South Second Round Recap
by Jon Gonzalez
No.2 Alabama vs. No.10 Kent State
“I thought they were going to be a tougher team.”
Those were the post-game words of a player who participated in the game between 10th-seeded Kent State and second-seeded Alabama. Without knowing the outcome, you probably would think the person uttering those words was on the second-seeded team.
The words belong to Kent State guard Trevor Huffman and the victory belongs to the Golden Flashes.
For the second straight game, Kent State came out playing with the poise and intensity of a team seeded higher than 10. In all honesty, if you take the their 10 seed and knock off the 0, that’s the number the Golden Flashes have resembled. At least that’s what Alabama must be thinking, as Kent State decked the second-seeded Tide 71-58.
Kent State controlled the game from the outset and never relinquished their strangle hold on the game. The Flashes came out hitting shots early while the Crimson Tide couldn’t throw a penny into the ocean. Alabama made only three of their first 12 shots en route to shooting 30.6 percent for the half. The Tide was down 12 at the break.
An advantage Alabama figured to have against Kent State was the strength of their frontcourt. But the Golden Flashes negated that strength by holding its own against the much larger Alabama post-men.
After the break, Alabama found itself down by a score of 58-34 after Kent State went on a 20-10 surge during the first nine minutes of the second half. The Crimson Tide would then dig deep to go on a 14-4 run and cut the lead back to 12. But just went you thought the Tide (27-8) would finally make some noise, Kent State (29-5) silenced them. Huffman, who scored 20 points, and Antonio Gates, who added 18 points, hit timely shots to snuff out any signs of a major ‘Bama rally.
Ron Grizzard, who scored 17 points, and SEC player of the year Erwin Dudley, who had 12 points and 10 boards, led Alabama. Mo Williams, who poured in 33 points in round one, scored 12 points.
The win was the Flashes nation’s best 20th in a row as Kent State becomes the first MAC team since Miami (Ohio) in 1999 to reach the sweet sixteen.
No.3 Pittsburgh vs. No. 6 California
Nine and a half minutes. That’s the amount of time the Pitt Panthers held the California Golden Bears scoreless. It was also the stretch in the Bear’s game against Pitt on Sunday that did Cal in.
Pittsburgh overcame an offensive quandary that saw the Panthers shoot 43 percent from the field and 46 percent from the foul line to defeat California 63-50.
Defense was the name of the game for the Panthers as Pittsburgh shut down California in the second half of their second round match-up in Pittsburgh. The Panthers forced Cal into 16 turnovers and held Cal to a 31 percent field goal percentage. The clincher for Pitt was the nine and a half minute drought in which the Panthers outscored Cal 16-0. Overall, Cal could only muster six buckets in the final 16:40 of play.
Solomon Page led the Panthers (27-5) with 17 points while freshman Chevy Troutman chipped in with 11 points. Point guard Brandin Knight also scored 11 points and again supplied the Panthers with excellent court leadership.
Shantay Legans and Joe Shipp led the way for the Golden Bears (22-8), scoring 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Next up for the Panthers, the upstart Kent State Golden Flashes as Pitt tries to go 2-0 against teams with nicknames including the term “golden”.