NCAA: Xavier answers Kansas State’s fast start with a 10-2 run of its own

By Dave Skretta, AP
Friday, March 26, 2010

NCAA: Xavier answers with a run of its own

Xavier has answered the early thrust by Kansas State with a 10-2 run of its own, and will be headed to the foul line with a chance to tie the game 28-all when the media timeout is over.

The Wildcats have allowed the Musketeers back in the game because of an unsightly series of offensive possessions: missed jumper, missed 3-pointer, turnover, missed layup, turnover, missed jumper, turnover, missed jumper, missed 3-pointer.

You get the idea.

Terrell Holloway and Jordan Crawford have scored all the points during the run for Xavier, a pair of veteran backcourt guys who aren’t likely to get rattled by K-State’s big early run.

The Carrier Dome might as well be a transplanted Newman Arena on steroids.

The place was rocking as Cornell jumped out to a 10-2 lead, with yellow-clad West Virginia fans on their feet, no doubt believing the Ivy League upstarts provide a little easier path to the Final Four than the big blue team from the bluegrass state.

In fact, there might be a couple of Cornell fans in Salt Lake City. The score was announced in that arena moments ago and received a huge ovation.

DeMarcus Cousins scored two quick baskets inside for Kentucky to trim the lead to 10-6, and the Wildcats’ size advantage quickly became obvious. Cousins and Patrick Patterson should be able to have a big impact on the game if they begin to get touches in the paint. ___

Cornell strikes first! Whatever happens from here, the Big Red will be able to say it led top-seeded Kentucky in the round of 16.

There might not be two more different teams left in the NCAA tournament than the guys that are tipping off in Syracuse: Cornell and Kentucky.

The Big Red players are in the Ivy League, have IQs that are off the charts, goof off at news conferences and scrap for every single win with a group of seniors.

Kentucky plays in the SEC, is on national television all the time, considers anything less than an NCAA tournament title abject failure and has a roster loaded with NBA prospects who might not even stick around for their sophomore seasons.

One team wears red, the other wears blue. Can’t get more different than that.

One thing that should worry Kentucky is that no Ivy League team has lost a regional semifinal in 32 years. After all, Penn in 1979 went to the Final Four.

It took a 3-pointer from Dante Jackson from somewhere near the Silicon Valley to finally break the K-State run, which had reached 17-0. The Musketeers still trail 19-7.

Many of the K-State points had come on offensive putbacks, which is a scary thought for Xavier: The Wildcats scored 16 points off 14 offensive rebounds when they won the first meeting in December.

Wally Judge scored the final points during the big spurt, and it bears mentioning that he’s only a freshman. In fact, Kansas State is a young team, with Denis Clemente the only significant contributor who will graduate.

Jacob Pullen may get some NBA interest, but there isn’t much of a market for 6-foot shooting guards, so he would be well-served to stick around for his senior year and develop into a true point guard.

Kansas State is really causing problems for Xavier at both ends of the court, and much of the credit for that goes to Dalonte Hill. Frank Martin’s top assistant coach is known for his exceptional recruiting ability — remember those Michael Beasley and Bill Walker guys? — but was also tasked with putting together the scouting report on Xavier.

Well, his gameplan sure seems to be working.

The Wildcats are riding a 15-0 run to take a 17-4 lead with under 13 minutes to go. K-State is 8 of 13 from the field, led by seven points from Jacob Pullen, while Xavier is shooting just 2 of 10 from the floor.

So, you think these teams are over it?

They’ve had some unfriendly games in the recent past, including earlier this season. Mark Lyons of Xavier and Denis Clemente of Kansas State haven’t forgotten, jawing at each other and both getting technicals as the refs try to take control early.

Curtis Kelly showed a nice move down low and Kansas State has used an 8-0 spurt to take a 10-4 lead with about 15 minutes to go in the first half.

Xavier’s Jordan Crawford of “I dunked on LeBron” fame opened the game against K-State with — what else? — a dunk off a nice alley-oop pass from Terrell Holloway.

Both teams are running up and down the court in the early minutes, a pace that could favor the Wildcats. They are relatively deep and have strong athletes at every position, and play with a toughness that mirrors the hotheaded approach of coach Frank Martin.

Kentucky has just taken the Carrier Dome floor to a chorus of boos, while a huge ovation swept through the building as Cornell took the floor. The north end of the dome is a sea of red, while the south end is half red and the other half blue.

Considering how well Kentucky travels, it’s a pretty decent crowd in favor of the Big Red.

Kentucky is among the favorites left in the tournament after fellow top seeds Kansas and Syracuse have both lost. Cornell is the Ivy League darling that is trying to pull a Northern Iowa against the big bully from the power conference.

Kansas State and Xavier have just tipped in Salt Lake City. Kansas State is two wins from its first Final Four since 1964, while Xavier has never been in the national semifinals.

The Wildcats avenged a 26-point loss on New Year’s Eve 2007 with a grinding, 15-point win over Xavier in the Little Apple earlier this season. The winner takes on Butler, which knocked off top-seeded Syracuse, for spot in Indianapolis.

Keep an eye on some terrific guards in this one, Jordan Crawford for Xavier and Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente for Kansas State. All three of them can fill it up.

Kevin Jones and Da’Sean Butler have led West Virginia one step closer to the Final Four.

The duo combined for 30 points in a game that was about as pretty to watch as a root canal, and the defensive-minded Mountaineers overpowered Washington 69-56 to set up a date with top-seeded Kentucky or 12th-seeded upstart Cornell on Saturday.

Justin Holiday had 14 points and Isaiah Thomas added 13 for Washington, which committed an unsightly 22 turnovers. The Huskies were also outrebounded 40-25, had eight shots blocked and committed 19 personal fouls.


Every time it seems that Washington creates a turnover, the Huskies give it right back to West Virginia. Both teams have committed 21 turnovers, a ghastly number for a junior high game, much less a regional semifinal.

No wonder Lorenzo Romar ripped off that suit coat.

Bob Huggins’ teams are accustomed to winning ugly, though, and it sure looks like the Mountaineers are about to win their 30th game according to that recipe. ___

Kevin Jones has converted from in close for West Virginia after misses by Da’Sean Butler and Kevin Ebanks, which is keeping the Huskies at bay.

Washington has 10 fouls, so it could come down to free throws for the Mountaineers, who hit 78 percent of their tries in the first two rounds. West Virginia leads 61-50 with 3:39 left.

West Virginia star Da’Sean Butler crashed hard to the floor moments ago, but he’s back up and still playing. The current run by West Virginia has caused Washington coach Lorenzo Romar to rip off his suit coat and earn a technical foul — as if things weren’t going bad enough for the Huskies. Devin Ebanks and Butler made four straight free throws.

The Mountaineers are on a 20-6 run that has swelled the lead to 56-43 with under 8 minutes left, and it’s beginning to look like the vaunted Big East will have one team left in the round of eight. The score of Butler-Syracuse was just announced in the arena in Syracuse, N.Y.

Washington has slapped on a little three-quarter court pressure in an attempt to create a turnover, and West Virginia did a nice job of breaking it.

Only then did they finally turn it over.

Isaiah Thomas came back at the other end and hit a 3-pointer to trim the lead back to single digits, and Washington created another turnover in the halfcourt on the ensuing West Virginia possession. This time the Huskies gave it right back — a missed opportunity.

Gordon Hayward had 17 points, Shelvin Mack scored 14 and Butler used its staunch defense — and a little mid-major magic — to beat top-seeded Syracuse 63-59.

The Big East regular-season champions struggled all game and time eventually ran out, as coach Jim Boeheim was denied another trip to the round of eight. Instead, it will be Butler getting the winner of Xavier-Kansas State for a chance at the Final Four in Indianapolis.

Syracuse fell behind by seven in the final minute, but missed free throws gave the Orange one final chance. Scoop Jardine came up the court with about 10 seconds left trailing by four, but he spun at the 3-point line and forgot to take the ball with him. Butler grabbed the loose ball and ran out the remainder of the time.

Wes Johnson, a transfer from Iowa State, capped his first season for Syracuse with a 6-for-10 shooting performance and 17 points. It also might be the final game for the 6-foot-7 junior forward, who is sure to have some NBA folks keeping tabs on him.

will not be displayed