Well Thursday got off to rousing start with Iowa remaining on the bubble with a 64-61 win over Illinois. Matt Gatens scored 4 of his 20 points from the free throw line in the final minute to send the Hawkeyes into a meeting with #1 Michigan State tomorrow.
In by far the most gut wrenching result of the day so far, Indiana handled Penn State with ease, 75-58. The heartbreak came with at the 5:45 mark of the 1st half for Indiana as senior guard Verdell Jones fell to the floor clutching his right knee. Jones was helped to the locker room and did not return, his status going forward is not yet known. Coach Tom Crean said after the win, “I was hopeful when he went down that it wasn’t as significant, I’m going to keep holding out that hope, but I don’t obviously feel good about that”, we’ve prayed numerous times. It’s in the doctor’s hands.”
In the Big 12 both Kansas and Baylor handled their quarterfinal opponents with ease. Baylor, whose uniforms are bound to keep Rayban and Oakley in business, got 31 points and 11 boards from Perry Jones III in defeating Kansas State 82-74. The Bears will next face Kansas who were spearheaded by Elijah Johnson’s 26 points in an 83-66 rout of Texas A&M
Madison Square Garden was home to a couple of thrillers this afternoon. First top seeded Syracuse used a 25-10 run to erase a 39-31 deficit to take a 56-49 lead over Connecticut with 26 seconds to play. The Orange would hang on for a 58-55 win and now meet Cincinnati in the Big East Semifinals tomorrow.
Cincinnati trailed Georgetown 49-38 with 8:32 to play and went on a 16-3 run to take a 2-point lead with 26 ticks left. Henry Sims (22 pts 15 rebounds) then found Otto Porter (14 pts, 7rebs, 4 asts, 2 stls, 2blks) for a jumper that would send the game into an extra session. In overtime the Bearcats again led by 2 when Sims drove to the basket for the tying lay up as time expired. In the 2nd overtime Cashmere Wright gave Cincy a 2-point lead with 9 seconds left. This time there would be no more heroics for Sims as his 3-point attempt was off the mark giving Cincinnati a 72-70 2OT win. Yancy Gates led the Bearcats with 23 in the win.
In Conference USA #3 Southern Mississippi needed overtime and 6 players in double figures to defeat #10 upset minded East Carolina 81-79.
In the WAC Vander Joaquim had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Hauns Brererton’s jumper with 3 seconds left was the difference as #6 Hawaii upset #3 Idaho 72-70.
Out west a couple of top seeds struggled as San Diego State needed a miracle 3 pointer from Jamaal Franklin as time expired to defeat #8 Boise State 65-62 in the Mountain West Quarterfinals.
In the PAC 12 Washington erased a 15 point 2nd half deficit to lead by as many as 8 over #9 Oregon State with over eight minutes to play. Despite a career-high 29 points from freshman Tony Wroten, he failed to convert four straight free throws with less than 20 seconds left allowing the Beavers, who had alumni Gary Payton and A.C. Green in attendance, to snag the 86-84 upset. Oregon State will now face the Arizona/UCLA winner in the semifinals.
It was quite the afternoon of hoops hysteria on Thursday.