V-RECAPS | NCAA Tournament, First Round | Friday, March 19
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ST. LOUIS REGION
(12) Pacific 66, (5) Providence 58 -- Pacific had something to prove for the Big West Conference. Remember, Pacific is the only Big West team to make the Big Dance this year, with a ranked Utah State squad getting left out. Pacific is one of the nation's hottest teams now, holding a 16-game winning streak, second only to Gonzaga's 21-game streak. The combination of Miah Davis and Guillaume Yango scored 37 of Pacific's 66 points. Providence closed the season with a disappointing four-game losing streak. Donnie McGrath struggled again from the floor, and star forward Ryan Gomes received little support (scoring 11 of his team's 23 field goals).
(9) UAB 102, (8) Washington 100 -- What a wild, wild game! For the first time since 1994, a team scored 100 points or more in regulation and didn't get to the winners' circle. That's right, Washington's young, talented team scored 100 -- but UAB still prevailed. Coach Mike Anderson's team advances to take on Kentucky in a tough second-round matchup. UAB's quickness and ability to get up and down the court was evident in this wild contest.
(4) Kansas 78, (13) Illinois (Chi.) 53 -- Kansas was simply too strong for Illinois-Chicago inside, with forward Wayne Simien leading the way (along with guards Keith Langford and J.R. Giddens). Coach Bill Self's Jayhawks have been maligned at times this season, but there was no doubt on this evening. Next up for the Jayhawks is No. 12 seed Pacific.
(1) Kentucky 96, (16) Florida A&M 76 -- I'm sure coach Tubby Smith was not thrilled at halftime after his Wildcats gave up 52 points in the first half to the No. 16 seed. Hey, 52 points -- that's more than South Carolina scored Friday in a 59-43 loss to Memphis! Guard Gerald Fitch led Kentucky's offense with 26 points while Erik Daniels chipped in with 18. The Wildcats shot 57 percent from the floor, getting many uncontested shots. And Tubby's defense raised its level of intensity, giving up just 24 points in the second half.
(3) Georgia Tech 65, (14) Northern Iowa 60 -- Georgia Tech has terrific depth, with guard Will Bynum and forwards Clarence Moore and Isma'il Muhammad coming off the bench (three players who could start at lots of other schools). 7-1 center Luke Schenscher gives the Yellow Jackets great size inside, and he led a balanced attack with 13 points. In this game, the difference was Georgia Tech's athleticism. Down the stretch, the Jackets were able to contain Northern Iowa's half-court execution. What a gallant effort by Northern Iowa, though, which challenged a team some people are picking to the Final Four.
(6) Boston College 58, (11) Utah 51 -- BC forward Craig Smith proved he is one of the most underrated players in America with his vital 19 points and eight rebounds against the Utes. Sean Marshall was excellent on the perimeter as well, scoring 12 and doing a great job handling the ball. Utah ran into a major dilemma when Nick Jacobson went 0-for-10 in the first half. Coach Al Skinner's Eagles lost a lot of talent after last season, but you can hardly tell now. They have a certain toughness about them and will be a formidable second-round opponent.
(4) Cincinnati 80, (13) East Tenn. St. 77 -- 5-9 point guard Tim Smith of East Tennessee State posted one of the best performances of the tournament so far. The explosive, slashing little guy scored 26 points and almost led the Buccaneers to an upset. But in the end, senior guard Tony Bobbitt's 3-pointer was the difference (and the game-winner) for Cincinnati. Bobbitt, who hit five trifectas, is the premier sixth man in the nation. He bailed the Bearcats out against a tough squad that took them wire-to-wire in an incredible Maalox Masher. Sophomore forward Eric Hicks (14 points, 8 rebounds) was a key contributor Friday and is an underrated player for Cincinnati.
(7) Xavier 80, (10) Louisville 70 -- What a frustrating season for Louisville coach Rick Pitino. There were so many close calls, and the Cardinals had a big lead Friday against Xavier. But coach Thad Matta's team rallied from a double-digit deficit to advance. Xavier got strong leadership in the backcourt from Romain Sato and Lionel Chalmers. Big man Anthony Miles also came through up front. Xavier's ability to hit shots during its rally was impressive. Xavier is one of the hottest teams in America, with 14 wins in its past 15 games.
(2) Mississippi St. 85, (15) Monmouth (N.J.) 52 -- Monmouth fought and scrapped hard, but Mississippi State was simply too strong. Forward Lawrence Roberts, the Baylor transfer and SEC player of the year, scored 19 points in just 24 minutes after returning from an ankle injury that kept him from practicing this past week. I was impressed with the Bulldogs' rebounding (47-20 edge). One player who quietly contributed was forward Shane Power, the transfer from Iowa State (4-of-6 from the field for 13 points).
(5) Illinois 72, (12) Murray State 53 -- The Illini got an outstanding performance from guard Dee Brown, who has been up-and-down most of the season. Brown is playing his best basketball at the right time. He scored 21 points with just one turnover in 39 minutes against the Racers. Illinois also showed some aggressiveness on the glass by outrebounding Murray State 44-27. The Racers hung tough for a while, but without second-leading scorer Kelvin Brown they just didn't have enough to match the talent of the Illini.
EAST RUTHERFORD REGION
(3) Pittsburgh 53, (14) Central Florida 44 -- Coach Jamie Dixon certainly needs to look for some offense. Forward Chevon Troutman scored half of Pitt's points in the first half, and guard Carl Krauser stepped up big in the second half. But the Panthers have to be concerned going into a second-round matchup with Wisconsin. Pitt has now scored 60 or fewer points in four of its past seven games.
(6) Wisconsin 76, (11) Richmond 64 -- Wisconsin's Bo Ryan is one of the most underrated coaches in America. He has paid his dues. It looked for a long time like the Badgers were in serious danger of falling prey to Upset City. Richmond had a 13-point lead before the Badgers started hitting trifecta after trifecta. Wisconsin guard Devin Harris was really held in check by Tony Dobbins. Harris was shut out in the first half and had just two field goals overall (2-of-6 for 11 points). The combination of Mike Wilkinson and Boo Wade combined for 34 big points. The Badgers are good at limiting mistakes, and they had just nine turnovers against Richmond's tenacious defense.
(2) Oklahoma St. 75, (15) Eastern Washington 65 -- The Cowboys got a double-double performance from senior forward Ivan McFarlin (20 points, 10 rebounds). A strong second half defensively allowed Oklahoma State to pull away from an Eastern Washington team that is much better than some people thought. Cowboys senior guard Tony Allen, the Big 12 player of the year, scored 17 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and dished out 5 assists. Point guard John Lucas didn't have a big night, but after a close first half the Cowboys had enough to survive and advance.
(7) Memphis 59, (10) South Carolina 43 -- The perimeter defense of the Tigers was outstanding as they held the Gamecocks to just 2-of-13 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. The Memphis duo of Sean Banks and Antonio Burks combined for just 5-of-22 shooting, but a brilliant all-around game from the high-flying Rodney Carney was the difference. Carney used his unbelievable quickness and outstanding shooting to set a Memphis NCAA tournament record with six 3-pointers. He finished the afternoon with 26 points and 10 boards. The Tigers also crashed the glass hard, ripping down 14 offensive rebounds. Coach John Calipari has his team playing solid defense on its way to the second round.
(6) Vanderbilt 71, (11) Western Michigan 58 -- Western Michigan is an outstanding squad from the Mid-American Conference, always one of the most underrated leagues in America. Western Michigan really challenged Vanderbilt and had the lead at halftime, but Vanderbilt sophomore guard Mario Moore proved to be too much with a career-high 26 points. Senior forward Matt Freije had a poor first half but came back to score 13 points overall with 8 rebounds. The biggest asset for Vanderbilt is incredible senior leadership. Another big difference in this game was 3-point shooting: Western Michigan hit only 2-of-19 trifectas, but Vanderbilt hit 11-of-19.
(3) NC State 61, (14) La.-Lafayette 52 -- The difference in this game was established early as the normally hot-shooting Ragin' Cajuns went just 1-of-13 from 3-point range and set the table for the Wolfpack to take charge. The ability of NC State star Julius Hodge was too much for coach Jesse Evans' club. Hodge scored 14 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and did an excellent job on the defensive end. Marcus Melvin also dropped in 20 to help Hodge, but the Wolfpack still needs more help from its bench, which was scoreless Friday.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.