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March 22, 2003 Columns No Comments




The Morning Dish – Saturday, March 22nd, 2003

by Phil Kasiecki

The first round of the NCAA Tournament always has great last-second finishes, and Friday was no different.

We start in Tampa, where the day began with a dandy between the East’s No. 7 St. Joseph’s and No. 10 Auburn, the latter a controversial selection to begin with. Jameer Nelson did everything he could to win the game for the Hawks, scoring 13 of their last 15 points in regulation, including two tying free throws with half a second left that sent the game to overtime. He also did all of their scoring in overtime en route to 32 points, but Marquis Daniels (25 points) made big shots to help the Tigers take home a 65-63 victory. Auburn (21-11) was out to prove it belonged in the NCAA Tournament, while St. Joseph’s finishes up at 23-7.

Staying in Tampa and the East region, No. 2 Wake Forest advanced to take on Auburn, but not before a scare as they held off a great upset bid by No. 15 East Tennessee State, 76-73. Josh Howard led the Demon Deacons (25-5) with 12 points and 13 rebounds. The Buccaneers (20-11) lost in their first NCAA appearance in 11 years.

Next, we go to Nashville, where the Midwest’s No. 8 Oregon and No. 9 Utah had at it. The Utes got 23 points from Nick Jacobson, none bigger than the two free throws with 14.4 seconds left that gave them a 60-58 lead they would hold when James Davis missed two three-pointers in the final seconds. The short-handed Utes (25-7) won for the 9th time in 10 first round games under Rick Majerus, while Oregon finishes the season at 23-10 and in a disappointing fashion after they were ranked in the top ten in the poll for several weeks early in the season.

The fun in Nashville didn’t stop there, as they kept fans in suspense right up to the end. In the last game of the day, Maryland, the No. 6 seed in the South region, got a three-pointer from Drew Nicholas as time expired for a 75-73 win over No. 11 UNC-Wilmington in a game that was tight throughout. The Terrapins (20-9) were forced to wear their road red uniforms for this game after three white outfits were stolen from a hotel room. John Goldsberry had 26 points for UNC-Wilmington (24-7), including 8-8 on three-pointers — a record for three-point field goals without a miss in an NCAA Tournament game.

The last game of the night in Birmingham was a similar one, as the East’s No. 5 Mississippi State and No. 12 Butler matched up in a battle of Bulldogs. The game was tight throughout, and with 6.2 seconds left, Brandon Miller hit a runner in the lane to give Butler a 47-46 win. Miller led Butler (26-5) with 14 points, while Timmy Bowers overshot on a last-second attempt for Mississippi State (21-10).

While it wasn’t a buzzer-beater or last-second finish, the Midwest matchup between No. 7 Indiana and No. 10 Alabama in Boston did come down to the final minute, as Indiana got a breakaway dunk by A.J. Moye to seal a 67-62 win over the alma mater of head coach Mike Davis. The Hoosiers (21-12) got just 4 points combined from Jeff Newton and George Leach in the first half, but Newton picked it up in the second half (12 points to finish with 14) while Leach battled foul trouble throughout and fouled out with under 10 minutes to play. Bracey Wright also came alive in the second half, where he scored all of his 17 points to support Tom Coverdale’s team-high 23 points and 8 assists. Alabama (17-12) was led by Maurice Williams’ 26 points.

Side Dishes

Top Seeds Roll: For the third time in the last four years, all of the top 3 seeds have won their first round games, with a few having an easy time on Friday. In the Midwest, No. 1 Kentucky (30-3) won its 24th straight game, 95-64 over No. 16 IUPUI in Nashville, while No. 2 Pittsburgh (27-4) had an easy time with No. 15 Wagner, 87-61 in Boston. In the South, No. 1 Texas (23-6) rolled over play-in winner UNC-Asheville, 82-61 in Birmingham, while No. 2 Florida (25-7) blew out No. 15 Sam Houston State, 85-55 in Tampa, and No. 3 Xavier (26-5) beat Troy State 71-59 in Nashville. In the East, No. 3 Syracuse (24-5) picked it up late to hold off pesky No. 14 Manhattan, 76-65 in Boston.

Continuing the Dominance: The No. 9 seeds always seem to have it in for the No. 8 seeds, and this year was no different as the lower seed won three of four games, including a surprise in the South. No. 9 Purdue rode a big second half to an 80-56 romp over No. 8 LSU, which entered the tournament as one of the nation’s hottest teams. The game was tied at the half, but the Boilermakers (19-10) showed how games are often won early in the second half as they scored the first 13 points to begin a 28-8 run that decided the game. LSU finishes a streaky season at 21-11.

How Many Made It?: In the South, No. 7 Michigan State (20-12) took out No. 10 Colorado (21-11) by a score of 79-64 in Tampa. That, combined with the East’s No. 6 Oklahoma State (22-9) beating No. 11 Pennsylvania (22-6) by a 77-63 count in Boston, created a tie between the Big Ten and Big 12 for the most teams in the second round. Each conference has five schools there, though the Big Ten has done it without a team losing a game. The Big East also has a perfect record after Friday’s games, with all four schools advancing.

No Sweat For This Guy: Rick Pitino’s first NCAA Tournament game as the head coach of Louisville can aptly be described as a success. The Cardinals (25-6), the No. 4 seed in the East, had an easy time with No. 13 Austin Peay in an 86-64 win in Birmingham.

Injury Notes: Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said that senior Matt Carroll will try to play on Saturday against Illinois. Carroll sprained his left ankle in Thursday night’s win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Duke freshman J.J. Redick sat out practice on Friday with an illness, but will play on Saturday when the Blue Devils take on Central Michigan.

Not the Only Game In Town: Three NIT games were played on Friday night. Temple (17-15) got a career-high 36 points from David Hawkins to beat visiting Boston College (19-12), 75-62 at the Palestra. Texas Tech (20-12) advanced to the quarterfinals with a 57-48 win over San Diego State (16-14). In a game with in-state rivals, Iowa (17-13) edged Iowa State (17-14) by a score of 54-53.

Tonight’s Menu:

• It’s a full day in the West region, with a potential dandy matchup between No. 4 Illinois and No. 5 Notre Dame in Indianapolis leading the way. Also, No. 1 Arizona takes on No. 9 Gonzaga and No. 3 Duke takes on No. 11 Central Michigan in Salt Lake City, and No. 2 Kansas takes on No. 10 Arizona State in Oklahoma City.

• The Midwest is the only other region with more than one game. No. 5 Wisconsin takes on No. 13 Tulsa in Spokane, while Indianapolis will be home to a dandy matchup between No. 3 Marquette and No. 6 Missouri.

• In the South region, No. 4 Stanford meets No. 5 Connecticut in Spokane.

• In the East region, No. 1 Oklahoma takes on No. 8 California in Oklahoma City.

• The NIT has one game, as College of Charleston visits Providence.

That’s all for now. Enjoy your Saturday!

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