Who would have thought that with the four games last night, the game that would be the biggest blowout was the battle of the mid majors game between CAA's George Mason and Missouri Valley's Wichita State. Wichita State was never in it as George Mason led from start to finish in a 63-55 win.
I knew that CBS locally here in New York would show Villanova-BC and that's understandable, so I went out to a sports bar to catch the game. It was impressive. Mason literally shot out to 9-0 on three 3 pointers and never looked back. The Patriots were up 35-19 at halftime. The Patriots placed impressive defense beating the Shockers to every spot on the floor when the Shockers moved the ball around. Wichita State shot THREE OF TWENTY FOUR from the three point arc. THREE OF TWENTY FOUR. It was just an awesome defense showing by the Patriots. Offensively, the Patriots moved the ball around early getting good three point looks. It was as if they were energized by playing a home crowd.
In the second half, the Patriots were up by many as 19 and coasted the rest of the way. The Shockers at one time had a 11-1 lead on offensive rebounds but couldn't put the ball in the bucket. The Shockers got it as close to seven, 62-55 with 23 seconds left, but that was mainly due to the Patriots missing free throws down the stretch as they only shot 15 of 23 from the charity stripe (65 percent). The Patriots had four starters in double digits scoring, led by Folarin Campbell who had 16, Lamar Butler and Tony Skinn each had 14, and Will Thomas had 10. Jai Lewis only had 4 points for George Mason before fouling out. Paul Miller in his last collegiate game led the Shockers with 16 points. George Mason, the eighth ranked team in the country in field goal percentage defense held the Shockers to 30.2 percent from the field.
The CAA is now 8-2 in postseason play (George Mason 3-0 in NCAA, Old Dominion 3-0 in NIT, Hofstra 2-1 in NIT and UNC Wilmington 0-1 in NCAA). One of those losses came when CAA rivals ODU and Hofstra met in the NIT quarterfinals, with ODU snapping Hofstra's home winning streak in their win.
Mason now plays UConn, who came back from as many as 11 points to win in overtime 98-92 over Washington in the Battle of the Huskies. UConn needed some help from a stupid fould by Washington's Mike Jensen to even force the game into overtime. Jensen fouled Marcus Williams as he went for a layup with 11 seconds left and UConn down four, 80-76. Williams made the layup and the foul shot to put Uconn within one. After Brandon Foy hit two free throws, Rashad Anderson nailed a three pointer with 1.8 seconds left to force overtime and the Huskies took it from there.
Speaking of Villanova-BC, Villanova came back from a 25-9 first half deficit, then beat the Eagles 60-59 when Curtis Sumpter broke free from a screen on a inbounds play and his layup attempt was goaltended by Sean Williams. Villanova missed 13 of its first 17 shots but due to a pressing defense that forced a total of 21 Boston College turnovers, the Wildcats were only down 28-24 at half. Down by many as eight in the second half, the Wildcats again chipped away at the lead, finally taking their first lead of the game 49-48 with 2:18 to go. Jared Dudley hit a three pointer to tie the game at 51, then Williams impressively skied to block Lowry's three point attempt to send the game in overtime.
Not only did the turnovers hurt BC, but their free throw shooting didn't help either. BC shot a miserable 8 of 17 from the free throw line. When Al Skinner looks back on the game, he'll see how a lack of fundamentals cost him a game.
Florida and Georgetown had an exciting finish as well as Corey Brewer's acrobatic three point play put Florida up by two and the Gators finished with a 57-53 win over the Hoyas. Joakim Noah, quite possibly one of the most interesting players in college basketball, a 6-11 forward with point guard skills had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks to lead the Gators.
Today, its LSU vs. Texas then UCLA vs Memphis as two final four spots will be decided.