Rushed Reactions: #16 Cal Poly 81, #16 Texas Southern 69Posted by Chris Nguon on March 19th, 2014
Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion, @RTCMWregion, @RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.
Three Key Takeaways in Cal Poly’s First Four win.
- Throw regular season records out of the window. If Cal Poly’s week so far is any indication of what is to come, then this is going to be a memorable NCAA Tournament. The Mustangs might have ended the season six games under the .500-mark, but that did not matter on Wednesday evening. Cal Poly played with poise, aggression, and above all an inner confidence that showed in its play on the court. With what eventually amounted to a virtual wall-to-wall lead on the scoreboard, the Mustangs were able to make school history, becoming the first team in their highly successful athletic program to win a game in the Big Dance.
- Aaric Murray was tremendous, but… Wednesday showed once again why its so important to have depth in the NCAA Tournament. The Texas Southern big man was as productive as ever, notching 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting and exhibiting a vast array of three-pointers, interior toughness, and just general moxie. Unfortunately for Murray, his battle-mates just couldn’t quite find their groove on either end of the court.
- It is rare that the first couple of minutes decide the game. In Cal Poly’s case, however, the opening 10 minutes of the first half allowed the Mustangs to catch their breath and realize that “hey, we are good enough to win this game.” Cal Poly faced an early deficit in a contest that started and ended fast offensively, but the ability to hang with Texas Southern (even though Cal Poly proved to be better) is paramount for a program that was making its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
Player of the Game. In all seriousness, Aaric Murray was by far the best player on the court, but since Cal Poly won the game, this honor goes to senior Chris Eversley, who put together a solid, composed effort that helped push his Mustangs to victory. The Chicago native scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds on 6-of-9 shooting. More importantly though, Eversley provided that solid, calm hand whenever Cal Poly needed to stave off a big run by Texas Southern. Honorable mention definitely goes to Mustangs’ forward Dave Nwaba, who notched 17 points on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting.
Quotable. “I’m so weird that I was cheering the last five years that a #16 (seed) never upsets a #1. Because if we ever got a bid, we’d be a #16 seed and then we’d have a chance to make real history.” — Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero.
What’s next? Congratulations for winning your first NCAA Tournament game, Cal Poly. Your reward? Go beat #1 Wichita State. Tip-off is 7:10 PM ET Friday afternoon in Saint Louis.