forced 17 turnovers and created some easy baskets. Weber State was trying to keep the game in the 50s, but we got to 70. We can adjust to what an opponent throws at us."

They'll have to make adjustments for a considerably better opponent when Indiana takes the court on Saturday. The Hoosiers played pretty good defense themselves in holding Gonzaga to 34-percent shooting from the field in a 70-57 win. The key for them will be to find some way to generate more offense against the staunch Bruins defense.

The Hoosiers got hot from behind the arc early against the Zags and rode that cushion to victory. They're not likely to get those good looks against UCLA.

"We really stressed not to shoot threes unless it went inside-out," coach Kelvin Sampson said after the game. "D.J. (White) had four assists and no turnovers tonight. When you have that kind of line from your post guy, it helps you."

They'll need a lot more of where that came from on Saturday.

As for me, I'm out. I'm going to go see what type of night life Sacramento has to offer. Judging by my unsuccessful venture to find food downtown after 9:30 last night, my hopes aren't high.

Posted by Jason Owens at 01:09 AM on March 16, 2007

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