The best from the NCAA Tournament in San Diego, Day 1…
Best player: Oklahoma’s Marcus Smart. Smart had 23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and seven steals – among the most balanced stat lines in tournament history – despite the Cowboys’ loss to Gonzaga. Smart, a projected lottery pick, had six turnovers and shot just 5-of-14, but he was the only reason the Cowboys were in the game.
Best five: Smart, Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos (26 points, 12-of-14 free throws), Stephen F. Austin’s Jacob Parker (22 points), Arizona’s Nick Johnson (18 points, stellar defense on Weber State’s Davion Berry), UCLA’s Jordan Adams (21 points, eight rebounds, four assists).
Best play: The foul may have been a bit debatable, but the play will definitely go down in Stephen F. Austin history. Desmond Haymon drained a 3-pointer and picked up a foul call with less than four seconds left, hitting the free throw to send the Lumberjacks’ eventual 77-75 win into overtime.
Biggest letdowns: Arizona’s T.J. McConnell and Weber State’s Kyle Tresnak. McConnell was held scoreless and managed four assists and four rebounds while Tresnak scored just three, one game after a 27-point performance in the Wildcats’ Big Sky Conference tournament title game win.
Best mascot: Weber State’s Wildcat was wildly athletic, twisting, flipping and dancing, but…did you SEE the Stephen F. Austin mascot? The costume was a flannel shirt, a beard and a mullet. That’s it.