Thursday, March 15, 2012

NCAA Round of 64 Results & Recaps: Early Games; Syracuse Escapes; Murray State, 31-1

West Region

Murray State 58 Colorado State 41 - Murray State employed an 18-2 run to open the second half, erasing a 1-point deficit from the break. The 31-1 Racers were out-rebounded 38-32 and shot just 36% but got 15 and 13 points, respectively, from guards Isaiah Caanan and Donte Poole. They advance to meet Marquette.

Louisville 69 Davidson 62 - Louisville led almost the entire game and got 14 points and 11 rebounds from freshman Chane Behanen to punch their ticket to the next round.

Marquette 88 BYU 68 - Marquette, the #3 seed in the East region, had few problems getting past the Cougars, winners of a Tuesday play-in game over Iona. The Golden Eagles were led by Jae Crowder's 25 points and 20 from Darius Johnson-Odom.

New Mexico 75 Long Beach State 68 - Behind 18 points and 15 rebounds from Drew Gordon, the Lobos advanced to the round of 32 with a win in which they handled a slim lead throughout most of the contest. New Mexico shot 51% from the field and had a 10-point edge at the foul line, where they made 18 of 24. As the 5 seed, their win sets up a 5-4 matchup with Louisville in the next round on Saturday.

East Region

Kansas State 70 Southern Miss 64 - Rodney McGruder scored a game-high 30 points as the Wildcats prevailed in a closely-played contest. Even though Kansas State hit 50% from the field to Southern Miss' 36% the Golden Eagles made eight three-pointers to just two by the Wildcats, keeping them in the game. Kansas State advances to the round of 32 for a likely meeting with #1 seed in the region, Syracuse.

Syracuse 72 UNC-Asheville 65 Asheville led by as many as seven points and took a 34-30 lead into the half as Syracuse made just one of 13 three-point attempts in the first half. The Orange escaped thanks to some sharp-shooting from James Southerland, who led the Orange with 15 points and three of five 3-pointers.

Syracuse was aided by two of the most horrible calls ever seen on national television, a missed goaltending call and an inbounds pass that clearly was off Syracuse point guard Brandon Triche but ruled out against Asheville.

Whatever can be said of the Syracuse program, it is becoming a national nightmare for major college athletic programs - as in the case of Penn State - that have entrenched coaches and institutions. Under such structures, much is taken for granted as business as usual and serious transgressions are swept under the rug in order to protect what has been built and accomplished.

The off-court issues facing Syracuse will certainly have repercussions going forward, but for now, this looks like a team without much cohesion at exactly the wrong time.

Wisconsin 73 Montana 49 - The Big Ten Badgers easily dispatched with Montana, taking a 10-point lead into the half and cruising to one of the easier wins of the day.

Vanderbilt 79 Harvard 70 - John Jenkins scored 26 points with six rebounds as the Commodores held off the gritty Crimson. Vanderbilt shot 54% for the game and maintained a double-digit lead throughout most of the contest. Next up for #5 Vanderbilt is #4 seed, Wisconsin.

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