Thursday, March 22
Some have called the 1992 Regional Final between Duke and Kentucky the greatest college basketball game ever. The eagerly anticipated rematch wasn't to be, though.
Duke held up their end of the bargain by beating UCLA, but the Bruins' Pac-10 rival USC surprised Kentucky. It will be the Trojans trying to make history of their own against the Blue Devils in Philadelphia.
Instead of the rematch, Thursday's games set up two ACC vs. Pac-10 games in the East and West regional finals. Duke will take on USC and Stanford dispatched Cincinnati to set up a showdown with Maryland.
Duke 76, UCLA 63: Well, the Dukies move on to the Elite Eight due to an unbelievable performance by All-America guard Jason Williams. Williams just dominated in the second half as he scored 19 consecutive points at one time, to dash any dream Steve Lavin had of reuniting the Bruins' cross-city rivalry with USC in the regional finals.
But it will be Mike Krzyzewski's Duke Blue Devils marching on, as they get a strong performance by Williams, a solid performance by Shane Battier and a tough defensive effort. Carlos Boozer gave them quality minutes and a presence on the inside though showing the effects of his long layoff. But it was the Jason Williams show put on by the best guard in America and it's Duke against USC for the right to go to the Metrodome; the site of Duke's title in 1992.
USC 80, Kentucky 76: Southern Cal's brilliant performances from David Bluthenthal and Brian Scalabrine helped lead them to the Elite Eight. Bluthenthal made one big play after another, but none bigger than the three huge trifectas he made late in the second half to hold off a furious Kentucky rally.
The 'Cats went down to the tenacious Trojans 31-10 in the first half as USC shut down Kentucky's perimeter game. In the second half the 'Cats came out with fierce pressure and rallied to within one but could never take the lead. Keith Bogans, who was 1-for-8 in the first half, had a sensational second half when he scored 21 points, but he missed two free throws with a minute remaining that were costly for the 'Cats.
Yes, Henry Bibby moves on the the Elite Eight and is one game away from joining a special group of men who have played and coached in a Final Four. They await the winner of the UCLA Bruins and the Duke Blue Devils. A salute to the Pac-10 and the brilliant performance of the USC Trojans!
Stanford 78, Cincinnati 65: Cincinnati gave it their all and kept up with Stanford for over a half. But in the end it was too much Casey Jacobsen, who had 27 big points. Ryan Mendez who had only two points in the first half came through bigtime in the second, hitting threes and crucial free throws.
Cincinnati got a game effort from Kenny Satterfield who had 24 points. In the end Stanford wore down the Bearcats inside and Jacobsen hit clutch shots. It was too much for a Cincinnati team that had been so exceptional defensively in the first two games of the tournament.
I feel bad for Steve Logan, who struggled in the second half. He's obviously had a lot on his mind with his grandmother being ill. Now Stanford marches on to take on Maryland in what should be a thrilling contest.
Maryland 76, Georgetown 66: Congratulations to Gary Williams for making the Elite Eight for the first time in his career and to Maryland for making it for the first time since 1975. It was a hard-fought battle over local rival Georgetown 3000 miles away from their homes in Anaheim, Calif.
Lonny Baxter was the PTPer of the game. He came out aggressively and dominated inside and on the glass scoring 26 big points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Since struggling against Georgia St. in the first round, Baxter has been a workhorse.
Juan Dixon had another good game with 13 points. And Maryland's defense did a good job on Georgetown's backcourt combo of Kevin Braswell and Demetrius Hunter. That duo was 7-for24 from the floor. Also give Williams' team credit for doing a good job on the boards, pulling down 54 boards to Georgetown's 44. This comes against a Hoya team that outrebounded its opponents by around eight boards a game.
Two things have to concern Williams, though. Terence Morris struggled to four points on 1-of-11 shooting and Maryland made just 1-of-9 three pointers. They'll have to do a little better in the regional final in those areas if they expect to make the Final Four.