Nelson Stars, Daniels Wins, Carroll A No-Show
Joseph’s Jameer Nelson (32 points 9 rebounds) was the best player on
the court. Auburn’s Marquis Daniels (25 points, 8 rebounds) made
big shot after big shot for the Tigers. And Saint Joseph’s Pat
Carroll (0-5 FG) was nowhere to be found.
In perhaps the best game of the NCAA tournament thus far, Auburn led
most of the first half. Trailing 4-3, Auburn used an 11-2 run
capped off by a Nathan Watson three-pointer to establish a 14-6
lead. The Hawks’ Dwayne Jones stopped the run with a basket, but
Auburn struck right back with Kyle Davis’s 3rd dunk of
the half, 17-8.
Auburn attacked Saint Joseph’s in the lane. The Tigers’ frontcourt
produced 14 of the team’s 17 points. Marco Killingsworth and Kyle
Davis pounded the Hawks in the post. They combined for 8 quick
points. The high percentage shots forced the Hawks to play a
half-court game where they were unable to create an up-tempo game
and get easy baskets.
A slow start befell the Hawks. Saint Joseph’s made only 4 of their
first 16 shots. Surprisingly, senior center Alex Sazonov was the
scoring leader. He converted 3 free throws and two field goal
attempts to tally 7 points. The Hawks’ perimeter players drew
nothing but iron for the entire half and Sazonov winded up being the
leading scorer at the break.
The Tigers closed out the half on top. Watson buried a baseline
three-ball and Marquis Daniels finished an “and-1” play, giving the
SEC team their largest lead of the half, 32-19.
Daniels (8 points), Watson (6), Davis (6), and Killingsworth (6)
provided balanced scoring for the #10 seed. Auburn’s frontcourt
outscored the Hawk big men 21-11. Auburn played effective defense
over the course of the half, forcing 8 turnovers and containing the
Hawks to 19 points and 30% FG shooting.
The flashy backcourt for the Hawks (Nelson, Delonte West, and Pat
Carroll) was a combined 3-for-13 FG. Pat Carroll, good one game
absent the next game this season, did not even attempt a shot.
Sazonov led the Hawks with 7 points and Nelson added 5 points.
The Hawks played shell-shocked in the first half. The second half
performance exemplified their defensive tenacity, their hustle, and
their claim to having the nation’s best point guard (sorry T.J. Ford
and Luke Ridnour).
Known to go on scoring tears to pull away from close games, the
Hawks rattled off a 13-0 run in the early stage of the second half.
Delonte West, hesitant but looking more mobile than the last few
games, and Jameer Nelson netted 9 points between them during the
run. The run brought the Hawks from down 37-24 to a 37-37 tie with
nearly 12 minutes left. The final bucket of the run, a Nelson
step-back jumper, was superb. Nelson faked, juked, and twisted the
Auburn defender before drilling the baseline jumper. This was the
start of a player entering “The Zone.” It was the start of a
Auburn sensation Daniels countered with a three-pointer, 42-39. A
West three-pointer locked things up at 42 apiece. Down 2 points,
Jameer Nelson dropped in a rainbow floater over the outstretched
hand of an Auburn defender, 45-45.
The Tigers went back down low. Killingsworth muscled in a basket to
retake the lead. Following a missed shot in the lane by Dwayne
Jones, Nelson tipped in the offensive rebound to tie the game at
47-47. Killingsworth banked in a short shot. West hit both ends of
the 1-and-1 to tie the game again.
Auburn was struck with some good luck. Trying to drive to the lane,
Daniels lost control of the ball and dribbled the ball off his own
foot. Heading out-of-bounds, the ball seemed destined to be in the
Hawks’ possession. But AUB’s Derrick Bird happened to be in the
right place at the right time. The ball rolled right into his hands
just before hitting the sideline. Bird launched a three-pointer
that found nothing but net, 52-49.
Nelson, clutch as he is on the line, sank both ends of the 1-and-1
to cut the lead to 1 point. Tyrone Barley was whistled for a
controversial block defending the baseline. Bird hit both free
throws to widen the lead to 54-51 with 2:19 remaining.
Nelson drove and drew the foul. He hit both foul shots, 54-53.
Dwayne Jones gave the Hawks a chance. He swatted a shot and the
ball was deflected off Auburn with 47 seconds remaining. Nelson got
by his man and tried to use the glass. It was a poor angle and ball
came off the glass short of the rim, but Nelson grabbed the rebound
and put the ball up on the rim. It rolled off, but the Hawks got it
With a 10 second differential on the shot clock, Nelson drove to his
right and released a one-handed 12-foot floater over an Auburn
shot-blocker. It was all net and the Hawks led 55-54 with 12
The Hawks moved Tyrone Barley over to guard Daniels, who had been
guarded by West most of the game. From about 24 feet, the 6’6
Daniels elevated and boldly drained a deep three-pointer in the face
of Barley with 6 seconds left, 57-55. Nelson took the ball, raced
the length of the court, and was hacked across the wrists with 0.5
seconds left. His 1st shot was a tad short but bounced
in. The second free throw was perfect, 57-57.
Overtime was needed.
The Hawks weathered 5 straight opportunities by the Tigers on the 1st
possession of overtime. Auburn would grab the offensive rebound,
have the possession arrow in their favor during a jump-ball, or have
the ball deflected off a Hawk just before going out. The Hawks did
prevail on that possession, and by the time they got the ball, the
clock read 3:45.
Nelson was electric to start the OT. The junior swished two
three-pointers to give Saint Joseph’s its largest lead of the game,
63-59. The Hawks had the ball and the lead with nearly 2 minutes
Nelson barely missed another three-pointer, and no one got back on
defense. Auburn streaked to a fast-break dunk courtesy of Daniels.
Nelson tried to hit another three-pointer but was off the mark.
Daniels took the ball string to the basket, drew the foul on Jones,
and still finished. His free-throw gave AUB the lead, 64-63.
In a questionable coaching decision, Nelson in-bounded the ball on
what seemed to be the last possession for the Crimson and Gray.
Tyrone Barley ended up with the ball and the shot clock winding
down. Trying to create space, Barley pushed off with his forearm
and was whistled for an offensive foul. Auburn was fouled by the
Hawks. Derrick Bird, an 80% FT shooter and best on the Tigers
missed the first one but hit the second one.
Nelson penetrated and the other Hawks seemed surprised he didn’t
shot. A wide-open West caught the ball and rotated the ball to an
open Pat Carroll, who was 0-4 up until that moment. Carroll
released the ball from the top of the arc. A Tiger defender leaped
at him. Carroll’s shot landed on the base-line, a foot left of the
basket. Replays were inconclusive as to whether it was tipped or
It didn’t look tipped. It looked like a rushed shot. It missed
badly. Carroll was 0-5 for the game and that was the end of the
season for the Hawks. If it was tipped, Saint Joseph’s would have
had the ball with 0.6 seconds to go at their basket with a chance to
For Auburn, Daniels had 25 points on 10-for-19 shooting.
Killingsworth (15) and Bird (11) also reached double figures. The
Tigers connected on 44% of their shots, a good rate against the
nation’s #1 FG % defense.
For Saint Joseph’s, Jameer Nelson scored 32 of the Hawks’ 63
points. He was 11-for-22 from the field, including 7-of-8 from the
line. Delonte West was the only other Hawk to reach double-figures
(10 points), but was 3-for-13 from the field. The injury severely
limited his explosiveness.
The good news for Saint Joseph’s is that Dwayne Jones is only a
freshman. The 6’11 center had 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
Having developed a decent hook shot, he is two good post moves away
from being a dominant big man in the Atlantic 10.
Three-point shooting was a negative for the Hawks, who hit just
The off-season begins. Will Pat Carroll work extensively on his
ability to create a shot? He has already honed the spot-up
three-pointer. He will need to develop a slashing ability. Will
Nelson declare for the NBA? Or will he come back and continue his
assault on the SJU record books? Will Delonte West heal completely
and be a force as he was midway through the season? Who will emerge
next season: Dave Mallon, Chet Stachitas, Mike Williams? Remember,
only 1 senior will be lost and 7 of the 10 guys coming back are now
freshmen and sophomores.
Well, it has been a blast. I don’t know if I will cover the Hawks
next year, but I know I will definitely be watching them. Hope all
of you have enjoyed the articles.