PORTLAND, Ore.— Day one in the books.
Arizona didn't dominate Texas Southern quite at the level I expected after stepping off the gas in the second half, but they still killed them.
So now, we have a rematch of the 2013 Sweet 16, of which I attended and watched as Grant Jerrett forgot how to play defense and LaQuinton Ross nailed an open jumper for the win.
Anyway, here's a round-up of both Arizona and Ohio State's games, plus some notes on the other two games at Moda Center.
Also, check out my story about Ohio State's win, a sidebar about Arizona's improved free throw shooting, a seen-and-heard notes, Bruce's gamer about Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Greg's column about Kaleb Tarczewski and a Greg Hansen Video Notebook.
(2) Arizona against (15) Texas Southern
- Final score: Arizona 93, Tex. Southern 72
- Player of the game: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona). If not for foul trouble, and Arizona taking the foot off the gas, he might’ve scored 30. By halftime he had 16 points and 7 rebounds, and finished with a career-high 23 points, plus 10 rebounds. Saturday vs. Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell shall be fun.
- Key moment(s): We learned pretty quickly that this might get out of hand when the Wildcats jumped out to a 17-4 lead. The defense in the second half wasn’t great — “defensively it was probably one of the worst performances we’ve had all year,” said T.J. McConnell. — and the score was a tied 39-39 that half, which can’t happen again, at least at that level of scoring, but I think it was probably more just Arizona taking their foot off the gas a little bit in the second half. If McConnell and Sean Miller were as mad about the game as it seemed, then the Wildcats miiiight destroy Ohio State.
- Stat: 222. McConnell, with four dimes, leap-frogged UA assistant Damon Stoudamire for the third-most assists in a season in Wildcats history.
- Quote (Arizona): “We didn't play that well on defense. It kind of -- I don't know. It kind of messes us up a little bit. We talked about it. We're going to focus on that part of the game. Offensively things will fall. Defense wins championships, so we have to be focused on that, be ready to play defense, get stops, grind it out.” — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
- Quote (Tex. Southern): “They just overwhelmed us with length, size, athleticism in the first half. They're well-coached. I think they're a one seed, for sure. It was so difficult for us to adjust to their talent level.” — Mike Davis, Tex. Southern coach
(10) Ohio State against (7) Virginia Commonwealth
- Final score: Ohio State 75, VCU 72 (overtime)
- Player of the game: D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State): The Ohio State D’Angelo’s were lead by D’Angelo, to the surprise of no one. He had 28 points and a ridiculous crossover in overtime. I’m not sure Arizona’s faced anyone as talented as Russell this year, and maybe not last year either. As in, yes, I think he’s in the discussion with Frank the Tank and Jabari Parker (off the top of my head). Looking forward to watching him on Saturday.
- Key moment(s): That cross-over was the most fun, but two 3-pointers from freshman Keita Bates-(Who?)-Diop, one toward the end of regulation and one in overtime, were clutch enough to call them the only reason outside of Russell that the Buckeyes won. Unless you’re an OSU fan or Bates-Diop’s mother, you’ve never heard him. And you might not hear from him again. The dude hadn’t even played 10 minutes in a game in a month before Thursday.
- Stat: 2. Rebounds for OSU center Amir Williams. He’s 6-foot-11, and didn’t have his first rebound until the second half. Have fun against Arizona, guy.
- Quote (Ohio State): “You know, the great thing when you try to get creative for D'Angelo, he picks it up just like that. I think that makes his knowledge of the game of basketball, he knows exactly what we're trying to get accomplished and can execute it.
- Quote (VCU): “ The main thing we were trying to do was when he (Russell) came off a hand-off, pick'n roll situation, put two guys on him. Guys executed pretty well. Ohio State made a couple timely shots out of that trap. So you got to give them credit for that.” — VCU coach Shaka Smart
Later on in Portlandia...
(5) Utah 57, (12) Stephen F. Austin 50
What’s that? A Utah game was ugly?
That never happens!
And by “that never happens!” I mean that I’m just kidding and that always happens.
Utah was up 26-19 at halftime and barely won, the score padded by some late-game free throws.
Utes freshman center Jakob Poeltl had his best game in weeks — 18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 blocks.
“He was dialed in,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, “Jakob was really dialed in.”
(4) Georgetown 84, (13) Eastern Washington 74
I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t get a chance to watch this game at all. But, I do know that Georgetown finally didn’t get upset by somebody in the first round, which is kind of a patented Hoyas move in recent years.
EWU’s Tyler Harvey, the nation’s leading scorer, had 27 points. For Georgetown, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera — I feel bad for the Hoyas beat writers who have to write that every game — had 25 points and 8 rebounds.
“Georgetown is a really long team,” Harvey said, according to Kyle Goon of the Salt Lake Tribune. “We don't have teams like that in the Big Sky. You have to hit shots against them.”
Utah and Georgetown will play on Saturday. Gun to my head, I’ve got the Hoyas in that one.