NCAA Tourney Live Blog
Follow and discuss the best of the Big Dance.
No. 10 Maryland vs. No. 7 California
Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s bring some east coast/west coast bias into the building in Kansas City, Missouri (cue up the Tech N9ne). In this corner we have Jerome Randle & Patrick Christopher for the California Golden Bears with a 22-10 record and some of the best three point shooting percentages in the country. And in this corner, we have Greivis Vasquez and Greivis Vasquez’s mouth with a 20-13 record and the biggest swagger for any 10 seed in the tournament.
Maryland starts out with a couple buckets, leading the way 4-0 early on in this first round match. Scratch that, make it 7-0, Cal turns the ball over. Turnovers are going to be important in this game, both teams have problems keeping the TO numbers down. J. Boykin finally scores to put Cal on the board (transfer from Duke) and we’re underway.
– Mosley & Gutierrez tie it up, and after the inbound Boykin draws the foul. He misses the first, makes the second. The score is 8-3 Maryland.
– Dave Neal hits a mid-range jumper off the elbow and the “future YMCA star” has a quick 5 so far. Randle makes a crowd pleasing hesitation move and gets a quick two. The score is 10-8 Maryland. Sidenote, Jorge Gutierrez and Sean Mosley are going at it today, we could have a player rivalry blossoming in front of our eyes.
– Randle hits another basket and we lead out to commercial with a slight 14-10 lead by Maryland. If anybody was wondering the YMCA line I dropped earlier, that was a quote straight from Maryland’s own Gary Williams.
– Vasquez draws the foul on Christopher, a Compton product. GV drops both and we have a 16-10 lead. Christopher comes down on the other end and gets a put-back off a Cal miss. Score is now 16-12. Milbourne draws the foul and makes 1/2 FT’s. Randle hits another shot, this time a trey & we have a 17-15 game. After a quick little run in the opening by the Terps, we have a close match.
– Out of the break, Vasquez drops a jumper (SPLASHDOWN like Top Gun). Randle hits another jumper, that’s 9 points on 4-5 shooting. And Vasquez says GOOD DAY SIR and answers with a bucket of his own. 22-19 after a couple Theo “Huckstable” Robertson.
– Cal switches to a zone to see if they can limit the looks Maryland is getting. Hayes hits a jumper, making it 24-21. Knezevic just shot what might be the weirdest looking release of the tournament. A lefty release that makes Marion seem picturesque mid-jumper. Cal gets blocked, Bowie responds by walking. This ends the Maryland has no turnovers party that Gary Williams was hosting in Kansas City. 24-21
– Another Maryland turnover, and Cal responds with another Randle score. Maryland: 3 turnovers in the last 3 possessions. I have officially decided on an anthem for Randle- “It’s a mans world” by James Brown. Seriously, everytime he scores, I scream in a broken tune “This is a maaans world.” Boykin fouls Neal on the offensive end, it’s 24-23 Cal down one. 5:11 remaining in the 1st half. As the color commentary says “This is Hoosiers versus Hoosiers.”
– Vasquez has hit a cold streak, missing his last 3 shots. We go out to commercial after a Cal foul, Maryland to shoot two after the break. Did anybody think Cal would be out rebounding Maryland at this point? 17-13 just now in the ol’ boards category.
– A few quick points for us to over analyze, Cal and Maryland both only have 9 field goals on 25 and 26 attempts respectively… But, Cal has 10 second chance points to Maryland’s 1. Also 1 field goal and 5 turnovers in the past 6+ minutes for Maryland. Score is 26-23, Maryland leading with 3:32 remaining & Wilkes at the line. Wilkes hits the first with one heck of an ugly facemask a la Wally S., and hits the second. Maryland responds with a bucket and it’s back to four. Patrick Christopher responds with a jumper of his, then G. Vasquez gets his groove back like Stella with his own response jumper. And DJ Seeley hits a jumper. Then Maryland responds. The defensive presence by both teams are invisible at this point. Amoke draws a foul and is at the line. Bricks the first, toes up, does that J. Kidd fake release, then misses the second, again like J. Kidd- sans jumper. Randle finally misses a jumper, the score is 32-30 with less than a minute on the board in the half.
– Theo “from the Cosby Show” Robertson draws a foul, and bricks the FT. These teams aren’t in the tourney for their charity stripe prowess, that’s for sure. Maryland calls a timeout- Is Gary Williams trying to ice the shooter? Is Theo the new JJ Redick? 25 seconds remain in the half. Theo squares up, bottoms. One point game, the ice wars was all for naught. Maryland will hold for one. Christopher fouls for the second time tonight. Hayes makes the first FT, hits the second. 34-31 with 11.3 seconds remaining. After a kick-ball call, Cal to inbound with a second left, and they don’t get the shot off. At the half Maryland leads by 3, 34-31. And a small sidenote- Maryland is using… Not gatorade squeeze bottles, nor Powerade or even quick kick…They are squeezing Vitamin Water out of those bottles according to the label. Eyes like a sniper folks.
– The second half should be underway momentarily. Until then, some food for thought. Both teams need to make a concerted effort not to have 6+ minute stretches with only one field goal. Maryland needs to do a better job defending the Randle/Christopher tandem of Cal, possibly run a box+1 or a triangle+2 zone. Cal needs to find a way to turn it over less, take better shots & somehow attempt to limit Greivis Vasquez’s productivity. If you stop Darth Vasquez, you stop Maryland. Just ask Duke.
– And we are underway. Mosley misses a bunny, lucky for him it goes out off of a Cal player & Neal gets him a baby hook. That’s 9 for Neal. Gutierrez blocked by Mosley, who obviously wants to get to the second round, running like his life hangs in the balance. Vasquez misses a jumper and Randle drops a speedy dime to Theo Robertson, who hits an AND-1. 36-34 with 18:51 remaining. Bowie gets his second player control foul & probably the fifth overall this game.
– Vasquez gets the ball back off of a Mosley miss & resets. His poise is second to none by anybody in the country. To punctuate my statement, he hits a layup. 38-34. Patrick “of Compton” Christopher responds by drawing a foul. He hits the first FT, takes a deep breath and it’s nothin’ but bottoms for PC. 38-36 with 17:30 remaining.
– 6 team fouls between the two teams in less than 3 minutes of this 2nd half. Dave Neal is a blue collar workhorse for the Terps, scoring his 10th & 11th points at the line, going past his season average. 40-36 Maryland lead. True to form, Maryland fouls, Theo hits 1 of 2 from the line. On the other end of the court, Cal one ups the Terps with a foul of their own, sending Vasquez to the line, hitting 1 of 2. Patrick Christopher, no lemming to trends, ends the trend and hits a jumper to make it a two point game 41-39. Vasquez will have none of that and responds with a 3 pointer. Theo Robertson gives his rebuttal with a 3 point shot of his own. Mosley responds with a 2. Defense is a myth at this point. Robertson answers with a bucket and the foul. The score is 46-44 Maryland leading.
– Out of the break, Cal takes the lead over Maryland 47-46, their first of the game. Maryland turns it over once more, Cal promptly responds with a beautiful turnover of their own. Fast forward a few moments later and Maryland leads once more, 50-47. Boykin scores for the Golden Bears to move back to a one point game. It must feel weird for Boykin to be referred to as “The Duke Transfer” as opposed to the “Cal Forward.” Robertson scores a two to take the lead, he leads Cal with 18 points on the night. 51-50 Cal.
– The key to this game is bench points. Maryland only has 6, but that’s a mountain of production compared to Cal’s paltry 3 points off the bench. Robertson turns it over out of the break, that’s 9 on the game for Cal. (Maryland with 8 if anybody’s counting) Bowie hits a bucket with a patented flex cut without the ball. Randle misses a jumper, Vasquez with the board, and Hayes hits a three pointer. “Got ‘em coach.” Milbourne gets the ball on the next possession and hits a three of his own for Maryland. 59-51, The Vasquez comedy-troupe leading by 8. Cal is the best three point shooting team in the country, but it’s Maryland is raining jumpers in the second half.
– To end a 9-0 run, Kamp gets a nice contested layup to fall. Dino Gregory kills the momentum and hits a layup of his own. You know, from far away, Gutierrez looks like Joakim Noah- Er…The swingman one. Kamp gets a little cocky and tries a reverse pivot, half spin sky hook from 10 feet out…no dice. Score is 61-53. Scratch that, “Gravy” Vasquez makes my job hard by scoring. 63-53. Shout out to the comments for the great nickname. And we go to a break with the following quote by Mike Gminski- “Oh, Silencer by Greivis Vasquez, off the mustard I say.” Ladies and Gentleman, the college Reggie Miller announcing Guru.
– Jerome Randle finally scores another 3, I scream out the chorus to that James Brown ballad & Vasquez cuts me off by getting a bucket thanks to a nice Gregory board. Vasquez gets the FT off the and-1, and to pile on, Maryland causes a five second violation on Cal, then gets a layin off the inbound play. Cal finally responds with a three pointer. 68-59 Maryland leads with 6:44 remaining.
– Vasquez gets a steal off the following possession, and after some solid ball movement Hayes gets a reverse bucket. 70-59 Maryland stretches the lead to 11. Dino Gregory corrects me by getting a putback and moving the lead on the abacus beads to 13. Hayes airballs, and Dino Gregory adds insult to injury with a pump-dunk. The lead is 15, Maryland has the momentum on lockdown. To further Cal’s frustration, Patrick Christopher fouls out with just 10 points. 74-59 with 4:30 remaining.
– Robertson hits what might be 2 consolation FT’s, drawing the lead down to 13. In the second half, Maryland has hit 16 FG’s with only 3 turnovers. A few possessions later & Gutierrez hits a 3, the lead is now down to ten. 76-66 Maryland. I’m torn, I don’t want to lose this game in my bracket, but Maryland deserves this W.
– Bowie gets a big rebound & calls a time out in the corner. With just a shade over 2 minutes remaining, Cal might need to unleash the foul-a-thon. And just after completing that statement, Robertson fouls Hayes. Hayes shwacks the first FT, bricks the second. Gutierrez hits an AND-1 drive off the tip-top of the glass. Vasquez picks up the foul. Gutierrez hits the FT, the lead is 8.
– Vasquez hits a dagger three, and that might be it. Then Hayes gets a steal and “Gravy” Vasquez with the layup. The score is 82-71 Maryland, clock winding down. Gutierrez fouls out, his knees go weak & he looks on the verge of crying. And the tears are flowing. Hayes hits the FT’s and with a Maryland rebound at the end they dribble it out, Vasquez with the ball. Gary Williams wouldn’t have it any other way. Greivis Vasquez finishes with 26 & the first upset in the region unfolds as the 7 seed California Golden Bears are dropped by the 10 seed Maryland Terrapins. Somewhere, James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s World” is drowning out the tears of Gutierrez. And that’s the ball-game.
No. 13 Mississippi State vs. No. 4 Washington
– We jump in the action with a smidge over 6:30 remaining in the first half, Washington leading 23-16. Johnson for MSU misses his first FT, makes the second. Washington turns it over, Mississippi State ball. Isaiah Thomas with the best hesitation dribble floater in the paint of the tourney thus far. Augustus answers with a bucket of his own with Brockman on the bench with two fouls. Pondexter gets his 10th points for the game & misses the and-1 opportunity. Mississippi State turns it over, Isaiah Thomas gets a fast break layup. Huskies lead by 10.
– Gant fouls on an illegal screen, leading by 9 now. Side-note, MSU has more turnovers than field goals. (9 and 6 if you were wondering) Gant hits a midrange jumper, nobody near him. for a 36% shooter, Gant has a decent release. Dentmon draws the foul on Turner. Sell out crowd, it’s official. MSU hits a pair of FT’s and Johnson ties up the ball with Pondexter, possession arrow to Washington. Pondexter drops a jumper over outstretched arms, 5-8 FG 12 points. Turner responds with an three pointer to hush the UW fans. Justin Holiday, brother of Bruin Jrue, draws a foul on the other end. Makes the first, makes the second. 35-27 with less than a minute remaining in the half.
– UW holds for the last shot, Pondexter drives in, draws the foul, hits the shot. Pondexter has 14 with a chance for 15. That’s Osby’s 3rd foul. Pondexter makes the FT, MSU misses the buzzer beater and it’s 38-27 Huskies leading the way with Pondexter topping the stat sheet with 15 points on 6-8 shooting. Mississippi State has a few players in foul trouble (Vernardo & Osby), Washington is playing effective basketball without the constant production of Brockman.
– Things are about to start rolling again. Before, I’d like to say I’ve finally seen Marcus Jordan play a really solid game. Wherever he decides to play college ball at, they will get a shifty combo guard to help out for years to come. I know Ryne probably wants the HEIR Jordan to go to Illinois.
– Some other last second observations before the second half begins, Pondexter has scored as much as the top 3 producers for MSU.
– And we’re underway. Vernardo misses a shot contested by Brockman. Pondexter misses in response on the other end. Brockman gets his 7th board, Isaiah Thomas gets a crafty pass into Pondexter for his 16th and 17th points of the game.
– Washington ball forces an MSU turnover, Brockman gets blocked by Vernardo. Brockman tries again & this time scores on Vernardo. The score is 42-27 & just as I’ve typed it, Pondexter now has 19. Score is 44-27 Huskies lead it.
– Brockman gets a circus rebound, falls on his face, gets right back up and keeps the ball alive by tipping it to Isaiah Thomas just before the fall. Wow what an ugly fall that was. Turner hits a 3 on the other end, then rebounds off of a Thomas miss. Vernardo destroys a Pondexter attempt and throws it back 30 feet at least. It’s like watching Dikembe with a tennis racket.
– MSU is shooting 27% for the game. You don’t win many games like that . The starters are 6-27. Vernardo just picked up his 3rd foul on Brockman. Brockman makes 1/2 & gets his 11th rebound on the other end. Brockman draws a foul on Vernardo, his 4th for the game. Brockman might kill MSU’s dance dreams of an upset.
– Vernardo checks out, score is 46-32 Washington leading. Overton gets a board on defense & goes coast to coast for the lay up. On the other end MSU picks up an offensive foul. Brockman with the offensive foul, his third. The game is getting sloppy. Johnson with the travel, and the whistles continue.
– Dentmon checks in for Thomas, who quickly rebounds the ball to extend Washington’s possession. Augustus can’t save a loose ball on the other end and it’s UW ball, 48-32 with 12:15 remaining. Dentmon gets a big bucket, extending the lead to 18.
– The lead is pulled to 15 by MSU. Pondexter draws the foul on the other end. Without Quincy Pondexter, I doubt Washington would be in the game right now. Quincy makes the first charity stripe shot, also drains the second. Vernardo checks back in the game with 4 fouls, possibly a risky move.
– Stewart finally gets MSU a bucket, they’re shooting 25 percent for the game, an abhorrent number. Overton hits a three. He’s 9/35 on the year. Cody Augustus responds with a layup. Augustus gets a defensive rebound and after a series of unfortunate events for the Huskies, Osby slams it home. Pondexter isn’t having any of that, no thank you, and gets a bucket. 23 on the night for Pondexter.
– Foul on Overton, that’s his 4th. MSU misses the FT’s & Brockman gobbles up another rebound. The lead is 14, 57-43
– Now Brockman picks up his 4th foul, there are whistles galore tonight. Vernardo hits the first FT. Misses the second. Isaiah misses a 3, Pondexter with the board, misses the putback, rebounds again and tips it in. 25 for Pondexter. What a game for the swingman, he’s outplaying everybody. That includes UW staple, John Brockman.
– Correction, that last bucket was for Brockman, but the statement stands nonetheless.
– Isaiah Thomas makes a nice move in the paint. Isaiah Thomas was named after Isiah Thomas based off of a bet his father lost in the Detroit Pistons/Los Angeles Lakers playoff series back in the day. His wife only agreed to it because “they spelled it the biblical way.”
– Vernardo got his 5th block of the day. 18 point lead for the huskies 64-46 but the hustle by Vernardo is commendable.
– With the game all but over, the most telling stat is this: 30% shooting for Mississippi State University. You just don’t win games like that.
– R. Johnson hits a three to close the lead to 13. Dentmon is fouled and hits two FT’s to make the game 66-51, Turner responds with a 3 to make it 66-54 and…ISAIAH THOMAS TOSSES IT TO OVERTON FOR THE SLAM.
– And to close it out, Washington puts a hometown hero 7 footer into the game who hits a FT. Isaiah Thomas dribbles out the clock and this game is chalk like Obama’s bracket. The final score is 71-58. Next up?…
No. 10 Michigan vs. No. 7 Clemson
– Michigan is back. Manny & Sims have brought a sense of legitimacy back to the program, long lost in NIT appearances and talk of the Fab Five booster club history. Those times are over. And for Clemson, we have justification, rejoice. For the past 3 years, Clemson has started the season very well. The last two years, they had closed out pathetically. This year however, thanks to Booker and Rivers, the Tigers are in the dance and poised for a run.
– Winner of this game gets the winner of the Oklahoma/Morgan St. game. For posterity’s sake I picked Michigan in my bracket.
– Booker scores the first bucket of the evening, Sims responds with an airball. Sykes, Clemson beast in the paint draws the foul. The entire days anthem (first given to Randle of Cal, then expanded to the entire games’ action) is “It’s a Man’s World” by James Brown. And if Sykes has anything to say about it, it’s a Tigers world. Sykes misses. Novak airballs, he’s a freshman who is naturally a little jittery.
– Trevor Booker just smacked the dog spit out of Sims’ post move. Manny Harris drains a 3, then Oglesby answers with one of his own. Lee misses a 3 of his own, Oglesby with the board, Sykes dunks on Novak. Score is 7-3 early on.
– Harris airballs (everybody on the Michigan end seems nervous and jittery) and Sims turns it over. Sykes erupts with emotion. He is oozing with pure ferocity and senior leadership.
– If Manny can get into rhythm at some point this game, he’s going to be more than a handful for the Tigers. But if they keep playing like a kid peeing down his leg, Sykes is going to beast them out of the tournament.
– A bit of history, the last time Clemson won a tournament game, Rick Barnes was the coach, and short shorts were still in vogue.
– Oglesby pulls a 26 footer, misses off the rim, but you have to stand in awe at his quick release under pressure. Douglass hits a three pointer in response. These freshman shooters for Michigan have guts.
– Lee hits a three, that’s two in a row for the Wolverines, the score is tied at 9.
– Sims airballs again, he’s acting like he’s never been on television before.
– Harris hits a runner in the lane, he might be the next Josh Howard, or the next Marquis Daniels. Either way, I’m not complaining. Rivers drives in & draws the foul on Stu Douglass. After the commercial break, he’ll shoot 2.
– For the Wolverines to win, they need to calm down their big man Sims and get some more ball reversals in the half court sets to displace the Clemson defense and open up some spaces on the floor for some high percentage shots. At first glance, Clemson is an undersized team, but in reality they are a very long, versatile squad.
– Michigan has taken the lead, 14-11 with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the half. Harris airballs again, the Wolverines are inconsistent thus far.
– Clemson hasn’t scored in 6 minutes & Manny Harris just scored over Booker. It’s 17-11, Michigan leading the way so far. Michigan fans are drowning out any other sounds in the arena. The M faithful have waited too long to be silent.
–Clemson is currently 4-21 from the game. The score is now 17-13 after some FT’s. Gibson gets a block, then Booker grabs the board on the other end. Oglesby picks up his second foul of the evening. And off to a commercial break we go, same score.
– Rivers draws the foul and hits a couple FT’s, the lead has shrunk to 2 points. Sims on a great give and go gets his first bucket of the night. Rivers gets a steal but misses the layup. Fast paced game people, barely any time to break down the action.
– Manny Harris drives in, extends and lays it in and-1. Money. Manny Harris is one special player. he has 11 points 4 rebounds thus far. He’s also a 1000 point scorer already in his sophomore year. Only players to reach it faster in Michigan history? Jalen Rose & Chris Webber.
– The score is 22-20 with 4:49 remaining in the half.
– Grant gets a block & a SLAM on the other end. Score is tied at the break.
– Some quick insight on Clemson’s pressure defense via UMHoops:
Under Coach Oliver Purnell, the Clemson Tigers have been characterized as a pressure defense team. They like to press full-court the whole game and score a large part of their points off their press. There are two kinds of presses they use:
1. Diamond Press. The diamond press or the 1-2-1-1 is a very aggressive press that is designed to put incredible amount of pressure on the first pass. In other words, they generally allow the ball to be inbounded but then trap the first pass in the backcourt corners. They take away the center of the court and attempt to force the ball on the sideline where they can setup a secondary trap once the ball is passed out of the first trap.
The weaknesses of the diamond press include the soft spot in the middle, between the center-court defender and the inbounds (roughly the free-throw line in the backcourt). Once the ball is passed into the soft spot, a tall, capable passer can pass over top of the zone to fast breaking players running their lanes. Once the ball is advanced past halfcourt, the offense generally has a temporary numbers advantage. A key game in which their diamond press was exposed was against Seth Greenberg’s Virginia Tech Hokies. While still turning over the ball, they still managed to score many points in transition and more importantly they beat the Tigers.
2. Full Court Man Press. I’ve seen the Tigers run more M2M full court press in the last few weeks than earlier in the season. The M2M full court press is really just their same halfcourt M2M defense but extended full court. The are no trapping areas like in the zone press, but the individual defense by each player puts pressure not only on the ball but in denying the passing lanes. Generally, a M2M full court press will not generate as many turnovers as a zone press will, but the advantage being that it is easier to transition from full-court M2M to half-court M2M than zone press to half-court M2M.
The weakness of most M2M full court presses is their overly aggressive nature. Since most full court M2M defenses will play on the line/up the line (ie. shoot the gaps and anticipate passes) they are very susceptible to backdoor cuts and over the top passes.
– Back to the action, the score is tied 22-22 with 2:45 remaining. Manny Harris scores again with a three pointer, making his line 14 and 5 for the night. Booker responds with an emphatic rip on the rim & brings the lead down to 1.
– Grady commits a shot clock violation for Michigan, wasting a possession in a close game in the waning moments of the first half. Douglass banks in a 17 footer on the following possession on a jumper that encountered some physical resistance. Good no call by the refs. Oglesby got a bit shot happy throwing a ball up behind his head and airballs. Douglass responds by missing the shot at the end of the half. Score is 27-24 at the half, Michigan leading. Manny Harris leads all scores with 14 points.
– Here we go here we go, it’s getting pretty close to the start of the second half, here are the items Clemson needs to address if they want to come back and beat Michigan. 1. Clemson needs to get better looks for Oglesby & Rivers- they both have taken a good number of shots, but none of them are off of passes in rhythm. That needs to improve if Clemson wants a chance. 2. Trevor Booker needs to get mad on defense and try to limit Manny Harris off of the dribble. Harris has one glaring weakness on the offensive end- shooting off the catch. Off the dribble, Manny is the best player on the court. Booker needs to find a way to get Harris to pick up his dribble and take set shots. Better yet, they need to find a way to deny the ball. On the Michigan end, there are a few things the Wolverines need to improve on if they plan on winning this game. 1. Sims needs to calm down and take better, more high percentage shots in the post. I saw 4 times in the game where he just spun around and faded on a much more athletic Sykes, only to airball or brick off the side of the rim. These aren’t Sims’ bread and butter. He needs to improve that. 2. Michigan needs to get better looks on the perimiter to Novak & Douglass. Both players can shoot the lights out, but not without good, in rhythm passes. 3. Lee needs to flare off screens when the defender cuts under the pick, for some reason he’s been curling around picks, leaving him without room to operate in the offense. Because of that, he’s been caught picking up his dribble too early.
– And we’re underway. The cheerleaders are smiling into the camera, the Maize ‘n Blue fans are yelling their lungs out & the players are taking the court.
– Clemson starts out with a Sykes bucket out of the inbound play. Harris drives down and is fouled before the shot. Novak with a perefectly timed alley-oop to Sims, and he SLAMs it down. Oglesby misses another shot. Oglesby & Rivers are a combined 1-12 from the field.
– Clemson forces Manny to take a jumper off the catch and misses. And for the umpteenth time this Thursday, a player control foul is called
– Novak just hit a three pointer, Rivers misses a bunny, then Clemson gets a putback, then Sims gets a dunk, then Douglass gets a steal & a dunk. All without any interruption, all in the span of about 15 seconds. 9-2 run by the Wolverines to open the 2nd Half.
– 36-28 with 17 minutes remaining. Oglesby called for an offensive foul. The body language of Clemson is simply pathetic, they look like they’ve given up all hope.
– Correction, INTENTIONAL foul, Oglesby threw an elbow fairly violently into Douglass’ face. Douglass sinks both FT’s. They roll the tape and Oglesby is ejected from the game. What a bad break for Clemson. Oglesby leaves the game 1-8 from the floor.
– TJ Lee flares off a screen and buries a three pointer. Clemson turns the ball over, and Manny Harris dunks on Rivers.
– Rivers misses another shot, but draws the foul on Novak. Rivers has missed 13 shots today, only 1 field goal.
– Michigan is dominating the second half with a 16-2 run to open the 2nd Half. The score is 53-40. We might have another 7/10 upset (previous 7/10 was Cal/Maryland) on our hands here.
– Manny Harris assists Novak for a three pointer. He has scored or assisted 11/17 of Michigan’s field goals.
– K.C. Rivers finally hits his first FG of the game, he’s 1-8 for the night.
– Clemson’s Potter draws the foul on Gibson, he’ll shoot two at the line. He hits the first, hits the second. And it’s 46-34. Michigan calls a time out. The lead is cut to 12.
– Stu Douglass hits a couple FT’s to extend the lead to 14, but Rivers contracts it back to twelve.
– K.C. Rivers seems to have been gauged in the eye accidentally, so after the break we’ll be back to NCAA action.
– Manny Harris hits a pair of FT’s and now has 18 points on 6/12, 6 rebounds, 5 assists. Solid game so far. Booker responds with a drop step counter pivot shot.
– Harris drove in on a Clemson player and bumped heads on accident. They had to stop play, both players took a seat on the bench to get iced for a minute. 3 injuries and an ejection in the past 7 minutes.
– 10 minutes remaining in the game, the score is 50-38 Michigan leads. CJ Lee fouls Booker and he’ll go to the line. Booker makes both FT’s and Michigan promptly turns it over. Booker draws another foul, and he’ll get two more FT’s.
– Harris passes to Douglass, who misses but Gibson grabs the board and passes back to Douglass who draws a foul. Douglass goes 1/2 from the line, but gets his own rebound off the miss. The Wolverines are out-hustling the Tigers at this point. You have to wonder if Clemson can come back from this.
– Manny Harris is improving his draft stock right now, 18 points, 8 boards, 6 assists. Sims just hit a 3, and that makes the lead 56-43. That might be it folks, I’m not sure Clemson can come back from this deficit with a smidge under 6 remaining.
– Harris grabs his ninth board off of a Rivers’ miss & draws the foul on Stitt. Manny drains both FT’s. That’s 20 points right now for the Michigan combo guard.
– Young gets a 3 to fall for Clemson, finally ending a big drought for the Tigers. They’re still losing by double figures. Aint no sunshine when she’s gone. And by she I mean any mojo Clemson had previously.
– Grant must’ve read my words because he just blocked Sims defiantly. In a similar defiant manner, Rivers drains a three over outstretched hands. This game is so fast paced! 58-52 Michigan leads with 3:39 remaining. Quick observations, This is one of the better officiated games I’ve seen in my life.
– Harris turns it over and after a kick ball stoppage, we’re out to commercial again. For Michigan to keep this lead, they’re going to need to reincorporate Stu Douglass back into the offense & get Manny Harris better looks on the offensive end. Clemson needs to keep grinding away at that lead. If they win this game, it’ll be a huge deal without their best shooter and a horrible outing from K.C. Rivers.
– The Michigan band is playing Hail to the Victor like it’s no tomorrow. Could it be foreshadowing by the brass section?
– Manny drives in but gets denied by Grant (his 3rd block of the evening). Coming off the inbound play, Michigan turns it over. Clemson knows one thing- it’s not over ’til it’s over.
– The lead crunches down to 4 with a minute and some change remaining. Both teams want it like they own it, but only one can win. After 2 misses by Clemson, Booker draws the foul on Sims. He’ll be at the line.
– Booker hits 1/2… Lee promptly turns it over. 3 point game. Less than a minute remaining. Big efn’ deal.
– Stitt drives in and gets the two. Then Manny Harris drives in & gets the finish AND-1. Manny hits the FT and it’s 61-57 with 30 seconds left. Scratch that, Booker SLAMS it home to make it 61-59 with 27.8 seconds remaining. I’m biting my nails a la LeBron.
– Novak, the lefty freshman gets to the line to shoot 2 with 13 seconds remaining. Is he clutch? He misses the first. Second shot? … … … BOTTOMS. 62-59 13 seconds left. Rivers misses the shot, MICHIGAN WINS. MICHIGAN WINS. Clemson with a hard-fought GRINDER of a game. Hat’s off to them. Great game. Manny Harris is obviously the player of the game with 23 points, 6 assists, 9 rebounds. Booker with 18 & 11 for Clemson. The 7 seed goes down to the 10 seed. Thank god I picked them in the bracket *counts lucky stars*. Alright, the next game we’ll cover is UCLA & VCU!
No. 11 VCU vs. No. 6 UCLA
– Ladies ‘n Gentlemen, Get ready, here I come, Talib Kweli ‘n I’m bangin’ in your eardrum…Okay, so that’s not going on right now, but what is going down is a soon to be instant classic between the 11 seed VCU led by Eric Maynor, stud guard & Courtney Lee of this class, and then you have 6 seed UCLA, backcourt led by Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday & Josh Shipp. The keys to the game are whether or not Jrue can slow down Eric Mayor (possibly the most underrated PG in the country) and if Darren Collison can bounce back from a 1-9 FG’s game against USC in the PAC10 Semifinal loss. This game is probably the most likely 11 seed over 6 seed upset in the entire tournament. Again, for posterity’s sake- I have VCU over UCLA in this game. UCLA just doesn’t have the inside game to compliment Collison like he used to & they aren’t playing well as of late.
– Just a non basketball stat… So far, the word count is 5697 words.
– The game is set to start in a few minutes, so until then, a few things to think about. What happens if UCLA loses in the first round? Ben Howland has been to two consecutive final-fours…But whispers abound in LA that if he loses in the first round, many of the fans will want a change. Whether that means in philosophy or just how the team plays altogether, that has yet to be seen.
– The winner of this game plays Villanova. (it’s all…part of the plan..[the joker, get it?])
– Collison is defending Maynor right now. I think Jrue should be checking Maynor, he’s a better, longer defender.
– Shipp draws the foul on Larry Sanders, misses the first FT. Drains the second, and it’s 1-0. Maynor responds with making his first shot of the game. 2-1 VCU leads. UCLA turns it over due to VCU pressure- VCU has a solid zone press right now. UCLA turls it over once more due to the press & it’s VCU ball. Collison fouls Maynor & UCLA is looking sloppy thus far.
– Dragovic hits the 2 from the corner. He’s the x-factor for the Bruins tonight. Sanders gets the ball in the post and draws the foul on Dragovic. Sanders at the line, he’s got a very smooth release. Makes the first and the second. 4-3 VCU lead early on.
– Jrue Holiday with a coast-to-coast drive and gets the bucket to fall. 5-4 UCLA. Holiday gets a steal on the next possession & dunks in the open court. 7-4 UCLA leading.
– After a VCU bucket, UCLA responds with a Collison 3 pointer. VCU responds with a quick bucket. 10-8 UCLA leading with 14:20 left in the 1st half
– Aboya gets a steal and converts the bucket. After the break, he’ll get a chance to make a 3PT play. The Bruins are playing with fervor, an energy they haven’t shown since the last week of the PAC10 regular season. They appear hellbent to bounce back from that USC loss in the PAC10 tournament.
– Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison & Alfred Aboya already have steals for the Bruins thus far. Both teams have top notch defensive pressure, it’s just a question of who will make less mistakes to win the game. Aboya hits the FT, and it’s 13-8 UCLA. Shipp misses a layup, Dragovic gets the steal off of the VCU rebound but misses the shot. Maynor misses a three, Dragovic with the rebound and a timeout is called. 13-11 UCLA leading with 11 minutes remaining in the half.
– After two consecutive Collison misses, UCLA gets called for a foul. Eric Maynor drives in and draws the foul to get to the line. Good lord he’s fast. He makes the first – by the way, by fast, I mean near Patty Mills – Makes the second & the game is tied at 13-13.
– Sanders just did a statement block on Keefe using nothing but the laws of verticality. After a possession, Michael Rolle hits a 3. That’s why he’s in the game folks, gotta close out on a shooter.
– Maynor drives in, Collison picks up his 2nd foul in the half. Maynor drains both FT’s, and UCLA promptly turns it over. Your move VCU. Keefe fouls Maynor, that’s his second. After a missed front of a 1 and 1, Dragovic hits a 3 over the arms of Larry Sanders. 19-15 UCLA
– And after Larry Sanders is hung by the bottom of the rim, Dragovic drains an NBA range three pointer. In response, Bradford Burgess drains a three of his own. Freshman got some balls, bro.
– Soon after, in other words one possession later, Maynor drops a dime to a 3 by Rodriguez. Holiday travels, VCU ball after the break. 22-21 UCLA leading by one.
– Shipp scores a bucket & it’s 27-23 UCLA leads by 4 with 4 and some change left in the half. Low scoring affair, something UCLA is used to & is totally comfortable with.
– UCLA has 8 steals in comparison to VCU’s 2. Shipp scores again, this time with a three pointer.
– One possession later, Shipp scores again. He’s on a 6 point tear in the past 1:30.
– At the end of the half, it’s 35-25 UCLA leading the way. Shipp is playing very well for UCLA.
– A boom boom boom. A pow pow pow pow. Yeah, yeah… Alright, so the second half will soon be brought into the world, so until then let’s break down a few points critical to each team’s success. UCLA: 1. Jrue Holiday needs to be more productive on offense. Look for him to come off some screens by Dragovic and Keefe in the second half. 1. Collison needs to have a better shot selection. In the first half, Collison took some hasty, questionable shots. Howland probably brought this to Darren’s attention. Look for him to correct that mistake. VCU: 1. Eric Maynor needs to be more aggressive on offense. He has been playing very efficiently and effectively, but I feel he could be more aggresive. He doesn’t need to worry about whether he’s being selfish or not. Just do work. 2. Sanders needs to play better offensively. He looks a little raw out there, playing directly under the rim too often, getting hung by the bottom of the rim. He has a soft stroke, hopefully he uses it in the second half & plays more of a mid/high post position to help out VCU.
– Holiday takes a shot out of the gate, but misses and taps it out of bounds. Sanders hits a midrange jumper (looks like he read my words!) and it’s only an 8 point lead now. Shipp draws a foul, makes the first FT… Makes the second. He’s got 10 points, 2 steals thus far.
– Larry Sanders hits an 8 foot hook, he’s really playing well out of the gate for VCU. 37-29 UCLA leading by 8.
– Larry Sanders gets a board after Burgess blocks Shipp, then Rodriguez misses a jumper. Aboya at the line, looking for his fourth point. Boom, he hits it and it’s 39-29 UCLA leads.
– After a Burgess three, a VCU foul & a Larry Sanders board, Eric Maynor hits a bucket And-1.
– It’s 39-34 UCLA leading, but Maynor can hit a FT and cut the lead to 4. Misses the FT, lead stays at five. Collison stays in the game with 3 fouls, but turns it over off of a drive. Aboya gets called for a handcheck, that’s his second for the game. After probably 5 rebounds in one possession, UCLA finally gets the ball and moves up the court. Maynor called for a foul, his first in the game. Handchecks galore tonight. For the record, great officiating thus far today.
– Eric Maynor answers a Josh Ship tip in with a floater of his own. Shipp answers that bucket with his 13th and 14th points of the night. Maynor responds by dropping a dime to Larry Sanders who SLAMs it home. Collison misses a jumper, Sanders rebounds over to Maynor… Sanders turns it over. 43-38 UCLA leads with 12 minutes remaining in the game!
– Shipp extends the lead to 7 with a pair of FT’s. Maynor is going to need to be even more aggressive offensively if he wants to bring VCU into the win column.
– Quick stat, UCLA is 2/14 from the field in this half thus far.
– Larry Sanders cuts the lead to 6, 45-39. Aboya negates that shot with one of his own, lead back to 8. Nixon responds with a put back off of a Sanders miss. Michael Roll can’t stay in front of Maynor and picks up foul number three. Maynor hits both FT’s and it’s 47-43. Collison & Holiday have both been very quiet this second half. Shipp and Aboya are carrying the Bruins right now.
– Dragovic hits both FT’s to raise the lead back to 6. Sanders is fouled by Aboya & both fall down, struggling to get back up momentarily. Sanders hits his first FT, misses the second & it’s a five point game. Maynord draws Collison’s fourth foul. This is the difference between a good college PG and a top shelf NBA PG prospect.
– Holiday hits a midrange jumper, then fouls Maynor. Maynor misses the 1 and 1, fouls Holiday on the other end. Maynor turns it over after taking the ball down, that’s three negative plays by Maynor in a row.
– Shipp gets called for fouling Maynor and this is getting ridiculous. Too many fouls on both sides. Clean it up gentlemen! Fresh off that statement, Jrue picks up another foul. Collison steps back in the game with 4 fouls. Aboya gave 2 shot fakes than a power dribble and SLAMmed all over Larry Sanders.
– Fresh off of a Burgess lay up, Shipp turns it over. Gwynn gets a quick two thanks to an excellent pass from Rodriguez. 57-50 UCLA
– Collison hits a pair of FT’s and he stretches the lead to 9. Maynor responds with a floater from 8, he has 16. Holiday brings it back with a lefty lay-in.
– Score is 61-52 UCLA leads with 4 minutes remaining in the game. Maynor drills a three. 61-55, the lead is 6.
– Rodriguez drains a three off of a Maynor assist and it’s a 3 point game. Collison answers with a lefty lay-up. Maynor answers with a great pass to Gwynn for a layup. 63-60 UCLA leads.
– Holiday fouls Burgess & it’s 63-60 with 1:20 remaining in the game. This could be a huge upset for VCU that would surely screw with a good chunk of brackets in the country.
– Burgess makes 2 FT’s, the lead is down to one. What a clutch freshman. 63-62 UCLA
– Aboya hits a pair of FT’s and it’s 65-62 UCLA leads. Seeing as these updates are mostly from fouls, I apologize for the briefness of the updates.
– VCU’s band is playing the Requiem for a Dream song, it’s beautiful. God I love this game, Maynor gets to the FT line. Maynor hits the first. Maynor hits the second. 65-64 UCLA leads by one with 48 seconds to go.
– Collison gets BLOCKED by Larry Sanders. Shot clock violation. 65-64 UCLA up one 11.5 seconds to go. THIS IS IT…
– Eric Maynor misses a midrange jumper for the win…UCLA wins 65-64 in a game where they did not play well. UCLA eeks by. Great day of games today folks, check us out tomorrow for the day’s action. After the entire day of action and over 7000 words, this is Justin Walsh calling it a night. Thanks for stopping by everyone!