Posted on: March 13, 2010 12:54 am
Edited on: March 13, 2010 1:00 am
Friday's afternoon and early evening sessions had their fair share of excitement with Evan Turner's buzzer-beater, John Wall's heroics, Lehigh's berth-clinching win and San Diego's upset of New Mexico. The madness didn't end at sundown, though, and three of the major conferences packed in the drama in their late games. Here's what you missed:
Minnesota upsets Michigan State - It took an extra period, but Tubby Smith's team was finally able to put away Michigan State in the Big 10 tournament semifinals on Friday, keeping their NCAA tourney hopes alive.
For the Golden Gophers, taking the lead wasn't the problem. It was holding on to it and closing out the Spartans that seemed to be difficult. Minnesota took a 13-12 lead with just under 10 minutes to go in the first half and wouldn't trail again until Michigan State scored the first points of the overtime period. When Raymar Morgan's bucket fell through the net with a whistle on the play, it seemed as if the Gophers' opportunity was gone. After all, they were up seven with 3:30 to go and wouldn't score again, missing five shots and committing one turnover in their six possessions down the stretch. They had their shot and now Michigan State was finally ready to take this game.
But, to their credit, Tubby's troops did not fold and countered Morgan's "And One" and Michigan State's three-point lead with a 10-0 run. By the time the dust settled, all the Spartans could do was foul and, all of a sudden, Tubby Smith's team looked to have new post-season life.
The Gophers will now take their shot at a Robbie Hummel-less Purdue squad Saturday - the same one they lost to by just one point a couple of weeks ago. As of now, the Gophers could be in or they could be out. A win over Purdue would likely lock up an at-large berth for them.
West Virginia holds off Notre Dame - Just 24 hours removed from Da'Sean Butler's buzzer beater saving them from the early tourney exit of their fellow Big East top seeds, West Virginia was almost victimized by a similar shot.
But, when Tory Jackson's three caught rim and bounced around, running out the final four seconds of clock, what is shaping up to be a fairly magical run for Bob Huggins' team stood intact. The Mountaineers, the only one of the top four seeds to win their first game Thursday, now have only Georgetown, a team they blew out two weeks ago, standing between them and a Big East tournament title.
Saturday's matchup at the Garden will have more at stake than a conference title for the Mountaineers, though. If WVU beats the Hoyas again and Duke falters in an ACC tournament that's even more pathetic than we thought, they will likely be staring a #1 seed in the face. Even if the Blue Devils win the ACC, the Mountaineers still have the opportunity to jump them for that top seed. They just need to make sure they bring their "A" game to the Garden Saturday. Winning because a buzzer beater catches rim isn't a good way to show it.
Kansas State puts away Baylor - The Big 12 semifinal between Kansas and Baylor didn't have any last possession or overtime drama, but it had the feel for 38 minutes that it would be decided by whoever had the ball last. But, with two minutes left, Jacobham Pullen eliminated all doubt with a clutch three-pointer.
Baylor looked like they were going to snatch one from the Wildcats after Ekpe Udoh's dunk cut the lead to two with just under four minutes to go. On Kansas State's next possession, a blocked shot by Quincy Acy got the ball back to Baylor who drew a foul. Senior leader Tweety Carter, who had an awful game, stepped to the line, down two, and clanked both free throws. Kansas State came down and Pullen hit the three that sucked the life from the Bears and put them away for good.
The Wildcats will now advance to their first Big XII title game and face off against rival Kansas, who they've both pushed to overtime and been blown out by this year. Their seedings might already be set for the most part, but you can expect emotions to be very, very high in Kansas City tomorrow.
Posted on: March 12, 2010 12:52 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2010 1:05 pm
Unlike their major conference brothers, the Big XII quarterfinals went as expected Thursday and held all the suspense of a gun battle on The A Team, with all four top seeds advancing to the semifinals. On Friday, the conference’s four ranked and already tournament bound teams will square off in games that matter only for seeding purposes. Here’s what you missed yesterday while you were threatening Elton John.
#1 Kansas 80, #9 Texas Tech 68
#4 Texas A & M 70, #12 Nebraska 64
#2 Kansas State 83, #7 Oklahoma State 64
#3 Baylor 86, #6 Texas 67
TEAM OF THE DAY
The Baylor Bears are for real. Thursday brought a change in repetitive college basketball phrase du jour from “passing the eye test” to some variation of how hard it is to beat a team three times in one season, thanks largely to Baylor’s attempt to beat Texas for the third time.
The Bears didn't make it look all that difficult. It might be time for a new phrase.
James was already losing it early in the second half, already getting into confrontations with Dunn and Carter on two occasions, when Dunn took the ball to the hole and made the layup and got fouled by James. Already being smothered by a Bears’ run, James went into meltdown mode and got T’ed up, went to the bench and screamed at teammates and was never remotely useful again.
Baylor will now face Kansas State in the semifinals, a team that has a very similar makeup to their own. The battle between the backcourts of Carter and Dunn and Jacobham Lincoln and Denis Clemente has the potential for some March magic. Make sure you tune in.
STUD OF THE DAY
If history is the best predictor of the future, then Jamar Samuels didn’t have a shot against Oklahoma State Thursday. In a loss to the Cowboys on January 23rd, the Kansas State sophomore fouled out in only 13 minutes and contributed an anemic 5 points and one lonesome rebound. On Thursday, though, Samuels got sweet revenge in the Wildcats’ blowout of Travis Ford’s team, pouring in 27 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. In an 8-minute frenzy at the end of the first half, the Wildcats put the Cowboys away for good behind 13 ofSamuels’ 21 first half points. That’s what you call solid bench play.
DUD OF THE DAY
Needing a win to secure themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament and facing a highly ranked team that they had already defeated, Oklahoma State had every reason to look forward to their game with Kansas State. Somewhere at around the 8:30 mark of the first half, though, Travis Ford’s squad crapped after cutting the Wildcat lead to 27-23. Kansas State closed the half on a 24-3 run and the Oklahoma State bench hung their mohawks in disappointment. After about 200 misses from downtown by James Anderson and 20 more minutes of inconsequential basketball, it was time to head back to Stillwater, one of the few places that make Kansas City appear as the “Paris of the Plains”. I expect defections.
2000: AN AFTERTHOUGHT
Kentucky was the first NCAA team to race past 2,000 wins earlier this year and celebrated with t-shirts, speeches from Adolph Rupp’s son and a dancing DeMarcus Cousins. North Carolina got theirs and hoped no one would notice how far they’d fallen, barely making mention. Kansas? They were somewhere in between the two when they wrapped up Win2K in Kansas City. They talked about the historical significance of the win, but made sure that everyone knew their focus went far beyond any pomp and circumstance (if any) that comes with that magical number.
STARS OF THE DAY
Jamar Samuels (Kansas State) - 27 points, 10 rebounds
LaceDarius Dunn (Baylor) - 19 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists
Cole Aldrich (Kansas) - 12 points, 18 rebounds, 3 blocks
Ekpe Udoh (Baylor) – 25 points, 8 rebounds
James Anderson (Oklahoma State) - 27 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen (Kansas State) – combined for 31 points and 13 assists
Donald Sloan (Texas A&M) – 23 points
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think it does speak volumes worth of history and tradition of the program. We’re very proud of it. It hasn’t been a big point of emphasis for this team, but I think the guys respect the past enough to know it’s a big deal.” – Kansas coach Bill Self on getting win number 2000
THE DAY AHEAD
#1 Kansas vs. #4 Texas A&M (7:30 pm)
#2 Kansas State vs. #3 Baylor (9:00 pm)
Posted on: March 11, 2010 9:47 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2010 9:48 pm
Upset Thursday continued in the Big East as No. 7 Notre Dame eliminated second-seeded Pittsburgh, 50-45. Tory Jackson hit 4-of-6 threes to score 12 points and Luke Harangody came off the bench to add 12 more as the Fighting Irish won back-to-back games in the Big East Tournament for the first time in program history.
The loss dropped teams which had earned double-byes into the quarterfinals to 0-3, with only third-seeded West Virginia left to take the court.
After advancing to the championship game in four straight seasons, the loss marked the second straight one-and-done tournament for the Panthers, who were also the No. 2 seed in 2009.
Notre Dame's newfound commitment to defense was on full display again, as they held Pitt to their lowest point total of the season. The Irish have now held five of their past six opponents to 54 points or fewer. They've won all six games over that span and leapt from NIT-bound to single-digit NCAA Tournament seed.
Georgia Tech went ahead and put the bullet in the head of the gravely injured animal that was North Carolina's 2009-2010 season, knocking the Tar Heels out of the ACC Tournament by a final score of 62-58.
The Yellow Jackets, playing with their season on the line, trailed by ten at the break but a monster second half by star freshman Derrick Favors helped keep them (most likely) in the dance for the time being. Favors finished with a game-high 18 points.
Kansas State began its three-day case for a one seed by completely humiliating Oklahoma State, 83-64 in a game they led by as many as 33. Jamar Samuels scored 21 of his career-high 27 points in the first half.
The Cowboys are still almost certainly in the field of 65, but the loss - which came just a day after an impressive rout of rival Oklahoma - may have knocked them down a seeding row or two.
OTHER MAJOR CONFERENCE GAMES I WATCHED ZERO SECONDS OF
Elsewhere, Minnesota beat Penn State by 21 in a game I thank every possible religious deity that I wasn't forced to watch, and Florida at least momentarily speared itself from the knowledge of having a stressful Sunday on the horizon by knocking off Auburn, 76-55.
Posted on: March 9, 2010 1:19 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 7:31 pm
The Big XII,despite the stigma of being a football conference and sounding like a name of a movie your company won't expense, has developed into quite the powerful basketball league over the past several seasons. This year appears to be no different as they enter the post-season with the nation’s top ranked team, three other teams in the top-25 and six teams likely to go dancing. Before they take on the world, though. a little intra-conference positioning is on tap. The Phillips 66 Big XII Tournament (no event is more married to their sponsor) gets underway tomorrow and there are a number of things that the casual observer must know. Study up.
Kansas City, Missouri, hosting their ninth Phillips 66 Big XII Tournament, is known as both the “BBQ Capital of the World” and the “Paris of the Plains”. The convergence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers originally attracted settlers to the area and KCMO was officially incorporated in 1850. That also marks the last time someone thought, “Hmmm. I think Kansas City might be a nice place to live.”
Names to Know
Sharon Collins – Collins is a delightful elderly lady who will be lingering in the bar of your hotel, sipping a 7-on-7 and working her way through three packs of Marlboro Reds. Often confused with Kansas point guard Sherron Collins, Sharon has developed some witty pick-up lines involving “ball handling” and “going to the rack”. Stay away.
Kim English – Not to be confused with Gary Parrish's Missouri man crush, natives of Kansas City know Kim English for exactly what it is – an institution of learning. Sue Ann Kim established Kim English in 2001 after relocating from Beijing and has now helped over 75 Chinese transplants gain American citizenship and master their new language.. 好！
Tiny Gallon – In basketball circles, Tiny Gallon is the freshman center for the Oklahoma Sooners. In Kansas City, though, tiny gallon has two completely different meanings. It’s most commonly (and most boringly) used a reference to anything smaller than 128 ounces. For example, you might tell the gas station attendant that their soda machine is out and he will reply, “Dammit son, just grab one of them tiny gallons in the cooler”. The less frequently used version in Kansas City is used as part of a phrase such as “Dang, did you see that tiny gallon the red dress? She must not be from ‘round here”. This variation often does not appear in Kansas City vernacular at all, making appearances only when a large amount of visitors come to town. Because women in Kansas City are fat.
Kansas – They entered the year at the top of the polls and ended the season still hugging the top spot. That’s certainly not a bad thing. In between, there were fights with the football team, DUIs, Facebook banishments and the worst free throw ever. And that’s just two players. They’re the favorites to win the national title so you have to figure they’re the favorites to win this tournament. I didn’t fact check that. I’m just assuming.
Kansas State – Just seven years removed from coaching a high school team, Frank Martin has Kansas State in national title contention thanks to the backcourt of Jacobham Lincoln and the world’s fastest basketball player/magician Denis Clemente. They dropped both games to Kansas this year but went undefeated against Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas this season. I would assume this, along with their #2 seed, makes them the second favorite.
Baylor – After slowly improving the past few years under Scott Drew and that Australian point guard, the Bears launched themselves onto the national scene this season thanks to Tweety Carter, the school’s first McDonald’s All-American, and LaceDarius Dunn, who’s name sounds like the sequel to this movie. Their road to the title likely goes through Texas, Kansas State and Kansas. They’re 2-0 against the Horns this year and 0-2 against Kansas’ finest, losing by 2 to the Wildcats and by 6 to the Jayhawks. Again, third in your program, third in your sports book.
#8 Colorado vs. #9 Texas Tech – Despite protests to just have their athletic directors debate whether athletes respond better to being enticed by sex, drugs and alcohol or by being locked in a closet, these teams will play an actual basketball game. The Buffaloes enter the tournament on a three-game winning streak and the Red Raiders, despite having a guy named Mike Singletary, have showed no backbone in losing seven in a row and nine of eleven. You sold on this one yet? No? Umm...there will be cheerleaders?
#5 Missouri vs. #12 Nebraska – Even The Scwab is going to sit this one out. You should too.
#7 Oklahoma State vs. #10 Oklahoma – There will be plenty of hatred in the Sprint Center for this one and, for once, it won’t be because Oklahoma State is fighting each other. An in-state rivalry is just the kind of first-round sexiness this tournament needs. The key for Oklahoma State will be Big XII Player of the Year James Anderson, who topped the conference with 22 points per game. On the other side, Oklahoma freshman guard Tommy Mason-Griffin was the conference leader in tattoos per square inch. I don’t think that will be as useful in this matchup. It does bear noting, though.
#6 Texas vs. #11 Iowa State – The formerly top-ranked Longhorns are now the sixth-seed in the Big XII tournament after a road loss to Kansas State sent them spiraling into a 6-8 tailspin to finish the year. However, barring a disaster, Texas will slaughter the Cyclones and you’ll hear for the 450th time about Dexter Pittman's weight loss. What they won’t tell you, though, is that his excess weight stumbled across some radioactive contamination in a sewer and formed a living organism capable of transforming into actual size Tweety Carter, Tommy Mason-Griffin and Sherron Collins body doubles. This could pave the way for a Longhorn tourney run.
Rest of the Schedule
Quarterfinals - Thursday, March 11
No. 1 Kansas vs. CU/TTU winner 11:30 a.m.
No. 4 Texas A&M vs. MU/NU winner 2:00 p.m.
No. 2 Kansas State vs. OU/OSU winner 6:00 p.m.
No. 3 Baylor vs. ISU/UT winner 8:30 p.m.
Semifinals - Friday, March 12
Thursday afternoon winners 6:00 p.m.
Thursday evening winners 8:30 p.m.
Final - Saturday, March 13
Semifinal winners 5:00 p.m.