By Milan Lazarevic
Duke and Gonzaga are eliminated! 2 biggest stars of whole competition, J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison, are eliminated from the rest of the competition and new guys will take their places. Redick played probably the worst game in his life for Duke against Louisiana. It is so unbelievable that coach Mike Krzyzewski was so patient with this young man. It was obvious that J.J. was totally out of rhythm, without shoot, without concentration. He was aggressive, but without any productivity for the team. Shoot from the field 18/3 is saying everything for itself, for 3: 9/3, 4 turnovers. Too much for one of the biggest NCAA stars...
At the other side, some other star in the same team was unstoppable. But, one Shelden Williams was not enough for big win. This huge man was so dominate under both baskets that in some moments it looked that there was no possible solution for his great strength. Williams is pure copy of Shaquille O’Neal, so dominate with fantastic strength, but also with lot of pace and skills in rebounding and offensive solutions. After 30 minutes he scored more points then rest of his team (at the end 23 + 13 rebounds) and made new Duke University record in number of rebounds.
Duke head-coach, Mike Krzyzewski, played without bench, practically with only 6 players in rotation. With catastrophic J.J. Redick and scandalous shoot (65-18, 28%) he couldn’t find escape from the abyss. It was very interesting to watch his gesticulation during game – Krzyzewski was afraid and without solution. His 2 players (Redick and Williams) will be Top pics on some of the future drafts, but this team needed something special, some magic formula from the bench – and they didn’t have it…
At the other side LSU made abnormal success with elimination of first seeded team. They played fantastic team-basketball without any star, but with huge heart. Glen "Big Baby" Davis, probably the only NCAA player who can play against Shelden Williams was brilliant, even he had lot of problems at the beginning of the game. He scored 14 pts, but his contribution was fabulous in defense.
Rookie Tyrus Thomas was also impressive with 9 pts and 13 rebounds, but Garrett Temple deserves lot of credits for great defensive role during 40 minutes after he didn’t give Redick chance to breath.
Match was decided in last 2.5 minutes when LSU made crucial 11-2 run…
NCAA play-off lost one more star. Adam Morrison (24 pts, 5 rebounds) played very good game against UCLA, but big favorites won at the end after his 4 consecutive misses. UCLA is legendary NCAA team with highest number of titles in history (total number: 11). In this season this University will be also first candidate for big title and they really proved quality against Gonzaga.
Gonzaga had +17 in first half, constant lead till the 37th minute when they also had +9, but they couldn’t stand the pressure. UCLA was huge favorite and obviously that Gonzaga had problem to play against such huge name in decidable minutes.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (14 pts, 10 rebounds), Cameroonian international, was a hero of the day with crucial steal just 3 seconds till the end. He scored 6 pts, practically, in the last moments of the match and decided a winner in this super dramatic duel.
At the end J.P. Batista (18 pts, 9 rebounds) didn’t score from half of the court for Gonzaga’s win.
Fantastic UCLA’s playmaker, Jordan Farmar, scored 15 pts and collected 6 assits for winning side.
Texas survived real horror again. In one of the most dramatic games of the whole round, Kenton Paulino, 2nd best 3-pointer in Texas history, scored unbelievable triple in the last second which catapulted Texas to Elite 8.
Everything looked just perfect for West Virginia before that. They had exceptional Kevin Pittsnogle last night who was always there to score whenever it was needed. With 5 triples this young man hold Virginia in the game, especially with the last one when he equalized and almost provided overtime. But, Texas had the last attack…
A.J. Abrams made an assist of a career when he found Paulino and helped him to become a hero.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points for Texas, while Pittsnogle was the best in West Virginia with 19.
This was second match in this season between these 2 sides. In first one, 4 months ago Texas also won after lot of dramas, 76:75. West Virginia had perfect chance for sweet revenge, but they didn’t use the opportunity.
Sweet 16 - Day 1
LSU - Duke 62:54
Bradley - Memphis 64:80
West Virginia - Texas 71:74
Gonzaga - UCLA 71:73