Quick Evening Recap: Belmont Comes Close, Mayo Fizzles Out
A quick review of the evening action on Day One of the NCAA Tournament:
(2) Duke 71 - (15) Belmont 70
One last basket away from being one of the biggest (if not the biggest) upset in NCAA Tournament history. The Blue Devils were outplayed and Coach K was outcoached the entire game. With the exception of Belmont's unfortunately horrible in-bounds play with 5 seconds left, the Bruins never looked out of place physically or mentally. Duke was saved by Gerald Henderson, who finished with 21 points, 8 boards, and the game-winning layup with 2 seconds left. Henderson was the only Blue Devil who seemed to have the mindset that he was better than his opponent. What's especially troubling if you're a Duke fan is not just the score.. but that Belmont didn't play above their heads to hang in there. They didn't shoot exceptionally well from the floor or from three, but just played their usual game.
(11) Kansas State 80 - (6) USC 67
This was supposed to be the epic matchup of the evening session, but Kansas State only trailed for 26 seconds after the first basket. With Michael Beasley in foul trouble early, Bill Walker and sub Ron Anderson carried the scoring load in the first half. With USC down at half, OJ Mayo finally showed some big-time spark, leading the Trojans on a 21-10 run to take the lead. A big three by Clent Stewart opened up the game once again with 10:06 left and K-State never looked back. It was a somewhat blah ending for Mayo's brief college career. The heralded freshmen was supposed to carry USC to glory, but though his team had an okay year, they rarely showed signs of even approaching very good status.
(9) Texas A&M 67 - (8) BYU 62
Give BYU credit for coming back from an 11-0 deficit.. but that poor start proved too be to much to overcome. The teams played to a standstill for the final 35 minutes, and A&M was able to hold off the comeback effort thanks to Josh Carter's career game. Carter came into the game having hit only 4 of 20 threes, but he blew threw his season high by hitting 6 threes and scoring 26 points. Carter had barely been hitting double-digits in the last month, so his 26 point outburst was perhaps more shocking than Belmont's good play.
(4) Washington State 71 - (13) Winthrop 40
A neck and neck first half in which neither team led by more than 3 points gave way to an absolute beatdown in the second stanza. Locked at 29 after 20 minutes, there was little reason to think either team would win by more than 10 points. But the Cougars came out on a ridiculous 25-4 run and held Winthrop to 11 second half points.. one of the worst totals in Tournament history.
Overall: After terribly mundane morning and afternoon sessions, at least the night got off to a good a start. Kansas State was the first real "upset" of the tournament, though its nothing that will generate much pub in the media. Belmont gave it a good run.. but the real underdog wake up call is yet to come.