Ducks Get Hot in the Second Half: Thursday's Quick Hitters

March 2nd, 2012

Florida State's Ian Miller knocked down a three-pointer with eight tenths of a second remaining to give the Seminoles a 63-60 win at Virginia, who will finish the regular season without a win over any of the top three teams in the ACC.

1. Oregon scored 54 second-half points to erase a five-point halftime deficit and beat Colorado.
The battle in Eugene between the Ducks and Buffaloes was likely more of a "bubble eliminator" contest, with the loser most likely needing to win the Pac-12 tournament in order to go dancing. Unfortunately for Colorado, who has struggled on the road all season, their play on the defensive end let them down in the second half. Oregon shot 61.5% in the second half of their 90-81 win, which also moved the Ducks closer to a first-round bye in next week's conference tournament. Devoe Joseph scored 24 points and Garrett Sim added 19 for Oregon, who shot 8-for-14 from beyond the arc as well. Carlon Brown snapped out of his funk to lead four Colorado players in double figures with 20 points, and despite the loss that's an important development for the Buffs. If he's playing efficiently they can win the Pac-12 tournament, which they will likely have to do in order to reach the Field of 68. 

2. Nevada clinches the WAC regular season title, and there won't be many highly ranked teams who will line up to face them in the Big Dance.
Regardless of what seed line David Carter's Wolf Pack end up on, they're not going to be a fun matchup for the team that draws them should they win the WAC's automatic bid. Olek Czyz led three Nevada players in double figures with 15 points and their defending of a ball screen in the final seconds eventually forced a New Mexico State turnover to seal the 65-61 win. NMSU's final sequence looked to be doomed from the start but head coach Marvin Menzies chose to play it out despite having a timeout remaining, ultimately leading to Hernst LaRoche throwing the ball away. Wendell McKines led the Aggies with 19 points and LaRoche added 12 in what could have been a preview of next weekend's title game. With the likes of Czyz, Deonte Burton, Dario Hunt and Malik Story the Wolf Pack have talented weapons that can give teams fits, and there won't be any highly-seeded teams lining up for their shot at Nevada. 

3. Quinnipiac is the lone road team to win in the NEC quarterfinals.
Of course in a conference tournament in which the higher seeded teams host all the game the 4/5 matchup tends to be the one most likely to produce a win for the road team. That rang true for the Patriot League Wednesday night (Lafayette) and for the NEC on Thursday, as fifth-seed Quinnipiac beat St. Francis (NY) 80-72 to set up a semifinal matchup with regular season champion LIU Brooklyn. The Bobcats, who are the best rebounding team in the NEC, grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and out-rebounded the Terriers 48-36 on the night. James Johnson didn't shoot well from the field (4-for-14) but he did make 12 of 17 from the foul line and scored a game-high 22 points to go along with eight rebounds, and Ike Azotam scored 15 and grabbed 12 boards inside. Brent Jones led four SFNY players in double figures with 21 points but the rebounding issues were too much to overcome. And that aspect of Quinnipiac's game is what gives them more than a puncher's chance at LIU on Sunday. 

Quick Hitters

1. D.J. Covington scored 16 points and blocked four shots in 20 minutes of action to help lead VMI past Winthrop 75-55 as the Keydets advanced to the Big South title game. The seven-seed will face regular season champ UNC Asheville, who whipped Charleston Southern 91-64, on Saturday afternoon.

2. Darius Miller scored 17 points on Senior Night to help lead #1 Kentucky to a 79-49 win over Georgia, moving the Wildcats' win streak to 21. UK shot 15-for-27 from three, and when the Wildcats are rolling like that it's near impossible to knock them off. 

3. Meyers Leonard scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds but it wasn't enough to lead Illinois past #16 Michigan, who won 72-61. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 25 points and grabbed 11 boards for the Wolverines, who remain alive in the Big Ten title race. 

4. Five Mississippi Valley State players reached double figures in scoring but it wasn't enough to lock up an undefeated run through SWAC play as the Delta Devils lost 78-67 at UAPB. Daniel Broughton scored 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds off the bench to lead the Golden Lions. But regardless of the result Sean Woods' club will enter the conference tournament as the clear favorite to grab the automatic bid.

5. UCLA didn't look too distracted by the Sports Illustrated article that came out earlier this week, as they whipped Washington State 78-46 at the Sports Arena. Lazeric Jones knocked down eight of his ten shots from the field and scored 18 points to lead the Bruins, who host a Washington team looking to wrap up the outright regular season crown on Saturday.  

6. Doubleheaders in the Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley and WCC all went according to seed on Thursday night, and if one team were to be pegged as most likely to win on Friday it could be Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles held off a Southeast Missouri State rally to win 77-73, and with players such as Kevin Murphy (24 points) and Jud Dillard (18) they've got the horses needed to upset top-seed Murray State in the semis. Also keep an eye on Indiana State, who beat Southern Illinois 65-49 to set up a matchup with MVC champ Wichita State, especially if point guard Jake Odum's foot holds up. 

7. Binghamton, who won just one game during the regular season, knocked off eight-seed UMBC 73-67 in overtime to advance to the quarterfinals in the America East tournament. Ben Dickinson led the Bearcats, who will take on regular season champion Stony Brook, with 21 points. 

8. Derrick Rudolph led three players in double figures with 21 points in Savannah State's 73-54 win at Maryland-Eastern Shore, wrapping up the Tigers' first-ever MEAC regular season title. The coaches picked Horace Broadnax's team to finish 11th in the preseason.