Thursday Recap: Syracuse Falls, Wake Struggling

March 12th, 2010
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The worst possible thing to do this time of the year when you're not assured of an NCAA Tournament bid is to lose. Of course there's the obvious statement that no one likes to come out on the short end, but there's also the issue of no longer being able to make your case on the court. That's the position that Memphis and UAB now find themselves in as a result of quarterfinal losses at the Conference USA Tournament in Tulsa. The Tigers lost to Houston 66-65 when an Aubrey Coleman floater with five seconds remaining gave the Cougars a one-point lead. And when Willie Kemp, who's scored Memphis' last five baskets, was called for a double dribble with eight tenths of a second remaining Memphis was out of chances to further their cause. 

UAB, on the other hand, didn't seem too interested in showing any fight against Southern Miss as they fell behind 16-2 five minutes into the game on their way to the 58-44 defeat. Leading scorer Elijah Millsap shot 3-for-11 from the field and scored just seven points for the Blazers, who now have to hold out hope that a number of other bubble teams still playing fall by the wayside. But hoping that others lose is nothing compared to what can be gained when you're out on the floor yourself making a case for why should should be in the Field of 65. Press releases to the committee don't suffice either. If you're not playing you stand the chance of being forgotten, and that the lot that Memphis and UAB (as well as other bubblers who've lost) have been cast at this point. 

Three Key Happenings

1. Syracuse loses and could be without Arinze Onuaku as well. 

2. Arizona State becomes another team that has to sweat out the weekend. Jeremy Green and Landry Fields combined to score 35 points while Emmanuel Igbinosa added 12 off the bench in the Cardinal's 70-61 win over the Sun Devils in a Pac-10 quarterfinal. Four ASU starters scored in double figures but they were unable to overcome seventeen turnovers and shooting 38.9% from the field. Arizona State is also hurt in two other areas: non-conference resume and conference perception. Their best win is a three-point victory over fellow bubbler San Diego State and it's quite obvious what the prevailing thought about the Pac-10 is this season. Just like Memphis and UAB they can no longer make a case for themselves on the court; they can only sit and watch. 

3. Wake Forest and Clemson look like teams headed for an early NCAA Tournament exit. At least the Tigers decided to show up for their game, losing 59-57 to NC State in a game that was fought down to the bitter end. As for Dino Gaudio's club, you've got to wonder how much they feel like playing at this point in the season. Ish Smith scored 14 points but the rest of the starting lineup lacked much energy in a dreadful 83-62 loss to Miami in the first round of the ACC Tournament. DeQuan Jones and Reggie Johnson combined for 36 points off the bench for the Hurricanes in the victory.

As for Clemson, they shot shot 39.2% and turned the ball over fifteen times in their loss to NC State, a game the Wolfpack led by double digits before hanging on in the end. Trevor Booker (17 points) scored but also had five turnovers and the rest of the starting lineup combined for just 24 points. Tracy Smith led NC State with 19 points and eight rebounds. The Demon Deacons and Tigers will limp into the NCAA Tournament but be wary when picking them to lose early; sometimes a team that struggles to end the regular season flips a switch and makes a run. The question for both: do they want to? 

Top Three Games

1. West Virginia 54, Cincinnati 51 

2. Akron 97, Eastern Michigan 89 (2OT) With Kent State going down to Ohio are the Zips the new favorite to win the MAC Tournament? They could be but also nearly went home themselves, surving a phenomenal game from Carlos Medlock to win in double overtime. 

3. Houston 66, Memphis 65 See above. 

Three Notable Perfomances

1. G Jimmer Fredette (BYU) Fredette went 23-for-24 from the foul line in scoring 45 points to go along with six assists and four rebounds. 

2. G Armon Bassett (Ohio) The one-time Indiana Hoosier led the Bobcats to an upset of top-seed Kent State with 38 points, seven assists and five rebounds. 

3. F Carlos Medlock (Eastern Michigan) Medlock nearly helped a team pull off the second major upset of the MAC Tournament, scoring 42 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the double overtime loss to Akron.