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Midwest Region Recap

March 16, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



Midwest Region Recap

by Greg Bacani

(6) Texas 70, (11) Boston College 57

Known more for his ability to distribute the
basketball, Texas freshman sensation T.J. Ford showed
that he can fill it up when his team needs him to.
Ford scored 16 of his team-high 20 points in the
second half, to lead the Longhorns past Boston College
70-57.

Texas also benefited from playing what amounted to be
a home game, as they raced out to a big lead which
swelled into as much as 22 points, before heading into
halftime ahead 46-27.

BC junior guard Troy Bell, who was mired in a woeful late
season slump, single-handedly kept the Eagles afloat,
scoring a game-high 27 points. He scored 12 of BC’s
first 18 second half points as the Eagles pulled to
within 5 with 12:49 left to play. Unfortunately for
Bell, he didn’t get any help from his backcourt mate
Ryan Sidney, who was held without a FG (0-9) and
looked out of sync throughout the game.

Behind Ford’s stellar play and the pro-Longhorn
contingent on hand, the Eagles were grounded and made
their earliest exit from the NCAA tournament in their
last 10 trips.

(3) Mississippi State 70, (14) McNeese State 58

The Bulldogs had their hands full with the 14th seeded
Cowboys and struggled to match McNeese State’s
intensity early on. But then Mario Austin took over,
scoring 14 straight points during a decisive run in
the first half to overcome an 8-point deficit. Austin
powered his way to a game-high 25 points and pulled
down 9 rebounds and was the main reason why
Mississippi State prevailed 70-58 over the Cowboys.
McNeese State head coach Tic Price tried to neutralize
Austin by using taller players to guard him. Those
efforts proved to be futile as Austin continued to
dominate down low.

“The biggest problem about Austin was that he showed
up for the game,” said Price. “I was hoping that the
bus driver would take him to another facility.”

After getting on track towards the end of the first
half, Mississippi State finished on a 12-0 run to take
a 31-25 lead into the locker room. They were never
seriously challenged after the intermission and
actually built the lead up to 19 points. In addition
to Austin, the Bulldogs got 20 points from senior
guard Marckell Patterson.

McNeese State was led by junior forward Damond
Williams, who gave a valiant, all-around effort with 15
points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. Senior forward Fred
Gentry (11 points, 9 rebounds) made his 116th
straight and final start as a Cowboy.

“We knew we had a long way to go,” said Gentry. “We
came out with some energy. We just couldn’t keep the
energy.”

This also marked the end of an emotional run for
Price, who had to endure his house burning down as
well as the loss of his father within a 72 hour span,
3 weeks ago.

6-9 forward Michal Ignerski is questionable for
Sunday’s game against Texas. Ignerski jammed his right
thumb midway through the first half and left the game,
X-rays were negative.

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