Saturday, March 10, 2007

Big 12 Tournament - Day 2


‘cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane. I don’t know when I’ll be back again. Oh babe, I hate to go.

Howdy from the Oklahoma City Airport.

Wait – By the time you read this, it may actually be “Howdy from Houston.”

Well, we talked yesterday about being afraid of this game, and sure enough our hunch was correct as the Oklahoma State Cowboys pulled off the first big upset win of this year’s tournament by defeating the Aggies by a final score of 57-56.

We’ll get into the nuts and bolts of the loss down below and also take a look at what, if anything, it means heading into the NCAA tournament next week.

The second day of action in OKC got started with a legitimate national championship contender flexing their muscles, one team making a bid that they belong in the big dance, one big upset and one big disaster nearly averted.

All 4 games on Friday were entertaining, and the Aggies loss aside, there was some great basketball played at the Ford Center.

Game 5 Recap
Kansas took on the hometown Oklahoma Sooners in front of a crowd that was actually pro-Kansas. Folks wearing crimson and blue actually outnumbered those wearing crimson and cream by probably 4-to-1.

The first half of the game was actually very entertaining as OU came out and played about as well as they could have in keeping the game close only trailing by 2 points (28-26) at the half.

After the break, Kansas really came out and proved that when they play as well as they can, there is not a team in the nation that will beat them. The second half was a clinic as the Jayhawks ran away from OU and ended up winning by a final score of 64-47.

The balanced Kansas attack was led by Brandon Rush’s 16 points while Darrell Arthur added 10 off the bench.

Longar Longar led the way for the Sooners in scoring 13 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

Game 6 Recap
In what was a battle of two of the most aggressive coaches in the game, Bob Huggins and his K-State Wildcats got the better of Bobby Knight’s Red Raiders by winning 66-45.

I felt terrible for the officiating crew working this game as both coaches were all over these guys from the opening tip, and neither one of them let up the entire game. (Perhaps Bob Knight was onto something; after shooting 44 free-throws on Thursday, the Raiders only found their way to the line 7 times on Friday.)

The game itself was actually not that exciting. K-State jumped out to a 33-26 halftime lead and just kept applying pressure in the second half, all-the-while Texas Tech was just never able to get anything going.

K-State was led by 20 points from Lance Harris and 17 from Cartier Martin. Texas Tech’s Jarrius Jackson continued to put up great numbers by scoring 28 points (although it was only on 10-of-24 shooting).

K-State takes on Kansas today in the first semi-final game.

Game 8 Recap
The evening’s final game saw the feisty Baylor Bears take on the Kevin Durants.

Baylor wasted no time in picking up right where they left off on Thursday night as they jumped all over the Longhorns.

Baylor led by as many as 20 points and held a commanding 43-25 lead as they were paced by 7 three-pointers in the first half. Kevin Durant had a hard time getting going and only had one field goal and 5 points as the teams headed to the break.

As the second half got underway, for some reason Scott Drew abandoned what was working so well for them through their first game and a half in the tournament. He decided to stop having his guards work the perimeter and the baseline to create opportunities and started forcing the ball to his big-men on the inside.

This plan proved to be disastrous as the Bears were only able to make 7 of their 29 attempts in the second half (24%), and they only put up 7 three point shots, making 1.

Durant also got going in the second half, and he did again what we have all seen so many times and carried his team to victory. Durant finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds.

Baylor was led by 19 points and 9 rebounds from Curtis Jerrells.

The Ford Center turned into an “everyone vs. Texas” atmosphere as every fan in the place not wearing burnt orange was pulling for the Bears and hoping to see the upset.

Texas takes on Oklahoma State in today’s other semi-final game.

Aggies vs. Oklahoma State Recap (Game 7)
I do not know what to say other than I am very disappointed that the Aggies came out as flat and uninspired as they did yesterday evening.

This is not the time of the year that you want your team to come out and look disinterested.

It is one thing if they come out tight and nervous and do not get off to a good start, but it is something entirely different if they get off to a bad start because it simply looks like they were not ready to play.

The game itself was actually pretty ugly and not very fun to watch, but even if you get into a slug-fest you have to find a way to win those games.

For most of the game, and especially in the first half, OSU threw a nasty dose of man-to-man pressure at the Aggies that really never allowed A&M to get into any rhythm on the offensive end of the floor.

Most of A&M’s problems on the offensive end of the floor came in the paint where the Cowboys outscored the Aggies 30-24. The biggest problem for A&M was that Kavaliauskas was never able to get anything going and in-fact, on the night he ended up missing 6 layups, which is just unacceptable.

Kavaliauskas finished the game 2-for-12 from the field for only 6 points.

Kavaliauskas was not the only one having a hard time making a basket on the inside as the Aggies missed a total of 13 layups on the evening.

Joe Jones got off to a great start, but his final basket of the evening came at the 7:05 mark. Joe finished the game with a team high 18 points and 7 rebounds.

The most surprising guy of the night had to have been Acie Law. Acie had a bad day at the office in only making 5 of his 12 attempts, but it was not the missed baskets that made his night so surprising.

I would like for someone to explain to me how Acie can take no field goal attempts in the final 3 minutes of the game and how he can fail to score in the last 9.

I fully understand that Acie, as good as he is, can not single handedly win games, but for him to not even take a shot in the last 3 minutes of the game is just not acceptable.

Some of that has to do with the OSU defense, which was as good as it has been all season long, but for Acie to drive to the lane and kick the ball out on the last two A&M possessions was very surprising.

After Mario Boggan hit a shot on the low block that put OSU ahead with 11 seconds left, Acie pushed the ball up the floor, drove the lane, and kicked the ball out to Carter who was wide open on the three point line.

Carter’s shot missed long and AK grabbed the rebound and put up a shot that careened off the iron. Carter grabbed the AK miss and put up a final desperation shot that missed as the buzzer sounded sealing the victory for OSU.

OK – What does this loss mean?

I know it was hugely disappointing and most of us probably felt quite a bit deflated as we all hoped the Aggies would have shown better.

I am not 100% sure the Aggies could have won three games in three days, but I sure would have liked to have had the opportunity to find out.

It sure would have been a heck of a lot of fun to see them go against OSU, Texas, and probably Kansas in a 43 hour period.

With regards to the NCAA tournament, the loss has probably dropped the Aggies to a #3 seed but certainly not any lower than that.

I can not imagine them dropping to a #4 seed as their last 5 losses have come by a combined 10 points. Along those same lines, those numbers may very well still be enough to earn them a #2 seed.

Finally, what else it means is that they have in all likelihood played themselves out of a chance to play their first two games in New Orleans. The short trip over to the Big Easy would have been nice because there would have been a large contingent of Aggies that made that trip with them.

Now it is just a big wait-and-see until Sunday evening.

Quick Hits

- The Aggies got outscored 13-to-1 on second chance opportunities.

- The A&M starters played 188 of the possible 200 minutes in the game. Only Pompey (7 minutes), Sloan (5 minutes) and Logan Lee (0+ minutes) saw action off the Aggie bench. The Aggie bench was outscored 16-to-1 with Pompey being the only guy to score off the A&M bench.

- The Aggies’ final basket of the game came at the 2:29 mark.

- There were probably less than 1,000 A&M fans at that game yesterday.

- Free throw shooting continues to be a problem for this group as they only made 12-of-20 (60%) from the line, including only 6-of-11 (54.5%) in the second half. If the Aggies are going to be a quick out in the tournament, it very well may be because they can not make free-throws. It has been a big problem the last 2+ months, and I do not know if it is an epidemic or what is going on.

Saturday’s Schedule
Game 9

#1 Kansas vs. #4 Kansas State
1:00 pm - - ESPN+ / ESPN2
Line: Kansas -10

Game 10
#7 Oklahoma State vs. #3 Texas
3:30 pm - - ESPN+ / ESPN2
Line: Texas –4

If you thought there was a lot of OSU Cowboy orange in the arena yesterday, wait until this afternoon’s game. The Ford Center will more-or-less be transformed into Ghallagher-Iba south.

Couple that with all of the Kansas fans, and it should make for a great day of college basketball.


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