March 29, 2008

Kansas Advansas

DETROIT - Kansas finished off Villanova 72-57. Both teams called off the dogs with about 30 seconds left.

Not exactly the raucous celebration like when Davidson won.

KU finished with 54% shooting on 24-46. Rush had 16, Robinson 15 and Chalmers 14 for the Jayhawks.

Nova got the shooting percentage up a bit to 36%, but it wasn't nearly enough. Reynolds had 11, and Clark and Cunningham had 10 each.

KU fans aren't even doing the Rock Chalk thing yet. Maybe they all went home.

So we have Davidson vs Golaith again on Sunday at, it was just announced, 5:05 ET.

The beggars are out behind me. Some pre-teen boys are hitting us up for media guides and, I'm not sure this is a good idea, used towels from the Nova bench.

Time to find the Davidson party. See you on Sunday.

March 28, 2008

Coaching to the end

DETROIT - Jay Wright and Nova never gave up. He coaches all the way to the end. He pulled Stokes with about 1:45 left and let him having it for blowing a defensive assignment. "You gotta get out on that man! We're down very bad word 15!"

Now, they're down 12 with just over a minute left.

C'mon Weed!

DETROIT - Jay Wright was trying to get Weed (I'm pretty sure) to do something, but what exactly that was remains a mystery. He just kept yelling 'C'mon Weed!" over and over until he got sick of it and turned to his bench to send in a sub with, "Go get Weed." I'm also pretty sure that he was not placing a take-out order.

Anyway, Weed, that is Dwayne Anderson, is out.

So is Nova, trailing by 17 with 3:30 left.

Kansas still way ahead

DETROIT - It isn't getting any better for Villanova as they still trail by 19 at the 12-minute timeout.

Much of the crowd has headed for the exits.

Jay Wright is starting to lose his optimism and show some frustration at his team's inability to stop the alley oop, of which Kansas has about six.

The Wildcats haven't quit though. They're pressing and trying to get back in it, but KU is toying with them.

KU Kruising at the half

DETROIT - This is getting ugly. Jeremy Case drained a three late to extend the Kansas lead to 41-22 at the break.

Kansas cooled off from their torrid start, but is still shooting 59%, while Nova is a putrid 25%. Russell Robinson has 13 and Brandon Rush 11 to lead KU. Scottie Reynolds' six paces a very balanced Wildcat attack, such as it is.

Jay Wright is still keeping a positive outlook though.

Just talked to Brent Stover from the Big Ten Network, who reports that the Wisconsin locker room was like a morgue. No surprise there.

We actually got a little halftime entertainment this time. The Kansas Dance team performed, but because my cell phone takes mediocre pictures at distance, I don't have one, which will disappoint our colleague, Eric Sorenson.

Keep your hands off

DETROIT - Kansas has finally stopped Nova's run with a 7-0 run of its own to extend the lead back to 15 with 3:45 to go.

Jay Wright had Scottie Reynolds out of the game for a minute, and when he sent him back in, he told him, 'When he's outside the three point line, keep your hands off him." Not exactly sure who he meant, but my guess is Robinson.

Also, after a Reynolds walk, Wright turned to one of his assistants and said, "Don't say anything. Just don't."

Sasha Kaun tried a goofy-looking, two-handed tip that looked more like he was trying to set a volleyball than tip in a basketball. It didn't work.

When Wright called timeout here, a manager grabbed a couple of stools for the players to sit on, and a priest sitting with the team grabbed a couple also. I guess he doesn't just provide moral support.

Nova showing some life

DETROIT - The Villanova bench is lively at the 8-minute timeout because they have cut the lead to 10 and KU just threw the ball away.

Scottie Reynolds has a couple of threes to spark this 8-2 run.

Remember how I said that little schools have cheesy mascots. Here's a cheesy big-school mascot.

More of a jaychick than a Jayhawk. The number on the jersey is 1/2.

KU Kan't Miss

DETROIT - Kansas is on fire to start the game. The Jayhawks have hit 9 of their first 11 shots, including three dunks and three long balls by Russell Robinson to get out to a 24-10 lead with 11:42 left. Kansas also has at least four steals already.

Villanova coach Jay Wright is staying positive and encouraging. He's not nearly as animated, or to this point, negative as McKillop is on the sidelines.

Kansas running at will

DETROIT - Kansas is getting up and down the floor all they want early on as they have jumped out to an 11-6 lead at the first timeout.

The Jayhawks already have two alley oops, and almost got a third. They are very quick in transition, but even after made baskets.

That must be way coach Self seems so relaxed.

All he needs is a bar to go with his stool

Lineups are in

DETROIT - While the Hoops Odyssey boys are off doing the postgame rounds, let me clean up some garbage from the last game.

Davidson came back on the boards to finish within 3. It seemed worse than this, but the turnover margin was only +5 for Davidson, but they had nine steals.

We don't get info like second-chance points.

Now, the lineups for game two, which is five minutes away.

Kansas starts:
G: Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson
F: Darnell Jackson, Darrell Arthur

Nova counters with:
G Scottie Reynolds, Cory Stokes
F Antonio Pena, Dwayne Anderson and Dante Cunningham.

Our ref, Doug "Show of" Shows (pardon me for channeling Berman for a moment), Pat Evans and TV Teddy Valentine, who I may have to report for stalking me. He's like Visa, everywhere I go.

Danny Manning just came out onto the court. His famed championship run in 1988 came through Detroit. Back then, they played in the Pontiac Silverdome. They beat Vanderbilt and Kansas St to get to the Final Four. The 4th team in that regional was Purdue, which is why I was there. The Boilers were the top seed, but lost to Mitch Richmond and KSU.

Not that I'm bitter.

March 27, 2008

Phoenix Regional- West Virginia sees its season come crashing down

PHOENIX, AZ. -- Xavier sends WVU to the mat with 79-75 overtime win.


What hurts more, this loss to Xavier today? Or the football team's loss to Pitt back in December?

Well nobody has been able to capably explain that football loss. But say this at least, tonight the Mountaineers definitely should have won. No bones about it. And it will all come down to the fact that their missed free throws were THE reason. Sure, for the game, WVU had a better free throw percentage than the Musketeers, 67% compared to 57%. But it was all about timing and pressure. WVU had neither of those factors.

Continue reading "Phoenix Regional- West Virginia sees its season come crashing down" »

Phoenix Regional- The dagger that did in West Virginia

PHOENIX, AZ. --B.J. Raymond's three-pointer with just under 20 seconds remaining proved to be the fatal blow to West Virginia's hopes of reaching the Elite Eight. Xavier wins

(Raymond and the Musketeers celebrate his three-point shot)

Phoenix Regional- Uh-oh, WVU loses its best player

PHOENIX, AZ. -- Joe Alexander just fouled out. Is that a bad omen? WVU still leads by four here in OT

(It was a weak call Joe)

Phoenix Regional- Like the blood coming out of the elevator in The Shining

PHOENIX, AZ. -- The gullywashing red Gatorade dump right behind the West Virginia bench has turned the entire carpet red and full of ice.

(No more ball in the house! It's all fun and games until somebody ruins the shag carpeting)

It's now Xavier 57-55 with 6:47. Hot damn, it looks like I'll finally be able to see a white-knuckler here in Phoenix.

Phoenix Regional- Mighty Joe waking up

PHOENIX, AZ. -- West Virginia forward Joe Alexander had a whisper quiet first half:

3 points.
3 rebounds.
2 fouls.
2 turnovers.

So far in this second half the 'Neer mountain man has already got nine of WVU's 22 points and is a lot more active on both ends of the court. He's been the difference as the Mountaineers look to make a big push in the second half.

I don't know what Huggins was saying during that last time out, but he was looking almost exclusively at Alexander and doing a lot of pointing. Not angrily, just informatively.

Right now it's still Xavier, 50-49 with 10:44 remaining.

Phoenix Regional- Two quirks about teams cheering sections

PHOENIX, AZ.-- Two things I noticed about those in these two teams' traveling circles.

No. 1:
Xavier's girl cheerleaders are taller than their male cheerleaders...

No. 2:
I don't know why, but it's pretty cool. WVU has a band member that is obviously older, maybe into his upper 50s, low 60s or so. And he also looks sorta like Paul Newman and uses a hearing aid...

It's now XU up 43-40 as West Virginia has made another push here to start the second half. I don't know what Huggins said to his team during the last time out, but most of the players came away laughing as they went to sit back down.

Phoenix Regional- WVU makes late rush before halftime

PHOENIX, AZ -- It's now XU 32-25 at the midway point.


But early on in the game, we saw a lot of these kind of reactions from coach Huggins as the Mountaineers built up a big 28-12 lead. But the Mountaineers have been chipping away and playing good defense to make it a game at the half.

Jarrett Brown has come off the pine to lead WVU in scoring with eight points. Josh Duncan also has eight to lead the X.

The score could be much worse if the Musketeers were able to convert some inside layups. But to WVU's credit, they've had a lot of hands in XU's grills early. For the game, XU is 11-for-27 and the WVU is just 9-for-27.

Biggest stat of the game so far? Three-point shooting.
XU: 6-for-11
WVU: 0-for-6

Phoenix Regional- OMG!! That guy that used to see Jessica Simpson naked is here

PHOENIX, AZ. -- West Virginia has been able to cut into XU's massive lead, chopping it to 28-20.


Maybe it's because this guy is in the crowd cheering on the Mountaineers. Although the whole time Nick Lashay has been here all he's done is check his text messages, send text messages and check out hot chicks sending text messages.

Xavier still looks like the much better team so far. And by the way, when did Mr. Bandwagon Lashay become a West Virginia fan anyway?

Phoenix Regional- XU is up 13-5 and it shows.

PHOENIX, AZ. -- The reason West Virginia didn't score its first bucket from the field until the 14:59 mark of the first half...


The look in Drew Lavender's eyes says a lot here as the Musketeers have been all in the jock of the Mountaineers from the opening tap here in Phoenix. As witnessed by the fact that Bob Huggins didn't even wait until the first media time out to yell at his team about its lackluster play thus far.

Phoenix Regional- Miller and Huggins ready to rumble

PHOENIX, AZ.-- We're about five minutes before game time and this arena is not even half full at the time. Not a lot of intensity/fire to the surroundings here in Phoenix. Just seemed like things were more of a "happening" in Omaha last week. Well as long as the games are more competitive here, I'll be alright with everything.

(Sean Miller and Bob Huggins talk just prior to the national anthem)

March 26, 2008

Midwest Regional: The Day Before Preview

DETROIT -- The Detroit regional features two of the three double-digit seeds remaining in the tournament. It's not likely either will still be there when the dust clears on Friday.

Continue reading "Midwest Regional: The Day Before Preview" »

West Regional: The Day Before Preview

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- So Bruin fans... you nervous?

Did the A&M game scare the bejesus out of you? It should have. Look, you guys have been a little on the spoiled side the last few years. Getting Ben Howland. Pac 10 titles. Final Four runs. But now things aren't looking so hot, having to get a handful of fortuitous referee calls (or non-calls) to pull out nip-tuck wins over Cal, Stanford, USC and, of course, Texas A&M over the last few weeks.

(Ben should be doing less howling this weekend in Phoenix. Emphasis on "should")

Well I've got good news for you, this weekend should go a little bit easier. You've got three teams from two or three time zones away coming out West and none of them are named Duke. Or maybe I should say, none of them are named "Duke when they're playing like Duke."

This is where Coach Howland usually puts his best foot forward. And to be honest, if the defense he preaches so well keeps holding opponents to under 70 points - as they've done in 11 of the last 12 games - the offense will figure it out better and UCLA should move on.

Continue reading "West Regional: The Day Before Preview" »

March 23, 2008

Cards Roll Onto Sweet 16

BIRMINGHAM - They say act like you've been there before.

Well, Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals have been to the Sweet 16 before, and that's exactly where they're headed after handing a sound thumping to the Oklahoma Sooners.

They knew what it took to advance, and they made it look easy in a 78-48 victory over the Sooners.

"We played a good game against Boise State, but we played a great game tonight," Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said. "Offensively, defensively, we just played a complete game. You really can't find a weakness in the way the guys played tonight."

Continue reading "Cards Roll Onto Sweet 16" »

Cards Make It Look Easy

BIRMINGHAM - They say act like you've been there before.

Well, Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals have been to the Sweet 16 before, and that's exactly where they're headed after handing a sound thumping to the Oklahoma Sooners.

They knew what it took to advance, and they made it look easy in a 78-48 victory over the Sooners.

I'll be back with quotes.

29 And Counting

BIRMINGHAM - Louisville has extended its lead to 29 points at 70-41 with just under 7 minutes to go.

The Cardinals will advance to its 16th Sweet 16 since 1975, a mark that is 5th among all schools. The 3-seeded Cardinals will tangle with 2-seed Tennessee in Charlotte.

Cards Build Lead to 23

BIRMINGHAM - An Earl Clark three-pointer and Jerry Smith layup has built the Cardinals lead out to 23 with just under 15 minutes to go in the game.

Oklahoma had cut it to 18 before a quick flurry of points by Louisville. The Cards look really, really good right now.

This One Is Over...

BIRMINGHAM - At the half, the Cardinals have a 44-22 lead on the Sooners.

The Cardinals have come out with a balanced offensive attack, getting production from David Padgett and Earl Clark on the inside and stellar shooting on the outside from Jerry Smith, terrence Williams and others.

They have also played suffocating defense, which has led to points off turnovers.

As exciting as the first game of the day was, it looks as if this one is ging to follow suit with most of this tournament in Birmingham.

Tampa sweet for Western Kentucky, Villanova

TAMPA, Fla. -- 13 years ago, Darrin Horn helped take Western Kentucky to the Sweet 16 as a player.
Now, he has done it as a coach.
The Hilltoppers advanced with a 72-63 win against San Diego and will now face top seed UCLA on Thursday in Phoenix.
"I'm just unbelievably happy for these kids," Horn said. "These guys have worked hard. They're great kids and they deserve it. I'm really happy for our players and our program."

Continue reading "Tampa sweet for Western Kentucky, Villanova" »

Cards Running Away...

BIRMINGHAM - With just over 5 minutes to go, Louisville has taken a commanding lead over Oklahoma. They are dominating defensively, in the paint and from deep. They just look 10 times better than the Sooners right now.

They lead 33-16 with 5:24 to go. They've been rotating guys pretty regularly as well, so they look fresh. I'm not sure they will let off the pedal at all.

Cards In Control

BIRMINGHAM - Louisville maintains a 7-point lead with just over 7 minutes to go in the first half. Jerry Smith has connected on another 3-pointer to give him 8 points already.

Cards on a Run

BIRMINGHAM - Louisville has jumped out to an 18-12 lead on the heels of an 11-3 run. Jerry Smith has 5 and David Padgett has 4 for the Cards.

Still working on that UT game story...

Godbold Carries It Over

BIRMINGHAM - David Godbold picked up right where he left off.

The senior guard for Oklahoma had a career-high 25 points Friday for the Sooners, and he his 3-for-3 from deep right from the start. The Sooners have a 9-7 lead with just under 15 minutes to go.

I'm working on a final recap from the UT-Butler game that had the crazy finish. Should be up in a few minutes...

16 Sweet 16's?

BIRMINGHAM - Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals are trying to improve their impressive NCAA Tournament resume and advance to the Sweet 16 Sunday afternoon.

Standing in their way: the 6-seed Oklahoma Sooners.

Continue reading "16 Sweet 16's?" »

Nova moves onto Sweet 16

TAMPA, Fla. -- After sweating it out to even make the tournament, Villanova has advanced to the Sweet 16.
The Wildcats (22-12) beat Siena 84-72 to move on and face top seed Kansas on Friday.
"Coach always said that we had to be the best team at the end of the season," guard Scottie Reynolds said. "We went through some ups and downs during the season, but we always stayed consistent with what we were trying to accomplish. The last two or three weeks, we have been playing our best basketball."
Reynolds lead the way with 25 points, hitting 4 of 7 3-pointers.
The Cats didn't allow for much suspense in the game, jumping out early and holding the lead throughout.
"We were scared to death to get behind them early because we weren't goint to be able to press them and force turnovers," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "Once you get that lead, it's so hard to keep playing every possession and not take a break. It's the hardest thing to do in sports, I think. Harder than coming back."

Things look bleak for Siena, WKU-San Diego next

TAMPA, Fla. -- One minute left, Villanova leads the Saints 83-69.
I think it's safe to call this one now. Tay Fisher is checking back in to jack up some 3s, pretty much Siena's only chance right now.
Unless there's a miracle, I'll see you later with a wrapup of this one - probably early in the Western Kentucky-San Diego game.
That one promises to be a real fight, with scrappy guards, good shooting and two intriguing big men. San Diego has Gyno Pomare down low, and he can spot up from nearly anywhere. It took quite a while for him to miss against UConn. For WKU, there's D.J. Magley, a Sean-May type but a little rough around the edges.

Siena hanging around

TAMPA, Fla. -- They're still behind, but the Saints are hanging around like that annoying aunt who's probably at your house right now for Easter.
There has been a slight momentum shift in the building, and a few Siena spurts have put some life into the casual fans (not to mention those of WKU and San Diego) who are rooting for the underdog.
Siena's shooting has improved, but they can't really get any closer than 10. They have also missed quite a few shots around the hoop.
Tay Fisher has pretty mich been a nonfactor in the game. His 6-6 shooting from 3-land yesterday was crucial for the Saints, but he is 1-3 today and hanging around on the bench. Ubiles has 10 now, and Hasbrouck 13.
With 7:15 left, Nova leads 67-54

I am smarter than machine

TAMPA, Fla. -- Hopefully that last post was legible. It's amazing how awful things look without punctuation or numbers, but Hewlett-Packard clearly has something against me.
Kenny Hasbrouck came out of his first-half coma and is hitting some shots. He has 7 points already this half. Edwin Ubiles, the other Siena scoring threat, is still having difficulty. He makes great moves to the basket or to get open shots but can't convert. At least he is drawing fouls though. The last one was on Scottie Reynolds, who has an absurd 20 points for Nova.
Even wilder, freshman Corey Stokes is right behind him with 18.
Nova up 55-39, 15:19 to go

Siena in trouble

TAMPA Fla My capslock key is mysteriously stuck right now so Im going to try to navigate through this post bear with me
Things don"t look very good right now for Siena
The Saints shot a pitiful twenty seven percent from the field in the first half and leading scorer Edwin Ubiles was oh for six from the floor
Second leading scorer Kenny Hasbrouck didnt help much either going two for seven with six points
So far he lacks the flair he had Friday against Vandy
On the other side Scottie Reynolds are tearing it up
Theyre shooting a combined eleven for seventeen and have accounted for all five of Novas threes
The Saints will probably start launching threes now and the good news is that they are hanging around even with cold shooting
Second half just underway fiftyone to thirty seven Nova

Nova up 10 at half

TAMPA, Fla. -- After hitting a 3 and blocking a shot, Siena had a chance to get some momentum going into the half but a traveling call cost the Saints their last possession.
Villanova is hot from outside (5-8), and was fouled on two of those misses.
Siena is having problems on offense, not really running any kind of set or forcing Nova to really buckle down on defense. Nova is having success down low, but Dante Cunningham and Caiem Drummond have three fouls each so that advantage might not last long.
Scottie Reynolds has 17 and Corey Stokes 14 at the break, while Hasbrouck has a quiet 6 for Siena.
At the half, it's 42-32 Villanova.

Nova in control

TAMPA, Fla. -- It's still early, but this isn't the same Siena team that beat Vanderbilt. The Saints are cold from the field and having triouble with the Cats' press.
Antonio Pena brutalized Siena on Nova's first possession but missed an open shot. It's a tough matchup inside for the Saints.
Hasbrouck got whistled for two early fouls, which is the worst possible news for the Saints. They need him on the floor.
Reynolds drained a 3 from deep - the same spot on the floor that Western Kentucky's Ty Rogers hit his buzzer beater from against Drake - and then hit another shortly afterward. He's 3-4 from deep and has 17 points.
Overall, the Cats are 5-8 from 3-point range. Siena brought Tay Fisher in to counter, and sure enough, he did, making his first and getting fouled on a second.
39-27 Nova with 2:39 til the half.

Nova up early

TAMPA, Fla. -- It's still early, but this isn't the same Siena team that beat Vanderbilt. The Saints are cold from the field and struggling to beat the Cats' press.
Antonio Pena brutalized Siena on Nova's first possession but missed an open shot. It's a tough matchup inside for the Saints.
Hasbrouck got whistled for an early foul (just more than a minute in), which is the worst possible news for the Saints. They need him on the floor.
Reynolds drained a 3 from deep - the same spot on the floor that Western Kentucky's Ty Rogers hit his buzzer beater from against Drake - and then hit another shortly afterward.
Overall, the Cats are 3-4 from 3-point range. Siena brought Tay Fisher in to counter, and sure enough, he did, making his first and getting fouled on a second.
21-10 Nova with 11:01 left and three shots coming for FIsher.

Siena-Nova on tap

TAMPA, Fla. -- It's a beautiful Easter Sunday here in Florida, and we're stuck inside. Hopefully, the two games today can match the excitement of those from Friday as four underdogs try to secure bids to the Sweet Sixteen. First up is Siena (23-10) vs. Villanova (21-12).

Continue reading "Siena-Nova on tap" »

March 22, 2008

MSU off to Texas

DENVER, Colo. - It took six games, but we finally got a competitive one. Michigan St beat Pitt 65-54 to move on to the South Regional in Texas where they will face the winner of Memphis and Mississippi St.


Neitzel led the Spartans with 21 points and hit 5 of 8 from three point range. Kalin Lucas also had a great game with 19.

Pitt got 19 from Levance Fields, who shot 6-12 from the floor. The rest of the team was ice cold, shooting a combined 11-42. Sam Young did mange to squeeze out 15 points though.

So much for me being Pitt's lucky charm. I hadn't seen them in person all year before the Big East tournament, but they had won five straight in my presence.

Meanwhile, our attention turns to UCLA and Texas A&M. UCLA came back to win, much to the head-shaking relief of Dan Guerrero. I caught up with him after the game and asked if he got to see much of the game here. He told me he watched each game with one eye. He also wasn't surprised to see UCLA come back to win. They have done a lot of that kind of thing this year.

Also, our attention turns to the regionals in Detroit, where I will be next week. But first, tomorrow I'll have my bests and worsts of Denver.

Neitzel on a run

DENVER, Colo. - Drew Neitzel has scored the last eight Michigan St points and the Spartans are now up 55-50 with 3:38 to go.

Dixon got into it with the referees when two of them called fouls on different guys when two ran into each other. After a conference, the call went against Pitt and Dixon, not surprisingly, got hot.

Michigan St back in front

DENVER, Colo. - The Spartans have pulled back ahead by three at the 8-minute timeout.

On press row, the attention is on the UCLA game. No place does that seem to be more true than across the way from us, where UCLA AD and committee member Dan Guerrero seems engrossed in something on a monitor in front of him. I'm guessing he's not watching Dancing with the Stars.

A couple of minutes ago, Neitzel tried to take credit (is that the right word) a foul that was on Morgan. The ref blew the whistle, and Neitzel's hand went up in the air immeidately, yelling after the ref, "that's on me!" It wasn't.

Pitt responds

DENVER, Colo. - Pitt has gone on a 10-2 run to cut the Spartans lead to two at 42-40. Levance Fields had four points during the run.

Despite the run, Pitt fans are sitting on their hands, while Michigan State's fans behind us are up and active. They should have plenty of energy since they didn't use any up on Thursday.

We have Texas A&M-UCLA on the monitor next to us as pretty much everyone hopes for their brackets' sake that UCLA makes a comeback.

Timeout didn't work

DENVER, Colo. - Jamie Dixon's timeout after Michigan St scored the first four points didn't work. The Panthers turned the ball over again, and the Spartan run got to 8-0 before Blair pounded home a couple of layups.

Goran Suton has a couple of baskets for Michigan St inside. He's been very effective today, but he's out of the game right now.

MSU scores four

DENVER, Colo. - Michigan St has scored the first four points of the second half. The first few possessions were empty for each team, but Suton cleaned up some garbage and Morgan went baseline for a dunk to put the Spartans up six.

Here's a picture of Neitzel and Lucas making a plan right before inbounding the ball to start the half. Whatever it was, it didn't work.


MSU leads at halftime

DENVER, Colo. - MSU sent six players onto the floor coming out of a time out right before the break, then promptly threw the ball away for a game-tying layup by Fields. However, Kalin Lucas went coast to coast right after that to give the Spartans a 30-28 lead at the half.

Pitt has hung in there in spite of pretty miserable shooting. They are 9-31 from the floor for 29%. The Spartans are shooting 50% even. Pitt still has an 8-point lead at the free throw line though.

Lucas has 10 points to lead MSU, while Fields' 11 leads the Panthers.

Our halftime entertainment was the Michigan St band. MSU has a dance team, but they didn't perform. Pitt had a dance team on Thursday, but they haven't been seen tonight.

For a while, I didn't think I'd make it back for the second half. I had to wait quite a long time to wash my hands in our small bathroom as the sinks were occupied by one guy scrubbing for surgery and another guy fixing his makeup. Someone fixing their face is something you don't see much in a men's room. He said he was a TV guy. Yeah, right.

Three for Drew

DENVER, Colo. - Neitzel just hit his third three-ball of the half to put Michigan St five and Jamie Dixon has called timeout.

Goran Suton also has six points for MSU.

Ronald Ramon is still having trouble finding the hole, as are his teammates. They are only 5-19 from the floor, but have hit eight free throws.


DENVER, Colo. - I think you can tell that the PA guy may not watch a lot of college hoops. He just mispronounced Drew Neitzel's name as "NEET-zel" instead of "NEYET-zel'

Raymar Morgan already has two foul for Michigan St, and Pitt already has six points at the line.

Young got a break away dunk, and was still whooping it up when he got back down the floor to play defense.

Michigan St is ahead though 13-12 with 10:20 left in the half. The Spartans have two shot clock buzzer-beating baskets.

It looks like the Michigan St coaching staff got together and decided on pastel ties. Izzo is sporting a light blue, while two of his assistants opted for lavender.

Slow start in Denver

DENVER, Colo. - It's taken a lot of shots, but both teams are finally on the board here. MSU leads 4-2 at the first TV timeout. Neitzel and Morgan have tried and failed from the floor for MSU, and Ramon is 0-3 for Pitt.

At least it's not a blowout. Yet.

MSU-Pitt pregame

DENVER, Colo. - We have the lineups for the Michigan St-Pitt game.

The Spartans start
G Drew Neitzel , Kalin Lucas
F Raymar Morgan, Goran Suton
C Drew Naymick

Pitt counters with
G Levance Fields, Ronald Ramon
F Keith Benjamin, Sam Young
C DeJuan Blair

On Thursday, Ramon was listed as a forward in the lineup, and Benjamin was a guard.

Our refs are Dick Cartmell, Scott Thornley and Michael Eades.

Meanwhile, we're all transfixed on the Stanford-Marquette game, which is in OT. We never did get the CBS feed, but the local affiliate switched to it. They also inform us that a local highway is closed due to heavy smoke from a haystack fire. We don't even have that in Indiana.

Trying to turn their luck upside down

DENVER, Colo. - When Catholics are trying to sell a house, they'll sometimes bury a St. Christopher's medal upside down in the yard. When Notre Dame's trying to change their luck on the basketball floor, they try this...


It's not working so far. Harangody just got stripped from behind trying to dribble end to end. I guess he'll never be a point center.

Notre Dame still trails by 19, and we are now 0-5 trying to get a good game in Denver.

Meanwhile, I'm seeing a lot of this...


Gimme that bullhorn

DENVER, Colo. - A few plays ago, Weaver missed a layup, ended up in the WSU cheerleader section and picks up a megaphone in disgust.. He was fouled on the play by McAlarney, and it was ruled intentional.

Weaver hit those free throws, then one more on the ensuing possession, then stole a pass that led to a Low three ball and the Cougars are back up 17 at 52-35.


DENVER, Colo. - After Derrick Low scored four straight to stop the Notre Dame run, the Washington State fans got on their feet and cheered on the defense. It didn't work though. Rob Kurz got a layup and WSU's lead is down to 9 with 10:55 left.

The WSU dance team is on the floor again. It seems like every time I look up, there they are. None of them look like Derrick Low though, so I must just have their image burned into my eyes.

ND on a run

DENVER, Colo. - The Irish offense has finally found some life. They are on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 38-31 with 13:49 left.

The ND fans behind me are getting louder now also. They've been sitting on their hands for a while.

Irish luck running out

DENVER, Colo. - This are getting worse instead of better for ND with the lead now up to 16 and 16:06 left. Washington St is getting just about any shot they want, and Notre Dame is missing about every shot they take.

Notre Dame's points in this half came on a three-pointer by McAlarney, and he was fouled on the shot, but indicitive of how this day is going for the Irish, he clanked the freebie.

Still can't see Stanford-Marquette on our little TV, but we have four views of this brick-fest.

Halftime stats

DENVER, Colo. - Here's some of the numbers that tell the tale of the first half.

ND shot 25% from the floor, and looked every bit like a team that didn't know how to get a shot off. Washington St shot 13-28 for 46%. Neither team did much from long range, with ND 1-8 and WSU 2-10.

Wazzu won the turnover battle 6-1, but the Irish have a four rebound lead.

It will be interesting to see what adjustments Mike Brey made at halftime. The second half will start here in a few minutes.

Wash St in command

DENVER, Colo. - This was expected to be a battle of styles, and the Cougars are imposing their will on the Irish. Notre Dame only has 19 points at the half, the last two of which came from Kurz as the clock wound down. That was right after Low drained a rainbow three with the shot clock expiring.

Washington St is frustrating ND in every way imaginable on the defensive end. Notre Dame leads the rebounding battle, but still isn't getting a lot of second chances. They also have turned it over half a dozen times.

At halftime, we're trying to figure out how to get Stanford and Marquette on our little TV at courtside while the Wash St dance team performs. We've had every CBS channel before so we could watch whatever we wanted, but once the Purdue game ended (and it seemed like it never would), we tried to find Stanford-Marquette, but instead we have the game we are watching on three channels.

We heard that Trent Johnson, the Stanford coach, was ejected.

More stats and stuff in a bit.

Steal of the day

DENVER, Colo. - Kyle Weaver just made what I'm sure will be the steal of the day, even though we have a little more than 60 minutes of basketball left. Tory Jackson tried to throw a pass, and Weaver jumped and blocked it with his right hand, and ended up cupping the ball and coming down with it.

WSU maintains an 8-point lead with 3:44 left.

WSU smothering the Irish

DENVER, Colo. - Washington State's defense has been smothering during a 10-0 run, which was just stopped by a Harangody layup. Wazzu is getting hands on just about every pass and shot attempt. They are making it very uncomfortable for ND to run their offense.

The Cougars lead 17-9 a the 12-minute timeout, which comes with 8:34 left, so we'll be due for another one real quick.

All five WSU starters are on the scoreboard, led by Low with 6.

Dick Bennett, Tony's dad, is in the house tonight seated about four rows behind the WSU bench.

ND up first, WSU responds

DENVER, Colo. - Notre Dame scored the first five points on a Tory Jackson three and a layup by McAlarney, but WSU responded inside with Baynes and outside with Rochistie.

Derrick Low is on the board as well, as we're tied at 7 at the first timeout.

Hold the clock!

DENVER, Colo. - The CBS guy in front of me just let the radio folks know that the tip of our first game has been pushed back 10 minutes, so we'll tip at 6:50 ET instead of 6:40.

Notre Dame-Washington St Pregame

DENVER, Colo. - With the Purdue-Xavier at the half, I thought I'd take this opportunity to give you a little pregame info on our first game, which is still a half an hour away.

Once again, it looks like a late arriving crowd, although a section of WSU fans is mostly here already.

We already have the starting lineups, and they are the same for each team as they were on Thursday.

Notre Dame is going with
G Tory Jackson, Kyle McAlarney
C Luke Harangody
F Rob Kurz, Zach Hillesland

Washington St counters with
G Derrick Low, Taylor Rochestie
C Aron Baynes
F Kyle Weaver, Robbie Cowgill

Our refs are Mark Whitehead, John Hughes, and TV Teddy Valentine.

The bands and cheerleaders are already in place, and while the Irish and Wazzu band do a good job, we're going to miss this guy today.


I don't know if they do this, but I think the Wazzu band should have a song where they play Kazoos.

I got a chance to meet Xavier AD Mike Bobinksi, who is here as part of his orientation for going on the men's basketball committee next season. Naturally, a fight broke out over the Purdue-Xavier game. No, I'm kidding of course. UCLA AD Dan Guerrero is the official committee rep at this site. Tom O'Connor, I believe, has headed back to Indy, which is where the chair usually stays for the tournament.

Also, the Fonz is in the house. No, not Henry Winkler. LaPhonso Ellis, the former Notre Dame star, is part of the Irish radio team, and the tallest guy on press row, edging out CBS announcer Len Elmore.

ND has broken out some new warmups and unis for this game. The warmup has a clover on the chest, and the uniforms are black. You might be able to see that here.


WVU Postgame Reaction

WASHINGTON -- Here are some West Virginia quotes:

Continue reading "WVU Postgame Reaction" »

Offensive Offense

Washington -- We're waiting for West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins and a few Mountaineers to come out to the dais, and we're also waiting for stats, but here is my question: What was Duke doing on offense?

Continue reading "Offensive Offense" »

West Virginia Knocks Out Duke

WASHINGTON -- A strong second half performance which saw the Mountaineers outscore Duke by 11 gives West Virginia a big upset over the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils. Joe Alexander scored a game-high 22, Alex Ruoff added 17, and Joe Mazzulla had an amazing 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Back with more shortly.

West Virginia Senses It

WASHINGTON -- With Joe Mazzulla (the undisputed player of the game) at the line to put the Mountaineers up 12 with less than a minute left, the WVU players got on their feet and started raising the roof. They seem to sense that the upset is imminent. Each team has one timeout remaining as there are now 55 seconds left and a 10-point game.

Duke's Free-Throw Shooting Betrays Them

WASHINGTON -- Duke has missed three of its last four free throws after not missing in the first half. They're fortunate to be getting to the line; they can't keep missing.

Sweet Dime by Mazzulla

WASHINGTON -- On a broken play, Joe Mazzulla, trapped in the paint, somehow muscled a pass through three Duke defenders to little-used Cam Thoroughman who kissed in a layup to put WVU up 11.

Continue reading "Sweet Dime by Mazzulla" »

Battle of the Fans

WASHINGTON -- With play stopped to correct a timing error, Duke fans started their customary Let's-Go-Duke cheer. Quickly, West Virginia's John Flowers got up off the bench and started waving to the Mountaineer fans to get a Let's-Gooo-Mountaineers rendition started.

Continue reading "Battle of the Fans" »

Joe Mazzulla Wants it More

WASHINGTON -- Joe Mazzulla is quietly putting together one of the most well-rounded performances we've seen in D.C.

Continue reading "Joe Mazzulla Wants it More" »

Foul Trouble Intrigue

WASHINGTON -- There's only nine minutes gone by in the second half, but already both teams are dealing with foul trouble.

Continue reading "Foul Trouble Intrigue" »

The Joe Alexander Show

WASHINGTON -- Joe Alexander is taking over this game.

Continue reading "The Joe Alexander Show" »

Today, They Really Are Free

WASHINGTON -- Until Kyle Singler missed the second of his two free throws moments ago, both teams were perfect from the line. The Blue Devils made their first 13 freebies, while West Virginia is 3-for-3.

Continue reading "Today, They Really Are Free" »

Halftime: WVU Can't Buy a Bucket

WASHINGTON -- The Mountaineers shot uncharacteristically poorly in the first half but trail by just five.

Continue reading "Halftime: WVU Can't Buy a Bucket" »

Brendan Haywood Doesn't Play for Either Team

WASHINGTON -- Shortly before this game started, Brendan Haywood meandered down the hallway near the media work room heading towards the workout room here at Verizon Center. A member of the arena security personnel, who evidently doesn't watch a whole lot of Wizards basketball, tried to direct him to either the Duke or WVU locker room before he flashed his ID.

Continue reading "Brendan Haywood Doesn't Play for Either Team" »

Meet Ed Hightower

WASHINGTON -- The refs didn't forget to pack their whistles for Washington, D.C.

Continue reading "Meet Ed Hightower" »

Paulus is Hot, Huggins is Angry

WASHINGTON -- Greg Paulus, who finished 2-of-7 from three against Belmont, made his first two threes, one off a screen, one off the dribble, and Duke leads 10-4. After Paulus' second three, WVU Coach Bob Huggins tried to get a 30-second timeout, didn't get it, and at the next stoppage of play, was hit with a technical.

Continue reading "Paulus is Hot, Huggins is Angry" »

Duke, WVU Will Shoot for Sweet 16

WASHINGTON -- Welcome back to the nation's capital where Duke and West Virginia will tip at 2:10 to officially get the second round underway. The Mountaineers will be looking to build on the Big East's early round success and to garner their 26th win of the season. The Blue Devils are trying to get back to the Sweet 16, somewhere they've been 23 times ... but not since 2006, which is like an eternity in Durham.

Continue reading "Duke, WVU Will Shoot for Sweet 16" »

Tampa doesn't disappoint

TAMPA, Fla. -- Call it Tampandemonium.
After all of Thursday's games yielded just one upset that wasn't an 8-9 game, Tampa gave us four in a row on Friday.
If you're religious, today was Good Friday. If you're a hoops fan, it was great.

Continue reading "Tampa doesn't disappoint" »

March 21, 2008

Cats complete Upset Day with comeback win

TAMPA, Fla. -- If you like upsets, this is the place for you. Tampa was Upset City on Friday, and Villanova capped it off with a 75-69 win against fifth-seed Clemson.
After trailing by as many as 18 in the first half, the Cats stormed back and took the lead for good with 11:00 remaining.

Continue reading "Cats complete Upset Day with comeback win" »

Cats pulling away

TAMPA, Fla. -- Scottie Reynolds has made play after play to fuel Villanova's comeback, and now his efforts are building a lead.
Reynolds has ceased to be the shooter and become the dealer. His latest assist came from his knees while recovering a loose ball. He scooped it to Antonio Pena for an and-1 layup.
Clemson has gone stagnant on offense, and they need some kind of a spark to reclaim the lead.
As of now, the Cats are running away.
It's 63-55 VU with 5:28 on those cool, flatpanel clocks here at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Three-Point Shooting Lifts Louisville

BIRMINGHAM - Lousiville head coach Rick Pitino was focused on not letting Boise State get hot with the deep shot, but it was his team that torched the nets and stamped its spot into the second round.

The Cardinals shot 50 percent (12-of-24) from long range with seven different players making a trifecta.

Continue reading "Three-Point Shooting Lifts Louisville" »

Villanova takes the lead

TAMPA, Fla. -- Corey Fisher hit a 3 as the shot clock hit zero to break a 52-all deadlock. (It's a good day to shoot 3's if you're a Fisher).
Then he drove and drew a foul on the next possession that sent Trevor Booker back to the Clemson bench with four fouls.
He slipped up on the ensuing Tigers drive by fouling Terrence Oglesby (who is actually white) on a 3-point attempt. Oglesby hit all three shots.
Dante Cunningham answered with a driving layin to make the Nova lead 3, Clemson threw away a fast break and that's where we stand, 58-55 Villanova with 6:53 to play.

Cards Finish It Off

BIRMINGHAM - Louisville handled its first round test easily Friday, posting a 79-61 victory over Boise State. The Cardinals were red hot from 3-point land in the first half and that carried over for the entirety of the game.

Louisville will face 6-seed Oklahoma in the night cap of Sunday's action in Birmingham.

The Fans Are Heading For the Exits...

BIRMINGHAM - The public address announcer just announced a crowd of over 14,000, but they are all heading for the exits here at the BJCC.

Louisville has a 14-point lead. They've shown no signs of letting it get under a 10-point lead, and BSU hasn't showed that they're capable of cutting the lead down.

The Broncos also look like they're starting to get worn down...

It's officially a ballgame

TAMPA, Fla. -- We've got some solid competition here now.
Reynolds banked in a 3 on his way back to the ground after getting fouled to give Nova the lead, 50-49 with 11:56 left.
A quick recap of the last few minutes:
Reynolds hit an unbelievable double clutch layup to bring Nova within 1 at 44-43.
The Cats then got the ball back and had momentum, but a traveling call sent it back the other way.
VU center Dante Cunningham picked up his fourth foul. He only has 4 points, but it's good to have a big body inside anyway, especially the way Clemson likes to attack the basket.
Stitt hit a 3 for Clemson, and Antonio Pena responded with a layin on the other end.
Pena hurt his leg a few plays later. He was limping and wincing for the next minute or so and Jay Wright subbed him out.
Then, Dwayne Anderson got hurt after getting fouled on his way to the basket. Another leg injury and two Nova big men are sitting.

Cats draw closer on Reynolds' shooting

TAMPA, Fla. -- Nova keeps cutting Clemson's lead to 5 or so, but the Tigers always answer.
Scottie Reynolds is heating up from 3-land. He has hit two in the second half to give him 13 points on the day.
The crowd is really getting into it now, and the back-and-forth scoring is starting to create quite an atmosphere.
This game doesn't have that underdog edge to it, but there's nothing like a shootout.
44-39 Clemson with 15:55 to go.

On Cruise Control...

BIRMINGHAM - At the 11 minute mark of the second half, the Louisville Cardinals are showing no signs of a letdown, as they still hold a 63-44 lead.

Boise State strung together consecutive baskets, but David Padgett and Juan Palacios answered with baskets of their own.

Another game in Birmingham, and another without much edge-of-your-seat excitement that we've come to know and love in March. The first game of the day was good between Tennessee and American, but after that one, it's pretty much been a snooze-fest.

Nova makes a run

TAMPA, Fla. -- Here come the Cats.
Nova came out of the gate and scored 5 quick points to cut Clemson's lead to 7, 39-32.
Scottie Reynolds just hit a 3 with 18:59 left, and we've got a ballgame.
A dart to the staff member who made the stomach-painted Nova girls who were standing behind press row go back to their seats.

McGee For 3

BIRMINGHAM - Andre McGee became the 7th Louisville player to make a three-pointer, and the junior has given the Cardinals a comfortable cushion.

McGee nailed two straight threes to stretch the lead out to 19. That's where it stands now with the Cards leading 54-35 with just under 16 minutes to go in the game.

Clemson up 12 at half

TAMPA, Fla. -- Clemson's up 12 at the half.
The Tigers have taken 17 3's now and hit seven. They are led by Demontez Stitt with 9 points.
This one is far from over, it has just been pretty boring. There were a few big plays, but not a whole lot of competition.
Villanova almost converted a full-court alley-oop at the halftime buzzer.

The Table Leaper award goes to the Tigers' James Mays:
Chasing a loose ball, Mays leaped onto the first table on press row, jumped to the second and then jumped on each of the first three rows of seats (empty of course). It was the most impressive thing I've seen yet in this game, which is quickly becoming a snorer.

Tiedeman Keeping Boise State In The Neighborhood

BIRMINGHAM - Boise State still trails 44-31 at the half, but Tyler Tiedeman has caught fire to keep the Broncos close.

He has 12 in the game and rattled off 7 in the last two minutes.

However, it would be totally stretching the story if I told you Boise State was in control of the game.

Continue reading "Tiedeman Keeping Boise State In The Neighborhood" »

Tigers cruising

TAMPA, Fla. -- I'm gonna switch to autopilot for a little while. It's late, I'm emotionally drained and this game isn't living up to the others. Clemson leads 29-16 with 7:36 left.
They're more energetic, making shots and just generally better than Villanova right now.
Raymond Sykes had a big follow-up jam a second ago. There was noone even remotely close to blocking him out.

Add 1 More...

BIRMINGHAM - As I posted my last entry, Earl Clark drained a trey. He is the sixth Cardinal to make a 3-point basket tonight as they lead by 12 with just under four minutes to go.

Keep in mind that David Padgett has only logged two minutes, and still, the Cardinals are rolling.

I think they have 50 by the half..(35-23 now)

Clemson pulling away early

TAMPA, Fla. -- Clemson has more fans here than Nova, but it remains to be seen which side the casual viewers will take. In the Drake-Western Kentucky game, fans basically rooted for overtime and then whoever was behind.Clemson is clearly enamored with 3-point shooting, but that's no surprise. The Tigers have hoisted 3's like they're going out of style all season. Right now, they're 4-8 and hold a 22-12 lead with 11:31 remaining.

You call that a run?

BIRMINGHAM - Apparently irritated by my previous blog post, Louisville retaliated.

After a 8-0 run by Boise State, Louisville ran off 10 unanswered to regain complete control of the game. They lead by 11 with 7 minutes to go. At this stage in the game, the Cards have 3's from Terrence Williams, Preston Knowles, Juan Palacios, Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith.

It's basically been an aerial assault with an occasional drive to the basket.

Boise State is scoring, but it seems they're laboring to put up any kind of points, while Louisville makes it look so easy...

Broncs On A Run...

BIRMINGHAM - After trailing by 11 in practically a road game, Boise State is showing signs of life, and they're doing it without production from star forward Reggie Larry.

After a Juan Palacios 3-pointer pushed the Cardinal lead to 11, Boise State's Tyler Tiedeman and Jamar Greene stroked treys, and now BSU trails by just 5, 18-13.

11:50 to go in the first half. Also, Louisville's David Padgett picked up 2 quick fouls and hasn't been on the court since the first two minutes of the game.

Louisville in Kentucky?

BIRMINGHAM - A pretty strong contingent of red is in the building, or at least it sounds like it. It also could be because the Cardinals -- mainly Terrence Williams -- is on fire to start the game.

Wiliams has all 7 of Louisville's points and the Cards are up 7-1 early.

Clemson out to early lead

TAMPA, Fla. -- I feel like I'm in basketball's Disneyworld.
Three upsets in three games, and this game is supposed to be the exciting one.
Clemson leads Villanova 12-7 with 14:58 to go in the half.
The Tigers have already taken six 3's (they made two) but are 3-3 from the rest of the field.
Let's see if this can live up to the other games. At this pace, Nova should be considered a heavy favorite.

Saturday preview from Denver

DENVER, Colo. - Today has been a day of rest at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Well, not for the teams. They had closed practices and press conferences.

At other sites today, we've had riveting basketball. We had exactly the opposite of that here on Thursday, and we're hoping for better tomorrow.

Our first game, which starts at 4:40 Mountain time, features #4 seed Pittsburgh and #5 seed Michigan St. There are a lot of similarities between these teams. Both are pretty physical teams, rebound well, and get good play from their guards.

Pitt happens to be on fire at the moment. The Panthers won the Big East tournament, then stomped Oral Roberts on Thursday.

Michigan St has generally not played well away from home this year, but you wouldn't know that judging from the pounding they gave Temple.

Both teams play essentially three guards, although Michigan State's Raymar Morgan is a little big for a guard. That is the matchup that will likely be key for Michgan St. They need production from the guards, but Morgan in partcular.

Drew Neitzel did not have a particularly good game against Temple, but he wasn't needed. He will be be tomorrow.

Levance Fields of Pitt had a huge game against ORU with 23 points. It's probably not reasonable to expect that again, but if the team has the balance that they had the other night, with five players in double figures, that will be the omen of a good night.

The matchup that might be the toughest for MSU is Sam Young. Young had a quiet 14 against the Eagles, but his size and ability to play inside and out could cause problems for the Spartans.

Say what you want about MSU, they will be prepared. They toughened themselves up by, "beating ourselves up with game film," according to coach Tom Izzo. That has to hurt.

I like the hot Panthers in this game.

Game two will have another Big East team, Notre Dame taking on Washington St from the Pac 10.

WSU shut Winthrop down completely in the second half of their game on Thursday, which is befitting their top 5 ranking in scoring defense.

Notre Dame will provide some challenges. It will be up to Aron Baynes to try to contain Luke Harangody, while Derrick Low and company on the perimeter try to slow down Kyle McAlarney.

Notre Dame averages about 80 points a game, but WSU gives up less than 55 and only gave up 80 once all year.

On the other end, Low needs to find a way to get his offense going before the halftime break. He was 0-5 against Winthrop in the first half, but 4-5 in the second.

Good offense vs good defense. I'll take good defense and the Cougars.

Tonight, I am watching games from the Blake St Tavern, just north of Coors Field in Denver.

There have been a lot of competing interests here today. I've seen shirts from Purdue, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio St, Kansas, UCLA, Georgetown, Oklahoma and Oregon, Everybody has a dog in the fight. Except Ohio St.

San Diego Torerrorizes Huskies

TAMPA, Fla. -- There's no question, Tampa is the place to be.
San Diego ended the second overtime game of the day in dramatic fashion, pulling a shocking upset of fourth-seeded Connecticut.
After traveling with just over a minute left to open the door for UConn to take the lead, De'Jon Jackson redeemed himself with one shot, a jumper that clinched the Toreros' 70-69 victory.

Continue reading "San Diego Torerrorizes Huskies" »

Overtime, again

TAMPA, Fla. -- After a Thursday that went the way of the chalk, we've had plenty of excitement already in Tampa. After Western Kentucky topped Drake in overtime, San Diego has taken Connecticut to an extra frame.

Continue reading "Overtime, again" »

Jones comes up big, SDU leads late

TAMPA, Fla. -- It looked like Connecticut had swung the momentum in its favor after a Doug Wiggins 3 gave them the lead. Then Gyno Pomare answered and Rob Jones hit an amazing reverse layup, followed by a one-hander to put the Toreros up 4 with 50 seconds to go. The Toreros might actually pull this one off.

SDU slowing down

TAMPA, Fla. -- San Diego's possessions are taking much longer now. The Toreros are having a hard time cracking Connecticut's defense, often settling for outside shots late in the shot clock. That's fine with Brandon Johnson, as his three as the 35-second timer expired dropped through the net to give SDU a 49-46 lead.
Toreros by 3 with 7:08 left.

Finally, UConn makes a run

TAMPA, Fla. -- The tide is starting to turn here in Tampa, albeit a bit slower than I expected.
Connecticut has scrapped within 3 at 44-41, and with 11:19 left there is plenty of time to make this a rout.
The Huskies are starting to get the ball deep into the lane for easy looks and have put together a 6-0 run, all on layups.

Continue reading "Finally, UConn makes a run" »

Pomare leading Toreros

TAMPA, Fla. -- The crowd here is certainly pulling for an upset. After the drama from Western Kentucky's overtime win against Drake, who could blame them?
They might just get some more drama in the form of San Diego, whose Gyno Pomare is essentially having his way with Connecticut.

Continue reading "Pomare leading Toreros" »

Toreros up 5 at halftime

TAMPA, Fla. -- I'm still not ready to say Connecticut is in trouble, but they had better wake up because San Diego is playing right with them.

Continue reading "Toreros up 5 at halftime" »

Toreros giving Huskies a fight

TAMPA, Fla. -- UConn isn't exactly impressive right now, although according to the scoreboard here in the Forum, they are beating Austin Peay in addition to facing San Diego.

Continue reading "Toreros giving Huskies a fight" »

UConn trails early

Tampa, Fla. -- Sorry for the delay. I'm still catching my breath from that Drake-Western Kentucky finish, and the Connecticut-San Diego game seems a great chance to do so.
The Toreros are showing some fight, although they are at a definite physical disadvantage.

Continue reading "UConn trails early" »

March 20, 2008

Irish advance

DENVER, Colo. - Notre Dame cruised through the second half to a 68-50 win over George Mason.

Coach Jim Larranaga gave his senior starters, Will Thomas and Folarin Campbell a curtain call late in the game. They were key players in the Final Four run of two years ago.

Thomas went down swinging, leading the Patriots with 25 points. He was the only Mason player in double figures.

Notre Dame was led by Harangody's 18 and McAlarney's 15.

Barring something noteworthy in the press conference, that's a wrap from Denver for today. Tomorrow, I'll have at least a preview of Saturday's games.

Final timeout

DENVER, Colo. - The final timeout of George Mason's season has arrived, and some fans are headed for the exits. with 2:41 to go, ND still leads by 17.

Game times for Saturday have been announced. Notre Dame will face Washington St at 4:40 local time (Mountain), followed by Pitt and Michigan St at roughly 7:10.

Hopefully those games will be closer than what we had today.

Hey, Eraser!

DENVER, Colo. - A Mason fan behind me just called Patriot player Jordan Carter, "Eraser." I assume that's because that big 'fro on his head looks like one.

Nine minutes to go, the Irish are still up 16, so Mason is having no luck erasing the lead.

Status quo

DENVER, Colo. - Notre Dame is keeping Mason at bay. The lead is 14 at the second media timeout of the half.

The Green Machine is in the process of setting the record for the fastest version ever played of "Living on a Prayer." It sounds like a 78 RPM version. If you don't know what that is, go ask your mother. I don't want to hear it.

Mason's band entertains

DENVER, Colo. - The George Mason pep band played for us at halftime. Their band director, Doc Nix, is a bald, black man with a beard that is about 4" long and sticks straight out about 4" from his chin. He's wearing white pants, a long white coat, a green shirt, gold tie and gold, mirrored sunglasses. He directs with a long cane with a green door-knob shaped handle. "Directs" is putting it loosely. He gets them going, then dances up in front of the band, occasionally waving an arm or pointing at the band to get what he wants. This is a guy who is INTO his job.

I saw Tom O'Connor again asked if he was in fact the director, and he told me that he was, and that the guy has a Ph. D. from Michigan.

He is easily the most flamboyant pep band director I've ever seen. You gotta love a guy who digs his gig this much.

Here's a link to some picks of Doc Nix and the Green Machine Pep Band

Mason mini run before half

DENVER, Colo. - Mason cut four points off of the Irish lead going into the break and now trail 33-21. Poor shooting has hurt them, like it has all of the lower seeds here today. GMU is 9-27 for 33%, while the Irish are at 12-29 for 41%. Notre Dame has four more three pointers though.

Despite this little run, I haven't seen anything from the Patriots to lead me to believe this will be anything but the fourth blowout of the day.

It also looks like this halftime period will be devoid of entertainment. That's a shame, because the game isn't holding up its end of the bargain.

ND still up big

DENVER, Colo. - At the 6:40 mark of the first half, the Irish have a 16-point lead over Mason. At one point in this half, GMU missed six straight shots.

Later, Harangody took a couple of bad shots and was chastising himself for it coming back down the floor.

Larranaga has a loud, piercing whistle, and when he does it, every guy in yellow turns to the bench to see the play he's calling.

Same ol', same ol'

DENVER, Colo. - Another game, another blowout. George Mason can't buy a bucket, and Notre Dame has three pointers from five different guys. The Irish are, by my count, in the middle of a 17-0 run and lead 23-7 with 11:11 left in the first half.

The ND Leprechaun is different than the guy I saw during football season.

Mason's crowd behind me doesn't look too happy.

Most coaches during full timeouts don't sit, or if they do, they sit on the same chair as the team. Jim Larranaga sits on a mini bar stool (for, I presume, use at a hotel mini bar).

ND up early

DENVER, Colo. - The Irish have built an early 11-7 lead with five points from Harangody and three each from Jackson and McAlarney.

Will Thomas is holding his own against Harangody with four points. He's also had a quick rest already, but the offense looks like its designed to go through him.

On the Mason bench, Darryl Monroe, a senior sitting out this year with an injury, was telling one of his teammates that the back door is open on ND. We'll see if they go there now.

Mountaineers Shoot Them Some Wildcats

WASHINGTON -- West Virginia has always had an answer. Whether it was in the person of Alex Ruoff, Darris Nichols, or De'Sean Butler, every time Arizona has gotten close, the Mountaineers have nailed a big shot.

Continue reading "Mountaineers Shoot Them Some Wildcats" »

WVU Up to Old Tricks

WASHINGTON -- As they've been known to do, the West Virginia Mountaineers are making their threes early on. Darris Nichols and Alex Ruoff hit on back-to-back trips to stake WVU to an early 8-3 lead.

Continue reading "WVU Up to Old Tricks" »

ND-Mason: last chance

DENVER, Colo. - Notre Dame and George Mason are next. Tom O'Connor has taken off his committee chairman hat and put on his athletic director hat and is sitting in the stands behind me with the other Mason fans. I asked him if he was nervous about the game and he said, "No, I can't do anything about it anyway."

This is our last chance for a good game here. We've had three blowouts, so anything competitive would be nice.

The starters for Notre Dame are Kyle McAlarney and Tory Jackson at Guard, Zach Hillesland and Rob Kurz at forward, and center Luke Harangody.

Mason starts Dre Smith and John Vaughan in the back court, with Louis Birdsong, Folarin Campbell and Will Thomas up front.

Our refs are Scott Thornely, john Hughes and Antonio Petty.

We'll be underway in a few minutes.

The Payne Train

WASHINGTON -- Cameron Payne and Jonnie West may not have entered tonight's game, but it sure seems like they are enjoying themselves.

Continue reading "The Payne Train" »

Bayless Must Step Up

WASHINGTON -- Where has Jarryd Bayless been? He just, around the 9:30 mark, scored his first bucket of the second half. Why has the diaper dandy who averages 20 a game been so quiet?

Continue reading "Bayless Must Step Up" »

Quick Note on the WVU Band

WASHINGTON -- Don't ask me why, but there is a 60-year-old man playing trumpet in the West Virginia band. First time I've ever seen that.

Continue reading "Quick Note on the WVU Band" »

Wildcats Trail by One at Half

WASHINGTON -- Half time stats are nearly identical.

Continue reading "Wildcats Trail by One at Half" »

Budinger Waking Up

WASHINGTON -- After a somewhat quiet first few minutes, Chase Budinger has come alive, scoring on a three, a slashing two, and a midrange jumper on consecutive Arizona possessions.

Continue reading "Budinger Waking Up" »

Standing O for Byrd

WASHINGTON -- Belmont coach Rick Byrd just filed into the front row of what was the Belmont fan section and now is a mix of Bruins and Mountaineers fans. All of them, regardless of allegiance, took to their feet to acknowledge Byrd's team's performance against Duke. He looks weary but even from across the court, you can also tell he is proud.

Pitt closes it out

DENVER, Colo. - We couldn't get through the last two minutes without Jamie Dixon exhausting all of his timeouts, but his team advances with a comfortable 82-63 win over Oral Roberts. The Panthers will play Michigan St on Saturday.

Pitt was led in scoring by Levance Fields with 23, 16 of which came in the first half. Sam Young added 14 for the Panthers.

Oral Roberts leading scorer was Robert Jarvis with 16. Three other players were in double figures for the Golden Eagles.

If they players and coaches have anything interesting to say, I'll have that later. Failing that, I'll be back tonight with Washington St and Winthrop, followed by Notre Dame and George Mason.

Not emptying the bench late.

DENVER, Colo. - Pitt still has most of tits starters in even though it leads by 21 with 3:30 left, and Jamie Dixon has just called another timeout.

I'm not really sure what his point is, but obviously, he feels they need to keep working. Still, I would have thought that with a tougher opponent coming in two days, he'd take the opportunity to rest some guys.

Just one cheer

DENVER, Colo. - Dixon keeps calling timeout. I'm not sure what it is he doesn't like. Pitt's still up 20 at the eight minute timeout.

Pitt's cheerleaders need to work on some variety. Every cheer is a variation of "let's go Pitt." Of particular annoyance is the one that goes "LEEEEEEETS GOOOOOOOOOO PIIIIIIIIIIIIIT! lets-go-pitt-lets-go-pitt-lets-go-pitt!" Maybe it's just me. After all, I saw them for four straight days last week.

I just saw the Bryce Drew shot on the monitor next to me, which has the Purdue-Baylor game on. That is not a coincidence. Bryce's brother Scott coaches Baylor and was an assistant on that team. His Dad, Homer, the coach at Valpo was shown in the stands.

More of the same

DENVER, Colo. - It's more of the same here in Denver as Pitt still leads 61-37 with 14 minutes left.

As expected, the place is starting to empty out. Michigan St fans have seen enough. They'll probably have nightmares tonight.

There are three guys in the stands behind the Pitt band with t-shirts on that spell P-I-Pi. If they had one more, they could have spelled Pitt.

Emptying the bench early

DENVER, Colo. - Jamie Dixon reached deep into his bench at the end of the first half for Gary McGhee, a freshman center from Anderson, Indiana (my wife's home town). He didn't play a minute at the Big East tournament last week.

He's on the board here though with a free throw.

Levance Fields has 16 to lead Pitt, and Moses Ehambe is doing all he can for Oral with 10.

I think the uninterested parties are on their way to a late lunch. It'll be a lot emptier in here for the second half.

Pitt running away

DENVER, Colo. - Back to back threes by Ronald Ramon have help Pitt extend the lead to 39-18. I may beat Andy to declaring a winner this time, but that doesn't mean I'm leaving, even to watch Purdue.

Pitt is just having their way with the Eagles at both ends of the floor.

They just announced the attendance at 19,010. I thought that many people would breathe louder than they did in the first game.

The place is a little louder for game two, if only because Pitt's band is loud.

Oral goes cold

DENVER, Colo. - The Golden Eagles have gone cold and Pitt is out to a 12 point lead, 25-13. Fields hit a jumper and got fouled before the break, so he'll have a chance for a three point play.

ORU is only 4-17 from the floor so far, but the cheerleaders don't care. They're all very happy to be here. They do an ORU cheer where they make an O with their arms, and a U, but the thing in between doesn't look like much of an R. It looks more like a karate chop.

Pitt takes the lead

DENVER, Colo. - Robert Jarvis put Oral Roberts up three with a long three pointer right in front of us, but Fields answered that with a three of his own and a layup to put Pitt up 2 at the 12-minute timeout.

Both teams brought a full compliment of cheerleaders to the game. In the first game, it looked like MSU only brought half of theirs.

ORU 2-1

DENVER, Colo. - That's two three pointers to one. Ehambe has two threes, one from pretty far out for the Golden Eagles. Sam Young answered the first one for Pitt, but Fields and Ramon have missed. So, it's 6-3 ORU at the first timeout.

The crowd is down some for this game because some of the Spartan fans are gone.

I have some ORU fans behind me, and they're kind of loud. Anything would be more than the last game.

March is a brotherhood

DENVER, Colo. - That's what it says on the back of one of the shirts worn by a Pitt manager. It has been so far for the Big East tournament champion and for the Summit league champs, Oral Roberts.

We've been handed the lineups for game two. so here they are.

Oral is going with Adam Liberty and Moses Ehambe at guard. Yemi, Ogunoye and Marcus Lewis at forward, and center Shawn King.

Pitt starts guards Levance Fields and Keith Benjamin, forwards Ronald Ramon, who's really a guard, and Sam Young, and DeJuan Blair at center.

Our officials are Dick Cartmell, Don Dailey and Bert Smith.

March 19, 2008

NCAA Tournament Preview: Denver

Stop me if you've heard this one before -- the internet connection is down at the NCAA tournament site in Denver.

Last year St Louis had significant internet connectivity issues as well.

Then, on top of that, I had trouble connecting back in my hotel room, although you can tell by the fact that this is posted that I got that worked out. Not so sure about the arena.

The Pepsi Center seems like a nice place although its a bit strange to be drinking Coke here. Coke is one of the corporate partners of the NCAA. I wonder if they will give the building another name for the duration of our stay.

Here is a little preview of what we will see here tomorrow.

Continue reading "NCAA Tournament Preview: Denver" »

NCAA Tournament Preview: Birmingham

Friday's action in the NCAA Tournament will get kicked into high gear from the start as the high-octane Tennessee Volunteers will tip things off in Birmingham at 11:15 a.m. ET.

Bruce Pearl's troops will battle No. 15 seed American, who is making its first tourney appearance.

The first session wraps up with an intriguing matchup with perenniel mid-major power Butler taking on 10-seeded South Alabama, who will make a short trip up Interstate 65 to play.

Continue reading "NCAA Tournament Preview: Birmingham" »

March 15, 2008

The spoils

NEW YORK, N.Y. - To the victors go the spoils, and Pitt has been given the trophy.

Each player is now being called forward to receive his championship watch. Do people even wear watches anymore? Eveyone has cell phones with clocks on them now.

Someone just came around and handed us an all-Tournament ballot, and just like we do things where I live (Chicago), it was pre-filled out for my convenience.

It has Sam Young as the MVP. The all-tournament team also includes Fields, Jessie Sapp, Roy Hibbert, Jerel McNeal of Marquette and Joe Alexander of West Virginia.

Any second now, they'll play "New York, New York" over the loudspeaker, which in any language means "Get out.' So, I'm going to do just that.

Pitt is the champs

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pittsburgh hit enough free throws to hold off Georgetown 74-65, and the celebration ensues.

When the game ended, Fields threw the ball straight up in the air, and all I could think was who's head would that land on? However, no fans stormed the court.

They are building the stage for the award ceremony, which is coming up. My guess is that Sam Young will be the tournament MVP. He had 16 tonight, second only to Ramon's 17.

Pitt got their free throw percentage up to 50% by the game ended, going 22-44.

Georgetown was led by Roy Hibbert's 17. Wallace had 12, and he was the only other Hoya in double figures.

Pitt in the home stretch

NEW YORK, N.Y. - If Pitt can find a way to hit a free throw, they should be able to finish off Georgetown. The Panthers are up 10 with 2:49 to go.

They don't have to worry about one-and-ones though. Georgetown already has ten fouls, so it's double bonus time. The Panthers have been the pitts from the line at 9-24.

Georgetown could use some of those threes they hit against Villanova. The Hoyas are only 6-19 from beyond the arc tonight.

Fouls, bricks piling up

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Fouls are piling up for Georgetown with 9:17 remaining. Summers, Hibbert and Jeremiah Rivers have all picked up their fourth foul in the last few minutes.

However, Pitt keeps looking a gift horse in the mouth. The Panthers are a miserable 6-19 from the line. Levance Fields is the president of the bricklayers union at 1-7. This game would be over if Pitt just hit half the ones they missed. Instead, the Panthers only lead by 7.

Summers rattles the rim

NEW YORK, N.Y. - DaJuan Summers brought the crowd to his feet with a rim-rattling dunk right before our timeout. More importantly, he brought the lead back to four points. Pitt is up 41-37 with 13:40 left in the game.

Pitt up at halftime

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt used a late 15-4 run to take a 31-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.

That 8-point run by Gilbert Brown of Pittsburgh early in the half makes him the leading scorer at the break.

Georgetown's scoring could hardly be any more balanced. Three Hoyas have six points each, and three others each have five.

Pitt now leads

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Levance Fields has six straight Pitt points and the Panthers are up three with 3:20 left in the half.

Hibbert picked up his second foul with 5:42 left, but stayed in the game. The Hoyas then went to him on the next two possessions for hooks.

In the media room, the diet pop is gone, which is going to make it a lot harder for me to keep my girlish figure.

Georgetown runs, Pitt answers

NEW YORK, N.Y. - That's been the theme of the game. Every four-minute segment has been the same. This time, the Hoyas used three long balls to get the lead up to six, but a Ramon three and a Young layup has cut the Hoya lead back to one with seven minutes left in the half.

Back and forth

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Georgetown scored the first six points of the game, but Pitt has come back to score the next five at the first timeout.

Brian Brohm, the Louisville QB, is accepting an award from the league at the timeout, but the PA may run out of time as he reads off his accomplishments.

Kicked up a notch

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Everything tonight is kicked up a notch, as Emeril likes to say. The PA music is easily twice as loud. The crowd, for the first time in the tournament, is into the game right at the start. As the reporter next to me said, "everything is bigger, louder, fabulouser."

My spell checker says that "fabulouser" is not a word, but it should be.

Even Roy Hibbert looks an inch taller. He might just need a haircut though.

Blowin' hard

NEW YORK, N.Y. - You can tell it's a big game because they turned off the arena lights for the national anthem.

Tonight, it was performed by a trumpet player named Mark Pender, who is apparently on Past My Beditme with Conan O'Brien.

He was really good, of course, although it was a little creepy watching him on the video monitor. He's bald, and you could see the veins in his head when he was playing.

Lineups are being introduces, so we're about to tip for the title.


NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt and Georgetown are running layup lines in advance of their Big East championship game. Pitt is making their seventh appearance in eight years, but they have only won one of those. It's going to be an uphill climb tonight also.

This is a rematch of last year's title game won by Georgetown 62-45.

Georgetown is looking to make one last statement in its longshot case to be a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Sam Young has had a big tournament for the Panthers, averaging 21 points and 7 boards for the three games. DeJuan Blair figures to be the key guy for Pitt though. He has to keep Roy Hibbert busy tonight, and perhaps get him in some foul trouble.

The Hoyas have won its two games in very different ways. In the first game against Villanova, they buried the Wildcats in a barrage of threes, while Hibbert went scoreless and fouled out. In game two, Hibbert took over with 25 points and 13 rebounds.

You may have heard about the crane accident in NYC today. I was about a block or so away when it happened. We (me and those of us around me) thought a bomb went off. I never did get close enough to see the damage though. NYC police had the area secured pretty quickly, and frankly, most of us wanted to go away from the sound, not toward it.

March 14, 2008

Pitt advances

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt hit just enough free throws to hold off Marquette 68-61 and advance to the Big East title game tomorrow night against Georgetown.

Marquette just never found its shooting touch. The second half was better than the first, but the Eagles only shot 31% for the game. Pitt shot 25-51 for 49%, but only 2-12 from three point range.

The Panthers were led in scoring by Sam Young with 22. Ronald Ramon added 14.

Marquette's leading scorer was Jerel McNeal with 17. Dominic James had 10, but only shot 3-16 from the floor.

Pitt's lead down to 6

NEW YORK, N.Y. - At the last media timeout, with 2:26 to go, Pitt still leads 62-56.

The otherwise pedestrian crowd jumped out of their seats when Marquette ran a successful alley oop to 5'11" Dominic James.

Crean and Higgins have been carrying on a conversation over the last few possessions when Higgins has been in front of the Marquette bench. It hasn't been animated, though. Just chatting.

Marquette chipping away

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Marquette had chipped the Pitt lead down to six, but a Tyrell Biggs layup and the harm has Pitt back up 8 at the 8-minute timeout. Biggs will try the free throw after the timeout.

Marquette seems to be picking up the intensity, but so far, it seems to only have had the effect of getting them in trouble with Higgins.

Oh, and McNeal is back in the game.

McNeal ejected?

NEW YORK, N.Y. - It looked like Tim Higgins ejected Jerel McNeal from the game while he was sitting on the bench. He walked down, pointed at him, and then pointed to the exit. However, McNeal is still there, so I'm not sure what happened there.

Pitt staying ahead

NEW YORK, N.Y. - At the 12-minute timeout, Pitt leads by ten, but they will go to the line after we come out of the break because Tim Higgins just T'd up Tom Crean.

About a minute ago, Ramon hit a three pointer for Pitt, and then right away, Young steals the ball and goes in for a layup, so naturally a timeout is called. But not by Crean. Instead, Dixon called it. I have no idea why, but since that timeout, Marquette is on a 5-0 run.

Pitt pushing ahead

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt has started the second half just like the first - fast. The Panther lead is now 42-27 three minutes into the second half.

The Pitt cheerleaders have a strange routine that I haven't figured out yet. Whenever Pitt scores, some random number of cheerleaders get up and do a flip. It's not the same number every time, and it's not the same girl(s) every time.

Brick city

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The only point in the last four minutes of the half came on a Marquette free throw with 0.5 seconds left in the half. Both teams were putting up bricks, including one possession where Marquette had 5 shots right around the basket and came up empty.

Pitt's shooting, which was a 66% about halfway through the half, is now down to 48%. Marquette can only dream of numbers like that. They are shooting 28%. No stats yet, but the Eagles have several turnovers as well.

The fan free throw contest is going on. The Pitt fan shooting in front of me has a big blue-hair wig on. That can't help.

Pitt's lead gets bigger

NEW YORK, N.Y. - At the four minute timeout, Pitt is threatening to run away with this one. The Panthers lead 35-21 and will go to the line when we resume. Pitt is shooting 66% so far for the game. If that keeps up, Marquette has no chance.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who is cold in here. During a recent possession Dominic James was blowing on hands like a baseball pitcher does on a cold day.

Marquette coming back

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The Golden Eagles have chipped into the Pitt lead a little bit, but the Panthers are still up 26-20 at the eight-minute timeout. Pitt has finally cooled off some from the floor, but Marquette is still having problems taking care of the ball.

Marquette coach Tom Crean, who is never docile on the sidelines, seems especially animated tonight. More than once, he's assumed a defensive stance over there himself while exhorting his guys on.

Pitt still up

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Marquette hit a couple of threes to cut the lead a little bit, but Pitt built it right back up thanks to yet another Marquette turnover.

Pitt is up 24-15 with 11:25 to go. The Panthers will go to the line for a free throw attempt to complete a three point play. Dan Fitzgerald looked incredulously at the ref when he was whistled for the foul. After all, he only used both hands to try to shove the guy into the stands.

Pitt on fire

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt has hit six of its first seven shots to jump out to a 14-4 early lead. Marquette has three turnovers already and we're only four minutes in.

Pitt and Marquette

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt and Marquette are warming up for the other semifinal matchup. Pitt knocked off Louisville last night, while Marquette got here by beating Notre Dame.

When these two met in the regular season, the Golden Eagles won 72-53, but that game was in Milwaukee.

Pitt has had a lot of success in this tournament. The Panthers are looking to make their seventh trip to the Big East final in the last eight years.

We're five minutes from the tip.

Hoyas roll

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Just like yesterday, this one got out of hand at the end. Georgetown rolled to a 72-55 win. Hibbert finished with 25 points on 12-17 shooting from the floor.

Da'Sean Butler hit a shot from the baseline late in the game that grazed the top corner of the backboard on its way in.

During the last timeout, Huggins was giving it to one of the refs about a five-second call. After the timeout, Alex Ruoff asked the ref about it also. Ruoff was more polite than his coach, as you might imagine.

I'll be back with some other stats and game two between Marquette and Pitt.

WVU goes cold

NEW YORK, N.Y. - West Virginia's shots have stopped falling, and Georgetown is back up by 14.

During a brief timeout after Patrick Ewing, Jr. hit a jumper, he yelled over at the Washington Post reporter sitting next to me, "Hey, Camille! I bet that won't get in your story."

Getting feisty

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Things got a little feisty right before the timeout at the 11-minute mark of the second half. Chris Wright of Georgetown was fouled by Wellington Smith, who fell on top of him going for a ball. I'm not sure exactly what upset Wright - perhaps Smith didn't get up fast enough - but Wright gave him a shove and got a T for his efforts.

West Virginia has hit 5 three pointers already in the second half to cut the lead to 6, and they will shoot the T when play resumes.

Both teams come out firing

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Both teams came out smokin' at the start of the second half. West Virginia already has 11 points this half, including three three-pointers, but has only cut the lead to 8 with 6:48 to go.

Stat sheet dominance

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Georgetown's hot shooting from last night continues in this very cold arena. The Hoyas shot 54% in the first half to only 35% for West Virginia. They also outrebounded the Mountaineers 19-10. WVU just has no answer for the big and athletic Hoya front line players.

Hoyas keep building lead

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Georgetown leads West Virginia now 33-21 at the half. After Hibbert went out, Vernon Macklin came in and picked up right where he left off with a dunk and a layup.

Hibbert has 13 to lead all scorers. Da'Sean Butler leads the Moutaineers with 8. Joe Alexander has been held in check pretty well with 4.

On the court, they are playing a game of musical bean-bag chairs. I prefer the dance teams.

Hibbert to the bench

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Roy Hibbert just picked up his second foul, so he will sit for the final four minutes of the first half. The Hoyas are comfortably ahead, 26-17.

Bob Huggins appears to be pretty animated with his team in the huddle, but it's hard to see what emotion exactly he is expressing because his back is to me.

Hoyas on a run

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Georgetown is on a 6-0 run to go ahead 22-14 at the eight-minute timeout. Hibbert has another dunk and a putback to give him 13 points so far.

Time once again for the cheerleader t-shirt toss, which, as the PA guy says, "will go to the section that makes the most noise." They might as well keep them then because this crowd is kind of dead.

Hibbert shows up

NEW YORK, N.Y. - At least early on, we can't say Roy Hibbert didn't show up tonight. He has a tip-slam, a three-pointer (he's now 3-3 in his career), another dunk, and a steal. He's getting a well-deserved rest as the Hoyas lead 12-10 at the second timeout.

Hoyas up to start

NEW YORK, N.Y. - At the first timeout, Georgetown is out to a 7-5 lead. Roy Hibbert got the scoring started with a tip-slam, and Austin Freeman has added a three-pointer.

West Virginia's Jamie Smalligan is in his usual spot, on the bench with foul trouble. He has two already. On the first one, a ref called it from all the way across the floor, and right in front of the baseline ref (that's bad form). Smalligan looked at the baseline ref and said, "That's your call!"

Georgetown-West Virginia coming up

NEW YORK, N.Y. - We're getting ready for the first semifinal tonight between Georgetown and West Virginia.

Last night, the Hoyas hit 17 three pointers in the win over Villlanova, and they needed to because they got nothing at all from Roy Hibbert. I expect we'll see fewer threes and more Roy tonight, if only because otherwise seems impossible.

West Virginia has been led in this tournament by Joe Alexander. Alexander has 56 points in the first two games of the tournament for the Mountaineers. He has scored a lot of his points from about 15 feet. It will be interesting to see if Hibbert goes out and challenges those shots to try and slow him down.

I got to meet Big John Thompson before the game. I had been on the radio with him last week. When I shook his hand, his swallowed mine up. They don't call him Big John for nothing.

March 13, 2008

Upset day in the books

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The day of upsets is now in the books with Marquette's 89-79 win over Notre Dame. Georgetown was the only winner today wearing white. Actually, they wear gray, but you get my point.

Jerel McNeal finished with a game-high 28, 20 of those in the second half, to lead Marquette. Lazar Hayward added 15.

Local boy Kyle McAlarney (Staten Island, NY) had 20 for the Irish. Four other Irish were in double figures, led by Rob Kurz with 15.

Marquette shot a blistering 17/26 (65%) in the second half, and that was the difference.

Tomorrow's semifinals feature #5 West Virginia vs #1 Georgetown, followed by #7 Pitt and #6 Marquette.

Time to dry off my computer and wet my whistle. Follow along again tomorrow right here.

Finishing the job

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Marquette is even hitting their free throws tonight. Six straight down the stretch have gone in as the finish is just a matter of naming the score now. Marquette is up 10 with 1:20 left.

The MU band, resplendent in their band berets and face paint, looking oh, so continental, have been chanting various players' names as they do something noteworthy. Or perhaps, chantworthy.

Last timeout of the night

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Marquette is starting to pull away from Notre Dame. The Eagles lead 76-66 after a James three pointer in the corner in front of his bench. When ND took a 30 after bringing the ball upcourt, the entire Marquette bench rushed out and mobbed James as if he had just won the championship. It was a pretty strange reaction to a big - but not extraordinarily big - shot.

James getting hot

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Dominic James has scored seven straight Marquette points to help give the Golden Eagles a 61-54 lead with nine minutes left. They have also tightened up on the defensive end, allowing lower quality shots and getting the rebounds.

Where's the D?

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Just under eight minutes into the half, the score is already up to 54-all. Jerel McNeal of Marquette has 12 points already in this half after only scoring eight in the first.

Luke Harangody has back-to-back dunks for the Irish that came about because they beat Marquette down the floor.

Hey! An entire entry without a keyboard-related error.

Cleanup on aisle one!

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Notre Dame leads Marquette 38-32 at the half, but I have no idea how it happened.ppp

Notre Dame's Luke Zeller went flying into the table next to me, knocking a cup of pop flying. Some of it got onto my computer. I tried to fix the word at the end of the opening sentence up there, but my keyboard wouldn't let me. I hope that's temporary. Also, my left control key doesn't seem to work. Everything else seems OK, except that I now wish I brought along my hazmat suit. And my tools.

Let's see what the stats say.

Notre Dame is led in scoring by Rob Kurz with 11. Kyle McAlarney also has 9. Luke Harangody only has 4 in limited action because of foul trouble.

Marquette has Jerel McNeal with 8 and Dan Fitzgerald with seven, which he scored in about 90 seconds.

Harangody has two

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Luke Harangody picked up his second foul with 10:27 left and the Irish up by one. The personality of this team is very different when he's not in.

Pounding it in.

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Notre Dame's plan is clear - pound it inside to Luke Harangody. He's touched it on every possession. He's not getting in the hole very easily, but he's getting good touches. ND is up 10-6 at the first timeout.

Four drunken bums planted themselves next to me in some open seats on press row. Fortunately, the security people are pretty good at running bums out. Unfortunately, they aren't very good at all at keeping them out.

Turns out that's not quite accurate. The bums are still here. I get a security guy who says, "it's not my job."

Fields flips off Louisville

NEW YORK, N.Y. - A little flip in the lane by Levance Fields ended up being the dagger that downed the Cardinals. Pitt won 76-69 in overtime.

Sam Young went 6-9 in the second half after only shooting 2-9 in the first. He ended up with 21 to lead all scorers. Ramon and Fields each finished with 13.

Louisville was led by Earl Clark's 19. Palacios, Padgett and Caracter each added 11.

Marquette and Notre Dame are up next.

Pitt making some shots

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt has pulled ahead by four thanks to a basket by Ramon and a few free throws. Louisville is taking and missing bad shots, although the last time down resulted in a Padgett putback. There's 1:53 left.

Working overtime

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Levance Fields missed from deep in the corner as time expired and we're going to overtime.

Both teams are in the double bonus, not that either team shoots free throws all that well anyway.

Tied late

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt and Louisville are tied at 62 with 16.5 left. Pitt will have the ball after the timeout. Brown just blocked a shot for Pitt, but Earl Clark cleaned it up and put it in to tie it.

We might get some free basketball!

Trading runs - finally

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Sorry again for the lack of updates. The forces of evil have been working hard on my computer.

In a game bereft of runs, Pitt and Louisville traded 9-0 runs, but the end result is that we're right back where we started. Louisville is up 60-58 with 2:32 to go, but Pitt is going to the line.

Sam Young has gotten hot in the second half and now leads Pitt with 17. Earl Clark is still carrying Louisville with 17 points, mostly on a variety of dunks.

Did you see that Alabama score?

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Forty seconds, two turnovers and no points later, we have reached the first TV timeout.

The main point of discussion on press row (besides where to go find a drink after the game) is the football score Alabama is putting up on Florida in the SEC tournament. First, we saw Bama score the first two touchdowns for a 14-0 lead. Then, each team added a FG, and the next thing we new, it was 42-14.

We're all checking to see if our monitors are in working order.

Air Dunk!

NEW YORK, N.Y. - We've had more missed dunks and layups in this tournament than I think I've ever seen.

We just had another when an alley oop ended up as an oops and stuck between the rim and the backboard. That is the second dunk attempt to do that today.

There have also been about four blocked shots already in this half. Louisville still leads 37-36 with 16:26 left.

After one defensive breakdown, David Padgett yelled out, "Jerry!" so, naturally, I sprang to attention. He was talking to Jerry Smith though. He's the one who broke down.

Anyone know why the Panther mascot is named Roc?

Halftime stats

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Louisville is shooting a little better than Pitt at the break. The Cards have hit 13-30, while Pitt is 11-30.

Neither team is putting on a clinic at the line. Pitt is 5-12, while Louisville is 5-8.

DeJuan Blair leads the Panthers with 10 points. Sam Young has seven, but is only 2-9 from the floor.

Earl Clark and Juan Palacios have eight apiece for Louisville. The Cards' guards are struggling with their shots. Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith and Andre McGee are a combined 2-10.

Both teams have eight turnovers and 21 rebounds. Pitt had been leading in rebounding by about five with five minutes left.

It's not a pretty game, but it is a pretty even game. Pretty even stats, too.

Louisville's dance team performed at the half, and i have to say, they're really good. They were much more in sync than many of these groups.

Cards up at half

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Louisville made a little run before the half and lead 33-30. Neither team really has much of a rhythm on offense, but part of that is just good defense.

I'll be back in a minute with some stats.

Back and forth

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The teams keep going back and forth at MSG. Pitt's up two at the moment. Louisville has been getting inside pretty easily when they don't do something stupid before then.

Actually, Pitt's doing a nice job of getting the ball inside as well and scoring among the trees.

Louisville's cheerleaders are out holding up cards that spell, "cards." As if they didn't know what they were.

Pitt spreading it around

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt is up two on Louisville at the second timeout. It's been a balanced attack for the Panthers. Five players have scored, but nobody more than four.

Louisville's cheerleaders are performing. Their girls also have ribbons in their hair, but not those State Fair ones. Their just these huge, red, Christmas package bows. it's hard to believe they can hold their heads up straight.

Clark getting free

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt and Louisville are tied at the first media timeout 8-8. Earl Clark has gotten free for two wide open dunks for the Cards. Levance Fields got fouled on a three point shot, which he made, but missed the free throw for the four-point play.

The scorecards we were given do not have Louisville's Jerry Smith on it, and as the spokesperson for the Society for the Advancement of Jerrys, I'm quite upset on his behalf. Perhaps we should sue.


NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt and Louisville are warming up and getting ready to start the evening session of the Big East tournament. It's the first game between two teams that are not trying to get into the NCAA tournament. Pitt figures to be a middle of the bracket team, while Louisville hopes to come out of here with a 2-seed.

The Cards struggled in the early part of the season, but once they got healthy, they started playing like the preseason top 10 team everyone thought they were.

Pitt also had some injury problems, notably the loss of Levance Fields for a while. They muddled through OK without him and now, they're back in form as well.

Pitt will probably have trouble with Louisville's front line. The Panthers do not have a lot of size.

Louisville won at Pitt by 2 in the regular season.

West Virginia gets big win

NEW YORK, N.Y. - West Virginia erased any doubt about their tournament worthiness with a 78-72 win over Connecticut. The Mountaineers will play Georgetown tomorrow.

Joe Alexander had another monster game with 34 points. He was 12-22 from the floor and 10-12 from the line.

AJ Price had 22 to lead UConn.

I'll be back tonight with the Pitt-Louisville and Marquette-Notre Dame games.

WVU looking to close out

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The Mountaineers still lead by nine at the last media timeout, although it will be Huskie ball when we restart.

WVU spent most of the last four minutes running clock instead of offense, but Joe Alexander has hit a shot and a handful of free throws to hold UConn off for now.

There was a little confusion a minute ago when Jim Calhoun complained that Alexander was trying to call timeout when he was fouled, and the refs thought Calhoun was calling timeout himself.

West Virginia still up

NEW YORK, N.Y. - At the eight minute timeout, West Virginia still leads by 12. Jerome Dyson hit a NBA range three pointer to help keep UConn close, and the Huskies are going to the line after the timeout.

Jamie Smalligan just fouled out for the Mountaineers, and Dyson is playing with four for UConn. Hasheem Thabeet also has four, but he is currently on the bench.

UConn getting frustrated

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Everything seems to be bothering the Huskies at the moment. Specifically the fact that they trail 57-45 with 10:43 left (still have not had 12-minute media timeout).

They are upset that they can't hit shots, can't really stop WVU and they're mad at the refs.

Craig Austrie has hit a couple of threes though to give them some life.

Right after the last timeout, after Alex Ruoff changed his jersey, he got fouled by Jerome Dyson and bloodied his nose.

WVU extends

NEW YORK, N.Y. - West Virginia has the lead up to ten after scoring the first four points after the break. They ran a great play to start the half to get an alley oop.

When the lead got to 10, Connecticut called timeout, and they too ran a great play for a dunk, except that Jeff Adrian airballed it.

Alex Ruoff of West Virginia is playing with a big hole torn in the back of his jersey.

As I wrote that, they announced that he has changed his jersey and, as a result, his number. He's now #20.

West Virginia moves ahead at half

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Sorry for the update delay. I have had some technical problems.

West Virginia leads at the half 42-36 as the Mountaineers try to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

Both teams are shooting well. UConn is at 52%, while WVU is at 53%. Joe Alexander, who had a big day yesterday, is at it again with 15 points to lead the Mountaineers. Da'Sean Butler has chipped in 12 as well.

For UConn, AJ Price has 13, with Jeff Adrien adding 9.

Rebounds are even, but Connecticut has been sloppier with the ball. The Huskies have 9 turnovers, to only 4 for WVU.

Hopefully, the gremlins won't get me again and I'll keep the updates flowing.

Price is right

NEW YORK, N.Y. - At the four-minute timeout, which didn't come until over eight minutes into the half, UConn leads West Virginia19-14. AJ Price is leading the way with 10 points for the Huskies. He scored 10 of their first 12.

The Mounties (as the cheerleaders with the State Fair ribbons in their hair) call them, already have some foul trouble with Jamie Smalligan and Alex Ruoff having two each.

The State Fair ribbons must be an Eastern thing. I never see those in the Midwest.

West Virginia-Connecticut

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The second game of the afternoon doubleheader between West Virginia and Connecticut is about to tip. UConn is playing for NCAA touranment seeding, while West Virginia hopes to fill the final hole in their tournament resume. The Mountaineers are lacking a win of any significant quality away from home. A win here would definitely qualify.

Closer than it looked

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Georgetown ran away at the end and beat Villanova 82-63. Obviously, this was a game that was a lot closer than the score would indicate, and Villanova really hopes the selection committee sees that.

When I said that Wallace locked up player of the game, even if he took the second half off, I didn't think he actually would, but he only had one point after the break and finished with 20. Jessie Sapp led the Hoyas with 23.

As a team, the Hoyas shot an insane 17-27 from beyond the arc, for 63%. Nobody beats Georgetown if they shoot like that.

Villanova only made 17 total shots and only hit 33% from the floor.

West Virginia and Connecticut are already warming up for game two. The winner will take on Georgetown tomorrow.

Three, three, three

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Georgetown keeps hitting the threes. Summers and Sapp have hit again and the Hoya lead is now 15. Georgetown has made 17 three pointers today, which makes up for the 0-point, five foul performance by Roy Hibbert.

Weather turning bad for Nova again

NEW YORK, N.Y. - A pair of Jessie Sapp three pointers sandwiched around an alley oop to Summers have helped Georgetown push the lead out again. Austin Freeman canned one as well and the Hoyas are up 62-54 at the 8-minute timeout.

Villanova's shot selection hasn't been as good these last few minutes. They have been getting inside, but too deep and putting the ball up in a crowd. That isn't working so well.

Vernon Macklin, one of Hibbert's backups, just fouled out.

We got ourselves a ball game

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Georgetown has regained the lead 51-50 at the 12-minute timeout in the second half. Villanova had the lead for a minute or so, and it was as high as four. The Hoyas came back on a dunk and one by Ewing, and a layup and one by Sapp.

Dwayne Annderson played a couple of possessions after losing a shoe. He even tried a three-pointer, but missed.

The Hoyas finally got to the line, hitting all four attempts. They didn't shoot any freebies in the first half.

Big Nova run

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Villanova has started the half on a 10-0 run, and Dwayne Anderson will go to the line to try to complete a three point play and tie the game. Reynolds hit a three pointer on the last possession and Roy Hibbert is now out of the game with four fouls. The fourth one was offensive, and not much smarter than the third foul.

Anderson was fouled on a layup that rolled around the rim a bit before falling in. The ref calling the foul didn't actually wait for the ball to go through before he rang up the basket. It was still on the rim.

Nova has good start

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Villanova got the kind of start it needed to the second half. The Wildcats hit their first two shots to cut the lead to 6. Also, Roy Hibbert picked up his third foul (a really dumb foul), so Nova can attack him more on offense now.

Hibbert also missed a layup over Reynolds.

Nova needs an umbrella

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Georgetown has been raining threes on Villanova all half long and leads 40-29 at the break. The Hoyas are a ridiculous 10-17 from long range, and that includes Rivers' 60-footer at the horn that missed.

Hey! Our first dance team of the festivities. Villanova's is performing at halftime.

Jonathan Wallace was 7-8 from the floor, 5-5 from long range for 19 points. He's already the player of the game, even if he takes the second half off.

Scottie Reynolds, now playing with a big bandage near his eye, has 8, as does Antonio Pena for the Wildcats. Pena had a nice half working inside on the Hoya big men.

Villanova - all things considered - is in pretty good shape. The Wildcats only shot 30% from the floor themselves, and they only trail by 11. If they can slow down Wallace and hit some shots of their own, they can still climb back into this game.

Hoyas going for knockout

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Georgetown has put up five more points and leads 34-19. Chris Wright became the fourth Hoya to bury a three on their last possession.

Right before the timeout, Georgetown was called for a foul, and Patrick Ewing flipped the ball high in the air in frustration, an act for which he was rewarded with a technical foul. So, Nova will shoot four freebies out of the timeout.

Cut man!

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Scottie Reynolds has had to go back to his corner to see the cut man for a gash over his right eye. He fell going up for a shot and came down prety close to the basket standard. He may have hit the cameraman down there, or perhaps his chair. He didn't appear to get fouled on the play.

We had a timeout to clean up the floor with Georgetown up 29-17 with 5:30 left in the half.

More foul trouble

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Roy Hibbert picked up two fouls in the last minute, so he is the third Hoya with two. Georgetown is still comfortably ahead 25-15 thanks to continued hot shooting by Jonathan Wallace. He's 5-5 from the floor, 4-4 from beyond the arc for 14 points.

Summers just came back into the game for the Hoyas with his two fouls.

Pilot to bombadier

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Georgetown has hit six of seven three pointers and leads Villanova 20-10 at the second timeout.

Foul trouble is already coming into play. There have only been seven fouls called total, but three players already have two each. Joining DaJuan Summers on the Georgetown bench is Jeremiah Rivers, while Dwayne Anderson has both Villanova fouls.

Wallace bombing away

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Three three-pointers by Jonathan Wallace has helped Georgetown get out to a 12-4 lead at the first timeout. The other three came from DaJuan Summers, who also picked up two quick fouls and is on the bench.

There have been a few comical looking matchups between 7'2" Roy Hibbert and 6'2" (in heels, maybe - not that I've ever seen him in heels) Scottie Reynolds. They ended up guarding each other off of defensive switches. When Reynolds was on Hibbert, Georgetown didn't recognize it. When Hibbert was on Reynolds, he took him off the dribble and got fouled (by Summers).

Hibbert also had the ball once at the top of the key and tried a dribble spin move and dish, but passed it right to Nova. I guess his point guard dreams have been dashed.

Georgetown-Villanova getting ready

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Georgetown and Villanova are warming up for their game in the Big East quarterfinals, which tips off in about 20 minutes. Georgetown is right in front of me, and by right in front, I mean reach out and touch close. Man, these guys are big. I look Hibbert in the navel, and I'm 6'1".

This is a big game for Villanova's chance for selection in the NCAA tournament. A win could all but seal the deal for them. The Wildcats might get in even if they lose, but why take the chance?

They are also looking to finish the job. Nova had the Hoyas on the ropes earlier this season, but gave it away at the end with the help of a controversial call late in the game. This time they want to leave no doubt. Problem is, neither does Georgetown.

I thought I would get a quick bite before the game, but now I'm worried it might bite back. I hate to diss free food, but the cheeseburger they gave us for lunch might be the worst in the history of cheese. And burgers.

March 12, 2008

Final stats and notes

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The shooting in the second half was even worse than the first. Marquette shot 11/32 in the second half, which is the same as they shot in the first half, but Seton Hall droped to 8/27 (29.6%). The Eagles also outrebounded the Pirates 56-37 and had 25 offensive rebounds. That is one more than Seton Hall had on defense.

Seton Hall also turned the ball over 15 times to Marquette's 10. It's a wonder the score was as close as it was.

So, the high seeds won all four games, but they were all competitive, except for the last ten minutes of Syracuse-Villanova. It's those ten minutes that will likely be the final nail on the coffin of the Orange NCAA tournament hopes. The Wildcats probably have more work to do as well.

West Virginia may need to do a little more to cement a spot. The Mountaineers weren't particularly sharp and remain a home court hero.

Marquette and Pitt were already in and are playing to improve their seeds tomorrow in the quarterfinals.

They are turning out the lights, which is my cue to go. My day started at 3 AM Chicago time. If I don't get a nap soon, I may fall asleep face first on my aoghspfdigp.

Marquette advances

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Marquette pulled away in the end for a 67-54 win over Seton Hall in a game that was much closer than the score would indicate. The Eagles tightened the defensive screws and made a couple of shots to extend the score.

Marquette will face long-time rival Notre Dame tomorrow.

Back with stats and a wrap in a bit.

Marquette trying to hold on

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Marquette is up by five at the final media timeout. The Eagles are absolutely killing the Hall on the boards. The led 28-17 in rebounding margin at the half, and this half has been no better. Of course, the Pirate big men have been in foul trouble all night, and now two of them are gone, so that doesn't help.

Not that fouling has hurt the Hall any. Marquette can't hit the freebies.

Pirates walking the plank

NEW YORK, N.Y. - With seven minutes left, two Seton Hall big men have already fouled out. Augustine Okosun fouled out about a minute ago, and John Garcia just joined him on the bench.

Hall staying close

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Seton Hall is still hanging in there against Marquette. The Eagles lead by 3 at the 8-minute timeout. The last sequence was like several tonight. A Seton Hall player was dribbling the ball when he got slapped loud enough for everyone to hear. He passed the ball, then shot the ref an exasperated grin. Then, another Pirate drove the lane and James reached in and thought he stole the ball, but he got called for the foul. Another frustrated look.

Oh, and all that stuff I said before about the shooting getting better. Forget that. It's bricks for everyone. If these guys had a free throw shooting contest, nobody would win.

Trash talking cheerleaders

NEW YORK, N.Y. - We're just over halfway through the second half, and the Seton Hall cheerleaders are really getting into it now. They've been dogging the refs, trash talking, even getting on their own guys some ("GET THE REBOUND!!!"). The longer the Hall stays in the game, the more rowdy they get.. I'm getting a little concerned about what might happen if it's still tight at the end.

Teams heating up

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Both teams came out firing in the second half, scoring seven points each by the first timeout. That's a contrast to the first half, where neither team shot better than 37.5% (SHU).

The teams were a total of 4-20 from three point range and a combined 13-22 from the line.

I guess I'm not the only one who is cold.

Marquette runs into halftime

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Marquette scored the last six points of the half to take a 34-29 lead into the break. Jerel McNeal has 12 and Dominic James has 10 at the break. The Hall is led by the eight points of Jeremy Hazell, four of which came on one play.

Hall still up

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The teams are going back and forth, but Seton Hall is still up one at the last media timeout of the first half. Both teams have been going after each other pretty hard, and it's been a little sloppy at times because of it.

Marquette will be going to the line to try to get the lead after the timeout.

Bank is open

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Jeremy Hazell banked in a three pointer to give Seton Hall a 21-20 lead at the 8-minute timeout. He was also fouled on the play, so he'll shoot a free throw after the break. If he hits it, it will be the first made by the Pirates in four tries.

Marquette is already in the bonus and has been since just under 10 minutes left. This officiating crew (I recognize Tim Higgins) is calling a lot more fouls than we saw in the other three games today.

Seton Hall's Brian Laing went down hard a couple of minutes ago and has been flexing his wrist ever since. He hasn't come out of the game though.

Hall up early.

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Seton Hall has a 16-13 lead at the second media timeout because they have been able to break down the Marquette defense and get inside for some high-percentage shots.

All eight teams today brought full cheer squads. I remember last year that some schools only brought a few, or none at all, but all hands were on deck today.

A flying start in the finale

NEW YORK, N.Y. - It seems both Marquette and Seton Hall want to run, even though we can here Tom Crean (from way across the other end of the floor) yelling to get it in the post.

The Warrior Eagles are up 8-6 at the first timeout.

Seton Hall's cheerleaders aren't just sitting there looking pretty (even though they have ribbons in their hair that look like the ones given to state fair prize-winning animals). They're into the game. On one possession, the Pirates were taking the ball out under their offensive basket with seven seconds left on the shot clock and a couple of the cheerleaders were yelling "Shot Clock!" The problem is, the play was at the other end of the floor, so there was no chance they could be heard, but they were into it.

The Pirate mascot though is busy flirting with the reporter sitting next to me. She didn't seem too interested. I guess fiberglass marauders aren't her type.

One note left over from the last game. Deonta Vaugh of Cincinnati scored 22 of his team's final 24 points.

Pitt holds on

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pittsburgh held on despite some shaky free throw shooting to beat Cincinnati xx-xx. The Panthers will face second seeded Louisville tomorrow night.

Deonta Vaughn had 30 points, 20 of which (by my count) came in the last eight minutes of the game.

For Pitt, Sam Young was the leader with 21. I'll have more stats when they show up.

Meanwhile, Marquette and Seton Hall will be up next. Marquette runs a unique layup line. The two lines form behind the basket and the players run out around an assistant coach, who creeps backwards during the drill.

Pitt clanking Cinci back into the game

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Fields and Ramon have struggled from the line down the stretch, missing four of six, and Cinci is down only four with 27.4 seconds left.

Vaughn a one man gang

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Deonta Vaughn is trying to carry Cincinnati back into this game all by himself. He has 14 points in the last four minutes, but Ramon, Young and Levance Fields are proving three is better than one. Pitt still leads by 8 at the last media timeout.

One key play down the stretch here came when Fields missed a free throw, but followed his own shot and tapped it up to Young, who laid it in for a backwards three point play.

Vaughn-Ramon trading blows

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Deonta Vaugh of Cincinnati and Ronald Ramon of Pitt traded three pointers on two straight possessoins. Vaughn then made it three straight, but Ramon could not answer, and the Bearcats have pulled within five with 7 minutes left.

We had a delay a few minutes ago because Cronin had subbed out a player when it was reported that he had four fouls. Right after he came out, the refs realized that the foul they had just called had been given to the wrong guy. Cronin wanted to put the first guy back in right away, which normally wouldn't be allowed, but after a conference, the refs let him do it.

Pitt inching ahead

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt is starting to inch ahead of Cincinnati. The Panthers have five points from Keith Benjamin in this half as the lead is now up to seven, with Sam Young going to the line after the timeout.

John Williamson hit a couple of tough shots in the lane to help Cincinnati try to stay close.

Pitt-Cinci halftime stats

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Sam Young had a big half for Pitt with 14 points on 6-12 shooting from the floor and he leads all scorers. Cincinnati only shot 34.6% as a team, and what scoring they got was pretty balanced. Deonta Vaughn led the Bearcats with seven, but only hit 2 of his 9 shots.

Cinci outrebounded Pitt 20-16 and had 10 offensive boards.

The stats here are a little lacking. We don't get things like points off turnovers or second chance points.

It feels like someone left the door open in here. It's been a lot colder in the evening session than it was this afternoon.

The crown is about the same size as we had in the first session. I see a lot of blue, so i would assume that is Seton Hall fans. While there are as many people here as before, they aren't really into the game much.

Pitt up at the half

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Sam Young hit a couple of jumpers late, including one from NBA three point range to put the Panthers up six at the half. In between those baskets, Marcus Sikes hit a layup for Cincinnati, so now, he's 1-3 on those.

This was not the most elegant half in the history of college basketball, but we'll see what the stats say about that in a bit.

Pitt pulls ahead

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pit has used a little 10-4 run to pull ahead of Cincinnati by six with 2:24 to go. The Bearcats' Marcus Sikes will need a little extra work in the layup line at halftime. He airballed one layup, and clanked another off the bottom of the rim. That's the kind of game it has been.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin has been angry pretty much the entire half. Angry at the refs, angry at the players, angry at pretty much everyone.

The beatings continue

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The game is tied at 16 with 6:50 left. Not much scoring has happened in the last 10 minutes, but it's hard to run an offense with all the pushing, shoving, grabbing, elbows, etc going on.

Pitt is even having trouble hitting the rim. DeJuan Blair airballed a free throw, and on the next possession, Giilbert Brown airmailed one from three point range.

Both teams bringing heat

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt and Cinci are both playing with a lot of fire and intensity at the start of this game, and the refs are letting them play. The Panthers have threes from three different players and lead 11-6 at the first timeout.

#34 for Cincinnati (Adam Hrycaniuk) hasn't set a legal pick yet, and he and DeJuan Blair of Pitt are absolutely mugging each other in the post. None of that has been called. The refs also have a pretty liberal definition of traveling, although the one walk they did call had Bearcat coach Mic Cronin pretty hot.

This could turn into a real street fight.


NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pitt has taken the floor for warmups, and the Cincinnati band is blasting in my ear to the right, so that can mean only one thing: Pitt and Cinci are coming up next to open the night session at the Big East tournament.

Pitt is one of several Big East teams that will play in the NCAA tournament this year, but a couple of wins here could really help their seed. The Panthers have won three of their last four, including a 73-67 win over Cincinnati at home.

The Bearcats come in as the 10-seed. like the other lower seeds here, they are good enough to be dangerous, but are not consistent enough to get NCAA consideration. Cinci has wins at Louisville and West Virginia this season, along with a win over Pitt at home.

It will be interesting to see what the crowd is like tonight. This afternoon's crowd was smallish, but into the Syracuse game (because it was mostly Syracuse fans). With no real local interest tonight, the crowd might be down.

West Virginia holds on

NEW YORK, N.Y. - West Virginia held on for a 58-53 win over Providence. The Moutaineers will face Connecticut tomorrow. They finally tightened up their defense in the last few minutes, and Joe Alexander put the game away at the line. Alexander had 22 points to lead West Virginia, while Butler added 17 and 9 rebounds.

Efejuku led Providence with 12. The Friars had their chances today, but couldn't convert. That's probably why they finished 12th instead of fifth.

Late in the game, the chant of "Fire Welsh" went up from a handful of dissatisfied PC fans.

With the win, West Virginia likely locked up their spot in the NCAA tournament. They definitely would with a win tomorrow.

Down to the wire

NEW YORK, N.Y. - We're at the last media timeout and West Virginia now leads by one after a Butler putback. Providence keeps getting to the hole anytime they want, but hitting the shot hasn't been easy. A key sequence a couple of minutes ago came when Providence missed both a layup and a tip-dunk attempt. West Virginia rebounded and beat the Friars down the floor for a layup at the other end.

The last time down though, West Virginia finally rotated on defense and took a charge on a Friar cutting to the basket. The Mountaineers will have the ball when we get back.

Back and forth we go

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Providence is back up three and will go to the line when play resumes after the 8-minute timeout. The Friars have broken down the West Virginia defense and gotten to the hole five times in the last six possessions. Unfortunately for them, they only made three of the shots. That kind of defense has to have Huggins hot under the collar.

He probably doesn't like what he is seeing on offense either, which is settling for three pointers too often and too early. Of course, if they fell, he might feel differently about it.

WVU back up

NEW YORK, N.Y. - West Virginia is back out in front by one with 10:39 left. Right before the timeout, there was a comical sequence where Providence's Jamine Peterson missed a dunk because he was too far from the basket, but West Virginia on the runout afterwards charged to give the ball back to PC.

Joe Alexander is still carrying the Mountaineers with 16 points.

No mo for WVU

NEW YORK, N.Y. - If West Virginia had the momentum at halftime, it's gone now. At the first timeout of the second half, Providence is back up four. Both teams have picked up the intensity a notch, but West Virginia isn't hitting their shots. Da'Sean Butler also missed two free throws.

I also had the first ball of the day come my way. It occurred to me to catch and try to shoot the three from here, but I don't want to lose my credential so early in the tournament.

Halftime stats

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The stats in the first half were pretty even, which you might expect in a tight game. Providence shot slightly better from the floor (46% to 42%). West Virginia outrebounded the Friars 18-13.

West Virginia's Joe Alexander led all scorers with 10, and teammate Da'Sean Butler had 9. Providence was led by Weyinmi Efejuku (spelled just like it sounds) with 8, but he missed two front ends from the line.

Tied at the half

NEW YORK, N.Y. - A three pointer by Joe Alexander at the buzzer tied the game at 28 at the half. Providence let West Virginia back in late because they missed free throws and let the Mountaineers get wide open under the basket. In a sense, it's a shame because Providence was the better team for most of the half. However, just like in today's first game, the team that was down in the first half used a late run to gain momentum. We'll see if the run by West Virginia has the same impact that Villanova's did.

Providence expanding the lead

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The Friars have the lead up to seven at the 8-minute timeout. West Virginia can't seem to figure out the Providence zone defense. When the Mountaineers aren't throwing the ball away, they are getting bad shots. The last two times down the floor, West Virginia's Jamie Smalligan, who, naturally, is the biggest guy on the floor, threw the ball right to Friar defenders. I'm guessing that's not how Bob Huggins drew up those plays.

Providence up early

NEW YORK, N.Y. - At the second timeout, Providence has a 16-13 lead over West Virginia. The Friars are in the middle of a 10-2 run.

West Virginia is another of those teams on the fence. Despite the Mountaineers' 11-7 finish in conference play, they have only one top 100 win off of their home floor. That came at #98 Providence. They swept the season series from the Friars. A loss today will make for an uneasy selection Sunday for WVU.

The mountain man mascot managed to get his musket through security, and it's good to know somebody in here is armed.

The Friar mascot is sitting just to my right with the Providence cheerleaders. He's pretty creepy looking, with a white hooded robe and a his mouth agape, as if everything surprises him. I suppose he could be surprised that Providence is winning, but he looked like that when they were losing too.

Villanova-Syracuse wrap

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Syracuse finishes the regular season 19-13. Only two of those wins came over top 50 RPI opponents, and both came at home. They also lost 2 of 3 to the Wildcats. Combine that with bad losses at Cincinnati and USF, and losses to fellow fence sitters Ohio St and UMass, the latter at home, and you have the resume of a team going to the NIT. Worst of all though is that with their season on the line, they looked like an NIT team today. It's not like they played well and came up short. They played badly and came up way short.

Villanova won the game by shooting lights out in the second half against Syracuse. The Wildcats shot 17-26 (65%) in the second half including 8-10 from three point range. The Orange only shot 29%.

Syracuse did take care of the ball better in the second half with only six turnovers. Both teams finished with 18, which is high, but better than the first half.

Scottie Reynolds led five Wildcats in double figures with 22. Corey Stokes added 18, Dwayne Anderson had 14, Dante Cunningham 13 and Shane Clark put in 11. The only other Wildcat to score was Antonio Pena with 4.

Donte Greene had 17 to lead Syracuse, with Jonny Flynn pitching in 16 and Paul harris scored 13, but only three in the second half.

We're a couple of minutes from West Virginia and Providence.

Villanova advances

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Villanova knocked off Syracuse 82-63 and will face top seed Georgetown tomorrow. More importantly, the Wildcats kept their NCAA tournament hopes alive.

Coming up next is West Virgina, the 5-seed, against 12th seed Providence. I'll have stats and stuff on game one when they are available.

Meanwhile, some fan stumbled out of a seat and about knocked over the table I'm sitting at. And I was worried about the players coming over here.

Orange about to get squeezed out of tournaments

NEW YORK, N.Y. - It's all over but the cryin' for Syracuse. Villanova has the lead up to 19 at the last media timeout. The Orange can now make plans for the NIT, and coach Jim Boeheim can start preparing his complaints about being left out of this year's NCAA tournament for Sunday's press conference.

Syracuse getting desperate

NEW YORK, N.Y. - With six minutes left and Villanova up 16, Syracuse has gone to a full-court press, and a man-to-man defense in the half court. I didn't know Syracuse even practiced man-to-man.

Villanova dialing long distance

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Villanova has the lead up to 14 thanks to 8-9 shooting from beyond the arc in this half. The most recent bomb came off the hands of Scottie Reynolds. The Orange are starting to show some frustration, but they won't come back if they don't keep their poise.

Villanova extending

NEW YORK, N.Y. - After yet another quick and questionable shot by Jonny Flynn of Syracuse, Dwayne Anderson of Villanova beat almost everyone down the floor and got fouled on a layup for a three point play. Nova now leads by 7 and has just forced another turnover.

Nova Stoked

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Two Corey Stokes three-pointers have helped put Villanova out in front of Syracuse 44-41 at the 12-minute timeout. Villanova has also picked things up on the defensive end, not so much forcing turnovers, but keeping Syracuse from getting into their offense. The one good look Syracuse had recently was a Donte Greene layup attempt, but he missed.

Nova seems especially fired up at the moment. Shane Clark keeps yelling out when calls go against the Wildcats, and coach Jay Wright about jumped out of his shoes after an offensive foul on his guys.

Orange hanging on

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Villanova scored to take a brief lead at the start of the second half, but a 9-3 Syracuse run put the orange back out in front. At the first timeout, they lead by 3.

Syracuse got two layups by outscrapping Nova for balls right under the basket and going back up. However, their lack of ball security continues to keep Nova in it.

Tale of the tape so far

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The most telling stat of the first half is that the teams combined for 22 turnovers, 12 by Syracuse. Unfortunately, the stat sheet does not give us points off, but I bet the lead for Nova is bigger than that.

Syracuse shot OK: 10-23 for 44%. Nova struggled to a 33% clip, and that's after hitting its last three shots. However, Villanova had seven more shot attempts than the Orange, thanks in part to 10 offensive boards. Villanova leads the rebounding battle overall 20-14.

Nobody is in serious foul trouble entering the second half, which will get underway in a minute with Villanova getting the ball to start.

Nova shows some life

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Villanova ended the half on an 8-0 that took no more than the last 90 seconds and was fueled by two Syracuse turnovers. One of those led to a Shane Clark dunk, which was sandwiched around three pointers by Corey Stokes and Dwayne Anderson. Syracuse still leads by 1, 28-27.

Back with stats when then arrive.

Orange still ahead

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Syracuse has the lead up to 8 at the last timeout of the first half. Scottie Reynolds of Villanova picked up his second foul with seven minutes left and has played sparingly since. He leads Villanova with seven points.

Greene and Harris have combined for 21 of Syracuse's 26 points so far.

My seat is right on the floor, about six feet from the sideline, which has me concerned for my health. And my computer's. The guy next to me got it right when he told me to give up the body to save the computer. Hopefully, that won't be necessary, but a couple of balls have come close already.

Orange Greene-lighted

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Donte Greene hit back to back threes to put the Orange up 15-7. Villanova is having problems finding good looks against the Syracuse zone defense. The Wildcats are getting inside, but finding their shots well challenged. Even though there isn't much room in there, the inside players for Nova insist on going up in a crowd. That isn't working for them yet.

Tight start

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Things got off to a pretty slow start. The teams were playing hard, but were a bit sloppy with the ball and the shots weren't falling. However, Paul Harris found a spot on the floor he likes and hit a couple of threes to stake Syracuse to an early 8-5 lead.

The arena is a little more than half full, and those that are here are mostly Syracuse fans.

Syracuse comes into today's game 19-11, 9-9 in the league. The big hole in their tournament resume is a poor record against quality opponents. The Orange are only 2-8 against the RPI top 50. Beating Nova won't help that because the Wildcats are just outside the top 50, but losing would be worse, of course.

Harris was apparently too hot, because he came out for the guy with the best name here, freshman Scoop Jardine.

Villanova-Syracuse: A lot at stake

NEW YORK, N.Y. - After a day of planes, trains and automobiles, I have finally made it to the world's least floral garden, or whatever they call it, for the Big East tournament.

Right off the bat, we have the 8-9 game between Villanova and Syracuse. Both are squarely on the fence as selection Sunday approaches. Simply put, the loser can start making NIT plans. The winner may still have to win tomorrow though.

I will be getting an earful of Orange. I am directly in front of the Syracuse band and cheerleaders as the game is about to tip.

February 26, 2008

UConn Puts Away Rutgers, 79-61, At The RAC

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- UConn has sealed another Big East win here at the RAC tonight, as Jeff Adrien proved to be the difference with a game-high 27 points.

The Huskies had little problem taking down Rutgers, 79-61, and put themselves in strong position in the conference standings at 22-6 overall and 11-4 in the Big East. Rutgers, meanwhile, lost its eighth straight game, falling to 10-19 and 2-14 on the season.

Jeff Adrien led both sides with 27 points and Craig Austrie and Stanley Robinson each tallied 18 points as the Huskies' three double-digit scorers. Robinson led the UConn effort on the glass with a game-high 13 rebounds, while Jeff Adrien grabbed 11 and sophomore center Hasheem Thabeet collected 10 of his own. Thabeet had an unusual night with just two points on 0-for-7 shooting, but his defense kept Rutgers from threatening UConn's lead throughout the second half.

UConn's three-point shooting was also impressive tonight. Jim Calhouns' team, which has a talented backcourt with Jerome Dyson now back from his suspension, shot 6-for-11 (54.5%) from three thanks to Austrie's perfect 4-for-4 night behind the arc.

Earl Pettis was the only Scarlet Knight to register double figures, finishing with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting (2-for-2 fhas rom three). Byron James and Anthony Farmer each had nine points for Rutgers, which shot 42.4 percent for the game and 50 percent (8-of-16) from three.

UConn, at the other end, knocked down 51.8 percent of its shots, including 6-of-11 from three (54.5%).

We'll head down to the press conferences that follow this one and will have more on this game at Hang Time. So until then, we say goodnight from Piscataway, N.J.

Adrien Sets New Career High

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Jeff Adrien has continued to lead the way for UConn by a setting a new career high with 25 points, and Craig Austrie has given the Huskies a 12-point lead with a three off a free throw miss by Adrien.

Time is ticking away for the Scarlet Knights and Fred Hill's players need to make a move soon if they hope to get back in this one and upset the No. 15-ranked team in the country.

And recently it's been the Hasheem Thabeet block party, as the sophomore center just sent two back on Rutgers' last trip down the floor.

Huskies Pulling Away

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- UConn is starting to pull away in this Big East battle at the RAC, as Craig Austrie just hit a three from the right wing to put the Huskies up, 65-52.

Stanley Robinson had a two-handed breakaway dunk on the previous possession, and it's Jim Calhoun's team who looks like the stronger of the two teams on the floor right now.

After a pair of free throws by Rutgers' Byron Jones, it's UConn leading, 65-54, with 8:12 left.

UConn Lead Back Up To Double Digits

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- It didn't take long for UConn to retake control of the game, as Jeff Adrien just tallied his 20th point of the game and the Huskies got two more on a fastbreak flush from Stanley Robinson.

It's UConn leading, 55-45, with 14:28 left.

Rutgers Chipping Away With Threes

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers has made things very interesting thing here at the RAC as Jaron Griffin has shown a hot hand from three for the Scarlet Knights.

UConn, however, has answered quickly back with a Stanley Robinson dunk and a Hasheem Thabeet block at the other end.

Right now it's the Huskies leading Rutgers, 51-45, with 15:34 remaining in the second half.

Rutgers Cuts Into UConn's Lead Before Halftime

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Corey Chandler gave Rutgers a boost with a baseline jumper just before the halftime buzzer, and Rutgers trails No. 15 UConn by only six, 43-37, at halftime.

Chandler started to show some rhythm toward the end of the first half with smooth-looking jumper off a screen and roll, but Jeff Adrien has been too much for the Scarlet Knights to handle, posting a game-high 16 points in the first half.

Craig Austrie has complemented Adrien's frontcourt play with fine shooting in the backcourt, making both of his threes to tally eight points. Stanley Robinson has seven and Doug Wiggins has five for the Huskies, who are welcoming back sophomore guard Jerome Dyson (three points) after his suspension last month.

One of the biggest surprises has been absence of Hasheem Thabeet in the Huskies' scoring line, as the sophomore center did not tally a point in the first half, going 0-for-3 and grabbing five rebounds.

Rutgers, on the other hand, has gotten much of its scoring from its bench and from one player in particular in guard-forward combo Earl Pettis, who has a team-high 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting (1-for-1 from three) from the field. Corey Chandler has dropped in eight and Byron James added seven to the Scarlet Knight's scoresheet, which also shows the home team shooting a solid 48.4-percent clip.

But it hasn't been able to overcome what UConn has done so far, hitting 53.6 percent of its shots and nine of its first 10 free throws. Rutgers, meanwhile, has only gotten to the line four times so far.

The second half is about to get going so we'll turn our attention to the two teams taking the floor for the final 20 minutes of tonight's game.

Rutgers Hanging Around

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers has cut UConn's lead to under double digits, but the Scarlet Knights are having a tough time stopping the Huskies on the defensive end.

Jeff Adrien, in the meantime, continues to increase his stat line, and Earl Pettis has hit two straight jumpers for Rutgers. That kind of perimeter shooting might be just the spark that Fred Hill's squad with a couple minutes left before halftime.

Lead Grows For UConn

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- UConn has gotten out to a double-digit lead with nine minutes remaining in the first half here at the RAC, and it's Craig Austrie who's leading the charge for the Huskies, canning two threes for a 27-16 lead.

The Scarlet Knights, in the meantime, are struggling to take care of the ball, committing six turnovers while burning three timeouts in less than two minutes. Fred Hill knew if his team was going to compete tonight that it would need to be efficient on the offensive end, and that has happened so far tonight.

UConn Out Front Early

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Jeff Adrien is continuing to make Rutgers pay on the defensive end, using his low post skills to score over defenders and find open teammates around the rim.

Rutgers trailed by five just a few moments ago, but a three by Doug Wiggins just put UConn back up by eight with the scoreboard reading 18-10.

UConn has won the rebound battle so far with Adrien and 7-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet, and Jim Calhoun has seen how much the Huskies' effort on the glass lately helped them during that 10-game winning streak.

Adrien Providing Power For UConn

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Jeff Adrien has started out strong for UConn in the early going, hitting a field goal from the right baseline and knocking down a couple free throws to get the Huskies on board first.

J.R. Inman has Rutgers close, but it's Adrien again attacking the basket to give the Huskies a 8-5 lead.

Rutgers Welcomes No. 15 UConn To RAC

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Good evening everyone from the RAC, where tonight we see the host Scarlet Knights square off with its third straight ranked opponent with No. 15 UConn coming to northern New Jersey for a late February Big East brawl.

Connecticut (21-6, 10-4) is coming off its first loss in 11 outings, a 67-65 setback at Villanova, after putting together a 10-game winning streak that's put the Huskies in contention with league leaders Georgetown and Louisville for the Big East title. Jim Calhoun's team currently sits fourth in the conference standings and welcome back sophomore guard Jerome Dyson tonight. Dyson and Doug Wiggins had been suspended earlier in the season for an alcohol-related incident, which caused both players to take a drug test under the policy of UConn's department of athletics. While Wiggins was allowed to return to the team following a critical win at Indiana, Dyson failed his test and was forced to sit out for the last month. Now with Dyson able to return, it will be interesting to see the dynamic of UConn's offense after playing so well shorthanded over in the past four weeks.

Rutgers (10-18, 2-13), meanwhile, suffered a dismantling 78-48 loss to No. 24 Marquette over the weekend. The Scarlet Knights got off to a good start in that contest against the Golden Eagles but struggled after halftime shooting the ball with just a 27.6 percent. Corey Chandler led the way for Fred Hill's club, hitting 5-of-10 field goals for a team-high 12 points, while J.R. Inman added 11 points.

And we'll also get to see two of the nation's best shotblockers tonight, as Rutgers' Hamady Ndiaye (ninth in blocks with three per game) takes on UConn's Hasheem Thabeet, who ranks third in the country with 4.4 blocks per game.

We still have some time before the tip but we'll be back with all the action between the Huskies and Scarlet Knights...

February 12, 2008

Marquette-Seton Hall Final Notes and Stats

NEWARK, N.J. -- After seeing Marquette completely dismantle Seton Hall with a 89-64 victory here at the Prudential Center tonight, it was four scorers in double digits that got it done for Tom Crean's Golden Eagles.

Forward Lazar Hayward led everyone with 23 points (8-of-16 shooting) and nine rebounds in 30 minutes, and Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal each dropped in 14 and grabbed four boards.

David Cubillan was the Marquette fourth scorer in double figures at 10, and point guard Dominic James had a quiet game with nine points and a game-high six assists.

For Seton Hall, guard Jeremy Hazell led the Pirates with 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting and Brian Laing added 17 to go along with three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Eugene Harvey was the third double-digit scorer for the Pirates with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor in addition to collecting six rebounds.

Looking at the shooting percentages of both teams, Marquette led the way with 42.3 percent overall (30-for-71) and 47.6 from three (10-for-21). SHU, on the other hand, shot 38 percent overall (19-for-50) and 27.8 (5-for-18) from three.

On the glass, the Golden Eagles held a commanding 43-29 edge, and UM also won the turnover battle with the Pirates committing 17 to Marquette's 11.

I'll have more on the game in Hang Time in a little bit, so with that said, we say goodnight from Newark, N.J.

Marquette Runs All Over Seton Hall, 89-64

NEWARK, N.J. -- With the final seconds ticking off the clock, it's Marquette defeating Seton Hall, 89-64, in Big East play.

The Golden Eagles move to 17-6 overall and 7-5 in the Big East, while the Pirates fall to 15-10 and 5-7.

SHU never really seemed to be in the game with UM taking control early and often, and with the lack of energy that the Pirates seemed to show, it will be interesting to see what head coach Bobby Gonzalez has to say in his press conference.

That will come rather soon as we head back to the press room to wrap things up here from the Prudential Center with some stats and quick notes.

Things Getting Chippy Between UM, SHU

NEWARK, N.J. -- Things are getting a little chippy here at The Rock after Marquette forward Ousmane Barro just drove to the basket and took a hard foul from Seton Hall's Mike Davis. Barro had some words for Davis as he walked back to the free throw line, and the referees quickly T'd up both of them before much more could be said or done.

With less than five minutes remaining, it's Marquette holding a commanding 81-57 lead now on the Pirates.

McNeal Heats Up For Marquette

NEWARK, N.J. -- Marquette junior guard Jerel McNeal is one of the big-time offensive threats for Tom Crean's Golden Eagles and the Chicago native has just back-to-back threes on the left side of the arc.

Seton Hall, in the meantime, is trying to put together a run of its own with less than 10 minutes remaining, but after a pair of free throws from Maurice Acker, it's Marquette still leading, 69-44.

It's now or never for the Pirates.

Nutter Ejected With Marquette Up Big

NEWARK, N.J. -- Seton Hall senior guard Jamar Nutter has just been ejected from the game after committing a flagrant foul on Marquette's Dominic James. The call happened on the offensive end of the floor for SHU, but the foul came underneath the basket.

With an already short bench, the Pirates are looking to be in a lot of trouble now as they trail, 59-35, with 12 minutes to go in the second half.

Little Hope For Seton Hall

NEWARK, N.J. -- With 15 minutes left in the second half, this one is sadly all but over already, as Marquette leads Seton Hall, 51-30.

Lazar Hayward, who paced the Golden Eagles in the first half with 12 points, has just canned a three from the left wing and Seton Hall can't seem to answer with free throws at the other end.

I know there are some real clunkers at the bottom of the Big East -- USF, Rutgers, Providence and St. John's of course -- but I'm surprised that Seton Hall has even been able to win five games in the Big East so far this season.

The crowd here at The Rock has started to get on the officials after a couple of calls, and Bobby Gonzalez is hoping that the referees can let these guys play a little before it's all over.

Halftime Stats In Newark

NEWARK, N.J. -- Some halftime stats from the first half of our Big East contest here at the Prudential Center...

Lazar Hayward leads all scorers with 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the floor and has also tallied a game-best seven rebounds in 16 minutes of action. Ousmane Barro has added seven points in the frontcourt for the Golden Eagles while Dominic James and Jerel McNeal have combined for just seven points (James, five points; McNeal, two points). The diminutive James has also dished out a team-high four assists and snatched three steals in his 18 minutes of work.

Wesley Matthews has also dropped in six points for Marquette, which dominated Seton Hall on the glass, 26-14, and outshot the Pirates, 36.8 percent to just 29.2. Seton Hall, meanwhile, was 0-for-6 from three with Marquette shooting 4-for-10.

Brian Laing was the one Pirate to show up for Bobby Gonzalez's team, recording 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting, while Eugene Harvey was the next best scorer for SHU with four points. But that will certainly have to change if the Pirates want to even give Marquette a run for its money in the second half.

Speaking of which, here comes our second 20 minutes of play.

Marquette Up Big At Halftime

NEWARK, N.J. -- If you're a New York basketball fan or a native of the area, this has to be downright depressing.

After 20 minutes of play here at the Prudential Center, it's Marquette leading Seton Hall by a hefty 40-22 margin as both teams head to the locker room. I'll have more halftime stats in just a bit before we get to see the second half of this yawner, but it isn't looking good if you're a Pirates fan after the way Tom Crean's team dominated at both ends of the floor in the first half.

Golden Eagles Looking Pretty Golden

NEWARK, N.J. -- Seton Hall just hit the 10-point mark with less than five minutes to go in the first half and it's Marquette stomping all over the Pirates, 28-10, with a timeout called at 4:18.

Dominic James just hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to extend the Golden Eagles' margin to 18 and after watching St. John's put up a whopping 14 points in the first half on Georgetown the other week at the Garden, this effort from another one of the NYC metro area teams isn't looking much better across the Hudson. And down in Piscataway, Rutgers hasn't been a whole lot better -- in fact, even worse at 2-10 in the conference.

On the court, Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez has just been assessed with a technical foul, and we've hit the under four-minute timeout here, so we'll be back with the rest of the action before halftime.

Marquette Running Away With It Before Halftime

NEWARK, N.J. -- Things are starting to get ugly here at The Prudential, or The Rock as the locals refer to, as it's Marquette up big on Seton Hall, 19-4, with 9:34 remaining in the first half.

And it's not like the Golden Eagles are looking that good. Marquette has missed several wide-open jump shots but it hasn't mattered with the lack of defensive rebounding that the Pirates have shown so far. Tom Crean's team, in the meantime, is also able to get to the basket pretty much any time it wants, so if I were coaching I'd certainly be telling Dominic James and Jerel McNeal to take it to the basket and kick when necessary.

With 8:45 left now, it's Marquette 21, Seton Hall 4. Quite a barn burner I'll tell ya.

All Marquette Early

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Pirates are looking pretty static on offense and defensive, as Marquette seems to get any offensive rebound it wants and Seton Hall can't get much penetration against the Golden Eagles' defense.

Marquette leads, 13-4, at the 12-minute mark and it will be up to SHU coach Bobby Gonzalez to energize his team against an opponent that looks motivated to get snap a two-game losing streak and head back home with some momentum to face Pittsburgh Friday.

Marquette Leads Early, 6-4

NEWARK, N.J. -- Three minutes into this game, and not much has gone on to be honest. Dominic James got fouled on a three-point attempt in the left corner and hit 2-of-3 free throws to give Marquette a 6-4 lead over Seton Hall.

Looking over at SHU coach Bobby Gonzalez, it's pretty clear from the five players on the bench that the Pirates don't have a lot of depth. That means a lot of minutes for Gonzalez's starters and ultimately a more fatigued team in the second half, so we'll keep an eye on that toward the end of the game.

Anyway, we've just hit the first media timeout, so we'll take a break and be back with more in a little bit.

Seton Hall Plays Host To Marquette At The Rock

NEWARK, N.J. -- Good evening everyone from the Prudential Center in downtown Newark, N.J., as tonight we'll witness host Seton Hall taking on Marquette, who fell out of this week's AP Top 25 after suffering losses to Louisville (home) and Notre Dame (away) last week.

Tom Crean's club comes into tonight's matchup against a Pirate team that has had its own bit of struggles of late in losing its last three. So with that in mind, we'll surely get to see tonight who needs a win more than the other.

Seton Hall is coming off a heartbreaking loss over the weekend to Villanova, who suffered its own bit of heartbreak last night in that wacky Big East showdown at Georgetown. And sure it's already been said by many earlier today and last night, but a call 70 feet away from the basket with no shot attempt and 0.1 of a second left on the clock can not and should not be made. In the Pirates' loss to 'Nova, though, it was Dwayne Anderson who did the damage, drilling a three-pointer with 12 seconds left to give the Wildcats the victory.

Anyhow, this is the second meeting between SHU and Marquette this season. The Golden Eagles won, 61-56, the first time around in Milwaukee on Jan. 8 and lead the all-time lead series, 3-1, having won the last three meetings with the Pirates.

Seton Hall, however, won't have Paul Gause this time around, as the junior guard will miss the remainder of the 2007-08 season after tearing his ACL and MCL in his left knee against Notre Dame last Wednesday. Freshman Jeremy Hazell did step up in Gause's absence in turning in a game-high 26 points on 8-for-14 shooting along with a career-high five steals, so we'll see if he can keep that up against a Marquette team that should be making its way back to the NCAA Tournament this March.

But after losing two straight games, tonight's game against Seton Hall becomes that much more important for Crean's team to win, so we'll see how the Golden Eagles respond.

We'll be back with the action with the tip to come at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Seton Hall Game Notes

Marquette Game Notes

January 30, 2008

Georgetown Stomps On St. John's, 74-42

NEW YORK -- In what marked St. John's worst conference defeat in school history, No. 6 Georgetown rolled to a 74-42 victory at Madison Square Garden tonight to stay in first place in the Big East.

The Hoyas, who were without sophomore forward DaJuan Summers for the night, got plenty of production from other pieces as reserve Vernon Macklin led all scorers with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor. The sophomore forward surprisingly did not grab a rebound but did tally two blocks and two steals in 25 minutes of action.

"I think our guys were extremely attentive tonight in terms of helping each other and understanding what they were trying to accomplish," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "I thought our guys did a terrific job of communicating and helping each other and they [St. John's] had some unfortunate bounces."

Georgetown, meanwhile, had three other scorers in double figures, including senior center Roy Hibbert, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds, and junior guard Jessie Sapp, who dropped in 10 points and added five assists and three rebounds. Jeremiah Rivers was Georgetown's leading rebounder for the night, collecting nine, including two on the offensive end, to go along with five points.

For the night, the Hoyas shot 52.8 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from three-point range, two numbers that St. John's didn't get anywhere close to touching with 21.3 (10-for-47) and 7.1 (1-for-14) shooting percentages.

"Our guys did a great job of staying focused and just executing on the other end of the floor because they have a team that is going to make runs," Thompson added.

The Red Storm, on the other hand, did not have one player score in double digits, as Anthony Mason Jr. and Justin Burrell both tallied nine points after playing more than 30 minutes tonight. Burrell, however, did commit a game-high seven turnovers.

"It was probably the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life," St. John's point guard Malik Boothe claimed. "Nobody wants to lose at all, but to lose by that much is worse. We just have to go into the next game knowing we are going to win."

And despite its shooting woes and offensive troubles, St. John's did managed to compete with Georgetown on the glass. D.J. Kennedy posted a team-high nine rebounds in just 23 minutes, but when it was all said and done, it was the Hoyas' dominance in the paint and ability to shoot the three that left Red Storm coach Norm Roberts furious at himself and about the way his team played.

"I am angry at myself," he remarked during his post-game press conference. "I am angry at the whole situation. We have to be tougher. We are a family. We are a team. We stay together no matter what."

"We had opportunities to score and we didn't finish those plays. We have to understand why that was happening. We are going to do whatever it takes to get better."

Credit Roberts for keeping his cool enough to answer our questions, but as the fourth-year coach made quite clear tonight, there's a lot of work to be done.

I'll have a lot more on Georgetown in tomorrow's weekly column, but for now, we say goodnight from Madison Square Garden, where the Hoyas dominated St. John's from start to finish.

Mason Jr. Gets Two Before Georgetown Wins, 74-42

NEW YORK -- Anthony Mason Jr. has just sparked the Madison Square Garden a little with two straight dunks, the last one coming on a steal and breakaway dunk and foul, but it comes a little too late as St. John's still trails Georgetown big, 69-40, with two minutes remaining.

Vernon Macklin has just completed a three-point play and the fans, if they haven't already, are clearing out of the building to spend the rest of their nights somewhere other than here.

With the buzzer sounding, it's Georgetown winning, 74-42. We'll be back with more after the post-game press conferences.

Georgetown Still Attacking The Johnnies

NEW YORK -- We've got three minutes and change before this one is over, and it never was really in doubt as No. 6 Georgetown will move to 7-1 Big East play and 17-2 overall.

St. John's, meanwhile, will drop to 7-12 and 1-7 after a disappointing performance to say the least.

The Red Storm, in fact, might not crack the 41-point mark that Georgetown put up on them in the first half, and with the way the Hoyas have played defense tonight, it's certainly a question mark for Norm Roberts' squad.

Macklin, Ewing Playing Big For Hoyas

NEW YORK -- The struggles continue for St. John's as Georgetown holds a 60-25 lead -- and yes, I'm not reading the scoreboard.

With the Hoyas in complete control and Roy Hibbert not having to play a ton of minutes tonight, Vernon Macklin and Patrick Ewing Jr. have been able to shine for John Thompson III's club, which will head back down to Washington D.C. for Saturday's game against Seton Hall and Tuesday's game against South Florida.

The Hoyas will have a little more of a test Feb. 9 when they travel to Louisville to face Rick Pitino's Cardinals, but at the moment Georgetown looks to be in good shape in defending its conference championship from a year ago.

In looking at the stats, it's Jessie Sapp leading all scorers with 10 points, but back to the action we go.

St. John's Missing The Rim And More

NEW YORK -- St. John's Mike Cavataio just put up would could rank as tonight's most embarrassing shot attempt. The freshman from Forest Hills, N.Y., got the block along the baseline and hit the side of the backboard with his shot, which triggered a Georgetown fast-break and Patrick Ewing Jr. dunk at the other end.

With 13 minutes remaining in this one at MSG, it's Georgetown in complete control with a 53-18 advantage.

Georgetown Cruising Along

NEW YORK -- Things haven't looked much different in these first few minutes of the second half between St. John's and No. 6 Georgetown, as the Hoyas now lead, 51-14, at the 16-minute mark.

Preseason All-American Roy Hibbert has started to make his presence felt down on the block, as the 7-foot-2 senior center has got to the rim on the last several possessions due to St. John's lack of size. Tomas Jasiulionis is matched up with Hibbert right now, but the Red Storm don't have an answer to stop much of what Georgetown has done tonight with its Princeton-style offense.

Georgetown Up Big On St. John's At Halftime

NEW YORK -- We're at halftime here at Madison Square Garden, and it's not much of a showing by the hometown team St. John's, which trails No. 6 Georgetown, 41-14, after making only two field goals for the entire first half.

The Red Storm were held to just 12.5 percent from the field and 0-for-6 from three, as Justin Burrell stands as the high-man with five points on 2-for-2 shooting from the floor for the Johnnies.

Meanwhile on the other end of things, Georgetown shot a solid 51.7 percent from the field, including 55.6 from three, as Jessie Sapp led the way with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from long range.

Vernon Macklin has also had a solid start to tonight's game with eight points. Austin Freeman has tallied seven and point guard Jonathan Wallace has added five of his own as we get set to start the second half of play.

Hand This One To Georgetown Already

NEW YORK -- In what's felt like one of the longest first halves of basketball that I've watched this season, St. John's has just yet to hit the double-digit mark with Georgetown leading, 33-8, at the three minute mark before halftime.

The Red Storm haven't got a decent look at the basket all game long, but even more, can't make a free throw to help their cause when they are fouled.

With plenty of time before the break, this one sadly already appears to be over.

Johnnies Looking Very Lost

NEW YORK -- And the Hoyas are looking very good.

I'm not sure if I'm seen as much offensive incompetency in my years of covering sports and more specifically, basketball, but St. John's is certainly making a case for it tonight against Big East favorite Georgetown.

Though most of the fans here at Madison Square Garden are here to watch Iona and Manhattan square off in the second game of tonight's doubleheader, the Johnnies are putting on another one of their depressing performances, as Georgetown now leads, 31-5, with five minutes remaining in the first half still.

It'll be interesting to hear Norm Roberts' press conference following the game tonight, as the Georgetown fans, which could quite possibly outnumber the St. John's fans in attendance, have started to let their voices be heard with chants of "Let's Go Georgetown!"

St. John's Can't Buy A Bucket

NEW YORK -- We're about halfway through the first half and it's the home team with two points.

Yup, that's right. Two points.

Georgetown's Patrick Ewing Jr. just connected on a three from the top of the key to give the Hoyas a commanding 18-2 lead in the first 10 minutes of this game, and if St. John's doesn't start doing something quick, it's going to be a long night for the Red Storm.

Sapp Getting Hot For Georgetown

NEW YORK -- Jessie Sapp has just knocked down another three for Georgetown and St. John's can't seem to find anything to go down on the offensive end.

On its last possession down the floor, St. John's Larry Wright drove to the hoop and had an uncontested layup bounce off the rim, leaving the score standing at 13-2 in favor of Georgetown with 13 minutes still remaining in the first half.

Credit John Thompson III's players, though, who are scrapping and clawing for every game that goes on the floor and are making it very tough for St. John's to get easy looks at the basket in these first few minutes.

Hoyas Take Early Lead

NEW YORK -- Jessie Sapp just splashed Georgetown's first three-pointer of the game to take a 6-0 lead with 16:20 remaining in the first half.

D.J. Kennedy has made a pair of free throws for St. John's to cut the Hoyas' early lead to four, as Jeremiah Rivers just entered the game at the point guard slot for John Thompson III's team.

And we have another official timeout on the floor...

Hoyas, Johnnies Start Slow

NEW YORK -- Things have started pretty slow here at The World's Most Famous Arena between No. 6 Georgetown and host St. John's.

In their first possession down the floor, the Hoyas went right to 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert, who was fouled on his turnaround jumper but only connected on one of the two ensuing free throws.

St. John's, in the meantime, is having trouble getting into its offensive sets so far, making some careless turnovers early on between a couple bad passes and a traveling violation.

St. John's Welcomes No. 6 Georgetown To MSG

NEW YORK -- Welcome to Madison Square Garden, where tonight we'll see hometown favorite St. John's welcome No. 6 Georgetown to the Big Apple for a Big East matchup that we're hoping we'll be a good one for all.

The Hoyas, last year's Big East champs and Final Four participants, are coming off a thrilling two-point win at West Virginia over the weekend and now stand at 25-17 on the road, including a 15-9 mark against Big East competition, under head coach John Thompson III. Georgetown, meanwhile, is 9-3 in its last 12 Big East road games.

While much of the hype around the Hoyas this season was centered on preseason All-American center Roy Hibbert, sophomore forward DaJuan Summers is the big key for Thompson's squad in ranking second on the team in scoring (10.8 ppg) and rebounding (5.4 rpg).

Point guard Jonathan Wallace is also doing a solid job of running the team and contributing on the offensive end during his senior campaign with an 11.2 scoring average over the last nine contests.

For St. John's, Georgetown represents the second ranked team that the Red Storm have faced this season and 89th meeting overall with the Hoyas (St. John's leads the all-time series, 50-38, with the Big East series tied, 27-27), who have won the last three meetings between the two schools.

In celebrating their "100 Years of St. John's Basketball," the Johnnies are 7-11 overall and a dismal 1-6 in Big East play after suffering a 67-57 loss at Louisville this past Saturday. While St. John's outrebounded the Cardinals with a 35-32 advantage and Anthony Mason Jr. posted a second straight career-high 29 points, it wasn't enough in the end for Norm Roberts' team to get the win.

The Red Storm will be looking to have a better finish tonight against this year's Big East favorite, but it will take a monumental effort from Roberts' kids to pull off the upset tonight.

In the meantime, we're about 10 minutes from the tip as both teams get into their layup lines. We'll be back in a few minutes.

January 06, 2008

Villanova Ekes Out A Big East Win Over Pitt

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Scottie Reynolds didn't score until 7:55 remained in regulation. He was 0-for-5 from 3-point territory. He had just three points.

Yet the Wildcats won.

Welcome to life in the Big East where anything can happen.

Reynolds entered the game averaging 16.5 points each time out, but No. 17 Villanova managed to win thanks to a sensational 22-point effort by freshman Malcolm Grant and two clutch free throws by Dante Cunningham with 15.9 seconds remaining.

Continue reading "Villanova Ekes Out A Big East Win Over Pitt" »

Incredible Finish In Big East Battle

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- As predicted, Villanova and Pittsburgh went right down to the wire. Also as predicted, it was physical from beginning to end at the Pavilion.

But the Wildcats' 64-63 win may have come at a high price. Freshman Malcolm Grant scored 22 points, but suffered what appeared to be an ankle injury with 15.9 seconds remaining. After Grant's drive to the basket, he fell awkwardly and had to be helped off the court. While he was coming off the court, the Villanova student section chanted, "Malcolm Grant! Malcolm Grant!"

Two huge free throws by Dante Cunningham gave the Wildcats the lead for good.

Continue reading "Incredible Finish In Big East Battle" »

Villanova-Pitt Headed To The Finish Line

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- It's been a see-saw battle thus far at the Pavilion.

Pitt surges ahead. Then Villanova roars back.

It's been that way the entire second half and if this is any indication, the Big East is going to have some fabulous games this season.

Freshman Malcolm Grant has literally carried the Wildcats through this game. With less than four minutes left, he already has 22 points -- 3-pointers, drives, etc. He's been sensational so far.

Continue reading "Villanova-Pitt Headed To The Finish Line" »

Back And Forth They Go At The Pavilion

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Pittsburgh re-gained the momentum early in the second half by jumping out to a 41-34 advantage.

Sam Young hit some big baskets and really carried the Panthers in the early going.

But the young Wildcats don't seem fazed at all by Big East action.

Freshman Malcolm Grant is playing the best game of his young career, as he has compiled 19 points with less than 12 minutes to play.

Continue reading "Back And Forth They Go At The Pavilion" »

Halftime Check At Pitt-Villanova

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- The sellout crowd of 6,500 got a chance to relax at halftime.

While they're chilling out, let's update everyone on some halftime statistics from Pittsburgh-Villanova. The game is tied, 30-30, at the break.

Freshman Malcolm Grant leads the Wildcats with 14 points while Shane Clark, Reggie Redding and Antonio Pena have four points each.

DeJuan Blair and Keith Benjamin are pacing the Panthers with eight points each. Blair also has eight rebounds.

Villanova is shooting only 32.3 percent from the field (10-of-31) and has been outrebounded 25-14.

Continue reading "Halftime Check At Pitt-Villanova" »

Frenetic Finish To First Half

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- What a frenetic finish in the first half of the Pittsburgh-Villanova game. Whew.

After falling behind 24-16, the Wildcats stormed back to tie the game at 30 at halftime, mostly thanks to freshman Malcolm Grant. The 6-foot guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., scored 14 points in the first 20 minutes, including a couple of clutch 3-pointers down the stretch. He sure didn't play like a freshman.

Then redshirt freshman Antonio Pena threw down a thunderous dunk, giving Villanova a 30-27 advantage.

Continue reading "Frenetic Finish To First Half" »

Pitt Shows Surprising Depth

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Despite the absence of injured players Mike Cook and Levance Fields, Pittsburgh is playing at a very high level.

The Panthers are contesting every single shot by a Villanova player. You wouldn't know they were missing a pair of key ingredients.

Villanova is having trouble with Pitt's defensive pressure as the Wildcats hit just six of their first 31 shots from the field while falling behind 24-16 late in the first half.

Continue reading "Pitt Shows Surprising Depth" »

Rugged Big East Action Underway

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Welcome courtside to the Pavilion on the campus of Villanova University.

The Big East season is definitely underway as Villanova and Pittsburgh are battling for every rebound, boxing out for every inch of space and fighting for every loose ball. Hey, that's life in the Big East.

Both teams got off to sluggish starts and the game is tied at 8 with just under 12 minutes remaining.

Neither team could seem to get any momentum, but that's to be expected in this rugged conference.

Continue reading "Rugged Big East Action Underway" »

Time For Conference Action For Pitt

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- No. 13 Pittsburgh will begin its 26th year of Big East basketball with a 12:00 p.m. tip-off at No. 17 Villanova.

The grueling 18-game Big East season will be especially tough on the Panthers, who are without two starters -- senior forward Mike Cook (torn ACL) and junior guard Levance Fields (fractured left foot).

Pitt improved to 12-1 with a 96-75 win over Lafayette on Jan. 2. It was the final nonconfrence game for the Panthers this season.

Continue reading "Time For Conference Action For Pitt" »

Big East Clash About Ready For Tip-Off

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Today's 12:00 p.m. Big East matchup between No. 17 Villanova (10-2, 0-1) and No. 13 Pittsburgh (12-1, 0-0) is only the ninth time that two nationally-ranked teams will play at the Pavilion.

It is the first game since Feb. 19, 2006 when fourth-ranked Villanova defeated 17th-ranked Georgetown 75-65.

The Wildcats are 6-2 in games at the Pavilion when both teams are ranked in the Top 25.

Continue reading "Big East Clash About Ready For Tip-Off" »

December 29, 2007

Roberts Emerges In Dayton's Big Win

DAYTON, Ohio - If you could ever attribute a 25-point blowout victory to the performance of one player, you could credit Dayton senior guard Brian Roberts for UD's 80-55 win over No. 6 Pitt at UD Arena. Pitt held Roberts in check for the first 12 minutes of the game, but had no answers for the Dayton standout in the final 28 minutes.

Roberts, who scored just four points in the first 12minutes, finished with a game-high 31 points on 10-for-17 shooting, including 5-for-8 from 3-point range.

"Brian Roberts was phenomenal," Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. "I don't even know if that's a good enough word. He controlled the game from the start to the end. I've been saying for a long time that he's the most efficient guard in the country. He's getting to be one of the best guards in the country overall, too."

Roberts knew that he would have to carry his team if it was going to pull the upset over the previously undefeated Panthers.

"I just knew I had to come out and be aggressive," he said. "That's one key. I had to do that tonight."
Dayton guard Marcus Johnson, who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, said Roberts feeds off playing on a big stage against a favored opponent.

"He's our stopper. I think he lives up to all that," Johnson said. "He likes to play in the game being the underdog."
Gregory said his program must build off a win of this magnitude as it approaches Atlantic 10 Conference play.
"You know, it's been bonkers around here for over a week," Gregory said. "This is just another block in what we're trying to build. It's a good block, a big block, but it's just one. We need to continue to do that.

"We have a vision of what we what to do and what we want to become, but you have to built that. We have to build the foundation first, and I think you're seeing us start to do that."

Dayton Hands Pitt First Loss

DAYTON, Ohio - Dayton, behind 31 points from Brian Roberts, has upset No. 6 Pittsburgh, 80-55, here at UD Arena. It's the highest-ranked opponent the Flyers have beaten here since a win over No. 3 DePaul in 1984. More after the press conferences.

Dayton Cruising

DAYTON, Ohio - Dayton coach Brian Gregory couldn't have imagined it would be this easy to pick up the program's biggest non-conference win since 1984. But it has been. The Flyers led by 12 at halftime, and Pitt never got the game into single digits in the second half. Brian Roberts has keyed a steady, consistent extension of the lead throughout this second half. With 3:48 to play, Dayton leads 80-51. And that score is not misleading. This is no closer-than-it-looks deal. Dayton has been every bit of 30 points better than punchless Pitt tonight.

The Rout Is On

DAYTON, Ohio - You get the feeling that there will be no late run by Pitt as Dayton continues to control the game and Pitt continues its futile attempts at stopping Brian Roberts. The Dayton senior guard just hit another three - his fourth of the game - to give the Flyers a 20-point cushion. It's 66-46 Dayton with 7:51 to play.

Injury update: Levance Fields has an injured ankle and will not return to the game. The severity of the injury is unknown, but Fields is definitely out for the rest of this out. So, too, seem to be the Panthers.

It's Getting Away, Coach Dixon

DAYTON, Ohio - Jamie Dixon just used his fourth time-out of the game, and with good reason, as it appears Pittsburgh's undefeated season is slipping away. Dayton has stretched its lead to a game-high 17 and has all the momentum, and Pitt is without Levance Fields, who left the game two minutes ago with an apparent ankle injury.

Fields Injured, Flyers Keep Foot On Gas

DAYTON, Ohio - If things weren't already bad enough for undefeated Pittsburgh trailing Dayton 53-40 with 15:45 to play in the game, they might have just gotten worse. Guard Levance Fields crumpled to the floor with an apparent foot injury after missing a short shot from the right side. He might have landed on another layer's foot when he came down from the shot. However it happened, Fields was carried off the floor and back to Pitt's locker room. No word his availability for the remainder of the game.

Second Half Starts With More Of Same

DAYTON, Ohio - The second half started much like the first half ended -- with Brian Roberts making a play with the ball in his hands. This time, however, it was a pass from Roberts. To be more precise, it was an alley-oop lob from Roberts that was slammed down by Marcus Johnson. Jamie Dixon has taken a time-out as Dayton has stretched its lead to 14 at 49-35 less than two minutes into the second half.

Roberts, Flyers Dominating Panthers

DAYTON, Ohio - As the final seconds of the first half ticked away and Dayton's Brian Roberts dribbled the ball up the floor, a particularly distinguishable voice could be heard above the boisterousness of the UD Arena sellout crowd.

"You know he's going to hit it," a fan yelled. "You just know it. You just know he's going to hit it."

You did know, and he did hit it. It was a fitting end to the first half for Roberts and the Flyers. After only having four points with less than eight minutes to play in the half, Roberts dominated the final part of the half. He finished the half with 19 points, including the 25-foot bomb as time expired that you knew was coming.

Dayton holds a 45-33 lead -- its biggest advantage of the game -- for a simple reason: It has the best player on the floor. Pitt must find a way to stop Roberts (here's a hint: quit going underneath screens) if it wants to leave Dayton with its undefeated record intact. It would also help the Panthers if Levance Fields would give them a bit more. He was just 2-for-7 shooting for eight points in the half. Pitt will need to heat up from beyond the arc after shooting 15 percent (2-for-13) in the first half.

Roberts Heats Up; Dayton By Five

DAYTON, Ohio - Pitt might want to start hedging screens against Dayton's Brian Roberts. The Flyers guard made back-to-back shots after the Panthers had trouble defending ball screens. Then Roberts scored on a smooth right-handed scoop shot while driving to the basket to push Dayton's lead to five. Roberts has scored Dayton's last seven points and has 11 for the game.

Timeout: Pittsburgh

DAYTON, Ohio - Jamie Dixon just took the game's first time-out after Dayton big man Kurt Huelsman backed down his defender and then scored on a rebound of his own missed shot to put Dayton ahead, 20-18. Dayton has matched Pitt shot-for-shot so far.

And there's the answer from Pitt's Sam Young, who just tied the game by scoring while getting fouled. That was the first field goal for Young, who had missed his first five shots. We're tied at 20 at the eight-minute media timeout.

Keep an eye on the star scorers from each team. Dayton's Brian Roberts has four points, and he's missed both of his three-point attempts. Pittsburgh guard Levance Fields has three points and has missed three of his four shots.

Dayton By Two

DAYTON, Ohio - At the 12:00 media time-out, Dayton leads, 13-11. Both coaches are working the officials hard, especially Pitt coach Jamie Dixon. He's been flabbergasted by multiple calls in the first eight minutes and is pressing especially hard for carrying violations against Dayton's guards. He's gotten two called already.

Dayton coach Brian Gregory just sent in four subs. We'll see if the Flyers have the depth to continue playing with the energy and pace they've shown in the first half of the first half.

Back and Forth Early

DAYTON, Ohio - Pitt leads Dayton, 7-6, in the opening minutes. The Flyers have played tight defense, but Pitt has buried two tough shots early. Keith Benjamin hit a tgree with the shot clock running out on the last possession to give Pitt the early advantage.

Dayton-Pitt Preview

DAYTON, Ohio - This basketball shrine on Edwin C. Moses Blvd. at the southern tip of Dayton has been host to hundreds of important college basketball games, especially in the NCAA Tournament. But tonight's match-up between No. 6 Pitt (11-0) and the host Dayton Flyers (10-1) is bigger than any regular season game played here in two decades.

This is the third time Dayton has won 10 of its first 11 under Brian Gregory. The Flyers started 10-1 in 2003-04, Gregory's first season, and were also 10-1 last season. Pitt enters today's game coming off of last Saturday's 65-64 victory over Duke.

Fans have been waiting for this game for a long time here, and they've only got about 20 more minutes to kill before tip-off against the highest-ranked opponent to play Dayton at UD Arena since No. 3 DePaul played here in 1984. The Flyers won that game 72-71 on a last-second shot by Ed Young. A sell-out crowd here at UD Arena wouldn't mind history repeating itself tonight.

Hokies Take Crown At MSG Holiday Festival

NEW YORK -- Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg wanted his team to forget about its heartbreaking loss to Wake Forest last week in its ACC opener.

And the Hokies seemed to do that Saturday afternoon in an ugly 54-48 victory over Big East foe St. John's to claim this year's Aeropostale Holiday Festival championship.

"It is a Big East win," Greenberg said matter-of-factly afterward. "It is a big win. I think what you saw was two young basketball teams trying to develop an identity.

The Blacksburg, Va., school got it done with its two veterans over the course of 40 minutes, as A.D. Vassallo paced Virginia Tech with 16 points in addition to seven rebounds and Deron Washington added 10 points and eight boards of his own.

"If we play the way we're capable of, we can play in the big games," Washington told me outside the Virginia Tech locker room. "We learned a lot from our loss to Wake Forest last week and tried to bring our intensity today."

Whatever the Hokies brought, it seemed to work well enough to squeak out a victory over the Johnnies, who shot a miserable 28.3 percent from the floor for the game in addition to 26.7-percent shooting from behind the three-point line.

"They beat us in a hard game," St. John's coach Norm Roberts confessed. "Both teams played ugly. Both teams had 20 turnovers. It was a hard fought game. We didn't make shots. [But] I am not discouraged at all. They tried hard. I am not going to get down this team. We had a chance to win it all of the way through it."

For as poorly as the Red Storm played at times, St. John's was in the game until the bitter end. In fact, the Johnnies were down by just three after Larry Wright drained a three-pointer with 34 seconds left.

But it was Malcolm Delaney who sunk a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession, and with the lead back up to five, there was little hope of St. John's leaving its home court with a Holiday Festival title, something that certainly was the goal for Roberts when he scheduled his team to play in the holiday tournament way before the 2007-08 season started.

"This was a good game for us to get prepared for the Big East," Roberts added. "Let's not forget, Virginia Tech is a good team. There are going to be a lot of games that are going to be like this in the Big East."

Anthony Mason, Jr. led St. John's in scoring for the second straight night, dropping in 12 points to go along with four assists and two steals. Eugene Lawrence was the other Red Storm player to score in double figures with 10, and the senior guard from Brooklyn also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

"We have to get the next one," Mason said, looking rather disinterested in talking to the media following a tight loss in front of a hometown crowd. "You can't get frustrated. You get frustrated, then you start making mistakes.

We have to get back in the gym, get prepared and get ready for Syracuse [next week]."

"Every loss hurts the same," added Justin Burrell, who finished with six points, six rebounds and three blocks in 33 minutes. "They all feel the same."

For Roberts and St. John's, they're just hoping that feeling doesn't run its course through the rest of the season.

VT Eyeing Tournament Title

NEW YORK -- We're winding down to the final minute of action here at MSG, and it looks like Virginia Tech is going to leave the Big Apple with a championship trophy as the only team outside the state of New York to play in this year's Aeropostale Holiday Festival.

That's something that Hokies coach Seth Greenberg can be happy about with ACC play starting up very soon, and it looks like Deron Washington and A.D. Vassallo will be the two guys he'll be counting on to lead VT through the ever-competitive conference.

Hokies Runnin' and Gunnin'

NEW YORK -- There haven't been a lot of nice plays in today's slugfest, or slopfest (whichever you prefer), but Virginia Tech's A.D. Vassallo has the Hokies back in front by seven, 43-36, with four minutes remaining.

The junior took a rebound and pushed it down the floor to find Marcus Travis open in the corner for a three, which he buried right in front of his own bench, forcing Norm Roberts to take a timeout right after. It looks like the Johnnies will have to play a different brand of basketball in these final four minutes if they hope to come away with a win.

We'll be back with more in a minute.

Hokies Relying On Vassallo

NEW YORK -- St. John's closed the gap on Virginia Tech, getting within two points of the Hokies with eight minutes remaining in this one, but A.D. Vassallo just answered with two straight baskets on consecutive trips down the floor.

Though Anthony Mason, Jr. and Eugene Lawrence have both shown at times that they can make big shots for the Johnnies, they haven't so far. Instead, it's been Vassallo and his scoring partner Deron Washington that have got it done for Seth Greenberg's ball club.

With 5:40 remaining, it's Virginia Tech 38, St. John's 36.

Johnnies Losing Ground

NEW YORK -- The hometown faithful here at Madison Square Garden is getting a little restless with St. John's losing ground on Virginia Tech in tonight's Holiday Festival championship game.

It looks like Larry Wright is OK, however, dispelling my earlier speculation of a serious knee injury suffered at the beginning of this half.

St. John's just got a big block from Justin Burrell, as the freshman just swatted the ball into the near-empty stands, and Wright has just hit two free throws, bringing the Red Storm to within six with the score 32-26 in favor of Virginia Tech.

Hokies Jump Out Front After Break

NEW YORK -- We're about five minutes into the second half of our , and Virginia Tech has started to take control with a nice little run that has the Hokies up, 30-24.

The Johnnies have started the half looking rather lackadaisical and Larry Wright just went down a few minutes ago with what looked like a knee injury. From the way he was grimacing, it reminded me of Pittsburgh Mike Cook's torn ACL here last week against Duke. Wright had to be carried off, so it's possible that another knee tear unfortunately is in store for the sophomore guard.

And if that's the case, this court could quickly go from being famous to infamous for Big East teams.

St. John's Leads Virginia Tech At Halftime

NEW YORK -- Deron Washington got fouled on a three-pointer 25 feet away from the basket but could only hit two out of three free throws, as St. John's leads Virginia Tech, 22-21, at halftime in the Aeropostale Holiday Festival championship game.

Finally got myself some halftime stats from the MSG crew, and it's St. John's Anthony Mason, Jr. that's leading all scorers with eight points. The Johnnies, in the meantime, are shooting 37 percent (10-for-27) from the floor, and Virginia Tech hasn't been much better at 37.5 (otherwise, the Hokies would probably be leading this game).

For VT, Dorenzo Hudson has tallied a team-high six points in the first 20 minutes of action, and A.D. Vassallo has dropped in five. But with the margin just one at halftime, winning tonight's contest is really going to come down to whichever team can make big shots in crunch time.

Back with more as we get set for the second half...

No Offense For Johnnies Or Hokies

NEW YORK -- We got another barn burner...yawn...with a high school-sized crowd on hand here at the Garden, as St. John's and Virginia have combined for 31 points in the first 17 minutes of play.

Right now the scoreboard reads St. John's 16, VT 15, and Anthony Mason, Jr. is leading all scorers with six points. Deron Washington has grabbed four rebounds for the Hokies, but there's not much else to report right now with neither team putting the ball in the basket.

Early Shooting Woes For Both Clubs

NEW YORK -- Through 10 minutes of play in our championship game, it's St. John's holding a slight 12-11 advantage over Virginia Tech.

Neither team has looked impressive shooting the ball from the perimeter and turnovers are certainly playing a factor in the efficiency of both offenses.

Virginia Tech, St. John's Battle For Tourney Title

NEW YORK -- We're all set for this afternoon's Holiday Festival championship game, and we're hoping it will be a good one with Virginia Tech and St. John's battling back and forth.

After last night's close win over Marist, St. John's coach Norm Roberts is hoping that Eugene Lawrence can step up once again in crunch time and lead the Johnnies past the Hokies today.

It won't be an easy task, however, for the Red Storm, which had three double-digit scorers last night in Anthony Mason, Jr., Tomas Jasiulionis and Justin Burrell. The Hokies, after all, have two go-to players in senior Deron Washington and junior A.D. Vassallo, both of whom tallied 17 points last night in a 30-point win over an Antoine Agudio-less Hofstra team (the one we just saw fall to Marist, 73-69, in the Holiday Festival consolation game earlier this afternoon).

And while neither of the teams are expected to make the NCAA Tournament come March, it still should be interesting to see how much last night's games will affect either team. Logic would give the advantage to the Hokies with their blowout win while St. John's struggled to get past Marist, but if the Johnnies are hungry and motivated, then they'll want to win this game in front of the hometown faithful.

December 28, 2007

It's Not Pretty But Johnnies Hang On, 62-59

NEW YORK -- It wasn't pretty, but Norm Roberts will take it.

Especially in this dismal time for New York basketball -- on the college and professional level -- where the once mighty St. John's and now laughable Knicks are not anything close to what they once were 20 or so years ago, yet they happen to play in the same building.

Coincidence? I think not.

So even in a 62-59 victory over Marist Friday night in the Aeropostale Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden, the Johnnies survived by the skin of their nose, as a last-second attempt by Marist clanked off the rim and ultimately gave St. John's a pass to Saturday evening's championship game against Virginia Tech, who dominated Hofstra, 84-59, in the first dip of the doubleheader.

Afterward, Roberts was all smiles, but you could almost feel the sense of relief that was hanging over the Red Storm coach's head while he took questions from primarily New York media (because what other national columnist would be crazy enough to spend a night watching Virginia Tech-Hofstra and St. John's-Marist? Um, me...).

Continue reading "It's Not Pretty But Johnnies Hang On, 62-59" »

St. John's Trying To Finish Marist Off

NEW YORK -- St. John's looks like it will be escaping Madison Square Garden with a nail biting win over in-state rival Marist. With the Red Storm up by two with 30 seconds left, Eugene Lawrence missed the second of two free throws, but St. John's was able to grab the rebound. Lawrence once again hit one of two to put the Johnnies up by four, 61-57, with time running out for the Red Foxes.

Marist Charges Back, Ties Game Up

NEW YORK -- It's a five-point game now with less than three minutes to play, and even if St. John's manages to win this game, there will still be plenty of reasons to knock the Johnnies with a performance like they've had tonight.

The Red Storm, after all, are letting Marist slowly but surely creep back into the game, and it would only be fair to see the Johnnies lose this one after showing little intensity or tenacity to go for the kill when they had it back at the beginning of the second half.

Speaking of which, Marist has just tied the game at 57-57 with 2:08 to play.

Storm Is Brewing

NEW YORK -- We're winding down here at The World's Most Famous Arena, and it's St. John's whose still in control of this semifinal matchup against Marist.

The Red Foxes were able to tie the score coming out of halftime, but Matt Brady's team hasn't played the kind of defense to keep the Johnnies close in the second half.

Speaking of defense, Marist just showed exactly what I've been saying, letting Anthony Mason, Jr. get all the way down the floor unguarded for an easy slam that got the minimal crowd on hand ooing and awing just a little.

St. John's Keeps Foot On The Pedal

NEW YORK -- With under 10 minutes left in our second game, it's St. John's leading Marist, 49-42, as every second becomes more and more precious for Matt Brady's Red Foxes.

As far as crowd turnout, it's been about the usual for the Garden these days, with the Isiah Thomas-Anucha Browne Sanders scandal hovering over a building that has created so many memories over the last 60 years.

One of those memories will certainly not be from tonight, as St. John's has increased its lead to eight with more than seven minutes to play.

Marist, meanwhile, is in search of a basket but doesn't have that go-to guy right now that it had in Jared Jordan last year.

Marist Staying With St. John's

NEW YORK -- While Hofstra didn't put up much of a fight against Virginia Tech in our first game of the night, Marist has decided to make things interesting in battle back and forth with St. John's.

The Johnnies are holding a 41-39 lead at the 12:30-mark, and Norm Roberts' team isn't exactly dominating a team that it should be.

After all, no Big East team should be struggling to get by a mighty (hyperbole?) MAAC foe like Marist. Yes, Jared Jordan put the Red Foxes on the map in 2006-07, but that was last year, and Matt Brady's team isn't even expected to win its conference with Siena as the favorite and Rider a potential contender.

Maybe it's the curse of James Dolan and the Knicks that is getting to St. John's. After all, the Johnnies do play nearly half of their Big East games in this building.

Johnnies Lead Marist, 31-24, At Halftime

NEW YORK -- St. John's hasn't exactly played flawless basketball in tonight's second semifinal matchup against Marist, but the Red Storm does hold a 31-24 halftime lead.

The Red Foxes didn't shoot the ball particularly well in the first half with a 36-percent clip from the field, including just one of eight makes from three-point range. But St. John's wasn't that much better, finishing the half at 41.7 percent from the floor and no attempts from downtown.

In the scoring column, Anthony Mason, Jr. leads all scorers with eight points, but Marist's Spongy Benjamin started to find his groove in the first half with seven.

Both teams were sloppy in the first 20 minutes of play. Marist committed 12 turnovers while St. John's had 11. The rebounding edge, meanwhile, was negligible with both teams posting 16 boards.

Other than that, not much else sticks out from eying the first-half statistics, so we'll get ready for the second half of action in a few more minutes.

Johnnies Holding Onto Lead

NEW YORK -- With about two minutes to go before halftime, St. John's is clinging to a five-point lead on in-state rival Marist.

Both teams are forcing each other to make some ill-advised passes, resulting in several turnovers for both the Red Storm and the Red Foxes. St. John's looks like it will be leading going to halftime in any case.

St. John Builds Double-Digit Lead

NEW YORK -- St. John's has jumped out to a 25-15 lead with a little more than five minutes left before halftime in our second game of the Holiday Festival semifinals.

The Johnnies are getting some more momentum behind them with the crowd getting involved, but it's still early, and if Marist can get a few field goals to go down, the Red Foxes will be right back in the game.

St. John's, Marist Tied Early

NEW YORK -- With less than 10 minutes remaining before halftime, St. John's and Marist area deadlocked at 15-15 in what's been somewhat of a sloppy game.

Anthony Mason, Jr. has been the main sparkplug for Norm Roberts and company, and we'll see if the Johnnies can please the hometown crowd with a tonight over the Red Foxes that would propel them into tomorrow night's championship game against ACC foe Virginia Tech.

And after the way the Hokies dominated Hofstra on the interior, the Johnnies will certainly need to get some production from its frontcourt if it hopes to head back to Queens tomorrow with a Holiday Festival title in its back pocket.

St. John's and Marist Square Off In Game 2

NEW YORK -- Due to some lengthy press conferences following Virginia Tech's win over Hofstra, we're a little late getting back to our seat for the second game of our doubleheader featuring Marist and St. John's.

Marist currently holds a 11-6 lead with less than 14 minutes remaining in the first half, and the Johnnies really need to win this game after returning from their trip to Honolulu last week for the Rainbow Classic. It was a bittersweet trip in the end for Norm Robert's team, which lost its first game to Ohio on a buzzer-beating layup before downing host Hawai'i and losing in the consolation bracket championship game. St. John's, however, is 3-1 all-time against Marist and has plans to avenge a 56-53 loss from Dec. 17, 2005.

The Red Foxes, meanwhile, are making their second appearance in the annual Holiday Festival, with the last time coming during the 1988-89 season. That year, Marist lost both of its games to St. John's and Memphis. The win over the Johnnies just over two years ago, though, marks the only victory that the Red Foxes have scored over a Big East team ever. And certainly Coach Matt Brady would like to come up with win #2 tonight.

December 22, 2007

No. 2 Memphis vs. No. 5 Georgetown Live Blog

December 20, 2007

No. 11 Pitt Stuns No. 6 Duke In OT, 65-64

NEW YORK -- In what was one of the best finishes we've seen this season, Brooklyn native Levance Fields topped off quite a homecoming by hitting a go-ahead three-pointer with five seconds remaining to lift No. 11 Pittsburgh to a 65-64 overtime over sixth-ranked Duke in the Aeropostale Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Jon Scheyer's heave on the ensuing play with two seconds left clanked off the back iron and the Panthers escaped Madison Square Garden with a victory that no one could have predicted after the sluggish start that Pitt displayed in the first half, one that saw the Panthers shoot just 36 percent from the floor and commit 11 turnovers.

On the stat sheet, Fields finished as the game's high scorer with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, including 3-of-7 from three-point land, to go along with four assists and two steals, but the inside play for Pitt was just as big. In particular, the Panthers got a big boost from junior Sam Young, who finished 17 points and seven rebounds, but freshman DeJuan Blair proved to be just as crucial, tallying 15 points (despite shooting just 7-for-15 from the free throw line) and grabbing a game-high 20 rebounds.

For Duke, Gerald Henderson and freshman Kyle Singler, who looked rather bruised and battered after banging down low with Blair for much of the game, both finished with 17 points, while DeMarcus Nelson added 14 points in addition to six assists and five rebounds. But what really did the Blue Devils in was their struggles on the glass, getting pushed around by a bigger and more muscular Pitt team before losing the rebounding battle by a 53-39 margin. Couple that with some poor perimeter shooting, including a 1-for-9 mark from three after halftime, and it's not a surprise, at least to this reporter, that Coach K and his kids are headed back to Durham with its first loss of the season.

In any case, I will have much more on this game in the next couple of hours in Hang Time, so tune in there to hear remarks from both coaches on tonight's game.

Blair Fouls Out, Nelson Puts Duke Back In Front

NEW YORK -- It's back and forth here in overtime at Madison Square Garden with No. 6 Duke back in front by one, 63-62, on a three-point play by DeMarcus Nelson.

No. 11 Pittsburgh has now lost DeJuan Blair with the freshman forward-center committing his fifth foul on Nelson, and the Panthers are going to need someone to step in the final minute if they hope to leave the Big Apple with a huge victory over the Blue Devils.

Free Basketball At MSG

NEW YORK -- After Gerald Henderson failed to convert on his drive to the basket with five seconds left in regulation, we're headed to overtime for another five minutes of basketball between No. 6 Duke and No. 11 Pittsburgh.

And in the first 30 seconds, things are still as physical as ever with senior Mike Cook going down right in front of us on a drive to the basket.

From the way he's cringing in pain, it looks like the guard-forward from Philadelphia won't be coming back to the game after what looked like a knee tweak (or maybe, even worse, a tear). As the trainers carried him off, you couldn't help but feel for Cook and hope that his recovery, however long it might be, is speedy and successful.

He'll be happy to know, however, that his team currently leads by three.

Duke and Pitt Deadlocked Late

NEW YORK -- With 16.6 seconds left, we're all tied at 58-58 after Sam Young's baseline jumper with 1:10 left was answered by Gerald Henderson at the other end 10 seconds later.

Duke has ball on what could be the final possession, and we'll see if this one is headed to overtime.

Pitt Charging Back

NEW YORK -- We got quite a game going here with No. 11 Pittsburgh cutting No. 6 Duke's lead to just three at the 8:26-mark in the second half. The Blue Devils have led by double digits for much of the game, but Jamie Dixon's kids continue to fight and it's paying off now.

That's largely because Duke has not been able to hit its perimeter shots much like it had in the first half, and without a consistent and reliable big man, Mike Krzyzewski is going to have to find other ways to get easy looks for his team if they hope to continue with its undefeated season here tonight.

Pitt Making A Run At Duke

NEW YORK -- The Panthers have finally started to make a run at No. 6 Duke with less than 12 minutes left in this one, and the Pitt faithful is starting to get behind it's team with it down by just seven after a free throw from DeJuan Blair.

The Blue Devils haven't found that hot hand yet in the second half and after a floater in the lane from Keith Benjamin at the other end of the floor, Jamie Dixon's team now trails by just five at 43-38.

Blair, however, just picked up a flagrant foul, his second personal, on Kyle Singler, and the Blue Devils are back up by eight with less than 10 minutes to go.

Duke Still Up By Double Digits

NEW YORK -- We're underway in the second half of the Aeropostale Classic at Madison Square Garden, and it's No. 6 Duke who is still holding onto a double-digit lead over No. 11 Pittsburgh at the 16-minute mark.

The Blue Devils, however, are already in the one-and-one with seven team fouls, and it will be free throws the rest of the way for the Pitt.

Meanwhile, the sloppiness continues for both teams after Taylor King just threw the ball away on a trip down the floor. And with the turnovers piling up, It should be interesting to hear what both coaches have to say about their teams' carelessness tonight, though it might have just as much to do with the defenses that both the Blue Dievls and Panthers have employed so far.

Duke Holds 34-22 Lead At Halftime

NEW YORK -- We're at halftime here at Madison Square Garden, and it's No. 6 Duke who is out to a considerable 34-22 lead on No. 11 Pittsburgh in the Aeropostale Classic.

The Blue Devils have got it done from the perimeter so far, knocking down 46.4 percent of their shots against the No. 11-ranked Panthers, who couldn't seem to find any of their own offensive rhythm in the first 20 minutes of play with a 36.0-percent shooting clip from the floor. Junior point guard Levance Fields and freshman big man DeJuan Blair have been the two Pitt players who have been able to penetrate a tenacious Duke defense and get their shots off. Fields is currently leading all scorers with nine points on 4-fo-5 shooting from the field to go along with two assists and two rebounds. Blair, meanwhile, has tallied five points but has been a monster on the glass, grabbing a game-high nine rebounds.

For No. 6 Duke, Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson have both recorded eight points, and senior guard DeMarcus Nelson has dropped in seven points to go along with an impressive six assists in 17 minutes of action. On the defensive end, Jon Scheyer is leading the Blue Devils with four rebounds, something that Mike Krzyzewski couldn't probably have pictured after the solid game that sophomore center Brian Zoubek had on Monday against Albany. But Zoubek hasn't seen much action so far, registering only four minutes in the first half, and we'll see if he'll get more a chance to contribute when we pick things up after halftime.

Speaking of that, we're about ready to start the second half, so let's get back to the action.

Duke Pushes Lead Out To Nine On Pitt

NEW YORK -- No. 6 Duke has started to pull away in the final 10 minutes of the first half here at Madison Square Garden as the Blue Devils lead 22-13 with less than eight minutes remaining before halftime.

Greg Paulus hit a three from the top of the key and Pittsburgh has continued to turn the ball over before a shot even gets thrown at the basket.

If you're Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, you have to be concerned with the way your offense is struggling right now, but credit Duke's defense, which has made it hard for the Panthers to get any good looks at the basket in the first 15 minutes of play.

With less than four minutes left before halftime now, it's Duke 31 and Pittsburgh 15 after Taylor King just stroke another three from the right corner.

Duke Leads Pitt Early

NEW YORK -- With 11:35 remaining in the first half, it's sixth-ranked Duke up by three with the scoreboard reading 14-11. Both teams are really getting after it, and DeMarcus Nelson's three from the right wing is the difference in the ballgame right now.

Pittsburgh has switched between Levance Fields and Ronald Ramon as its points guard, and Sam Young and Gilbert Brown are showing some energy in the frontcourt for Jamie Dixon's team. Speaking of Dixon, I'm down here along the baseline next to the Pitt bench, getting to watch the former Ben Howland assistant work. While this game has had a couple of nice moments so far, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has surprisingly remained rather quiet at the other end of the court, standing up only a few times to bark orders at his team. Dixon, on the other hand, has been off his seat nearly the entire first 10 minutes, and from the way he's talking to his players, you can see just how badly he'd like to win this game over a Top 10, under the bright New York City lights and with conference play getting underway in less than two weeks. That should certainly prove to be some good preparation for the Panthers' conference opener Jan. 6 at Villanova.

Duke and Pitt Start With Defense

NEW YORK -- Both defenses have held their own in the early going of tonight's Aeropostale Classic at Madison Square Garden, and it's No. 6 Duke who holds a slight 7-5 lead over No. 11 Pittsburgh in the first five minutes of play.

The Panthers have missed out on a couple easy opportunities with DeJaun Blair missing two wide-open dunks, and the latter attempt was particularly embarrassing with the ball flying off the back of the rim and into the stands.

Kyle Singler has provided a spark early for the Blue Devils with a couple buckets down low, but it's been turnovers and offensive fouls that have plagued both teams in the early going of this one.

No. 6 Duke Meets No. 11 Pitt For Aeropostale Classic

NEW YORK -- Greetings from The World's Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, where tonight we have the pleasure of watching two undefeated teams go to-toe-toe in the Aeropostale All-America Classic.

No. 6 Duke has started the year at 10-0 for the third time in the last four seasons after claiming its third straight Maui Invitational championship last month and scoring wins over Davidson, Michigan and Albany in the month of December. Senior guard DeMarcus Nelson was the high scorer in Monday night's win over Albany, posting a season-high 23 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, including 4-of-5 from three-point range, to go along with with six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. Junior point man Greg Paulus also had a solid effort against the Great Danes, knocking down three trifectas to finish with 11 points. And with sophomore Jon Scheyer and freshman Taylor King knocking down six of their 12 attempts from long range, we could be seeing a lot of shots being put up from downtown tonight. That depends largely on how well Brian Zoubek can play for Mike Krzyzewski and company, and the sophomore center showed in his first start earlier this week that he can get it done down low with 13 points and seven rebounds. But that was against Albany, a team that doesn't exhibit anywhere near the kind of athleticism and talent that a No. 7-ranked Pitt team has.

Speaking of Pittsburgh, the Panthers are out to quite a start themselves, as Jamie Dixon's team comes into tonight's contest with an identical 10-0 record after a nailbiter in Seattle over Pac-10 foe Washington on Dec. 8 and a convincing 85-68 victory over Oklahoma State last Saturday. But starting strong is nothing new to Pitt. The Panthers have enjoyed outstanding starts that include a 18-0 record in 2003-04, a 15-0 record in 2005-06 and a 10-0 record in both 2004-05 and 2006-07. The Panthers have managed to outscore its opponents by a plus-23.5 margin and outrebound them by a plus-10.8 margin while averaging 82.1 points per game. Much of that production has to do with freshman forward-center combo DeJuan Blair, who registered his fourth double-double of the season last weekend against the Cowboys with 20 points and 10 rebounds in addition to five blocks.

But anyway, the layup lines are in motion and the tip is just a couple minutes away, so let's get ready for a great game.

December 16, 2007

No. 1 UNC Heads Home With Seventh Straight Road Win

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Roy Williams wasn't interested in staying long after to speak with the media about tonight's convincing 93-71 victory over an overmatched Rutgers team with a sold-out crowd of 8,312 at the RAC, but the North Carolina coach is happy to be headed back home with a 9-0 record and seven straight road victories.

"We feel very fortunate," he said to the handful of reporters that stuck around after Rutgers coach Fred Hill's press conference. "We got them to turn the ball over, and [we] turned it into points at the other end that got us such a working margin that made it hard for them to come back from."

But Williams was also quick to credit a Rutgers team that held the Tar Heels to 42.5 percent from the field for the game.

"I loved Fred's kids," he continued. "They never stopped trying to play, and they competed the whole time."

Sophomore Ty Lawson certainly competed during the 30 minutes of floor time that he saw tonight, dropping in a game-high 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting (2-of-5 from three-point range) in addition to six rebounds, five assists and four steals.

"In the first half, he was aggressive and did a great job defensively," Williams said of his standout point guard. "He's having a heck of a year for us. When he attacks the basket, he helps us get some easy baskets, and he also has the ability defensively to really bother the other teams' [point] guard and stop dribble penetration, so he's really having a good year for us."

Preseason Player of the Year favorite Tyler Hansborough came in behind Lawson on the scoring sheet with 20 points and 11 rebounds (and yes, I did predict that he would finish with that mark in my halftime post) but left the game with five minutes left after suffering a mild concussion when he fell to the floor and hit his head on a photographer's knee underneath Rutgers' basket.

"It's the first time in college basketball that a guy has got a concussion with no foul called, " Williams said with a few chuckles from his audience, "and that better be all I say."

The junior forward, however, looked to be relatively fine as he packed up his belongings in the North Carolina locker room and shared his thoughts on the Tar Heels' long stretch away from home.

"It just shows some toughness on our part," Hansbrough said about the seven straight road games. "This is a tough atmosphere, and Coach really pushed us to play hard. I think we worked off of that."

Going up against the 6-foot-9 UNC big man was Hamady Ndiaye, who finished with a game-high four blocks, which ups his season total to 91, to go along with seven rebounds and three points.

In the backcourt, freshman Corey Chandler was the biggest bright spot for Rutgers, finishing with a team-high 23 points and eight rebounds despite committing six turnovers.

"Corey is an extremely talented, athletic and quick kid," Rutgers coach Fred Hill offered about his 6-foot-2 point guard. "He's a scorer and has a scorer's mentality. Certainly you can see he has great ability and great talent. When he figures everything out he's going to be an outstanding player and scorer for us."

Anthony Farmer was Rutgers' other double-digit scorer with 17 points, but between the Tar Heels' defensive physicality and offensive efficiency, the Scarlet Knights never had much of a chance to test UNC's poise in a hostile and rowdy environment.

"There is a reason why they are ranked No. 1 in the country," Hill said of the Tar Heels. "That's an extremely talented ball club. They have great players at every position and great depth. They're a really hard team to slow down. The game plan was to control tempo, but that's a very difficult thing to do. We did it to the best of our ability, but that's a very deep and talented team."

No. 1 UNC Leaves Rutgers In The Dust

PISCATAWAY, N.C. -- Rutgers is trying to make this one a ball game with less than three minutes to play and the Scarlet Knights still trailing by double digits at 84-69. The Tar Heels, after all, will up its record to 9-0 when the final buzzer sounds in two minutes, and Roy Williams and company will be able to leave central New Jersey feeling pretty good about its upcoming home games against Nicholls State, UC Santa Barbara, Nevada, Valparaiso and Kent State.

Rutgers, in the meantime, will look to rebound with a couple of home games next week against Rider and Manhattan before the Scarlet Knights beginning Big East play at USF on Jan. 2. And from the way Fred Hill's team played tonight, there's plenty of work to be done. But that's just my own take on the way things unfolded.

The final horn just sounded, and No. 1 North Carolina has captured a 93-71 victory. I'll be back with some post-game thoughts, notes and quotes after we hear both coaches and players talk.

Rutgers Showing Little Life

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- North Carolina fans who are in attendance here at the RAC are starting to make their voices heard with the Tar Heels holding a dominating 73-47 lead with under eight minutes remaining in the contest.

As I was mentioning earlier, the RAC has started to clear out with the Scarlet Knights not putting up much of a fight against the No. 1 team in the country, and it's something that I certainly expected in making the drive down from the Big Apple.

Out of a timeout, Rutgers managed to turn the ball over again, something they did on 10 occassions in the first half, and Wayne Ellington finished at the other end to push the Tar Heels' lead up to 75-47.

Green Heating Up For No. 1 UNC

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Danny Green was pretty quiet in the first half after playing only seven minutes, but the junior guard-forward combo has just hit back-to-back threes on consecutive possessions down the floor, and the Tar Heels are cruising here at a very quiet and slowly emptying RAC.

JR Inman has managed to pick it up for Rutgers, getting a layup underneath and then draining a three from beyond the arc to up his point total to seven for the game, but the junior forward is going to do a lot more of that the rest of the way for Rutgers to even slice a 25-point lead in half.

With the way the Scarlet Knights keep missing layups in transition, though, that's even unlikely to happen. With 11 minutes remaining, UNC is way up, 69-42.

No. 1 UNC Stretches Its Lead After Halftime

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- At the 16:19 mark after halftime, No. 1 North Carolina has come out with the same firepower in the second half as it did in the first half, and the Tar Heels have upped their lead to 55-30.

Fred Hill's team knew how much a challenge it was going to be to stay with Roy Williams' club for all 40 minutes, but the Scarlet Knights didn't even make it 10 minutes before UNC had a double-digit lead on them. Maybe that's asking too much from a team that doesn't start a senior, but JR Inman has seemed to be non-existent so far for Fred Hill, registering just two points (1-of-4 from the field), two assists, one block and no rebounds in the first half.

No. 1 UNC Leads Rutgers, 47-26, At Halftime

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- We're at halftime here at the RAC, and it right now it's No. 1 North Carolina with a commanding 47-26 lead over Rutgers before the second half starts in 15 minutes or so.

The Tar Heels ended the first half on a strong note, stringing baskets together on consecutive possessions to push its lead past 20, while the Scarlet Knights struggled to gain confidence in its offensive sets, often settling for tough shots from the perimeter.

And Fred Hill's team has caught a few bad breaks here and there, too, after a basket after the buzzer was called off by the officials.

I finally got my hands on a stat sheet from Rutgers media relations, and it's North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson leading all players with a dazzling 19 points. The sophomore Clinton, Md., native has also collected five rebounds and dished out two dimes. Wayne Ellington is the other Tar Heel to hit double-digit points in the first half, as the 6-foot-4 sophomore has 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field. Tyler Hansbrough surprisingly only has eight points, but don't be surprised when the junior power forward collects his regular 20 and 10 by the end of the night. Half of those eight points came at the free throw line for Hansbrough, who also grabbed five rebounds in his first 18 minutes of action.

For Rutgers, freshman guard Corey Chandler is pacing the Scarlet Knights with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting in addition to five rebounds, and Anthony Farmer has tallied six points in his 17 minutes on the floor.

With both teams back in their layup lines, we get ready for the second half.

Tar Heels Starting To Dominate

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- With just over three minutes to go before halftime, No. 1 North Carolina leads Big East foe Rutgers, 34-23, at the RAC, and it's been some gritty play by the Tar Heels that has got it done in the first 17 minutes of action here.

Rutgers, however, is shooting itself in the foot with a handful of missed free throws, and between that and its struggles matching up with UNC's frontcourt on the glass, it could be a rather long second half for the Scarlet Knights.

Ty Lawson has just made his third steal at midcourt and laid up an easy two in addition to a foul. The sophomore point knocked down the free throw, and it's 39-23 with 2:24 remaining before recess.

Thompson D's Up For No. 1 UNC

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Since I was telling you about my earlier encounters back in Southern California with North Carolina forward Deon Thompson, the 6-foot-8 sophomore has since blocked back-to-back shots for the Tar Heels and is showing his physicality and strength against a smaller Rutgers team.

Jaron Griffin, however, got the ball back on the left wing and was able to can a three to cut North Carolina's lead to 10. Seconds later, it's Ty Lawson again with a steal in the backcourt and an easy layup.

With 5:16 remaining, it's No. 1 North Carolina leading, 32-20.

Carolina Controls The Glass

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers is really try to hang with No. 1 North Carolina in the early going of this nonconference matchup at the ever-vocal RAC in central New Jersey.

Ty Lawson now has the Tar Heels holding onto a double-digit lead after stealing the ball at midcourt and laying up an easy one. Deon Thompson, the Torrance, Calif., native who I actually got to cover during his high school days in Southern California, tipped back a shot on the previous possession, and it's been UNC who has controlled the glass early. Rebounding is something that Rutgers coach Fred Hill will want to discuss with his team at halftime, but when you're going up against the strong and powerful bodies of Hansbrough and Thompson, it's never an easy night on the glass.

With about eight minutes remaining, it's North Carolina 25-16.

No. 1 UNC Leads Rutgers Early

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Both teams started slow in its first few possessions down the floor but are starting to find a little more rhythm from the perimeter.

Sophomore point Ty Lawson just stroked a three from the right wing to give North Carolina a 5-2 lead, and Marcus Ginyard has added a pair of free throws to have the Tar Heels out in front by five with 16:21 left.

December 15, 2007

Purdue-Louisville Post-Game Notes

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Rick Pitino was in relatively good spirits despite today's loss. He admitted his team is struggling to keep things going for 40 minutes because they have such a short bench. Essentially, he said, they are playing four guards almost all the time, and that's been an adjustment, especially on offense.

Purdue totally took what was left of Louisville's inside game, Earl Clark, away from them. He only scored two points, both from the line and shot 0-for-7 from the floor. That left the Cards to settle for a lot of threes, but their legs gave out at the end of the game and the shots just wouldn't fall.

Louisville ended up shooting 19-for-59 for 32 percent from the floor and only 7-for-30 (23 percent) from three-point range. Terrence Williams had a good game, though, with 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting before fouling out.

Purdue was led by Robbie Hummel's 15, but Chris Kramer added 14, Keaton Grant scored 12 and Scott Martin added 11.

After the game, Hummel talked about learning from the Missouri experience last week, when Purdue blew a late lead and lost. He said the coaches told him that losses hurt, "but if we don't learn from a loss, it's a waste."

Purdue coach Matt Painter was pleased with his guys' response to last week's loss. He talked about how he doesn't believe in just putting a loss behind you and moving on.

"I think you need to sit in it a bit and think through what went wrong," he said.

His guys did that this week, working pretty much exclusively on attacking the press and attacking the zone, something Purdue did poorly at the end of the Missouri game.

I though it was curious that Painter had E'Twaun Moore in the game at crunch time instead of Tarrance Crump, who had played well, especially when it came to breaking the press. Moore really seemed to struggle with that aspect of the game and didn't play all that much because of it.

I asked Painter about the decision to play Moore, and he gave kind of a long winded explanation that ended up with, "Sometimes you just have to let guys play through stuff and learn. It was one of those things, where sometimes I just have to guess what's going to work, you know?"

Painter then says to me, kind of surprisingly, "You watched the game! Sweet!"

I think he meant that as a compliment, although what was I supposed to be doing?

Big Win For Purdue

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- It wasn't an elegant finish to the game, but Purdue's young guns finally finished a tough one and beat Louisville, 67-59. The Cards missed their last seven three-point attempts down the stretch, which allowed Purdue to get away with some spotty free throw shooting. The Boilers only hit 9-of-14 freebies in the last few minutes, but it was good enough.

I'll have more stats, notes and quotes in a bit. Also, the Butler-Florida State game comes up in about half an hour.

Can Purdue Finish The Job?

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Against Clemson and Missouri on the road, Purdue was in the same spot: a small lead at the last timeout. In those games, they didn't finish. The crowd isn't as hostile here (although Louisville has more fans), but Purdue's inexperience will be tested again. On the floor for Purdue is three freshmen and two sophomores.

Purdue's lead is 57-53 with 3:56 to go and freshman Scott Martin is going to the line for a one-and-one. Martin is only 2-for-4 from the line today, and in both his previous trips, he missed the first of two tries and hit the second.

Rough Game

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Keaton Grant, who hurt his shoulder a few minutes ago, has now left the game because he's cramping up.

Meanwhile, Robbie Hummel, who cramped up earlier is back in.

Purdue has a couple of fast break scores and the lead is back to eight with six minutes left.

Action Getting Hot

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- This one is going to the wire. Purdue leads by four with 7:32 left after the teams traded fast-break dunks. Louisville's Jerry Smith, who has really been a spark for the Cardinals off the bench, beat the Boilermakers down the floor for the first dunk. Smith now has nine points for the Cards.

Then, Chris Kramer returned the favor for Purdue. Kramer is 6-foot-3 and can dunk but can't shoot threes.

Kramer also has the hustle play of the game so far with a steal on a Louisville fast break, and then a pass to Terrence Crump at half court as he's falling out of bounds with the ball. That turned into a layup.

Louisville Coming Back

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Just when it looked like Louisville was going away quietly, the Cardinals went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 44-38. Preston Knowles hit a three from the corner and Sosa got a layup on a breakaway after a Purdue turnover.

The Cardinal fans are back in the game and Louisville's defense is feeding off of it.

As I write this, another Cardinal fast break has cut the lead to four at the second TV timeout (only! this has been a slow half).

Cardinals In Trouble

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- With 14:24 left, things are starting to come apart a little for Louisville. Purdue just had a three-shot possession that ended with a little hook in the lane by Marcus Green to put the Boilers up 13. That came after Will Scott, the Cardinals best offensive player today, picked up his fourth foul. Terrence Williams also has three fouls, and he's been the only other real threat for Louisville offensively.

On Purdue's side, Hummel came back in, but after one possession, limped off again with the cramps.

Now, a referee is limping on the baseline. Rough game.

Three-Point Sandwich

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Purdue came back with a pair of three-pointers sandwiched around an Edgar Sosa free throw to extend the lead back to 11 at 42-31 at the first TV timeout.

Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer did the damage for the Boilermakers. The three by Kramer was only his third of the year and 16th of his career. For a little guy (Kramer's only 6-foot-3), he doesn't shoot a lot of outside shots. Grant on the other hand has four three-pointers in this game.

Sosa is trying to take over for Louisville, but he's trying too hard. He's doing way too much dribbling and not enough passing. Louisville gets better looks when they move it by passing than by dribbling around the perimeter.

Cardinals Catching On

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- After missing their first three shots of the half, Louisville has scored five straight on a three-pointer and a long two by Will Scott. The three-pointer came after Edgar Sosa got all the way to the hole on a drive but passed up the layup to send it out to Scott. That looked like a dumb move before Scott's shot fell.

Purdue has helped Louisville's cause by forcing some tough shots that weren't really necessary.

Robbie Hummel is out of the lineup for Purdue at the moment because of cramps.

Purdue is up, 36-30, with just over 17 minutes left.

Purdue With The Momentum At The Half

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Keaton Grant buried a three-pointer with two seconds left to put the Boilermakers up nine at the half against Louisville. The Cardinals made a bit of a run in the last couple minutes of the half when Terrence Williams hit a three and a pair of free throws, but the Boilers came back on a layup by Hummer after Purdue broke the Cardinal press and then Grant's three.

Louisville is shooting a miserable 27 percent from the floor, while the Boilers are hitting at a 50-percent clip. That's really the whole story of the half. The Cards are settling for shots that aren't as good as the ones Purdue is getting and aren't turning the Boilers over enough to get easy shots. Purdue has nine turnovers, which is a lot for a half, but the Cardinals have seven of their own.

The Louisville dance team is now on the floor, and they're huge. Not the individual girls, but the group. There must be 30 of them.

Kramer and Crump Key Purdue Run

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Chris Kramer (he's fine, by the way) and Terrance Crump have stoked Purdue on a 9-3 run to put the Boilermakers up seven with 2:43 left in the half. Crump's penetration led to a three-pointer by Robbie Hummel and a jumper of his own, while Kramer had a steal that led to two free throws and a penetration layup of his own.

Louisville's cold shooting continues, and it was best exemplified when Keaton Grant fell down, allowing a Cardinal player (I think Sosa, but the numbers are hard to read), miss a layup and Louisville also missed the put back. A Will Scott three is about all Louisville has managed offensively in about six minutes.

Martin Getting Loose

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Purdue's Scott Martin has gotten loose inside the Louisville defense the last few times down the floor and has turned that into three points to help the Boilermakers to a 17-16 lead at the eight-minute timeout.

The Boilers have adjusted their defense to do more switching on the perimeter to try to counteract Louisville's weave. That's helping some, but the Cards are still getting inside and either kicking it out for jump shots or getting fouled inside. Louisville is still shooting poorly though and Purdue isn't giving them too many second chances.

Purdue On A Run

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Louisville called a timeout after Purdue went on a 7-0 run fueled by some cold Cardinal shooting. Purdue has turned some rebounds into quick strike opportunities at the other end.

The Boilermakers lead, 12-9, with just over 12 minutes left in the half, but Chris Kramer, Purdue's tough guy, just limped off the floor.

Purdue fans are getting a little frustrated with the officiating because they have called four hand-checks way away from the basket on the Boilers so far. Purdue is going to have to adjust to those calls because the refs have been consistent.

Louisville Press Giving Purdue Trouble

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Louisville's full-court, zone press is giving Purdue problems bringing the ball up. The Boilermakers have been a little sloppy with the ball with three turnovers already. The Cards lead, 9-5, at the first break.

Louisville's offense is basically a weave around the perimeter until someone finally gets bored and drives to the hole. That has worked reasonably well. The Cards have already drawn three fouls on the Boilers.

Purdue has already played eight different guys and is currently going with a smaller lineup where all five guys are decent ball handlers.

* Before the game, when the starting lineups were introduced, Louisville's players did not come out of their huddle and onto the court. Last week at Missouri, Purdue was apparently not introduced at all.

Pregame Notes

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A few more thoughts right before we tip.

* Looks like it'll be a late arriving crowd here at Indianapolis. That's no surprise given the weather outside. If and when this place fills up, it looks like Louisville may end up having the most fans here, although Purdue fans are here in pretty big numbers too. The red that the Cards fans are wearing stands out more than the black that Purdue fans tend to wear, especially since black is also one of Louisville's colors.

* We just had the national anthem. The singer was an older guy named Everette Greene. I've never heard of him, but he did it beautifully, especially if you like low voices. This guy's voice made James Earl Jones sound like Pee Wee Herman.

* Even though Rick Pitino is going for win No. 500, there isn't unanimous love for the coach. One Cardinal fan I saw had a sign that said "Bring Back Denny Crum."

* Usually, the school pep bands get seats behind a basket, but both Purdue and Louisville's pep bands are up in the corners across from where I'm sitting.

* Beer at the Conseco Fieldhouse costs $6.50 a glass. I don't think I paid that much at Wrigley Field this summer.

* I saw some employee walking around with a shirt that labeled her as the "Alcohol Consumption Supervisor." I'm not really sure what that job entails. It could be watching for drunks, making sure people get carded, or maybe she just offers advice on drinking techniques. She was busy, so I couldn't ask her.

* You can get souvenirs for just about anything, but nobody is selling snow shovels yet.

* An author was signing books in the concourse. The book was about Indiana HS basketball legends. Only here does that kind of thing happen.

* When the teams were warming up before the game, Pitino was standing at center court watching his team warm up. Usually, for the early warmups, the head coaches aren't around. Pitino also stole a couple of glances at Purdue warming up behind him.

* Press row security is non-existent here. I hope some drunk walking behind me doesn't spill his beer on my computer. That would ruin my day.

* There is someone sitting in press row with a seeing-eye dog. Not sure who the dog is rooting for.

Purdue-Louisville Preview

INDIANAPOLIS -- I'm writing today from the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where the Wooden Tradition will take place starting in about an hour.

The first game features Purdue, the de facto host of this event, taking on Louisville. John Wooden was a three-time All-American at Purdue from 1930-32. Purdue ended the 1932 season ranked No. 1, which was before the days of post-season tournaments. This is the eighth edition of the Wooden Tradition and the Boilers have appeared in all but one of them.

Matt Painter's squad boasts one of the top freshman classes in the country, and those guys play a lot. Guard E'Twaun Moore and forwards Robbie Hummel, Scott Martin and JaJuan Johnson are all expected to start today, along with sophomore Keaton Grant. Another sophomore, Chris Kramer is arguably Purdue's best player, but he hasn't started since taking a header off the standard at Clemson two and a half weeks ago and suffering a concussion. Purdue is deep, with nine guys averaging at least 14.6 minutes per game.

The Boilers are off to a 5-2 start, with both losses coming on the road. Purdue's youth really showed up In the games at Clemson and Missouri, where it led late but couldn't finish. Louisville will be the first ranked team the Boilers have played this season.

Louisville is also 5-2, but in the Cardinals' case, that's a disappointing start. The Cards were ranked in the Top 10 in the preseason polls but have fallen to 22nd in the AP poll and 20th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.

There has been a lot of attrition on the Louisville front line. The latest forward to hit the bench is freshman Derrick Caracter, who is out for not living up to his name. He was suspended indefinitely by the team last week. Caracter joins center David Padgett and forward Juan Palacios, both of whom have knee injures and center Clarence Holloway, who is recovering from open heart surgery performed in September.

This leaves the Cards with only seven scholarship players. This week, Josh Chichester, a 6-foot-8 wide receiver on the football team, joined the basketball squad.

Fortunately for Louisville, Terrance Williams and Earl Clark are still on the team. Williams, a preseason All-American candidate, is averaging 11.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and posted a triple-double against Hartford. Clark is averaging a double-double with 14.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per contest.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino will make his second attempt to win his 500th collegiate game. Pitino's record currently stands at 499-184 in 22 seasons at Boston University, Providence, Kentucky and Louisville. Louisville lost to Dayton at home in his first try at No. 500.

* It's snowing here in Indianapolis. A lot. Current forecasts call for 4-6 inches of snow this afternoon, followed by a period of freezing rain (half an inch or so of that), and then beginning around midnight, another 4-6 inches of snow. There's already an inch or two on the ground. The bad weather might keep the crowds down a bit, although a lot of Purdue and Butler people will be locals. Any Florida State fans making the trip are probably already here, so maybe Louisville fans would be most affected. Louisville is about 120 miles south of here and they are expecting bad weather there as well.

* I stepped out into the arena to find my seat (halfway up in a corner) and watch Purdue shoot around a little bit. The seven or eight guys out there were wearing their uniforms, with a warm-up shirt over the top, but E'Twaun Moore was fully accessorized. He was wearing one of those portable music players on a lanyard around his neck and had earphones on. Isn't technology great? In my day, you'd have had to strap a boom box around your waist and wear big, tin-can headphones to do something like that. That would have made it hard to practice your shot.

I wonder what Moore was listening to. Perhaps some nice Christmas music or the latest from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Maybe he has some Matt Painter motivational speeches on there. "Get back on D!" "Pass the bad word ball!"

Nah, it's probably stuff by that rapper, Half Dollar.

December 04, 2007

Haradooty, er, Hogabooty, er, um...

NEW YORK -- Now that the Notre Dame game is over, Josh and I leave the blogging in the capable hands of Professor Scott. It's safe to do that because he can spell and pronounce "Mayo." He has a little more trouble with Harangody.

Brey Pleased With Notre Dame's Win Over K-State

NEW YORK -- As we watch No. 3 Memphis take on USC in the second game of our double-header here at a more crowded, yet still rather empty Madison Square Garden, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey seemed to be pleased with his team's effort after securing a 68-59 win over Kansas State.

"It's certainly a game for us to build on," he remarked during his post-game press conference. "We had to fight off a very good basketball team and make some game-winning plays.

"Just winning a game against a good team on this stage when the lights are very bright and there's game pressure, that's more important than all the math and bracketology that we start talking about early. Sometimes you forget about the process with the team, so I think it's a big step forward for our team."

Several of those plays came from Staten Island native Kyle McAlarney, who hit a big three with less than three minutes left to put Notre Dame up by five and then knocked down by a pair of free throws a couple minutes later that sealed the victory for the Fighting Irish.

"It's a great feeling," the junior guard said about his strong homecoming performance that included 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. "I heard a lot of people in the stands cheering my name. It's just good to see so many familiar faces in the crowd. At the end of the game, I just wanted the ball in my hands to just knock down those free throws."

While McAlarney made the big plays down the stretch for Brey's team, it's hard to forget about sophomore forward Luke Harangody, who battled down low with Kansas State's Michael Beasley and matched the freshman phenom with a team-high 19 points and 14 rebounds. Beasley finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds in 31 minutes.

"He's definitely going to be a major factor in years to come," Harangody said of Beasley. "In the first half I don't think we bodied up on him well enough and then in the second half we started getting out on him a little more and getting physical with him."

And while Beasley didn't have his typical 30-point performance under the Big Apple's bright lights, Bill Walker came on strong in the second half after tallying just two points at halftime and actually gave the Wildcats the lead at one point in the second half.

"In the first half we settled for a lot of jumpers," the 6-foot-6 freshman said after finishing with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting and six rebounds. "We just tried to focus [after halftime] on pounding the ball inside, and I think that jumpstarted us."

But Kansas State couldn't make enough plays late in the game when it needed to and struggled to rebound the ball against a broad-shouldered Big East team that's known for its physical style of play down low.

"It's frustrating," Kansas State coach Frank Martin, who saw his team suffer a tough loss to Oregon in overtime last week and battle against the Irish before falling late. "It's just a matter of us continuing to work. There's a reason we have to play these kind of games."

But was even more disappointing -- for this reporter at least -- was the fact that Beasley couldn't even offer a few words on his performance or the game in general. According to a policy set out by the school's media relations department, all Kansas State freshmen are not allowed to conduct interviews with the media until they've completed their first academic semester. So for Beasley, that means he won't be talking to anyone until Dec. 16, a day before the Wildcats face Florida A&M in the K-State Holiday Classic at the brand new Sprint Center.

And while its understandable that the school has every intention of protecting its players and giving them a shot at playing basketball rather than just talking about it, why bring your team to New York City with all the national media in attendance and not let him say a single word?

Because the fact is, it's what every reader wants, and if the Wildcats knew what was good for them, they would let Beasley say a few words every now and then -- especially when you lead not just your team in scoring and rebounding but an entire nation.

ND, KSU Going Down To The Wire

NEW YORK -- Despite trailing by nine points with about five minutes left in the second half, Kansas State has fought its way back and got within two points of Notre Dame as the Wildcats continue to work the ball through Michael Beasley.

Kyle McAlarney just hit what could be the biggest shot of the game, as the junior guard drained a three from the top of the key to put the Fighting Irish up by five at 64-59.

And with a minute to go, Kansas State might have to resort to fouling to have any shot of winning this one.

Charge Under The Basket

NEW YORK -- One of my pet peeves is when the ref calls a charge when the defender is under the basket. I was always taught (when I was a ref in my feckless youth, or roughly ten years older than Josh) to make the defender step out and get a defensive position where the defense still matters. The refs just called a charge on McAlarney where the defender was on the other side of the basket, basically catching him as he landed after he already scored. That was a bad word call, although the ref at least counted the basket.

James Dolan Is No Friend of Mine

NEW YORK -- Not only is it dark and desolated up here in the eaves of the Garden, I'm working on a potential lawsuit (something Dolan and the Garden are quite familiar with) because of the heavily damaged electrical socket that I foolishly tried to plug the laptop into. Note to Mr. Dolan: Socket JK 39 is a fire hazard, a safety hazard and quite possibly could poke an eye out.

. . . Isn't having a McAlarney on Notre Dame rather redundant? It's like Yeshiva having a Goldstein. (Happy Hannukah, by the way. I lit my menorah last night to make up for the night I knew I would miss tonight and I gave Percy the Wonder Dog a butcher's bone before I left this morning. Thanks for asking.)

Continue reading "James Dolan Is No Friend of Mine" »

Harangody Has Notre Dame In Charge

NEW YORK -- With 6:20 left in this one, Notre Dame has built an eight-point lead with the scoreboard reading 59-51.

After a stellar first half that saw Luke Harangody put a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, the Fighting irish are making sure to run their offense through the sophomore big man. And while the 6-foot-7 forward now has tallied 19 points and 14 rebounds, he's getting his other teammates involved, hitting Tory Jackson down the middle of the lane for an easy layin.

We'll see if Kansas State can respond, but the Fighting Irish's experience could prove to be the difference down the stretch.

Dancin' In The Dark

NEW YORK -- David and I have finally arrived at the the self-proclaimed world's greatest arena to see Notre Dame and Kansas St. We would have been here sooner, but we weren't.

We have great seats in the sense that we are at center court. However, we are about five miles away from the court, so that even a monster like Luke Harangody looks no bigger than a cockroach. It's almost like being here.

Where we are sitting, it is completely dark. The stat girl brought us the halftime numbers, but I can't read them. And I have good vision. Professor Scott probably doesn't know they are on the table. He might even think the stat girl was a guy.

At halftime, they showed Jim Valvano's "Don't Give Up" speech on the scoreboard. It's the first time I have ever seen the whole thing. Actually, I was too busy telling Josh and the Professor that I had never seen the whole thing, so I ended up missing bits of it. That means, I still haven't seen the whole thing.

I thought there might be more of a crowd for this game, since I expected ND to have a good following in NYC. They might, but it appears Irish fans had something else to do tonight, since the place is a little more than half full.

Notre Dame Builds Lead After Halftime

NEW YORK -- The second half has kicked off here at Madison Square Garden, and after keep things close with Kansas State, Notre Dame has now surged out to a 52-41 lead at the 12-minute mark.

The Wildcats are struggling to find their offense, and Michael Beasley is looking a little winded after losing the ball at the top of the key and letting Tory Jackson get an easy break-away layup to push the Irish's lead to nine. Beasley has had to shoulder much of the load for KSU in the first half in playing 18-plus minutes and tallying 15 points and 10 rebounds, but head coach Frank Martin needs someone else to step up if his team hopes to leave the Big Apple with a victory tonight.

Posting Up Posse Has Arrived

NEW YORK - The rest of the Posting Up Posse has arrived after the Palmist and myself wolfed down some Blarney Rock sangwiches and made it over to the high-above-courtside P-Up Perch for the annual replay of the inspirational Jimmy V speech. My rough estimate is that I've seen the speech, in its entirety, upwards of 50 times. My cohorts say they haven't seen it more than 10 times combined. Sheltered youths.

We're starting to think the paranoid MSG staff (as described in a recnet article about covering the Knicks) may very well be readers. There is no other explanation for the distant, next borough seats they have given us in the hockey press box, than to assume that they read my blistering report card from the Coaches vs. Cancer games when I compared the Garden to a bad college bar. That was inappropriate, I now realize. And a complete insult to every bad college bar in America.

If I keep ripping on the smelly, rat-infested arena, I'm guessing they'll have to put us in a harness hanging from the Bill Bradley's retired number for the Big East Tournament. But I will not be censored! I will not conform to the MSG gestapo.

Continue reading "Posting Up Posse Has Arrived" »

Notre Dame Leads, 36-34, At Halftime

NEW YORK -- In what may have been one of the fastest first halves of basketball this season, Notre Dame has a 36-34 lead over Kansas State.

Luke Harangody has been dominant force at both ends of the court for the Fighting Irish, tallying 15 points and 10 rebounds in roughly 17 minutes of action. Senior forward Rob Kurz is currently Notre Dame's second leading scorer with six points but has only managed to grab one rebound in 13 minutes.

On the other side of things, Michael Beasley has played well so far in his first appearance under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, knocking down seven of his 13 attempts from the floor for 15 points in addition to 10 rebounds. Blake Young has been the other

Despite shooting only 38.1 percent in the first half (in comparison to KSU's 40.5 percent from the floor), Notre Dame has gotten after it on the glass, outrebounding the Wildcats, 27-21. Now the Irish just need to pick it up from the three-point line, where they've managed to make just one of 11 shots at a stellar 9.1 percent-rate.

Fortunately for Mike Brey and company, KSU isn't doing that much better from long range, as Frank Martin's team heads into halftime with a 25.0 percent clip (3-of-12).

Notre Dame Leads Early Despite Turnovers

NEW YORK -- In what's been an up-and-down game so far, Michael Beasley is doing his usual thing and dominating inside for Kansas State, but the Wildcats still find themselves down early with 15:37 left in the first half.

While Notre Dame has been able to match KSU stride for stride in the first four minutes of the game, both teams have looked a little sloppy with some careless turnovers in their half-court sets.

We'll see how the rest of this first half plays out after Luke Harangody just put the Fighting Irish up, 11-8, with a three-point play on a drive to the basket.

December 01, 2007

Friars Had It All The Way!

BOSTON -- The Friars saved themselves a lot of aggravation by re-awakening in the latter part of regulation and overtime and go on to win, 98-89.

Efejuku led the Friars with 21 points and Xavier had 20. Tyrese Rice led all scorers with 25 points and Boston College got 24 from Raji. Efejuku was named the MVP of the game, joining Jeremy Pargo from Game 1.

Providence College winds up winning the board battle, 31-28.

. . . Tyrelle Blair fouled out with 1:38 left in OT and finished the night with six points and four rebounds in 31 minutes. Teammate Rakim Sanders fouled out with 40.1 seconds left in the OT. He had seven points, four rebounds and two assists and was hampered by his foul trouble form early on (playing just 23 minutes).

. . . Important to remember that PC is without guard Sharaud Curry, who sustained a leg injury in October. When he returns, the Friars become that much more dangerous.

. . . BC continues to press and foul, trailing by nine with 30 seconds left in the game.

. . . Two excellent games in an old-fashioned double-header at the Gahden and we were happy to be able to bring you some of the action and sights and sounds.

. . . We'll work post-game interviews and then go feed our growling stomach on our way to the much-ballyhooed 10:15 ferry. For more highlights and some grade reports from this game and the entire week of college hoops, be sure to check in at Hang Time for another edition of Office Hours on Monday. The Professor expects you there!

Friars Flying In OT

BOSTON -- Providence is rejuvenated in the overtime period as Jeff Zavier hit a three-pointer from the deep corner to give PC an 81-76 lead about a minute into the extra session. Another Efejuku three as the shot clock espired (top of the key) gave the Friars an 87-78 lead with just over 2:00 left in the game.

The Friars now lead 89-78 with 1:57 left and seem to have finally put away a game they should have won 20 minutes ago.

Four Friars are in double figures, led by Efejuku (19), Xavier (18) and Kale and Peterson with 12 each. BC is led by Raji's 24 and Rice with 19.


BOSTON -- A three-pointer from Efejujku with 22 seconds left tied the score at 76-76.

Al Skinner chose not to call a timeout and Tyrese Rice missed a deep three-pointer that would have won it.

. . . So much for the 8:45 ferry. But overtime suits us just fine.

Friars Trying To Save Face

BOSTON -- A three-pointer from Friar Jeff Xavier with 1:04 left has brought PC within three at 73-70.

Providence missed four straight free throws under the 2:00 mark that would have tied the game (Peterson and Efejuku, two each).

. . . The game's refs have been Mike Kitts, Bryan Kersey and Earl Walton. They have blown a combined 41 whistles.

BC Leads. Incredibly.

BOSTON -- Boston College tied the game on two Spears free throws with 2:50 left in the game and then took the lead, 72-70, on two Rice free throws. An Efejuku turnover on the next Friar possession led to a Rice lay-up and an improbable four-point lead for the Eagles with 2:07 left in the game.

. . . Brian McKenzie fouled out for the Friars with 2:58 left in the game. He had nine points, two rebounds and an assist.