Cal tied with #1 Arizona with seconds to play. The Berkeley fans going berserkley as the seconds ticked down. Justin Cobbs tom toming the ball at the top of the key. A feint to his right, he cut a diagonal to the left corner, stopped, quarter-turned and elevated. Wildcat pivot, 7′ Kaleb Tarczewski, arm extended, was in parallel loft.
Cobbs’ shot arced over the soaring defender’s reaching hand, and nestled in the twine for a deuce.
The winning deuce.
And another one bites the dust.
Now there are but two unblemished — Syracuse1 and Wichita State.
Much to their chagrin, It was not Arizona’s biggest L of the night.
Losing a league game against a tournament-worthy foe on their court in February is nothing to get nervous about. Especially when it takes a last minute shot to do it.
Losing your second leading scorer — Brandon Ashley — for the game and possibly for the season because of an injured, possibly broken foot, that is Kenyon Martin B.A.D..
It was after midnight. The blue and gold-clad folks that stormed the Pete Newell court were ready to chug-a-lug and shout. For Sean Miller’s Wildcats and all members of the Wildcat Nation,2 it was not peaches and cream. They were not shaking their tambourines.
So, while the latter gang nervously awaits some x-ray results, Shocker and Syracuse fans rejoice.
One guy’s opinion. Both wanna lose before the Dance starts.
* * * * *
Here are some words I have never contemplated writing.
The Duke Blue Devils were hosed by the refs.
Jabari Parker did not commit that 5th foul, for which he was mistakenly whistled. I think it was Rakeem Christmas who flopped. Whoever it was, he’s the leader in the clubhouse for the Vlade Divac Flop of the Year Trophy.
Then Rodney Hood, his Dookies down a digit with 14 seconds to play in OT, was butcher chopped on the way to a jam.3
The Orange hung on for the W in what Jim Boeheim called the best game ever played in Syracuse’s humongous arena. He should know. He’s coached in every one of them. Somewhere the Dome Ranger is smiling.
It was indeed a national championship quality game. I was asked today by somebody, who didn’t see it, whether it was as good as the famous UK/ Duke regional final? I dunno. It certainly wasn’t as meaningful. But it may have been as compelling.
The L notwithstanding, Duke proved itself worthy. That Coach K said he could ask nothing more from his team, that Rodney Hood didn’t complain about the no call on that jam, those two things — along with Duke’s marvelous performance in that crazed environment — actually make me admire the Blue Devils. A bit. Just for today anyway.
* * * * *
I’m still thinking of last night’s official tally of Russ Smith’s turnovers. Three.
So, before the U of L women’s game this afternoon, I asked a member of the stat crew about it. When I joked that Russ must have some friends on the crew, he demurred.
Then he told me about the only two times Denny Crum ever complained about the official stats after a game.
Once he objected that Keith Williams, who he was trying to get more protective of the ball, had committed only 7 turnovers. Crum wanted a larger number to emphasize his point at practice.
The other was when Scooter McCray was a freshman and was credited with only 10 rebounds in a two point W over then #6 Michigan.
“I’ll buy you all a steak dinner if he didn’t get more than 10 rebounds.”
The stat crew watched the tapes, double checked their numbers and confirmed the total to their and Denny’s satisfaction. They still await their free dinner.
* * * * *
Up three with five seconds+ on the clock this afternoon, Oregon State fouled UCLA’s Ryan Anderson. He missed the first, made the second, which cut the lead to a deuce. But avoided a potential tying trey. The outcome has ’em smilin’ in the White House.4
If Syracuse had fouled Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon in the same circumstances last night, the Orange wouldn’t have needed an extra inning to secure that W.
* * * * *
The Cats are back. Maybe.
Michigan finally lost in the Big Ten. Meaning IU finally got a signature W.
Florida, Wichita State and San Diego State continue to rock. Kansas, Michigan State and Okie State roll.
Texas is rockin’. Wisconsin is reelin’.
Cincy is ascendent. UMass, descendent.
C’est February in the Land o’ College Hoops. Can I get a witness?
— Seedy K