West Region Recap
by Adam Reich
Oklahoma, Arizona, Xavier Survive, Gonzaga Sent Packing
2-seed Oklahoma 71, Illinois-Chicago 63
Led by Aaron McGhee’s 26 points and 12 rebounds, Oklahoma held off a pesky
Illinois-Chicago team to advance into the second round. The Sooners dominated
the game in the paint, grabbing 16 offensive boards and converting easy
attempts inside. The Flames, who shot 41% from three-point land this season,
managed to hit only 5 of their 22 long-range attempts. Cedrick Banks, the
Flames’ leading scorer, shot 3-for-14, including 1-for-5 on 3’s. For the
Sooners, guard Hollis Price scored 17 points despite playing the majority of
the second half with a strained hamstring.
3-seed Arizona 86, 14-seed UC Santa Barbara 81
Jason Gardner scored 28 points and hit 12 of 14 free throws to ice the game
and help Arizona survive an opening round scare from UC Santa Barbara. The
Gauchos had a 35-32 halftime lead thanks in large part to Mark Hull (32 pts),
who went 6-for-6 from three-point land in the first half. UC Santa Barbara
was 16-for-27 (59%) from beyond the arc as a team, but failed to hit the big shots
down the stretch. The Wildcats had five players finish in double figures,
while forward Luke Walton tallied seven boards and seven assists to go along
with his 11 points.
7-seed Xavier 70, 10-seed Hawaii 58
Xavier took control of the game by holding Hawaii without a field goal for an
11-minute stretch of the second half. The Rainbow Warriors shot 17-32 (53%)
from the field in the first half, but couldn’t find the range after the break.
Xavier made its run behind the stellar play of guards Romain Sato (20 pts)
and Lionel Chalmers (13 pts) when center David West was relegated to the
bench because of foul trouble. The Rainbow Warriors opened up a 40-28 lead
late in the first half behind the hot hand of Predrag Savovic (26 pts).
However, the Musketeers closed the game on a 42-18 run over the final 21-plus minutes.
11-seed Wyoming 73, 6-seed Gonzaga 66
Wyoming held Gonzaga to 27% shooting en route to upsetting the Cinderella of
tournaments past. The Cowboys dominated the paint with physical play,
out-rebounding the Zags 39-32 and blocking 12 shots. The Cowboys perimeter
defense forced Bulldog guards Dan Dickau and Blake Stepp to shoot a combined
8-for-37 from the field, including 4-for-19 from three-point range. Wyoming
had five players in double figures, paced by forward Uche Nsonwu-Amadi’s 14
points. Senior forward Josh Davis did it all for the Cowboys, as he finished
with 11 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and two steals.
Second Round Match-Ups
2-seed Oklahoma vs. 7-seed Xavier
Oklahoma’s success starts on the inside with senior Aaron McGhee. He had a
monster game against Illinois-Chicago in the first round, and will have a
huge task trying to match up with Xavier center David West. Xavier’s offense
also goes through West. And although guards Romain Sato and Lionel Chalmers
picked up the scoring slack against Hawaii with West in foul trouble, West
cannot afford to find himself on the bench in this game. On the perimeter,
the Sooner guards are very quick and their defensive pressure will cause
problems for the freshman point guard Chalmers.
If the Sooners shoot poorly from beyond the arc like they did against
Illinois-Chicago, they will be in trouble. For Xavier, West must be on the
floor, and they must take better care of the basketball. However, in this one
Oklahoma is flat out tougher than Xavier, and will use its superior strength
and quickness to control the game.
Prediction: Oklahoma 76, Xavier 68
3-seed Arizona vs. 11-seed Wyoming
Wyoming played tenacious defense in its upset victory over Gonzaga. But will
they be able to shut down an explosive Arizona offense that averages 83
points per game? The Cowboys are one of the few teams that are athletic
enough to match up with the Wildcats. Not only are they athletic, but inside
Wyoming is stronger with forwards Josh Davis and Uche Nsonwu-Amadi. Arizona
has the advantage in the guard department with point man Jason Gardner’s
ability to penetrate the defense. He is the catalyst for Arizona’s offense,
getting others involved and scoring when a big hoop is needed.
Arizona has had trouble against physical teams. Wyoming is very tough inside
and they hit the glass hard. The Wildcats will need to get out and run,
utilizing their speed and quickness. If the Cowboys transition defense can
slow down Jason Garder and force the Wildcats to set up in the half-court,
then it could be a tough day for Lute Olson and company.
Prediction: Wyoming 75, Arizona 72