Blogging Through the NCAA Tournament (Day 3)

Blogging Through the NCAA Tournament (Day 3)
Mar 22, 2008, 02:33 pm
Things relax a little bit today, as we get to blog just 9 hours today instead of 12. The day kicks off slowly with a single game, West Virginia-Duke, followed by games such as Kansas State-Wisconsin, Stanford-Marquette, and Texas A&M-UCLA, which will be our main focal points.

2:32- Joe Alexander showed a very nice first step going left, making it all the way to the rim, but had his shot blocked as he didn’t go up particularly strong on the finish. His ball-handling skills aren’t strong enough to allow him to change directions and execute advanced moves at this point, which makes it hard for him to finish moves of that nature at this point. Clearly the upside is there, though, and is even more impressive when you consider that he’s 6-8 making that move…he’s 2-4 at this point. Both of his scores came on back to basket moves, one of which was a really strong move for an And-1 on Gerald Henderson.

Gerald Henderson continues to look active after his terrific outing against Belmont on Thursday. He had an impressive alley-oop slam, as well as a steal that got Duke two points in transition.

2:45- Joe Alexander continues to show his potential facing the basket, creating his own shot nicely out of the triple-threat position from beyond the arc. Lance Thomas overplayed him, so he pushed off, created space, used an inside-out dribble to beat his man, and then spun through with a great pivot before going up and under and scooping the ball into the basket after switching hands on the step-through, despite taking contact. His footwork, athleticism and ability to react to the defense and use counter-moves was extraordinary. That’s the type of move that will be on a highlight reel that scouts look at if and when Alexander enters the draft, which is looking more and more likely with every game that he plays. He has 7 points in 13 minutes, and Duke is up 24-19 in what has been a great game so far.

3:04- Alexander has been super aggressive all half long, taking thirteen shots in the first half alone (converting five). He struggled to finish his dribble-drive moves once again, as well as a few fadeaway jumpers from around the free throw line (he doesn’t get great elevation to create separation from his man yet), but showed great toughness on an offensive rebound and put-back and converted on a nice turnaround jumper from just outside the paint on yet another back to the basket move. He’s keeping West Virginia in the game, and is really showing a go-to mentality. He’s also rebounding pretty well. Duke leads 34-29.


Joseph Treutlein

DeMarcus Nelson had a tough start to the half, playing a little bit rushed, forcing a pull-up jumper from three point range that he missed and then turning the ball over on a jumpstop drive where he lost his footing amidst a crowd. He did come back with a nice right-handed floater that he scored and drew contact on, but couldn’t get anything going for the rest of the half, missing on his other drive attempts and only playing 10 minutes. His lack of elite explosiveness definitely holds him back on some of his drives, and adjusting to a game based more around floaters will be important to him in the future when he isn’t getting the calls from refs on the drives he draws contact on.

Kyle Singler wasn’t really able to get involved in the first half, making a few cuts, one of which he finished and another of which he was blocked on due to athleticism, but otherwise just kind of faded into the background. He did have one nice block on a face-up drive in the lane on defense, but hasn’t really had a great overall impact thus far.

Lost in the excitement around Joe Alexander has been a player we’ve been meaning to write about for a few weeks now, fellow West Virginia forward Da’Sean Butler. Going into the Duke game today, Butler has scored 16 or more points in all five of his last games. Once Alexander decides to move on, the sophomore Butler will likely emerge as a focal point in West Virginia’s offense. He has the physical tools and raw skills to be able to carry a bigger load, even if he’s not the most polished guy around right now. Most of Butler’s offense at the moment comes off cuts to the basket and spot-up jumpers, where he shows a nice looking stroke (with small forward like elevation) and range that extends past the 3-point line. He’s hitting 33/88 (37.5%) from beyond the arc this season, which is pretty respectable.

Like his teammate Alexander, Butler also likes to operate in the mid-range area or with his back to the basket, showing very nice ability to hit smooth turnaround jumpers, often using the glass. He can even put the ball on the floor once or twice and then pull-up off the dribble, a skill that shows excellent potential to develop into a real weapon with another full summer of hard work. He’s a pretty active player, running the floor hard, hitting the offensive glass well, and playing solid man to man defense. To emerge as a legit NBA prospect next season, he still needs to improve his ball-handling skills, perimeter shooting ability, and generally his all-around offensive polish to make the transition to playing the small forward position full time, but he seems to be have very nice upside to help him with that task.
Keep an eye on him in the second half…

3:45- Gerald Henderson seems to be stepping up a little bit now, which is a good sign after the very quiet first half he had with just 4 points. He’s taking the ball strong to the basket, exposing Joe Alexander’s lateral quickness a bit in the process, and getting himself to the free throw line. Duke will need a lot more from him. Alexander responded by blocking Kyle Singler’s shot on the other end, and then talking a bit of trash immediately afterwards. On the very next possession, he stroked a 3-pointer, just his 11th of the season, with a very high, smooth release point, and then blocked yet another shot the next time down. Alexander has 17 points with 12 minutes to go. West Virginia is storming ahead of Duke, up by 7 points 47-40.

4:00-Joe Alexander continues to shoot the ball a lot, but still not on great percentages. His mid-range jumper just isn’t falling for him the way it normally does. He is doing some other things to help his team out, mainly with his shot-blocking, rebounding and passing. He just threaded the needle with his left hand from behind the arc to a cutter underneath the basket. West Virginia is up 6 with 8 minutes left.

4: 17-Alexander continues to show incredible poise as West Virginia is slowly closing out the Blue Devils. He made a number of excellent passes to get his team easy baskets, and has continuously made good decisions in the half-court knowing when it’s time to run clock and when to speed up. West Virginia is up by 11 with 3 minutes to go. This has been a monumental performance for Alexander and will surely improve his draft stock dramatically.

4:32- West Virginia is going to the Sweet 16. Joe Alexander had 22 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks on 7-22 shooting, playing nearly all 40 minutes.

We’re moving over to the Kansas State-Wisconsin game now. It’ll be interesting to see how Michael Beasley reacts to the very complex defenses he will face against Wisconsin. He already has 6 points as we join the game.


Joseph Treutlein

Definitely not the way DeMarcus Nelson wanted to end his career, as pretty much everything went wrong for him this game. In the second half, he continued to miss three-pointers, missed a right-handed floater, missed a contested left-handed lay-up in transition where he once again didn’t show the elite explosiveness to go over defenders, and traveled on another ill-fated pivot drive attempt. Nelson didn’t really do much in terms of creating for his teammates either. Even on the defensive end, where Nelson typically makes his best contributions, even though he was playing hard, he was still getting beat by some very tough play from West Virginia, including one flash on the wing he overplayed, leading to a wide-open backdoor cut. Nelson’s struggles to finish over people at the rim gives more suggestion that he’ll need to adjust his game to find a role at the next level, either by becoming more of a deadeye three-point shooter or by really improving with his floaters. He’s someone we’ll likely see at the both of the pre-draft camps, where he has a chance to excel with his aggressive style of play on both ends of the floor.

Kyle Singler was invisible most of the game, just kind of blending in with the offense and not making many impact plays. We saw some of his trademark hustle early in the second half, going after loose balls and rebounds, but he didn’t do anything to help Duke down the stretch, also getting his shot blocked easily on a lay-up attempt at the basket for the second time in this game.

4:48- Immediately as the K-State-Wisconsin game kicks off, you get to see the super-high offensive skill level of Michael Beasley, but also how poor a job he does on the defensive end, being completely out of position in the post and then oddly going for a steal and giving Greg Stiemsma an easy slam right at the rim. Beasley looks incredibly aggressive at the moment, taking the ball aggressively at Wisconsin’s big men on basically every single possession, sometimes forcing the issue, sometimes looking exquisite with his pretty finishes, and often drawing fouls, which is exactly the plan we assume. Beasley has 10 points in the first 10 minutes on 4-9 shooting, but Wisconsin is up 23-16 with about 8 minutes to go in the first half. K-State’s offense looks very rushed at the moment.

4:55- K-State’s game plan clearly involves going inside on every opportunity, not only to Michael Beasley but also to Bill Walker. He’s scored two baskets early on by using his wide body and terrific strength to seal off his man in the post and then finish at the rim. He has a big advantage here strength-wise, so it makes plenty of sense for the Wildcats to try and draw as many fouls as they can on Wisconsin’s big men, since their interior play (led by Beasley and Walker) is obviously their strong point.

5:00- Beasley’s instincts were clearly on display with a beautiful steal he picked up at half-court, sticking his big, soft hand in at the perfect time and then taking the ball down the floor and giving it up at the right time to draw a foul on Wisconsin. He’s made a number of very good passes here, as he has all season long. On the next offensive possession he caught the ball from the free throw line in full stride and attacked the rim with his left hand, drawing another foul on Wisconsin’s interior defense. K-State is down 10 points 32-22, but the fouls on Wisconsin are starting to mount up. Bill Walker also has 2, which sits him for the rest of the half.

5:06- Joseph Treutlein, who is logging the game for Synergy Sports Tech, fills us in on how Beasley got his first three baskets:

“first play of the game: Beasley gets the ball very deep against a double team, one dribbles into a crazy fade-away jumper off the glass…second basket, an incredible play: he was doubled behind the arc on the right side, dribbled out of it going left, then went to the hoop going over the elbow and made a lefty finger roll over 2 defenders…later made a good pass out of a double baseline… then he caught it up-tempo at the top of the arc, ripped the ball right to left, one dribbled to the hoop for a layup off glass”

5:16- Michael Beasley has magnets for hands. That’s the only way to explain how he’s made some of the catches he’s made on his way to carving up Wisconsin’s foul-ridden interior defense to the tune of 17 points. Beasley didn’t really need to have the type of game he’s having right now to be the #1 pick, but he’s surely earning himself some extra dough on his sneaker deal. At half-time, K-State is down 39-33. Wisconsin shot 7-16 for 3 in the first half.

5:38- The second half has started, and Wisconsin seems to have come out much smarter than K-State in the early going. The Wildcats’ offense looks lethargic and predictable, and they are not getting the ball in the right people’s hands. Dominic Sutton for example just launched a 3-pointer…he hasn’t hit one the entire season so far. Wisconsin is forcing Beasley to the perimeter to catch the ball, which is exactly what they want considering their foul problems and the fact that they don’t have anyone who can defend him in the post. Bill Walker just picked up his third foul. Things aren’t looking good early on…Wisconsin is up 44-33 and Frank Martin wisely took a timeout two and a half minutes in. Jacob Pullen needs to get himself together because he looks awful. They just benched him. K-State might be falling apart.

5:55- Brian Butch and Bill Walker just picked up a technical foul each after a minor altercation underneath the basket, which looked like a pretty bad call considering that it was Butch that pushed Walker down. Butch has been playing dirty all game (season?) long, throwing elbows, pushing off, and trying to cause provocations on both ends of the floor. Walker went back and scored on the next possession, but now looks pretty hyperactive clapping his hands wildly on defense—which is not what you want to see at all considering his reputation for not being particularly stable emotionally. Michael Beasley has continued to look extremely poor defensively, giving up excessive space in the post, not boxing out for rebounds, and reaching and picking up an unnecessary foul.

Kansas State is completely falling apart, as their players are wildly shooting 3’s and generally playing like chickens with their heads cut off. It’s pretty obvious that none of these guys have ever been here before—they seem to have no idea what they are doing. The refs are blowing their whistles an awful lot, which is keeping K-State in the game. Beasley only has 2 points in the second half, on two field goal attempts. He has not gotten a touch in the post even once, except after an offensive rebound, as Wisconsin’s entire defense is focused on denying him the ball. The score is 54-41 Wisconsin with 12 minutes to go.

6:08- For better or for worse, Bill Walker seems to be taking this game over by himself. He’s drawn a number of fouls on the much smaller defenders Wisconsin is throwing at him, grabbed offensive rebounds, and made some very strong moves to the basket. Jacob Pullen continues to play like he’s Allen Iverson on this team, jacking up terrible shots, not executing the offense and playing awful defense on Trevon Hughes. Michael Beasley continues to show that same lack of focus that gave high school recruiting services reason for pause. He’s blowing his assignment on the defensive glass, making questionable decisions on both ends of the floor, and looks mentally out of it on both ends of the floor. This is the first real chink in his armor we’ve seen all season, but it comes in the most pressure-packed environment he’s faced in his career so far…Wisconsin is up 61-49 with 7:33 to go.

6:20- Michael Beasley just made a terrible turnover, throwing a cross-court pass out of bounds, another sure-fire sign that his head just isn’t in this game. Another perfect example came on the second of three free throw attempts Wisconsin drew after a bone-headed foul by Bill Walker at the end of a shot-clock. Beasley, not realizing that there were three attempts, went after the rebound of the second free throw as if the ball were live. He then proceeded to jack up a 3-pointer on the next possession. This has been an incredibly disappointing performance for the projected #1 pick, even if he’ll finish with decent numbers.

This game has been a classic example of how a group of smart, disciplined, well-coached basketball players who understand their role and know how to execute offensively will always beat a group of talented, inexperienced AAU stars with very little in the ways of fundamentals, veteran leadership or mental toughness. This should prove to be a great lesson for these players for the future. Wisconsin is up 72-53 with three minutes to go. CBS just decided to switch away, which is probably best for all of us.

6:32- Michael Beasley finished the game with 23 points and 13 rebounds. He shot 8-19 from the field, 0-4 for 3, 7-7 from the line, and had 0 assists and 3 turnovers in 38 minutes. Despite this somewhat disappointing performance, he will still almost certainly be the #1 overall pick.

Bill Walker had 18 points and 6 rebounds on 7-11 shooting. Trevon Hughes was outstanding for Wisconsin with 25 points, 4 assists and 1 turnover on 8-14 shooting.

6:58- To sum up the Kansas State debacle, this tournament has done an excellent job weathering the expectations us and everyone else had from this freshman class. Eric Gordon, Jerryd Bayless, O.J. Mayo, Michael Beasley and DeAndre Jordan’s average or lackluster performances showed that despite the incredible amount of talent these players possess, they are after all, only kids, and are therefore still very much human. There is no replacement for experience, which these guys will garner in time as they learn the ropes and are shown the way by veterans who have been in situations like this before. We shouldn’t discount the talent these young players showed all season long because of one bad (or average) postseason performance, but the NBA teams that draft them in June need to be patient. David Stern might not be that off after all when he’s thinking of forcing NCAA players to stay TWO years in college, as he recently mentioned. It will be even more interesting now to see how Derrick Rose and Kevin Love play in their team’s second round games…

7:00- We'll be focusing on Kansas-UNLV next, while Joseph Treutlein keeps tabs on Washington State-Notre Dame. We’ll go back later and review the tape of Stanford-Marquette.

7:26- We’ve had a slight change of heart, and have switched over to watching Marquette-Stanford instead of UNLV-Kansas (which we’re TIVOing). Brook Lopez is having an extremely poor game, shooting 1-7 from the field, and is on the bench for the rest of the half with two fouls. He’s bricking shot after shot from the right block going through double-teams, which we saw a great deal of last week at the Pac-10 tournament. His brother Robin seems to be picking up the slack, though, as he’s shooting 5-6 from the field and has 10 points and 3 rebounds.

Stanford’s coach Trent Johnson came out onto the court during a timeout to scream at the refs and was ejected after picking up two technicals just now…Marquette got four free throws in return.

Marquette is up 29-24 with 3:36 to go in the first half.

Washington State-Notre Dame Halftime Report:

Joseph Treutlein

Kyle Weaver is having a strong game thus far, leading Washington State to a 32-19 first half lead. He’s impacting the game on multiple levels, as he usually does, but most notably by penetrating into the lane in the halfcourt and in transition and using his excellent court vision to drive-and-kick, something he did repeatedly here. He’s also continuing to show his improved perimeter stroke, hitting a pull-up three and also missing closely on a stepback 20 footer. He’s contributed elsewhere as well, playing strong defense and crashing the boards when he’s able to.

On the other side of the court, Luke Harangody is showing the good and bad of his game, on one hand being an absolute monster on the boards with 11 rebounds already, but on the other showing off his physical limitations, having his shot blocked in the post on one occasion and struggling to shoot a turnaround jumper over his defender on another. He did show off some nice crosscourt passing out of the post, though, and hit a 20 foot jump shot as well. His ability to use his body to get inside position gets him some easy points as well, and he pursues his own misses when possible.

7:50- Halftime in Anaheim for the Stanford game, so we move back to our recording of the KU-UNLV game, where it’s 9-3 Kansas.

Darrell Arthur is showing his outstanding athleticism with some great finishes around the basket, but is also playing terrible team defense on the many pick and rolls that UNLV is running. He looks tentative and confused on the switches he needs to make, which is somewhat typical of his play as of late.

Brandon Rush didn’t take a single shot until 10 minutes into the game, where he hit an impressive 20 footer pulling up off the dribble going left. On the next possession he created his own shot and got his man in the air with an impressive shot-fake, but unfortunately missed the pull-up jumper. The next time down he executed basically the same move, shot-fake and all, but this time drained the pull-up. He’s also playing excellent man to man defense. He finished the half with 6 points and 3 rebounds.

8:08- The second half started in Anaheim, so we’re back for Stanford-Marquette, and Brook Lopez seems to be playing a lot better. You already know how he is scoring his points, so we’ll spare you that. His brother Robin continues to make his presence felt, showing better agility than Brook while slithering his way around the lane and scoring from close-range. He’s about as emotional and demonstrative as we’ve ever seen, getting in the faces of his opponents after made baskets, and getting his teammates pumped up by pounding his chest after a big play. He’s really showing us something here. With 15 minutes to go, he has 15 points and 5 rebounds on 7-9 shooting.

8:15- Dominic James seems to be having a good game as well. He’s getting to the rim at will against Stanford’s mediocre backcourt, and instead of challenging their twin towers at the rim, is finding teammates intelligently on drive and dish plays. He has 7 assists and just 1 turnover so far, even if he’s only shooting 3-9 from the field (0-3 3P), as his outside jumper just isn’t falling. It’s 54-49 Stanford with 12 minutes to go.

8:35- The Lopez twins have sat out big chunks of this half with foul trouble (Robin Lopez’s trash talking eventually earned him a technical), but they are back on the floor now and Stanford is going back to the well as you would expect. Dominic James continues to play fairly well, getting to the basket with a series of hesitation moves, making heady steals, and playing more under control than he usually does. With 5 minutes to go, Marquette is up 65-63.

8:52- The Stanford Marquette game is going to overtime…our third of the NCAA tournament so far. Brook Lopez ended up carrying Stanford offensively for most of the 2nd half, getting fouled or finishing from the right block repeatedly to keep his team in the game. After only scoring three points in the first half, he went into overtime with 23 points on 6-14 the field, but hit 10-12 from the line. The game all came down to Robin Lopez, though, who got two free throws with 9 seconds to go and his team down 1. After bricking the first one, he hit the second one, sending the game to overtime after Jerel McNeal missed a 3-pointer.

For Marquette, Dominic James had an extremely difficult time from the field, going inside time after time but just being unable to finish plays above the outstretched arms of the Lopez twins. He did manage to go up and get his own offensive rebound on two separate occasions, but still was unable to convert. He finished the second period 4-14 from the field with 8 assists and 3 turnovers. Jerel McNeal has been outstanding once again here for Marquette, shooting 10-16 from the field for 21 points, mostly on layups and short jumpers.

9:09- Jerel McNeal opened up the overtime period on fire, matching Brook Lopez’s three layups from the right block with three consecutive 3-pointers. It was baffling to see how Marquette refused to send a double-team to try and get the ball out of Lopez’s hands, considering that it’s well known that he does not pass out of the post. Stanford kept going to him time after time, and he kept delivering for them on the same exact move, eventually scoring the game-winning shot. McNeal had an unbelievable NCAA tournament, setting a career-high with 30 points tonight (13-24 FG), after scoring 20 in the first round against Kentucky, but it wasn’t quite enough. Brook Lopez finished with 30 himself (10-20 FG), while his brother Robin had 18.

Washington State-Notre Dame Final Report:

Joseph Treutlein

Kyle Weaver continued his strong play in the second half, finishing with 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists, leading Washington State to an easy victory. He showed off some advanced ball handling with a nice double crossover move where he got his man off balance and took the ball in for a right-handed layup, and also hit a tough bank shot in the lane on a pull-up. Weaver really got it done on the defensive end, though, hounding opponents, making three steals on the game and one impressive block as well. This postseason play is good for his stock, and it’s nice to see him impact a game in so many ways, showing off his versatility, even in areas perceived to be weaknesses. He’ll have a chance to continue doing so next round.

Luke Harangody continued to struggle scoring in the post in the second half, as even though he routinely got very deep position, he just didn’t have the elevation to score over his opponents. He shot a very poor 3-for-17 on the game, but made up for it somewhat with his outstanding 21 rebounds. Rebounding is an area where he really uses his strength very well, getting great position and showing nice timing in going after boards.

9:25- We watched the last 6 minutes or so of the Kansas-UNLV game, after seeing bits and pieces of it here and there. Kansas won easily 75-56, in an extremely balanced effort from their six best players, all scoring 8-13 points. We liked what Brandon Rush showed with his perimeter game and the excellent defense he played in stretches on UNLV guard Wink Adams. He scored 12 points with 6 rebounds and 3 assists, looking aggressive, but unselfish in the minutes we saw.

The UCLA-Texas A&M is about to kick off in a bit here, which is the game we’ll be focusing most on.

9:40- Since the UCLA game is just now starting, we got to watch the first 7 minutes or so of the Pitt-Michigan State. We absolutely loved what Sam Young showed in the early going, not so much offensively (where he still has 4 points), but mostly with his man to man and team defense, absolutely smothering whoever he matched up with, hedging screens beautifully, getting in the passing lanes, and igniting his team with the energy he’s brought to the floor. We’ve seen enough we think, and can switch off to UCLA in peace now…

10:02- The UCLA-Texas A&M game is off to an excellent start. Darren Collison is on fire from behind the arc, hitting three 3-pointers, one from NBA range. DeAndre Jordan came into the game and scored a quick four points, one on a very nice, quick pivot move in the paint, and one on an emphatic offensive rebound put-back slam. It’s nice to see him getting some minutes and contributing something early on. Sensing that he might be showing the NBA scouts a little too much, his coach quickly yanked him after just four minutes. Kevin Love is doing a nice job scoring inside with beautiful footwork, he has 7 points. It’s 20-15 UCLA 10 minutes in.

10:16- Darren Collison continues to show why we came back from the Pac-10 tournament raving about what a fantastic prospect he’s developing into. He just came off a screen, set his feet in the blink of an eye and drained his fourth 3-pointer (in as many attempts). He’s also running his offense efficiently and playing excellent defense. The game is still extremely close. DeAndre Jordan just came in and was almost immediately called for his second offensive foul of the half, as he hooked Lorenzo Mata-Real slightly as he was jostling for position inside. He came back on the next possession and forced a turnover on Collison, but turned it right back over as he could not pass the ball out of the post quickly enough (a common error for him) on a double team. The score is 24-21 with three minutes to go.

10:29- At half-time, the score is Texas A&M 29- UCLA 26. Darren Collison has 14 points on 4-4 shooting (how’s that for efficiency?), while Kevin Love has 8, giving them 22 of UCLA’s 26 points. DeAndre Jordan scored another deuce before the half, catching the ball all by himself in transition underneath the rim, and then avoiding a defender and hitting a reverse layup with his left hand. He’s come out extremely sharp here in the first half and has 6 points in 6 minutes. Will he get a chance to show something more in the second half?

10:45- Halftime in Anaheim gave us a good chunk of time to check in on the Michigan State-Pitt game. It’s an ugly one, as expected, but we continued to see Sam Young make a huge impact on the defensive end, where he already has 5 blocks. His matchup Raymar Morgan only has 2 points. Young isn’t shooting the ball particularly well, only 2-9 so far, but has 9 points, as he’s 4-4 from the free throw line. Pitt is having major problems putting the ball in the net…they are down 40-32 with 14 minutes to go.

11:02- After being down by 10, UCLA has it back to a five point game. They switched Russell Westbrook onto Josh Carter instead of the anemic Josh Shipp, and Kevin Love just stepped up and hit a 3-pointer. This game is going to come down to the wire most likely. DeAndre Jordan just came into the game and made a very nice pass for an And-1. He then completely screwed up on a defensive switch and gave up a 3-pointer to Darren Collison. He then grabbed a rebound and almost threw the outlet pass out of bounds, probably nearly giving his coach a heart attack. Kevin Love then proceeded to draw Jordan's third foul a few moments later, sending him to the bench after just a couple of minutes. One good play, one bad one just doesn’t cut it when you are playing the best team in college basketball.

11:11- Josh Carter continues to light it up from beyond the arc, keeping UCLA at bay. Kevin Love is playing great defense, blocking a number of shots, but just settled for another 3-pointer, his fourth. Russell Westbrook is having a terrible game so far, scoreless and shooting just 0/7 from the field, as well as 0/2 from the line. He looks out of control driving into the lane as well. UCLA is down by 8 points, 44-36, with 9 minutes to go. Darren Collison is being way too unselfish, passing up numerous good shots at a moment that his team cannot score under any circumstances, which is certainly hurting them. This type of passivity in such a big game is very concerning.

11:25- Russell Westbrook is redeeming himself in a huge way, coming up with two huge baskets in transition (one off a steal following a terrible pass by DeAndre Jordan) that have put UCLA right back in the game, despite the atrocious play of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Kevin Love had an amazing sequence with two fantastic blocks on one possession, and then came back and had another block to get Russell Westbrook out in transition, where he was sent to the free throw line.

Michigan State looks to have beaten Pitt…Drew Neitzel and Kalin Lucas had 19 points each. Sam Young had 15 points for Pitt on 4-12 shooting. Pitt was destroyed on the boards (32 to 18) and Young had just 1 rebound.

11:43- Kevin Love seems to have punched his ticket to the green room with his performance tonight, particularly with his incredible performance in the last 10 minutes of the game, on both ends of the floor. He played phenomenal man to man defense on Texas A&M’s post players, and did a great job on team defense as well, rotating over with fantastic timing and blocking at least half a dozen shots. Offensively, he stepped up and called for the ball late in the game when no one else on UCLA wanted it, knocking down two incredibly tough turnaround jumpers from about 15 feet that tied the game and eventually put UCLA ahead.

With under a minute to go, Darren Collison finally decided to turn the corner and make his way all the way to the rim, finishing high off the glass…only to do basically the same exact thing with under 10 seconds with the same results. Those four points may have been the biggest in Collison’s career, and surely made up for all the tentativeness that he showed throughout the second half. He definitely saved the bracket of basically every person in America. A steal by Russell Westbrook on Texas A&M’s final possession, and the ensuing emphatic slam, sealed the deal on what might have been the best game we’ve seen in the tournament so far. Final score: UCLA 53-Texas A&M 49.

Kevin Love finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 7 blocks on 7-12 shooting. Darren Collison had 21 points, 1 assist, and 4 turnovers on 7-13 shooting. Russell Westbrook had 7 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 4 steals on 3-10 shooting. DeAndre Jordan had 6 points (3-5 FG), 4 rebounds, 4 turnovers in 15 minutes.

Final Recap: Day Three

Stock Up:

Joe Alexander (West Virginia)
Kevin Love (UCLA)
Brook Lopez (Stanford)
Jerel McNeal (Marquette)
Robin Lopez (Stanford)
Kyle Weaver (Washington State)
Drew Neitzel (Michigan State)
Trevon Hughes (Wisconsin)
Josh Duncan (Xavier)

Stock Neutral:

Gerald Henderson (Duke)
Bill Walker (Kansas State)
Dominic James (Marquette)
Brandon Rush (Kansas)
Mario Chalmers (Kansas)
Sam Young (Pitt)
Darren Collison
Russell Westbrook
Luke Harangody (Notre Dame)

Stock Down:

Michael Beasley (Kansas State)
Darrell Arthur (Kansas)
Josh Carter (Texas A&M)

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8.7 PER
28.4 Points
7.1 Rebounds
4.3 Assists
29.8 PER
8.3 Points
10.0 Rebounds
1.9 Assists
20.0 PER
18.1 Points
2.4 Rebounds
5.6 Assists
21.1 PER
17.6 Points
9.8 Rebounds
3.2 Assists
17.9 PER
11.2 Points
4.6 Rebounds
1.5 Assists
14.2 PER
9.1 Points
3.1 Rebounds
2.8 Assists
14.4 PER
8.5 Points
4.8 Rebounds
0.3 Assists
13.8 PER
6.0 Points
4.0 Rebounds
2.0 Assists
-0.3 PER
15.6 Points
5.1 Rebounds
1.0 Assists
16.5 PER
2.3 Points
1.1 Rebounds
1.7 Assists
7.1 PER
5.5 Points
2.4 Rebounds
0.7 Assists
11.2 PER
14.6 Points
3.7 Rebounds
3.4 Assists
13.2 PER
7.0 Points
2.1 Rebounds
2.1 Assists
9.7 PER
15.5 Points
8.0 Rebounds
1.0 Assists
13.5 PER
11.3 Points
3.0 Rebounds
5.9 Assists
16.4 PER
1.7 Points
2.1 Rebounds
0.4 Assists
9.8 PER
13.4 Points
4.9 Rebounds
0.8 Assists
21.7 PER
27.6 Points
8.1 Rebounds
7.0 Assists
21.5 PER
12.8 Points
3.3 Rebounds
1.6 Assists
14.1 PER
5.4 Points
2.3 Rebounds
1.7 Assists
11.4 PER
0.0 Points
0.0 Rebounds
0.0 Assists
0.0 PER
5.4 Points
1.6 Rebounds
4.0 Assists
8.1 PER
23.5 Points
9.5 Rebounds
2.5 Assists
31.6 PER
6.0 Points
1.8 Rebounds
2.2 Assists
13.9 PER

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