March Madness: Thursday games
March Madness is officially under way, baby! Here are my thoughts on the Thursday's action ...
• Wake Forest got a measure of redemption by rallying to beat Texas. Dino Gaudio's club was down eight in overtime and came back to win. The Demon Deacons dominated on the glass and the Longhorns suffered a disappointing end of the season. Ish Smith hit the dramatic game-winning shot. You could see the emotion on the face of Damion James as his team was sent packing. Texas opened the season 17-0 and was No. 1 in the nation. Rick Barnes has to wonder what went wrong.
• Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter would not allow Washington to go home. The Huskies trailed 60-45 against Marquette, but still got to the winner's circle. Thomas played all 40 minutes, scoring 19 points. He had eight assists and just one turnover. Now Washington takes on a New Mexico team that escaped with a win over Montana.
• Melvin Goins came up with a big trifecta that helped Tennessee get past San Diego State. Goins had 15 big points in 19 minutes off of the bench. San Diego State really struggled shooting the trifecta and that proved costly.
• Marcus Morris is one of the most improved players in America. He hit 12-of-15 from the field, finishing with a double-double (26 points, 10 rebounds). Kansas struggled for a while but pulled away from Lehigh.
• BYU's Jimmer Fredette is a special player. Fredette scored 37 points in 46 minutes in a double-overtime thriller against Florida. Guard play was a key -- Michael Loyd Jr. had a career-high 26 in the contest. Diaper dandy Kenny Boynton had 27 points for the Gators before fouling out. It was a tough loss for Billy Donovan's kids, who gave up 18 points in the second overtime.
• BYU is the top-scoring team among the field of 65, coming in averaging 83 ppg. The Cougars had 75 in regulation and really exploded in overtime.
• BYU coach Dave Rose is such an inspiration. He has been battling pancreatic cancer, and there he is on the sidelines coaching his team to victory. It is an amazing story as he led BYU to its first NCAA tournament win since 1993.
• Luke Harangody had an outstanding college career. I am sure he was disappointed to finish it with a mere four points in a 51-50 loss to Old Dominion. Remember, he finished his career as Notre Dame's second-leading scorer with more than 2,400 points. Only Austin Carr scored more with the Irish.
• One player who was a big factor for Old Dominion was Keyon Carter, who scored 11 points off the bench.
• Old Dominion is a pretty solid team when you consider its win against Georgetown earlier this season.
• Villanova had quite a scare against Robert Morris. Jay Wright's team trailed by nine in the first half and escaped with a 73-70 overtime victory.
• It was a tough day for Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher as neither veteran started. They were benched by Wright, who said it was a teaching moment. Experienced kids like that should know better than to be a distraction before the tournament.
• Reynolds hit just 2 of 15 from the field but made up for it by hitting 15 of 16 from the line. Villanova made just 18 field goals and scored 10 more points from the foul line than Robert Morris.
• A surprise key for Nova was Mouphtaou Yarou, the diaper dandy who scored 17 points and hit 5 of 16 from the field.
• Give Dave Rice's team credit -- this is a team that lost to Syracuse by 40 and Pittsburgh by 24, but it came very close against a Big East foe on Thursday.
• Saint Mary's really pounded Richmond on the boards. Omar Samhan is a double-double guy who can really dominate in the paint. The WCC team wanted to prove it belonged as it was left out of the Big Dance last year.
• Frank Martin is so intense and his team came out and beat North Texas easily. I love the backcourt tandem of Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen and they played really well, combining for more than 30 points in the win. Kansas State meets BYU next and the physical nature of the Wildcats is a positive.
• Murray State was a sleeper coming into its showdown versus Vanderbilt. The OVC champion won 30 games in the regular season, one of three teams in the field with 30 or more wins. Murray State is one of two teams in the field to shoot 50 percent from the field (Syracuse is the other). Billy Kennedy is seeing his stock rise as a coach. Danero Thomas will be a legend at Murray State for making the game-winning shot.
• Baylor did not have a great game from LaceDarius Dunn but my former player, Bob Lanier, tells me that Dunn is a star. Baylor pulled away in the final three minutes to get to the winner's circle.
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