Faster, Taller, More Talented, Better Wins

Meanwhile On The Other Station . . . the most exciting finale of this already magnificent tournament.

Kansas State’s slug it out W over Xavier was, as Gus Johnson hyperventilated “an instant classic.”

For the last minutes of regulation and the ten minutes of overtime, these exhausted combatants delivered haymaker after haymaker. Got down court after an eight count. And said, “Et tu, Brute.”

I found myself switching allegiance during the contest. From the Musketeers to Purple Pride. I’ve watched Frank Martin’s squad several times this season on Big Monday, especially their loss at home to Rock Chalk Jayhawk. But, frankly, never realized how gutty these guys are.

However the K-State victory does raise this concern. Are we to become a mutton chop nation once again, as in the era of the robber barons? Munificently follicled Jacob Pullen must have figured he closed out the game at the end of regulation with a couple of charity tosses. But, no. Then he hit a layup at the end of OT #1. Uh, no.

So he went overboard to seal the deal in OT#2. A couple of treys. A couple of FTs. And still the boyz from the Queen City were but another improbable trey away from more oooooooooooooooovertime. That one fell short.

If I counted correctly there were half dozen ties. And another half dozen lead changes. And that was only in the ten minutes of the two OTs.

How many times have you heard Jay Bilas and Dickie V scream through your TV speakers to foul when a team is up 3 and their foe is scurrying up the court to attempt a tying trey? Correct answer: Too many. Well, K-State followed the advice. The zebras simply didn’t call the foul the Purple wanted them to call, but did call the foul the Purple didn’t want them to call. Result: Three FTs. OT #1.

Shout out to Xavier. Though they played way too loosey goosey at times — and Jordan Crawford, as wonderous as he is and was last night, can be a ball hog — the team never quit. When they were down 4-17 after 7:30 of play, I wrote down “X looks beaten.” Oops.

One last shout out, and I’ll move on. Denis Clemente may be the great point guard we pundits have under praised this season. The guy was all guts and guile.

Big Blue Bashes Big Red. To repeat the headline. Faster, taller, more talented wins. Usually, but not always. It sure did last night in Syracuse. Before a full gym in which the Big Blue Nation was way outnumbered for the first time in tournament memory.

Truth is this Kentucky team, youth be damned, is looking more and more like a national champion.

They held steady in the face of one of their pre-game nightmares: a quick getaway by Cornell. Hometowners 10, Carpetbaggers 2. Then UK righted its ship and outscored the underdogs 30-6 for the rest of the first stanza. “Reality check,” as my fave Cornell alum Larry emailed at halftime. Ballgame.

It’s at this point that I must admit there’s not much more I can comment about the game. Because of the late hour, I nodded out during the last part of the first half. During the second, I was mesmerized by the Xavier/ Kansas State game on the other station. When Cornell cut it to 6 late, the Cats held steady as champions do.

It wasn’t a thing of beauty. Then again there are no style points that matter in the tourney. Survive and advance is the name of the only game. Just ask . . .

Mountaineers Slag Their Way To A W Over UDub. Not much to say about this U.G.L.Y. game. It was a grimy alley brawl. And few do that better than Bobby Huggs charges.

The teams had 25 turnovers between them at half time. And it got no prettier in the second half.

Which, knowing that the less said the better, is about all I am going to say about that game.

I know the Cats best be ready to man up tomorrow night.

Bears Chew Orange, Peel And All. You can look it up. I’ve never thought ‘Cuse a legit national contender all year. Mostly because they were short-handed inside. Which came to kick them in the butt at tournament time with Onuaku out.

I think they would have lost last night, even had he played. Because they were a good but not a great team. (As I’ve said before, no great team this season was going to lose to U of L twice.) And because Butler is a really good bunch.

The Hinkles have won, what, 23 in a row now. That’s a lot of consecutive Ws in any league. They are a deep and talented squad. Willie Veasley — not stars Shelvin Mack or baby faced Gordon Hayward — took over when it mattered with a H*O*R*S*E trey from the corner and a big follow. They committed but 7 errors (vs. 18 for the disheveled Big Least champs).

And never rattled, even when Syracuse grabbed intermittent leads now and again.

Butler vs. K-State shall be a true All Midwest Elite 8 encounter.

– Seedy K

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