Thursday, March 01, 2007

Don't Mess With Texas... or Maryland

Longhorns down Aggies in double OT, keep Big 12 hopes alive; Terps complete sweep of Duke

#15 Texas 98 #7 Texas A&M 96 (2OT) - The Aggies' Acie Law hit a pair of 3-pointers - forcing overtime and, later, double OT - and scored 33 points in all, but it wasn't enough as Kevin Durant and the Longhorns had the last word in the 2nd extra session on their home court. The Texas freshman hit key free throws down the stretch, finishing with 30 points and 16 rebounds and possibly the biggest win of his brief yet spectacular college career. Teammates D. J. Augustin scored 25 and Damian James had 22.

The win moved Texas into position to claim a share of the Big 12 championship if they can win their final regular season game Saturday at Kansas. If that happens, the conference would likely end up in a three-way tie should Texas A&M finish their season at home vs. Missouri with a win. Both A&M and the Longhorns are 12-3. Kansas is 13-2. Regardless of which of them takes the title, all three will be high seeds in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. One of them will surely be a #1 seed, with the other two likely to be seeded #2 in different brackets.
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#24 Maryland 85 #14 Duke 77 - The Maryland Terrapins have made a late-season statement and should be included in the March Madness field of 65. After knocking off North Carolina on Sunday, the Terps took a trip down Tobacco Road to Durham and took care of business against the Blue Devils.

Led by senior guard Mike Jones, who scored 25 points, the Terps completed a season sweep of Duke (they also did it in the 2004-05 season). Their first win over the Blue Devils came back on February 11 at College Park and launched Maryland on what has now become a 6-game winning streak. The Terps are now 9-6 in ACC play and 23-7 overall. Looking like one of the more dangerous teams in the nation, they close out the regular season at home against NC State on Saturday.

For Duke, the loss may prove to be devastating as they prepare for their final ACC game at North Carolina on Sunday. A loss there and any loss in the ACC tournament would put the Blue Devils in an uncomfortable spot - on the NCAA bubble - a place to which they are unaccustomed. Consider, in that scenario, Duke would have 10 losses, but, wins over Georgetown, BC, Gonzaga and Clemson working in their favor. Unfortunately, a 3-6 record in their last 9 conference games would not impress the selection committee. It is conceivable, maybe believable, that the Blue Devils would be passed over for the Big Dance.

#19 Vanderbilt 99 South Carolina 90 (OT) - The Commodores kept rolling along last night with a shoot-out overtime win at South Carolina. Shan Foster scored a season-high 33 points and teammate Derrick Byars dropped in 18 - including a key pair of 3s in overtime - as Vandy secured their hold on 2nd place in the SEC East at 10-5. They have just one conference game remaining, at home vs. Arkansas on Saturday.

The win was the 20th of the season for the Commodores and also earned them a first round bye in next week's SEC tournament.

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