Conference Tournament Daily Diary: Thursday

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 11th, 2011

RTC is pleased to announce that we’ll be covering all of the major conference tournaments this year — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC — in addition to the strongest two high-middies, the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.  Each day for the rest of this week, we’re asking our correspondents to provide us with a Daily Diary of the sights and sounds from the arena at each site.  Equal parts game analysis and opinion, the hope is that this will go beyond the tiresome game recaps you can find elsewhere and give you an insightful look into Championship Week.  Today’s coverage:  ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Mountain West & Pac-10.

ACC Tournament – by Kellen Carpenter

  • Miami-Virginia.  This was a truly bizarre game that I’m still not sure makes any sense.  Greensboro Coliseum was surprisingly packed for a 12 pm game between the 8 and 9 seed. Both teams boasted sizable and vocal fanbases who were each treated to a game of runs. Miami jumped out ahead, leading by six at the half, and then one of the weirdest second halves I have ever seen happened. Miami only scored eight points over the first 18 minutes of the second half. Virginia, rallying strongly, jumped out to a 50-39 lead with 2:15 left on the clock. Then Miami went nuts.  No, really. I’m still not sure what happened. The crowd was whipped into a frenzy by a series of weird, truly improbably events. Miami cut the eleven point deficit and forced an overtime which the Hurricanes suddenly dominated and walked away with a truly unexpected win. For a the first game of the ACC Tournament, it was not just a dinger, but a hum-dinger. Whenever you can get a crowd of Floridians and Virginians to scream their heads off in the early afternoon in North Carolina, you’ve put on quite a show. Beyond that, nothing about this game mattered.
  • Wake-BC.  After the drama of the Miami and Virginia game, any game with a team that had only managed to win one ACC game over the course of the season was bound to be a letdown. What was surprising to me, was the letdown in crowd energy. Winston-Salem, home of Wake’s campus, is a mere 20 minutes away, yet it seemed like the Demon Deacons had fewer fans present than Miami. Boston College had a very small and quiet contingent who seemed happy to quietly watch as the Eagles just took apart Wake. It really wasn’t much of a game, with the hyper-efficient Boston College offense firing on all cylinders (well, excepting the Raji cylinder). Reggie Jackson scored 27 points on 13 shots. Joe Trapani scored 22 points on 12 shots.  Nicholas Biko scored 21 points on 12 shots. Wake Forest’s porous defense could do little to stop them, and their impotence on the offensive end doomed them. Freshman Travis McKie was a bright spot, going 6-8 in the first half while the rest of his team struggled. But, for some stupefying reason, McKie only got two shots in the second half, one of these being a put-back dunk of his own manufacture. If there is a silver lining to that second half, it’s the fact that Wake actually managed to outscore BC, 36-34. Sadly, this was clearly not enough to make up for the 16 point deficit incurred in the first half. My favorite part of this game, was clearly the few, loud Wake Forest fans sitting directly behind me. One woman seemed particularly keen on trying to coach Travis McKie’s admittedly poor free throw shooting (2-5). Every time he got to the line she would yell “Bend your knees! Follow through!” If only he had listened? The season is mercifully over for Wake, and BC will get it’s chance at tougher competition tomorrow when they take on Clemson.
  • NC State-Maryland.  There were, as you might expect, an alarming number of loud, red-wearing people at this game. Maryland jumped out to an early lead which energized/enraged these loud, red-wearing fans. In response, the N.C. State band played Cee-Lo’s “Eff You,” which, when you think about it, is a perfect pep band song: catchy and insulting to the other team, while the lack of singing effectively makes it family friendly. Well-played, Wolf Pack band. That said, the pep band arrangement of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song was pretty excellent as well. And if the bands played with flair, the teams did too. There was more speed, athleticism, and acrobatic drives on display in this game than in the first two games combined. Cross-overs, spin moves, and behind the back dribbles on the fast break had the crowd frequently on its collective feet. Does Tracy Smith have the MVB (Most Valuable Beard) of this tournament? It’s hard to see anyone overtaking him. Maryland looked in command the whole game, but since Miami’s Miracle, there was a palpable nervousness in the crowd until the buzzer finally went off.
  • Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech controlled this game from the start and once it became clear that Georgia Tech could never catch up, the crowd that had gathered for the previous game started to vanish. Virginia Tech’s fans were consistently loud and even when the Hokies’ lead exceeded twenty, the fans took every call against them as if the game depended on it. Meanwhile, the Georgia Tech fans seemed resigned to his fate. Georgia Tech never managed to score more than a point per minute in the first half. It was one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen in a tournament setting, and remember, I watched the Wake Forest game earlier today. Virginia Tech played well enough, but I couldn’t help but be concerned about the minutes that the starters were playing. Malcolm Delaney played 39 minutes despite the massive lead VT held throughout. He only sat for the final minute of the game and that was after he had taken a needless hard foul. You have to wonder how such long minutes on consecutive days are going to affect the Hokies hopes of going deep into this tournament. Well, you don’t have to worry, but I would.

Big East Tournament – by Rob Dauster

  • The UConn-Syracuse game was one of the best games I have ever attended in person. Two very good basketball teams battling in a game that was a one possession game for the last ten minutes. Terrific atmosphere. March consequences. Buzzer beater. Wow.
  • Kemba Walker is the hero after this game, but the only reason he was able to find himself in this situation was due to the rest of his team. It was Alex Oriakhi that dominated the paint in the last 15 minutes of the game. It was Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb that hit big shot after big shot in the second half. It was Jamal Coombs-McDaniel that grabbed an offensive rebound with 18 seconds left after Kemba missed his fourth straight jumper in the final two minutes, setting up the final possession.
  • Pitt will be fine. They never get eaten up on the offensive glass like they did today. UConn just showed up ready to play.
  • DJ Kennedy’s torn ACL breaks my heart. He’s a senior that is for the first time in his career on a St. Johns team playing meaningful minutes in March. But instead of participating with the rest of his team — which has 10 seniors on the roster — he’ll end his career on the sidelines, in street clothes, getting around on crutches.
  • The atmosphere in the Garden for St. John’s vs. Syracuse was as good as I have ever seen it at the Big East tournament. Syracuse fans always travel well to New York City, and with the Garden being the Johnnies home court, it only makes sense that they would pack the seats. The other great part about Syracuse and St. John’s fans packing the arena is that New Yorkers are as boisterous as they are funny. No matter which way a whistle went, the crowd would be booing and screaming about how bad the call was. It was fun.
  • How about Fab Melo? He played 22 minutes and scored 12 points, including a couple of huge baskets down the stretch. Thats good to see. He’s struggled mightily this year.
  • Funny story from after the Notre Dame-Cincy game. Mike Brey has been holding games of knockout to close out practice over the last few weeks. In today’s, Mike Brey knocked out Carlton Scott and told the press about it (Scott clarified and said that Brey was shooting from the foul line while the rest of the team shot from three), but there was controversy according to Ben Hansbrough. Tom Knight won on a ridiculous, fadeaway three he shot off of one foot, but the only reason he stayed alive was that an assistant coach tossed a rebound to him that bounced long.
  • Notre Dame beat a team in Cincinnati that got 17 offensive rebounds and only turned the ball over 10 times by 38 points. Wow.
  • Louisville is a team that can do some damage in the tournament. They probably need to get a good draw, but with the way this team presses and hits threes, they can put up a lot of points in a short period of time.
  • I was never a fan of Mike Marra, but the guy that Rick Pitino once called the best high school shooter he’s ever seen really showed why tonight. He went off for 22 points off the bench, knocking down six threes in the process.
  • The best moment of the night came at the end of the Louisville game. Where I sit is in the media ramp boxes, which is place right behind the student section and abuts the crowd. I left the section for five minutes, and when I came back, the very intoxicated fan next to me told me he went looking for porn on my computer. He was kidding, but we struck up a conversation and it turns out he grew up in the town next to me. He left about five minutes later, and as he left, he told me he was going to slap the obnoxious Marquette fan sitting in our section by himself.   He extends his hand to shake it, then smacks the guy hard right in the face. The guys glasses go flying, and he reacts with complete shock, stumbling and bumbling as he tries to throw his drink on the guy who slapped him, who was also walking away coolly like nothing happened. The drink went all over some poor dude sitting on the other side of the aisle, and as the slapper walked away with the slappee chasing him trying to start a fight, the slappee was corralled by security and thrown out of the game. The worst part? His glasses ended up in the aisle. Someone stepped on them and threw them out after.

Big Ten Tournament – by John Stevens

  • I can’t lie. I figured Northwestern vs Minnesota to be a real snooze to start the day, and I considered bagging the first half of it to go snag a couple of slices of Bazbeaux before sauntering in for the second half. Glad I didn’t. Not only did I come to my senses and realize what a privilege to be in a town this nuts about basketball fro an event like this, but I would have missed half of a history-making performance. Northwestern’s Michael Thompson blew up for 35 points, the most in Big Ten Tournament history. Minnesota’s NCAA hopes were on life support as it was, but Thompson’s explosion pulled the plug on the Gophers.
  • I have a new respect for Tom Crean. I had no ill will toward him before, though I admit the congregation of basketball fans (especially in the Hoosier State) expecting a little quicker turnaround at IU is growing, watching him tonight, I was impressed. Not only does he log about ten miles up and down the sideline during the games, but he seems to relate to his players and assistants the way a battlefield general relates to his troops. I know military comparisons to head coaches at Indiana have long since grown tiresome, but there’s a difference between a battlefield general and a drill seargent.
  • The Cult of Gus is large, and growing. At halftime of the IU vs Penn State game, he came out from underneath his headset to take part in a promotion that attempted to find three dudes who sounded the most like him. All three were great contestants, and eerily accurate, and they had Gus high-fiving and laughing along with them as their submissions were played for the crowd. When he walked into the arena and chilled on the Big Ten stage for a while before his game started, he heard about a thousand “Ha-HAAAA!”s from fans. He tried to suppress his laughter, but failed.
  • As we understand it, the University of Minnesota is working to tack an extension onto Tubby Smith’s current contract. We certainly have no qualms with that move, but we wonder how long the averageness of this program will be tolerated. True, Smith’s team has had to battle through injuries and ineligible (and departed) players at key positions this season. But we know the rumblings are gaining momentum, and though everyone knows he’s a fantastic person, in the postgame press conference, when he was challenged by a reporter about what has to change to see some improvement in the post-season for his Gopher squads, he spoke a lot of words…but didn’t seem to actually say very much, or answer the question.
  • We’re always loath to say that one particular win puts a team in or out of the Tournament, but the buzz in Conseco Fieldhouse after Michigan State’s win over Iowa is that they’re good to go. Draymond Green is a quote machine, by the way. Out of several candidates, our favorite yesterday was when he was asked about his performance in the game against Michigan, a game in which he contributed only seven points and fouled out. His honest response: “Mateen Cleaves never did that against Michigan. Magic Johnson never did that against Michigan. And I want to put myself up there, at least in terms of leadership, with guys like that.”

Big 12 Tournament – by Brian Goodman

  • We’ll start with the continuation of the theme of Kansas City’s love of college hoops. An 11:30 local time start on a Thursday didn’t deter Jayhawk fans from packing the Sprint Center. The afternoon matchup between Kansas State and Colorado that followed brought out the Wildcat faithful, with many of KU’s fans staying to do some advanced scouting of their next opponent. That’s a lot of doctor’s notes.
  • The Big East Tournament has been fantastic, but the Big 12 Tournament has been no slouch. Four of the first five games were decided by five points or fewer, and the Colorado-Kansas State game was much closer than the final score indicates, due to CU making ten free throws in the final 86 seconds to ice the victory.

  • Early kudos go out to the Buffaloes, who appear to have clinched a tourney bid with their third win over Kansas State of the season. Alec Burks continued to shine – between the second half of Wednesday’s game against Iowa State and the first half against Kansas State, Burks had 41 points. Though the gaudy numbers don’t imply it, Jacob Pullen did a very good job defending Burks in the second half, and it allowed Cory Higgins to go off for 28 on Thursday.
  • The Jayhawks need to reverse a glaring trend of decreasing offensive production. Against Texas A&M on KU’s Senior Night, the Jayhawks had good looks but couldn’t convert. In Columbia, KU committed 24 turnovers and shot poorly again. In KU’s quarterfinal win over Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks got away from its bread and butter of pounding the ball to the Morris twins and flying in transition, and instead took way too many threes in its halfcourt set, a sure sign of the team pressing. The Jayhawks’ last three scoring totals of 64, 70 and 63 points are its lowest totals of the season, but the bottom line is that the team did just enough to win in all three games.
  • Kansas Coaching Tentacles: Bill Self was a graduate assistant at Kansas under Larry Brown in 1985-86, when Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon played for the Jayhawks. Self arrived at Kansas one season after the graduation of current Colorado coach Tad Boyle, who was a KU guard in the early 80’s. Boyle was an assistant under Turgeon at Wichita State from 2000-06. On Thursday, Self beat his alma mater, Oklahoma State, while Boyle and Turgeon dispatched Kansas’ biggest rivals, Kansas State and Missouri, respectively, as coaches of their own Big 12 programs. Confused yet?
  • The Cowboys played with a major chip on their shoulders, as shown by their fierce intensity until foul trouble set in. Oklahoma State was whistled for two technicals that were easy calls by the officiating crew, and three players fouled out, so it wasn’t without its share of collateral damage, but the sense of urgency played a big role in Oklahoma State being ahead for most of its defeat at the hands of KU.
  • After a slump to end the regular season, Texas took a step toward regaining confidence by keeping its foot on the gas pedal in a blowout win over Oklahoma. The Longhorns have let many a lead slip away in conference play, and in this one, they raced to an early 11-2 lead and never looked back, going up by as much as 23 points. Oklahoma got no closer than within 13, and Jeff Capel‘s team, which performed slightly better than expectations (of course, you have nowhere to go but up when you lose to Chaminade in November), will await its invitation to one of the ancillary tournaments.
  • In his postgame press conference, Missouri head coach Mike Anderson attributed his team’s loss to its youth, which is very curious rationale. While the Tigers do have promising young players in Flip Pressey, Michael Dixon and Justin Safford, the guys who see the most court time are all juniors. Anderson’s search will have to turn up better answers than that if the Tigers are to make it out of the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend alive. Until then, the team returns to Columbia to lick its wounds, entering the Big Dance having lost four of its last five games.
  • One belief about Missouri is that its defensive scheme is unique enough to throw off first and second round teams in the NCAA Tournament. You can bet that whoever they draw will spend some time on the phone with Mark Turgeon – after Thursday, his Aggies have beaten the Tigers eight times in a row.

Mountain West Tournament – by Andrew Murawa

  • In each game today, it was a hard-working big man that did the dirty work who was just as important to his team’s success as his more celebrated teammates. In the first game of the day, it was Noah Hartsock who willed BYU across the finish line with ten points, seven rebounds (five on the offensive glass), four assists, three blocks and just a general toughness in the middle that helped BYU advance despite struggles from their more celebrated backcourt. In New Mexico’s win, it was A.J. Hardeman playing both above the rim and down on the floor on his way to ten points, nine rebounds (six offensive), four steals, three assists and two blocks. For San Diego State, Malcolm Thomas just missed a triple-double in dominating the bigger Utah squad with 13 points, ten rebounds and eight assists. And for UNLV, Quintrell Thomas provided a spark with five blocks to go along with six rebounds and eight points in 20 minutes.
  • In Colorado State’s loss to New Mexico, the Rams had to go to battle without their senior leader Adam Nigon, who sprained a toe at the beginning of practice yesterday and couldn’t go. Nigon, who came to Fort Collins as a walk-on before earning a scholarship two years ago, was with head coach Tim Miles in the dark days of the program when they won seven games in 2007-08 and nine games in 2008-09, and Miles broke up in the post-game press conference when asked about Nigon. “It’s a travesty for the kid. You can’t ask for more out of anyone, more commitment, more effort. I just feel terrible for him.” Even New Mexico head coach Steve Alford got into the act, praising Nigon and lamenting his bad luck. “You never like to see those things for the student-athletes, especially those student athletes like Adam that mean so much to the game. They do it the right way, work hard, do the job in the classroom. It’s very unfortunate for him.”
  • Alford had praise for one of his own also, specifically senior point guard Dairese Gary. “We have a special leader, somebody that has done it from the beginning. He won 24 games in his first season and he’s been winning since then,” said Alford. While Gary struggled with his shot on Thursday, hitting just 3-11 from the field and 3-7 from the line, Alford noted that he does so many other things to affect the game. “Dairese will do the things that gives your team a chance to win every single night. This was one of the worst shooting nights in his entire career, yet he finds a way of getting his team in position to win. And this time around, it was Miles’ turn to echo Alford’s statements, noting that Gary came up with two huge loose balls late in the second half. “I’m going to tell you, those two plays – Dairese Gary won that game,” he said. “Dairese Gary just absolutely diving out once in front of our bench across the way, rolls into a timeout. Those are huge plays. He just laid out. Those were remarkable plays.”
  • I spent some time talking to fans around the arena about the impending departures of Utah and BYU from the conference. While there are generally no hard feelings about Utah leaving, it is pretty apparent that BYU will in no way miss the Mountain West and the other MWC teams will largely not miss BYU. One BYU fan told me that “those other MWC teams’ fans are going to hate us anyway, so the fact that they’re going to talk badly about us because we’re leaving is no surprise” and that “the WCC basketball environment will probably be a much better home for us anyway.” As for the rest of the MWC teams’ fans? I think their feelings were largely made apparent during halftime of the SDSU-Utah game, when the halftime entertainment was the cheer and dance teams of all nine MWC institutions performing in turn. While eight of the cheer and dance teams were greeted by little or no response from the crowd, the BYU team was roundly booed throughout the arena and the SDSU dance team even turned their backs to them during the performance.
  • One thing to keep an eye on tomorrow night is a little injury to Kawhi Leonard’s back, which he sustained early in the second half on Thursday night. He was stretching out often the rest of the night, was using a heating pad on the bench and was clearly a little stiff at the post-game press conference, but he did return for the game for about six minutes worth of action after the injury. He seemed confident that it was a minor injury and of little concern, but we’ll see how it feels after a night of sleep.
  • Utah’s loss was certainly their final game as a member of the MWC, but it may have also been the final game with head coach Jim Boylen as the head coach. After the game, Boylen tried to present the visage of a guy who was greatly looking forward to the future of his team and to rebuilding his program. “I’m very thankful to be the head coach here,” he said. “I was hired to build this program. We won a championship in our second year with four seniors. We are in a rebuilding process, where we now have our whole team coming back. It’s an exciting time for me.” He later added, “I haven’t worried about my job status at all,” but on the very next question he snapped at a reporter who asked him a question about the Leonard injury, clearly showing his frustration with the whole situation.
  • SDSU’s Jamaal Franklin made three three-pointers in a three-minute stretch against Utah on Thursday evening and had nine points on the evening. He has scored 55 points this year, and 22 of them have come against the Utes. And he didn’t even play in one of the team’s three matchups. Utah fans won’t miss seeing that guy when they go to the Pac-12 next year.
  • UNLV is playing its best ball of the season right now, and that is largely because: (1) they are getting good shots and (2) they are knocking down those shots. While they struggled through the middle of the season from deep, in their last five games the Rebels have made 42 three-pointers at a 49.4% clip. Given the way they defend, if Vegas is knocking down shots at that rate, they are awful hard to beat.
  • Usually games in which UNLV is a participant at the MWC Tournament are fairly raucous affairs. The UNLV fans show up and want to help their team defend their home court and show off to the rest of the league. On Thursday night, those Rebels fans weren’t there in as large a number as usual, and they weren’t as vocal either. The game started out 7-0, and by halftime the game was never really seriously challenged again. By the time the under-four timeout rolled around (with UNLV up 14), the place was more than three-quarters empty (does that make me a pessimist?). There was just no atmosphere in the Thomas & Mack for the finale, despite some pretty loud crowds for each of the three previous games. I expect that we won’t have that problem on Friday night, as all four teams remaining have a strong following and the games should be very competitive. Friday night in Vegas for BYU-New Mexico and San Diego State-UNLV? Yes, that’ll work.

Pac-10 Tournament – by David Ely

  • Thank you Washington. Thank you Washington State. Thank you Klay Thompson. You guys made up for a lousy day at the Staples Center with a great fast paced back-and-forth battle in the nightcap. That was a huge win for the Huskies, who might have found the spark they’ve been lacking in the second half. Who knows what UW’s fate would have been if they lost again, but now I think they’re safely off the bubble and in the dance. You have to feel bad for Thompson, though. The kid did everything he possibly could to keep his team’s slim NCAA hopes alive. Thompson set a new Pac-10 Tournament scoring record with 43 points, and hitting eight threes (another tournament record) and 15 shots (tied the record with Reggie Miller). All in all it was a great game, a game the conference definitely needed to salvage a lackluster quarterfinal round.
  • In general one of the worst parts about the opening rounds of any conference tournament is the crowd. Fans who show up usually arrive late and are only interested in their team’s game. For a good portion of the first half of the USC-Cal game, the loudest noises in the gym were the ones from sneakers squeaking on the hardwood. But this sequence really gives you an idea of what the atmosphere was like during Thursday’s early games: Oregon State’s Joe Burton airballed a free throw during the first half of OSU’s loss to Arizona, but the shot only solicited a scattering of jeers from the crowd. That definitely would not have happened in Eugene.
  • The Arizona faithful redeemed themselves later in the game after Burton cheap shot an Arizona player with a blow to the face. The fans chanted, “Throw him out! Throw him out!” at Burton. The refs did, and Burton watched the rest of his team’s loss in the locker room.
  • While the Pac-10 might have a lousy TV contract (no offense, FSN), it manages to make use of other technologies. During breaks in the action throughout the day, various twitter messages on Pac-10 hoops flashed across the jumbotron. Some were just from fans, some were from journos and some were from the schools themselves. Washington announced during the Arizona-Oregon State game that Justin Holiday would play that night, and then there was this one from @USC_Athletics “USC senior Marcus Simmons on his halftime buzzer-beater: “I don’t even remember the last time I made a three. It felt great!”
  • Alex Stepheson fresh off his huge performance (14 points, 16 rebounds) against California, said he knew that morning he was destined for a big game against the Golden Bears. “I’ve been daydreaming and thinking about this game for a long time,” Stepheson said. “So by tipoff I knew that today was going to be my day, I just have to go out there and be aggressive.” Stepheson had plenty of reason to be emotionally charged Thursday morning. Not only was the Trojans’ game against Cal a must-win, but it was also Stepheson’s first postseason game in nearly three years. Stepheson played seven minutes in North Carolina’s Final Four loss to Kansas in 2008, and then sat out and watched the Tar Heels win it all in 2009 after he transferred to USC. 2010 was no better as Stepheson and the Trojans sat out the Pac-10 Tournament. “A long three years it feels like,” he said. “It just feels great to be back in the tournament atmosphere.”
  • Got my first chance to see Derrick Williams in person and he’s as good as advertised. He had 16 points by halftime and finished with 22 points on 5-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Against a big team like USC on Friday, his ability to extend the defense could really free up the paint for a guy like Solomon Hill. One other thing on Williams: he’s got a little bit of a chippiness to his game. With less than a minute remaining in the first half, Williams sank a three-pointer right in front of an Oregon State bench that heckled Williams throughout the shot. Once the ball swished through the net, Williams turned and gave the Beavers a few choice words. Game on.
  • Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott addressed the media during halftime of the USC-Cal game. Some of the topics discussed included the format of next year’s 12-team tournament, the sparse attendance of the early round games and the conference’s national profile. There isn’t a set bracket for the 2012 tournament (which will remain in Los Angeles), but it’s likely that there’ll be two more play-in games on Wednesday followed by four quarterfinal games. Scott said that creating a conference television network remains a top priority as establishing the conference’s brand beyond the west coast. “That topic is something that I’ve been laser-focused on and we’re determined to get a lot more national exposure for basketball and football than what we’ve been getting,” Scott said.
  • As for the weak crowds, Scott said he would reserve judgment until after Saturday. “We were disappointed in the crowds last year,” Scott said. “But USC wasn’t in it because of their postseason ban, UCLA was down. I think this year will be a much better test with UCLA and USC very strong.” We’ll see what the crowd looks like Friday now that UCLA is out.
  • And what a stink bomb by UCLA against Oregon. There were some who were upset that the Bruins, who won nine of their last 11 games, didn’t enter the Pac-10 Tournament ranked. Those people can stop talking now. At no point Thursday night did UCLA seem emotionally invested in this game, and the Ducks jammed it down their throat from the get-go. It was obvious that UCLA’s heads weren’t in it when the Bruins were whistled for a technical foul for having six men on the court in the first half. Just an all-around disappointing performance from a disinterested squad.
  • On the flip side, how ’bout the Ducks? Oregon lost its last four games of the season but now they’re the darlings of the Staples Center. The Ducks shot 49.1% from the field against a defensive-minded Bruins squad and were led by E.J. Singler’s 24 points on 7-9 shooting. Could Oregon make the finals? Who knows? I know that there are plenty of bubble teams out there that would like to see the Ducks bow out Friday.
Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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