Today #5 seed Virginia Tech plays #4 seed Southern Illinois in the NCAA Tournament second round. Virginia Tech hopes to speed up the game and attack the rim with Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon. while the Salukis need to slow the game to a halt with their suffocating defense. Dowdell vs. Jamaal Tatum should be the matchup that decides the game.
UPDATE: Purdue leads Florida, 31-29 at halftime.
3:10 pm: 2-0, VT. Every time I hear someone say Randal Falker’s name, I temporarily stop whatever I’m doing. Maybe it’s because his name sounds like something else.
3:13 pm: 3-2, SIU. The Salukis have done a good job of slowing the pace down early but only now have they been able to take advantage of it, as Tony Young hits the three to give SIU the lead three minutes into the game.
3:15 pm: As we hit our first TV timeout, only 5 points have been scored in four minutes. This is definitely Southern Illinois’ kind of game thus far.
3:18 pm: 5-2, SIU. Tatum gets on the board.
Tim Brando just made an excellent point. Bruce Weber was the head coach of the Salukis before being hired by Illinois, and the Illini play almost the exact same style as Southern Illinois, so Friday was essentially game film of exactly how Virginia Tech will play today, and what they should do to stop the Hokies.
3:20 pm: 7-6, SIU. Jamon Gordon gets the basket and the foul, and Falker gets his first basket, back in after he was hit in the eye early in the game.
3:24 pm: 10-8, SIU. Crap. I spaced out just as Zabian Dowdell hits a layup to tie the game.
The Salukis take the lead back at the free throw line before the official timeout.
3:27 pm: 13-8, SIU. Southern Illinois gets more second chance points, as Tony Young hits another three.
3:28 pm: 13-10, SIU. That’s the kind of pace Virginia Tech wants to dictate in this game. The Hokies, great defenders in their own right, force two straight steals, and both lead to fast breaks for the Hokies. Dowdell gets a layup, but Jamon Gordon misses both of his free throws. That’s Virginia Tech’s big weakness.
3:31 pm: 13-13. Deron Washington hits a huge three in transition, and the game is tied 11 minutes into the game. Will the Salukis tire out if Virginia Tech is able to impose a fast pace?
3:32 pm: Ooooooohhh. Falker just took a shoulder to the balls from Zabian Dowdell. And he gets called for the foul!
3:33 pm: 15-13, VT. Gordon hits a midrange shot, and Virginia Tech takes the lead going into the official timeout.
3:37 pm: 15-15. Diakite of the Hokies comes into the paint and makes a great tip in. Problem is Diakite tipped it in for Southern Illinois.
3:40 pm: 18-17, VT. Oh, what a play by Jamon Gordon! He loses control of the ball, but he regains it, continues dribbling, and drains the three.
Falker gets a quick basket on the other end.
3:41 pm: The refs are wiping the ball a lot. I see players for both teams losing control of the ball frequently.
3:43 pm: 19-18, SIU. Shockingly, the Salukis run a fast break of their own, and get an easy basket to take the lead.
Jamaal Tatum hits a long three to put SIU up four. They’ve scored the last 7 points.
3:51 pm: 22-20, SIU. Deron Washington makes a great block inside, and Gordon gets a three from the left wing on the other end. I know they called it a two, but it should have been a three.
3:52 pm: 28-20, SIU. Tatum hits two straight threes to bring the Salukis up 8, which is like being up 15 for most other teams. Tatum is having a great game.
3:56 pm: The game heads to halftime with Southern Illinois leading 28-20. For Virginia Tech to get back in this game, they need to impose a faster pace into the game. This means running a press, forcing turnovers, and getting rebounds to reduce SIU’s time of possession. Even if they don;t hit all of their shots, if they force mistakes from the Salukis and impose a faster pace, they can win this game.
4:17 pm: The second half starts, as Gordon turns the ball over, Southern Illinois goes out of their way to stop their own fast greak, and Jamaal Tatum hits a three from the top of the key. 31-20, SIU.
4:21 pm: 31-22, SIU. Coleman Collins picks up two quick foul, and he now has to go to the bench with four.
4:22 pm: 33-23, SIU. Falker is taking full advantage of Coleman Collins’ absence, taking over the paint.
4:24 pm: The Hokies seem to be self destructing right now. SIU’s defense has really gotten to them mentally. Even Vassallo, Tech’s sharpshooter, is missing good looks.
4:29 pm: 33-25, SIU. Deron Washington makes a great crossover dribble, and takes advantage of what little space he’s given, hitting a midrange.
4:33 pm: 36-28, SIU. Bryan Mullins hits a three, but Washington is starting to give the Salukis some trouble.
4:34 pm: 38-28, SIU. Mullins hits a floater off the backboard, and the Salukis again have a double digit lead.
UPDATE: Florida hangs on to beat Purdue, 74-67.
4:36 pm: 41-30, SIU. The Salukis are now 8 of 15 shooting from three.
Time is running out for Virginia Tech; they need to run the full court press to force turnovers.
UPDATE: UNLV beats Wisconsin, 74-68, and helps to wreck many a bracket with the Tournament’s first true upset.
4:43 pm: 44-32, SIU. Young hits another three, and they are still dictating the pace of the game.
Jamon Gordon has not scored in the second half. The Hokies have only 12 points in the second half, and at least 5 of them have been from the line.
4:49 pm: 47-34, SIU, 8:00 left. Coleman Collins comes back in, and he immediately commits his fifth foul.
UPDATE: Oregon beats Winthrop, 75-61, and my bracket is safe.
4:54 pm: 48-36, SIU, 7:00 left. Deron Washington gets another basket, but Southern Illinois remains in complete control of this game.
4:58 pm: 53-40, SIU, 4:30 left. Young hits another three, SIU is 10 of 18 from beyond the arc, and this game is pretty much out of reach.
4:59 pm: Has anyone else noticed that Jamon Gordon is going to go bald?
5:00 pm: 56-41, SIU, 3:30 left. Tatum hits another three at the shot clock buzzer, and Mike Gminski mentions the movie “Groundhog Day” as a reference to Virginia Tech seeing two consecutive teams the play exactly the same style. Frankly I could have done without the reference. That movie sucked.
5:07 pm: 58-44, SIU, 2:52 left. The Salukis are going to win this game, and that’s another game I got wrong. Right now, I’m just glad my final four is going to survive the weekend, barring Kentucky upsetting the Jayhawks.
5:13 pm: The game ends, and Southern Illinois wins 63-48. The Salukis completely shut down the Virginia Tech offense, rendering Zabian Dowdell almost useless. They will make a very tough opponent for the Kansas/Kentucky winner.