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#2 Tennessee vs. #1 Memphis Live Blog: Battle for the Parallelogram

Posted by Mike on February 23, 2008

This game has been hyped up all week, especially after Duke’s losses. As of this point in the the season, the Tigers and Vols have proven themselves to be the two best teams in the country. Tonight is the start of what could be a great in-state rivalry. Both teams are led by coaches with huge egos. Everyone has called this the game of the year.

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By definition, this game stands a 70-80% chance of being a disappointing blowout. I like those odds. Let’s watch.

9:05 pm: Tennessee has so many Smiths on the roster, Dan Schulman can’t tell them apart.

9:06 pm: 4-0, UT. JaJuan Smith hits the open three in the corner after the Vols outhustled Memphis on at least three loose balls. Calipari sees their flat play and calls a timeout 35 seconds into the game.

9:08 pm: 7-6, UT. Unless something changes soon, this game could become a shooting contest. JaJuan and Derrick Rose have hit two each.

9:09 pm: 9-9. Antonio Anderson with another 3! This game has been insanely fast for the first two minutes.

9:10 pm: 11-9, UT. Ramar Smith is getting some easy shots inside.

9:12 pm: For the first two minutes, the Tigers couldn’t miss. Right now, they’ve missed their last 4 or 5 shots.

9:14 pm: 14-11, Memphis. Chris Douglas-Roberts gets his first shot of the game, and he hits a three.

17-11, Memphis. Antonio Anderson hits another one!

9:15 pm: 17-14, Memphis. And then JaJuan Smith hits another one!

9:16 pm: 20-14, Memphis. Is anyone going to hit a two point shot tonight?

9:17 pm: 20-17, Memphis. Duke Crews gets the basket and the foul.

9:20 pm: In terms of fashion disasters, I think we’ll settle for Bruce Pearl’s bright orange suspenders.

9:21 pm: 21-17, Memphis. Unbelievable. The threes won’t stop falling, yet neither of these teams can buy a layup right now. They’re like the Tar Heels of the evil parallel universe.

9:25 pm: 23-17, Memphis. Jeff Robinson hits a floater in the lane.

9:27 pm: 23-21, Memphis. Too many Smiths! My brain can’t take it! It’s like I’m watching the black Matrix, and the Vols are the agents. Bright orange, horrifically dressed, headbanded agents.

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9:29 pm: 29-24, Memphis. And it continues to rain threes for the Tigers. Eight three pointers and one two pointer so far.

9:37 pm: Speaking of Tennessee fashion disasters: Peyton Manning’s orange plaid shirt….(shivers)

9:39 pm: 31-24, Memphis. Derrick Rose drives inside for a layup after Memphis gets a few big offensive rebounds.

9:40 pm: 31-26, Memphis. Chris Lofton has yet to score a point in this game, and we’re near halftime.

9:46 pm: 33-26, Memphis. The following demonstrates the the shooting of both teams so far in this game…

The first ten minutes:

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And the second ten minutes:

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9:50 pm: 35-32, Memphis. Tennessee gets back within a possession thanks in part to their free throw shooting.

9:52 pm: And we hit halftime. Memphis leads, 35-34 in a slightly sloppy but otherwise exciting game. To win, the Tigers need to either get the threes falling again or start driving at the Vols’ small interior defense. The Vols, meanwhile, must get Chris Lofton involved in their offense and cut down on turnovers.

10:11 pm: 36-35, UT. Tennessee takes the lead, as Memphis’ threes have gone completely cold.

10:12 pm: 37-36, Memphis. Dozier finally gets a chance inside, and it pays off.

10:13 pm: 39-37, UT. Wayne Chism hits a three to give the lead back to the Vols.

10:17 pm: Track meet, or Yackety Sax? You decide.

10:18 pm: A huge injury for the Vols as one of UT’s few big men, Wayne Chism, lands awkwardly on his ankle.

10:20 pm: 39-39. It seems that Memphis only player scoring in the paint is their point guard, Derrick Rose. He drives in for a tough layup over two outstreched defenders’ arms.

10:25 pm: 45-39, UT. J.P. Prince, the only Vol without a headband right now, in almost single-handedly taking over this game.

10:27 pm: 45-41, UT. Douglas-Roberts gets a huge momentum-stopping basket. Like Lofton, we haven’t heard as much from CDR as Memphis needs.

10:28 pm: 45-43, UT. …until now. Roberts with another huge basket, and it’s a one-possession game again.

47-43, UT. Chris Lofton finally gets his first basket of the night.

10:32 pm: 50-43, UT. It;s a bit jarring when your opponent’s center starts draining threes.

The Vols seem to be playing smarter basketball in the second half when J.P. Prince is on the floor.

10:37 pm: 50-47, UT. Now that Chism is hobbling a bit and the threes aren’t falling, Memphis is attacking the paint with a bit more impetus. Right now, that’s what’s keeping them in the game.

10:40 pm: Joey Dorsey picks up his fourth foul. Worse for him, he is simultaneously balding and trying to get away with cornrows.

10:42 pm: 53-47, UT. Prince with another key basket in transition. Memphis is forced to take another timeout, and they now have only one left for the remainder of the game.

10:45 pm: 53-49, UT. Under 8 minutes left in the second half. On ESPN2: guys impaling the faces of fish. Juuuuuuuust thought you should know.

10:49 pm: In 12 minutes, the Tigers have scored 14 points. They have yet to hit a three in the second half.

54-51, UT, 7:23 left. If Memphis wins this game, it will be on the shoulders of Derrick Rose.

10:50 pm: 56-53, 6:38 left. Suddenly these two teams are exchanging drives inside. It’s the exact opposite of the first half.

10:51 pm: 58-55, 5:38 left. Just as Dozier brings Memphis to within one, J.P. Prince makes another huge play in transition.

10:52 pm: 58-57, 4:59 left. Derick Rose is exhausted, but he simply will not let his team lose.

10:54 pm: 4:12 left. Andre Allen goes to the line with a chance to tie.

…Naturally, he misses them both. Such is the dilemma with Memphis.

10:58 pm: 59-58, Memphis, 3:20 left. Memphis takes the lead thanks to a baseline shot by, who else, Derrick Rose. He now has 22.

11:00 pm: 2:55 left. The charity stripe continues to fail the Tigers.

11:02 pm: 61-58, 2:19 left. Derrick Rose with the perfectly run fast break, and CDR with the finish…but he gets hurt on the play. Not good for the Tigers.

11;03 pm: 61-60, 1:57 left. Agent Tyler with the basket inside, and Tennessee makes it a one point game again.

1:10 left. What a play by Rose to keep the ball in Memphis’s hands with one minute to go.

:41.5 left. Great passing, but Memphis can;t convert, as they miss an easy look. Tennessee ball.

26.5 left. Tennessee with the basket to take the lead back! It’s agent Tyler with another huge basket.

:8.8 left. Memphis can’t get a good shot, and are forced to foul J.P. Prince.

What a game this has been. Certainly a game that lived up to its in-state #1 vs. #2 hype.

:2.9 left, 64-61, UT. Tennessee makes the smart play and fouls Rose before he can make a shot. He makes the first and intentionally makes the second, but Memphis can’t get the offensive rebound, and are forced to foul Chris Lofton.

11:13 pm: Lofton hits his free throws, and the game is over. Tennessee wins, 66-62, and will be #1 in the country for the first time in school history. Memphis played as hard a game as they could, and Derrick Rose had a performance for the ages. But three aspect of the game faile3d the Tigers tonight. The Vols got more offensive rebounds, Memphis couldn’t hit a three pointer in the second half, and they were 8-17 from the free throw line.

Overall, it was an unbelievably exciting game that lives up to the hype.

 

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Posted in College Basketball, Conference USA, Live Blog, Memphis, SEC, Tennessee Volunteers | 5 Comments »

Tennessee vs. Rutgers Live Blog: 2007 NCAA Women’s National Championship

Posted by Mike on April 3, 2007

Tonight Tennessee plays Rutgers for the National Championship in Women’s basketball. The Vols will look to run a high tempo offense to tire their opponent, while Rutgers looks to stop them with their suffocating team defense in the halfcourt. Their game against LSU was a clinic on how to stop the fast break, and tonight they look to do the same. Whether or not they can pull it off will determine who wins this game.

8:28 pm: It’s official: Gail Goestenkors is leaving Duke to replace retiring legendary coach Jody Conradt at Texas. WHOOOO!!!

8:43 pm: Bobbitt vs. Ajavon and Anosike vs. Vaughn could go a long way to determine this game. All four players are from the New York metro area. Small world. Now would be a I time I should say something awkward like, NYC REPRESENT!!! But I think I’ll resist.

8:46 pm: 3-0, Tenn. The Vols win the tip. Anosike makes a great offensive rebound, and ultimately Shannon Bobbitt hits a three from the right wing.

Both teams are showing their cards early. Tennessee is trying to dictate a pace akin to a track meet, and Rutgers wants to make me watch paint dry.

8:47 pm: 5-0, Tenn. Sidney Spencer hits a turnaround jumper.

8:49 pm: 5-3, Tenn. We’ve already got controversy two minutes in. The refs are trying to determine whether a jumper by Ajavon hit a two or three point jumper. Ultimately it was called a three, which was a good call. But come on, refs, Ed Hochuli could make a call faster than that!

8:51 pm: If Rutgers wants to dictate the pace of this game, they need to get their defensive rebounds and prevent the Lady Vols from getting second chance points. They’ve already given up three or four offensive rebounds.

8:53 pm: 6-4, Tenn. Tennessee is running a full court press, trying to force turnovers. But the Scarlet Knights have thus far done a good job of offensive ball control. If only they can rebound now.

Official timeout, as we’re treated to a little of “The Message” by the Furious Five. A rare move in coolness by ESPN.

8:59 pm: 6-6. Essence Carson hits a nice midrange jumper to tie the game.

9:01 pm: Tennessee continues to dominate the boards, but they’re having a hard time making their shots.

9:02 pm: 8-6, Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights force a turnover, and are rewarded with a quick basket to take the lead.

Rutgers’ offense is decidedly faster tonight than I had expected, at least in their scoring possessions.

9:03 pm: 8-8. As we hit an official timeout, the fouls are already starting to pile up on Rutgers.

9:07 pm: 12-8, Tenn. The Vols take the lead as Candace Parker hits two straight jumpers, the first an easy one off a great inbound pass.

9:08 pm: 12-12. Kia Vaughn gets two straight baskets of her own to tie the game. Both of them came off offensive rebounds.

9:11 pm: 14-12, Tenn. The Vols take the lead off of free throws, but their press is paying off, as Rutgers commits two consecutive turnovers.

9:14 pm: 16-14, Tenn. Official timeout. The Scarlet Knights are going to reap the rewards of consistently attacking the inside, which Tennessee isn’t doing enough of right now.

9:18 pm: 18-14, Tenn. Parker gets a tough basket in the paint, but how does Horn buckle not shoot that open three?

Rutgers has done a good job of slowing the pace of the game, but their turnovers (7 so far) and lack of rebounding prevent them from taking full advantage.

9:21 pm: 22-14, Tenn. Alberta Auguste is playing well off the bench for Tennessee.

Sidney Spencer’s jumper extends the lead to 8.

9:22 pm: 22-16, Tenn. Ajavon hits a tough shot before the official timeout.

9:26 pm: 27-18, Tenn. Vaughn’s return to the lineup is helping Rutgers on offense, but Tennessee continues to win the battle in the offensive glass. The last one by Anosike leads to a three pointer by Spencer. The Vols have 13 second chance points.

9:33 pm: As the first half ends, Tennessee leads, 29-18, at halftime. Candace Parker is doing a good job of passing the ball, even if she isn’t shooting lights out. The Lady Vols are playing great defense, and while Rutgers has dictated tempo, they haven’t used it to their advantage, going cold on offense (they stopped attacking the inside) and letting Tennessee dominate the glass. For the Scarlet Knights to come back they will need to get rebounds and start hitting the three.

10:00 pm: 35-24, Tenn. I missed the first four minutes of the second half. Fortunately for me, not much has changed.

10:01 pm: 35-26, Tenn. Kia Vaughn gets another basket inside. She needs to get the ball more.

10:04 pm: More referee controversy, as Rutgers is wrongly called for a shot clock violation. The call is ultimately corrected, but Rutgers was denied an opportunity at second chance points.

10:05 pm: 35-28, Tenn. Vaughn scores again, this time off a putback. She has 12 tonight.

10:06 pm: 38-28, Tenn. More offensive rebounding by Tennessee leads to an open three by Bobbitt, and the Vols have a double digit lead once again.

10:08 pm: 43-28, Tenn. More great play by Bobbitt (a three, a steal, and an assist) gives Tennessee a 15 point lead with less than 12 points, and C. Vivian Stringer is forced to call a timeout. The wheels are starting to come off of Rutgers.

10:16 pm: 46-30, Tenn. Shannon Bobbitt cannot be stopped. She is on fire from the bonusphere, as Tennessee is finally beginning to dictate their tempo.

10:19 pm: 46-33, Tenn. The biggest reason why Tennessee is winning: 20 offensive rebounds. Even if they slow the game down, they aren’t in control is they can’t win the battle of the boards.

7:34 left.

10:25 pm: 48-35, Tenn. Vaughn gets the basket and the foul but Rutgers isn’t setting up their offense fast enough.

At this point I think that the Final Four’s MOP would be Nicky Anosike of the Lady Vols. She has done everything that’s been asked of her and more.

10:27 pm: 50-35, Tenn, 5:00 left. The Vols steal it, Hornbuckle hits the jumper, and the lead is back to 15. Against Rutgers’ gameplan, Tennessee has this game sealed.

10:29 pm: 50-39, Tenn, 3:44 left. Rutgers hits two straight baskets, the latest by Essence Carson, to bring the Scarlet Knights within 11. However, it’s likely too little, too late.

10:31 pm: 50-42, Tenn, 2:00 left. Matee Ajavon hits a three, but Tennessee’s offensive rebounds continue to kill Rutgers.

10:37 pm: 56-44, Tenn, 1:08 left. Wow. I just heard that the Russian Women’s Professional league is willing to play players like Parker over a million dollars per year. Meanwhile, as of 2004 the maximum salary of a WNBA player is $90,000. This has to change. Players like Lisa Leslie, Ivory Latta, Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker are worth a lot more than $90,000. I don’t care what you think about women’s basketball, these girls are that talented.

10:43 pm: 59-46, Tennessee, Final. The Lady Vols win their 7th Women’s National Championship, and their first since 1998. Even though Rutgers slowed the game down, the Lady Vols dominated this game from start to finish, not allowing the Scarlet Knights to get comfortable at all. In particular, Tennessee dominate the boards, which is why I think Anosikie should be the Final Four MOP. Congratulations to Tennessee for winning the National Championship, but I can’t but wonder what could have been, if UNC had managed to hold on to their lead in the end on Sunday night.

Posted in #1, Basketball, Big East, Bracket, Championship, College Basketball, Digital Headbutt, Final Four, Live Blog, NCAA Tournament, Pat Summitt, Rutgers, SEC, Tennessee Volunteers, women's basketball | 4 Comments »

Previewing the Women’s Final Four

Posted by Mike on April 1, 2007

Between Billy Packer, the unceremonious exit of the Tar Heels, the potential for boring games , and the fact that I may lose a bracket challenge to a penny, I’m not paying too much attention to the Men’s Final Four this year. Thankfully, in the Women’s Final Four, none of those factors come into play. There’s no Billy Packer (or Dick Vitale for the matter), my Tar Heels are still alive, all of the game have the potential for excitement, and I don’t have a women’s tournament bracket. I might mention the fact that I will get stare at women for two nights, but I would need professional help if my intimate fantasies involved Rashanda McCants and Sylvia Fowles.

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On to the previews:

LSU vs. Rutgers. Normally I would be at all surprised to see the Tigers in the Final Four. They are one of the most talented teams in the nation, Senior Sylvia Fowles is perhaps the best pure post player remaining in the tournament, and they beat Tennessee to win the SEC Tournament in March. But LSU has had to deal with the resignation of their coach Pokey Chatman, who left due to allegations of her “les-ing out”, as Cartman would say, with one of her former players. Bob Starkey, the interim coach, has done a great job of keeping the Tigers focused, and they crushed UConn to win their regional and get to Cleveland.

Rutgers is the surprise of the Tournament. They managed to beat the heavily favored Duke Blue Devils, 53-52 in the Sweet 16 (although it didn’t hurt that Lindsey Harding absolutely choked at the end) on their way to the Final four, prompting Tar Heels like me to dance in the streets. The Scarlet Knights pride themselves on defense, having allowed no more than 57 points in postseason play (7-0, Big East and NCAA Tournaments). Still, they will need a great defensive effort out of center Kia Vaughn and good perimeter shooting if they want to beat the talent of the Tigers.

Pick: My heart says Rutgers, but my head says LSU. I’ll take the Scarlet Knights in overtime.

North Carolina vs. Tennessee. A lot more attention will be paid to this game. It features perhaps the nation’s two current most prominent women’s programs, coaches (Sylvia Hatchell and Pat Summitt), and players (Ivory Latta and Candace Parker). Ivory may be the emotional leader of the Tar Heels, but make no mistake. UNC is here because of their frontcourt. The Tar heels perform at their best when Camille Little gets offensive touches, Latoya Pringle plays good defense, and Erlana Larkins is able to get UNC’s offensive rebounds, where she is most effective at scoring. Pringle will most likely be assigned to defend Candace Parker, who is by far the best athlete in women’s basketball right now. If the Heels are able to shut down Parker (and that’s a big if), it will be up to underclassman point guard Alexis Hornbuckle to bail the Vols out. Tennessee’s road to the final four was decidedly unimpressive, with wins over a 16 seed, an 8 seed, 13 seeded Marist, and 7 seeded Ole Miss. They haven’t had to play under pressure yet in the tournament.

Pick: The Tar Heels beat Tennessee by 13 in December at Carmichael Auditorium, but this crowd will be decidedly less favorable for UNC. I will still pick North Carolina in a very close game.

Championship: North Carolina over Rutgers.

I’ll be liveblogging game one of tonight’s action here, and game 2 on Tar Heel Mania. Even though we won’t get to see Maryland or Duke like last year, this will be a very exciting end to the Women’s Tournament.

Posted in #1, ACC, AHHHHH!!! MY EYES!, Basketball, Big East, Billy Packer, Bracket, Championship, College Basketball, Digital Headbutt, Live Blog, LSU, NCAA Tournament, North Carolina, Pat Summitt, Rutgers, SEC, Tar Heels, Tennessee Volunteers, UNC, women's basketball | 1 Comment »

Ohio State vs. Tennessee Live Blog: 2007 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

Posted by Mike on March 22, 2007

Tonight #1 seed Ohio State plays #5 seed Tennessee in one of the 2nd games of the night for the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. Ohio State, coming off their near loss against Xavier, will look to bring the ball inside to Greg Oden, both offensively and defensively. Tennessee, with their bench and athleticism, will want to play a quick transition game, while the Buckeyes want to slow it down. Now that Texas A&M lost today and my bracket has officially blown itself up, I am now rooting for as many non-UNC upsets as possible.

10:21 pm: 3-0, Tenn. The Vols draw first blood with a three (I think it was JaJuan Smith).

10:23 pm: 6-3, Tenn. Ivan Harris hits a three for the Buckeyes, but Chris Lofton responds in kind.

10:24 pm: 10-9, OSU. The first five field goals for the game were 3-pointers, before Greg Oden and Ron Lewis get easy dunks in transition.

10:25 pm: 14-10, Tenn. Lofton hits another three, and on the next possession delivers a great assist to Ramar Smith.

Tennessee has done a good job so far of spreading the ball to the outside.

10:29 pm: 17-12, Tenn. Either the OSU defense is slacking off, or they simply can’t clamp down the perimeter yet. The Vols have hit 6 field goals, five of them from three.

10:32 pm: 20-14, Tenn. The Buckeyes simply cannot stop Tennessee attack from the bonusphere. They’re 6 of 8 on three point field goals.

Ohio State needs to force the guards inside where Oden’s defensive presence can be felt.

10:37 pm: Greg Oden is called for his second foul 9 minutes into the game. Wayne Chism seems to be playing well against him.

Ohio State is now challenging every shot.

10:38 pm: 25-14, Tenn. I guess I spoke too soon. Bradshaw hits a three, they steal the inbound pass, and Ramar Smith gets the basket and the foul. The Vols now have a double digit lead midway through the first half.

10:43 pm: 28-16, Tenn. Daquan Cook stops the bleeding for Ohio State, but Bradshaw makes a great pass, and Ramar Smith scores inside again.

10:45 pm: 30-18, Tenn. 7:53 left.

10:49 pm: 32-18, Tenn. JaJuan Smith scores inside as Matt Terwilliger is called for goaltending. Wait…who???

10:51 pm: 34-18, Tenn. Bradshaw is trapped inside, but he makes a great pass to Duke Crews, who slams it in.

10:52 pm: 34-20, Tenn. Mike Conley steals the ball and finally gets a layup. I think the Buckeyes have only had 2 field goals in the last 9 minutes.

10:53 pm: Oden comes in and is promptly called for his third foul. He’s in big trouble now.

10:54 pm: 37-20, Tenn. The Vols hits another wide open three; this time it’s Jordan Howell.

10:55 pm: 39-22, Tenn. The Buckeyes are really struggling in Oden’s absence.

11:00 pm: 39-27, Tenn. Ivan Harris hits a three for the Buckeyes, who have now scored 7 unanswered points.

11:02 pm: 43-27, Tenn. Lofton hits yet another three.

The Vols have really taken the Buckeyes defense to the cleaners.

11:04 pm: 49-29, Tenn. Tennessee is attacking the inside in Oden’s absence, and three straight layups give the Vols a 20 point lead.

11:05 pm: Ron Lewis gets three the hard way to beat the buzzer, but Tennessee leads 49-32 at halftime. I was shocked at how the Vols were able to dominate the first half, especially on offense. They have to finish Ohio State off in the second half; they cannot become conservative. For Ohio State to get back in this game, Oden will need to get significant playing time without getting into further foul trouble, and they need get better shots and force Tennessee to take worse shots.

11:29 pm: 49-34, Tenn. Oden is back in the lineup in the second half, and his impact is almost immediate. He’s indirectly responsible for a basket on the offensive end and a turnover on the defensive end.

11:31 pm: 51-34, Tenn. Verne Lundquist puts it best:

“Right now, Ohio State is playing something like a, matador defense. the wave the red flag and say, ‘go right on by.'”

11:32 pm: 51-40, Tenn. Ohio State is coming back. Harris hits another three, Oden’s presence has clearly been felt, and Lofton’s shots aren’t falling in the second half.

11:34 pm: Someday, missing free throws is going to kill the Vols. If they’re not careful, it may be tonight.

11:36 pm: 51-44, Tenn. The lead is now single digits, and there’s plenty of time left. Tennessee needs to stop chucking up shots and attack the inside trying to give Oden foul #4.

15:43 left.

11:40 pm: 54-44, Tenn. Lofton hits a wide open three off a great kickout pass, but not before Oden makes a huge block, showing how dominating he can be.

11:43 pm: 54-48, Tenn. Just as important as the return of Greg Oden from the bench has been the improved play of Mike Conley. He’s been the driving force of this comeback.

11:44 pm: All of the forces are working against the Vols right now. The shots they made in the first half aren’t falling, Ohio State is getting all of the rebounds, and the Buckeyes are finally getting an offensive rhythm, at least by Big Ten standards.

11:46 pm: 57-51, Tenn. Tennessee finally gets a basket, as Dane Bradshaw hits a three to beat the shot clock.

11:47 pm: 57-53, Tenn. Official Timeout.

11:52 pm: 59-57, Tenn. Conley is having an unbelievable second half. I less than nine minute, the 20 point lead is down to two with the alley oop to Lewis. Tennessee has suddenly gone cold shooting, but defensively there is no excuse for allowing 25 points in less than 9 minutes.

11:54 pm: 62-59, Tenn. Oden comes in, and even though he scores on his first possession, on defense he picks up his fourth foul.

11:55 pm: 64-59, Tenn. The Vols get two straight inside layups set by screens. With Oden and Hunter out with four fouls, Tennessee need to attack the inside.

11:55 pm: 64-62, Tenn. OSU’s two big guys are on the bench, and yet the Buckeyes are still getting offensive rebounds! What the hell? And why is Tennessee fouling like it’s going out of style?

11:58 pm: 64-64. Conley ties the game at the line. Ohio State has outscored Tennessee32-15 in 11 minutes. Seriously, Tennessee has only scored 15 points in 11 minutes? They have really gone cold.

12:02 am: 68-65, OSU. Terwilliger hits free throws to give the Buckeyes their first lead of game, and Conley’s shot rolls in. The Buckeyes have caught every break in this half (except the Oden foul).

12:03 am: 68-68. Lofton finally hits a three on the second half. The game is tied again. with seven and a half minutes left in the game.

12:07 am: 72-68, OSU. Butler hits a three, and Tennessee’s shots are now always contested. Where was this Ohio State team during the first half? More importantly, where did the Volunteers of the first half go?

12:09 am: 74-72, Tenn. Wow, that was unexpected. The Vols hit two straight threes, the first by Ryan Childrees and the second by JaJuan Smith. The Vols are back in the lead.

12:10 am: 74-74. Right now, Tennessee cannot stop Mike Conley.

12:10 am: 77-74, Tenn, 4:30 left. Childress hits another three, and the Vols get the lead back.

Oden comes back in the game.

12:16 am: 79-76, Tenn, 3:30 left. Lofton hits an unbelievable floater off a spin move to extend the lead back to three.

12:17 am: Conley might be out of gas. He’s missed his last 3 free throws.

12:18 am: 79-79, 2:46 left. David Lighty, however, is not tired. He hits the open three to tie the game.

12:22 am: 82-82, 1:45 left. Ron Lewis and Chris Lofton exchanging blows. What great shots!

12:24 am: 84-83, OSU, 1:18 pm: The good news: Tennessee is going to the free throw line. The bad news: Tennessee is going to the free throw line.

12:28 am: 84-84, :40 left. Ramar Smith hits a free throw.

12:29 am: :06.5 left. Don’t you hate it when a game this important comes down to free throws?

12:31 am: Conley makes the first, misses the second, and Ramar Smith drive inside for the potentially game winning basket, but Conley is on him defensively like glue, Smith gives a desperation floater, and Oden rejects the ball to ensure the victory. Ohio State wins, 85-84. Obviously the Buckeyes are still vulnerable if their head isn’t in the game, but when they flip the switch, man, do they flip the switch. I am officially scared of this Buckeyes team if the Tar Heels have to face them.

Now it’s time to go to bed. Seriously, you need to go to sleep! It’s almost 1 am!

Posted in Basketball, Big Ten, Bracket, College Basketball, Digital Headbutt, Live Blog, NCAA Tournament, SEC, Tennessee Volunteers | 2 Comments »

Previewing and Live Blogging the Sweet 16

Posted by Mike on March 22, 2007

I’ve so far done a terrible job of licking the first two rounds. After going 15-1 on the first day, I went 11-5 on day 2, and 9-7 in the 2nd round. Normally I can take solace in that my final four is still intact, but so is everyone else’s. Tonight, the world’s greatest sports tournament resumes, and I’ll be liveblogging SIU-Kansas and UT-Ohio State. Last week, the greatest week in sports, was missing what makes it great: upsets. UNLV is the only true underdog in the Sweet 16, and if they win against Oregon I guarantee that my bracket will deliver itself to Allah. But enough about my bracket’s jihadist tendencies. Looking at the Sweet 16:

West Bracket:

#4 So. Illinois vs. #1 Kansas (Thursday, 7:10 pm): Frankly, I’m scared about the Salukis. Virginia Tech may be inconsistent, but Southern Illinois (and in Particular Jamaal Tatum) did an excellent job of dictating their pace throughout the game and keeping their opponent completely out of sync. That can be deadly for an inexperienced team like Kansas, who love to play at a fast pace and would be very uncomfortable with a halfcourt game, Still, I think they have too much talent.

#3 Pitt vs. #2 UCLA (Thursday, 9:57 pm): I’m taking UCLA in this one. They have more talent that the Panthers and they are also very good at disrupting their opponent’s game plan.

West Champion: Kansas

South Bracket:

#5 Tennessee vs. Ohio State. I’m rooting for the Vols in this game, for two big reasons:

  • The sooner a big threat to the Tar Heels goes down, the better.
  • I have never been a fan of THE Ohio State University. There’s just something about the Buckeyes that tick me off.

My heart says the Vols. They even have the talent and the offense to pull this off against a Buckeyes team that struggled to get a victory against Xavier. But my bracket says Buckeyes, so I have to stick to my guns.

You know what? Screw my bracket. Rocky Top! WHOOOO!!!

#3 Texas A&M vs. #2 Memphis. From the beginning of this tournament, Memphis has been considered a weak #2 seed because they came from essentially a 1 bid conference. And while those arguments are valid, they did a good job of handling a tough Nevada team last Sunday. And their strength is the Aggies’ weakness: depth. Memphis likes to run a fast paced game, and John Calipari has no issue putting 10 to 11 players in a game. Texas A&M is only 7-8 deep, but their advantage is experience. They have more upperclassmen than the Tiger, including the best point guard in America, Senior Acie Law IV. Which makes me wonder, Who are Acie Law I, II, and III? In this tournament, experienced guardplay can make or break you. I’ll take the Aggies.

South Champion: Texas A&M.

Midwest Bracket:

#5 Butler vs. #1 Florida. This is the big upset that I would love to see. Two of the four #1 seeds must go down before the Final Four, and I think Florida should be one of them. Butler, much like SIU, wants to slow down the game by clamping down on defense. That won;t be an easy task against the tall, athletic Gators. I think that Butler will play well in the first half, but Florida’s depth will be too much for the Bulldogs to handle late.

#7 UNLV vs. #3 Oregon. I seriously underestimated UNLV in this tournament. But they have a good combination of experience and depth, even if a snail is more athletic than their point guard. But I have to pick Oregon because when they can shoot lights out, very few teams can beat them.

Midwest Champion: Oregon

East Bracket:

#5 USC vs. #1 UNC. It shocked me to see the Trojans dominate Texas is most likely Kevin Durant’s last game in a college uniform. They did a very good job of containing the rest of the team. Having said that,they don’t have enough size to contain the Tar Heels in the paint. Hansbrough and Wright will tear them apart.

#6 Vanderbilt vs. #2 Georgetown. See #5 Tennessee vs. #1 Ohio State.

East Champion: North Carolina.

Tonight, I can finally rise from what has been a very boring Monday through Wednesday in sports, save the UNC Women’s close game against Notre Dame.

Posted in ACC, Basketball, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Billy Packer, Bracket, Bruce Pearl, Butler, Championship, College Basketball, Digital Headbutt, Florida Gators, Georgetown, Horizon League, Jeff Green, Kansas, Kevin Durant, Live Blog, Mid Majors, NCAA Tournament, Pac 10, Salukis, SEC, Southern Illinois, Tar Heel posts, Tar Heels, Tennessee Volunteers, Tyler Hansbrough, UNC, UNLV | 3 Comments »

Tennessee vs. Virginia Live Blog: 2007 NCAA Tournament

Posted by Mike on March 18, 2007

Today #5 seed Tennessee plays #4 seed Virginia in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament South region. The Cavaliers will need a good day from their guards, Sean Singletary and JR Reynolds. The Volunteers will want to quicken the pace of the game to get easy outside shots and drives in the paint. I’m just hoping that Bruce Pearl doesn’t don the orange jacket today.

12:12 pm: 5-5. I join the game a little late. Chris Lofton hits a three to tie the game, and JaJuan Smith follows with one of his own to give the Volunteers their first lead. 8-5, Tenn.

12:15 pm: Wow that was awkward. The Vols call Wayne Chism “wheezy” because he’s athsmatic. I did not need to know that.

Singletary hits a midrange jumper top make it 8-7 Vols.

12:16 pm: 14-7, Vols. It’s raining threes. Chsim, their “center”, hits a three, and Lofton follows in transition.

12:18 pm: 17-10, Vols. We’re only five minutes into this game, and we already have 7 three pointers (5 for the Vols, 2 for the Cavs, both by JR Reynolds). As we go to the first official timeout, this game is going at an extremely fast pace. This favors the Vols and their deeper bench.

12:22 pm: 17-12, Vols. Reynolds hits another shot, this time a shot clock beating fadeaway. 13:05 left.

Bruce Pearl’s suit is gray today. Thank God.

12:24 pm: 19-16, Vols. Jamil Tucker hits another three for the Cavs, and they’ve brought it back to a one possession game.

12:25 pm: Tennessee is applying a halfcourt press. How Singletary reacts to it should determine the outcome of this game. If the pressure forces a lot of turnovers, Tennesse will win handily, but if Singletary can find open players for easy shots, the Cavs will win.

12:31 pm: 22-21, Vols. Lofton is playing well on offense, but he can’t stop Reynolds on defense. He just hit his third shot from the bonusphere. Many thanks again to Cliff Ellis for coining “bonusphere”.

12:36 pm: With 8:30 left to play, both teams have issues at the free throw line.

12:37 pm: 23-22, UVA. Solomon Tat hits a tough shot inside to give the Cavs the lead.

Another official timeout. Both teams have clamped down on defense.

12:42 pm: 28-23, UVA. Brace yourself for the next really bad joke, courtesy of me. Are you ready?

“Today, it’s JR who’s doing the shooting!”

Thank you. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. Reynolds has 18 already.

12:46 pm: 32-25, UVA. Wow. Suddenly Tennessee can’t buy a shot, and JR Reynolds cannot be stopped. He has 22 of the Cavs’ 32 points, and has sparked a 22-8 run against the Vols.

12:48 pm: Was that a plug for 7 Up, Tim Brando? I think it was…

12:50 pm: 34-25, UVA. With five minutes to go in the half, now the Cavs are dictating a fast pace for the game, and Tennessee is having trouble keeping up. Singletary hits a jumper as Reynolds finally takes a breather.

12:53 pm: 36-25, UVA. Mikalauskas goes to the free throw line and gives Virginia the first double digit lead of the game.

12:56 pm: 36-27, UVA. There are some ads, like that Nivea one, that I actually first saw months ago on Univision during “el Mundial”. Watching soccer is so much more fun in Spanish. Even if you can’t understand a word, you should try it.

12:57 pm: 36-28, UVA. If the Vols could hit the broad side of a barn from the free throw line, this game would be much closer.

12:57 pm: 36-31, UVA. Lofton finally hits a three to end Tennessee’s scoring drought.

1:01 pm: 36-33, UVA. JR Reynolds is noticeably limping. This could be a huge problem for the Cavs in the second half.

1:03 pm: 38-35, UVA. Chism hits a midrange jumper to bring it back within three. Tennessee has outscored the Cavs 10-2 since the game’s only double digit lead.

JR Reynolds completely clanks a shot. The injury is clearly affecting his shooting.

1:05 pm: We’re headed to halftime, as Virginia leads 38-35. For Tennessee to win, they will need to play at a faster offensive pace to get more open, shots. The Cavs really need to have a healthy JR Reynolds, who has 22 points. If not, guys like Adrian Joseph will need to step up.

1:29 pm: 40-35, UVA. The second half has just begun, and already Chism picks up his fourth foul. This could be big trouble for the Vols.

1:31 pm: 40-37, UVA. Dane Bradshaw jars the ball loose, passes it to JaJuan Simth as he falls to the floor, and Smith gets the easy layup to cut the difference to three.

1;34 pm: This game is starting to become hard to watch. Normally these teams play an uptempo game, but Tennessee just held the ball for a minute and a half without scoring.

1:35 pm: 42-42. Just as I type that, the two teams get three baskets in about 30 seconds, the last a Ryan Childress open three pointer to tie the game at 42 as we go to the first official timeout of the second half.

1:39 pm: 45-42, Tenn. JaJuan Smith drives inside, gets the basket and the foul. 15:00 left.

1:40 pm: 47-42, Vols. Simth swipes the ball clean from Singletary, and gets an easy layup to bring Tennessee’s lead to five. He can’t jump high enough to dunk though. That’s the second time in the game that I’ve noticed this.

1:44 pm: 49-44, Vols. Reynolds makes it through the Vols’ fullcourt press. He has 26.

1:45 pm: 52-44, Vols. Childress is left all alone and hits another three. The Vols have their biggest lead of the game, and have outscored Virginia 17-6 so far in the second half.

1:46 pm: 54-44, Vols. Dave Leitao spots a jumbo chili dog, and realizes he hasn’t had breakfast. He licks his lips in desire of said chili dog. Or maybe his filthy mind is wandering off with a cheerleader.

1:50 pm: 57-48, Vols. Dane Bradshaw makes a huge three with Lofton on the bench. Singletary and Reynolds must take advantage of his absence.

1:51 pm: 57-50, Tennessee, 10:35 left.

1:57 pm: 59-53, Tennessee. The Vols commit a huge defensive lapse as Adrian Joseph drives in for the dunk while three Vols watched. But Childress has a putback inside to bring the lead back to six.

2:00 pm: 61-55, Tennessee. With under eight minutes left, the Cavs still haven’t gotten much production out of their role players.

2:04 pm: 61-59, Tennessee. Singetary is attacking the basket, and Joseph is finally stepping up, and the Cavs have cut the lead to two.

2:06 pm: 64-59, Tennessee. JaJuan Smith hits a shot clock beating three off the backboard, and the lead is back to five. Brando says: “He banks it in! So they’re open in Columbus on Sundays, huh!” Wait…what???

Five minutes left.

2:13 pm: 64-62, Tennessee, 2:47 left. Adrian Joseph hits a huge three to cut the lead to two. Leitao calls a time out, and I have to listen to the infernal John Mellencamp again.

2:15 pm: 67-62, Tennessee, 2:20 left. Jajuan Smith continues to step up, hitting an open three to put the Vols up five and drawing an offensive foul on Sean Singletary to the give the ball back to Tennessee.

2:19 pm: 69-63, Tennessee, 1:20 left. Diane misses a wide open three, and Chism hits a free throw to put the Vols up six, but he fouls out.

2:23 pm: 69-66, Tennessee, :35 left. Jason Cain has made two straight smart plays. First he drives inside and fouls out Chism, and then after hitting two free throws, he out fights the Vols for a rebound, and Singletary goes the the line, cutting the lead to two.

2:29 pm: 73-72, Tennessee, :12 left. After the teams exchange free throws, Singletary hits a huge three pointer from the top of the key. He has really stepped up in the final minutes.

2:32 pm: 75-74, Tennessee, :06 left. After Lofton hits two free throws, Singletary is fould before he can shoot, which is the smartest thing Bruce Pearl and the Vols could do. Singletary tries to miss the second free throw but makes it.

2:36 pm: Lofton hits his free throws, Singletary gets a good look from three, but it rattles out, and Tennessee wins, 77-74. Lofton came up big late from the free throw line, and JaJuan Smith made some great plays for the Vols down the stretch. Singletary’s efforts weren’t enough, as Reynolds never recovered from the ankle injury, scoring only 4 points in the second half. I’m glad Tennessee won, as I had them in my bracket. But I feel bad that his college career ends with the potential for a career day but ultimately with an injury like that. The Vols move on to face Ohio State, and they can win if they can dictate a fast pace.

Coming up next…Virginia Tech-Southern Illinois live blog!

Posted in ACC, Bracket, Bruce Pearl, College Basketball, Digital Headbutt, Live Blog, NCAA Tournament, SEC, Tennessee Volunteers, UVA, Virginia | 2 Comments »