No. 11 Louisville 81, No. 19 UConn 48: This was the last time Louisville and Connecticut will play each other in a regular season conference game. Even given the emotion of the occasion, it’s hard to explain the Huskies’ poor shooting performance to start this one. UConn went just 5-of-25 from the floor in the first half, and missed all eight of its three-point attempts.
It’s an overused phrase to say a team is lucky to be down only x points, but the Huskies must have had horseshoes in their pockets or something. This was their lowest scoring output in a half on the season, and to trail by just 12 seemed like a minor victory. That magic ran out in the second half as the Cards just kept adding to the lead. Russ Smith seemed content to dish it out rather than look for his own shot in this one, and he finished with 13 assists, making life easy for guys like Montrezl Harrell (20 points, 11 rebounds).
No. 1 Florida 84, No. 25 Kentucky 65: The Gators didn’t really need to make a statement or prove anything on Saturday, but they did anyway by jumping out to a 21-point halftime lead over Kentucky. Even with students on Spring Break, the O’Connell Center was still rocking as Florida showed the timing and precision of a well-made Swiss watch. Age and experience only serve to be indicators of reliability for the Gators, who haven’t lost since the beginning of December.
Contrast that with Kentucky, which is supremely talented but is still looking for answers. A big run in the second half got the game back in striking distance before Florida put its foot back down, but the inconsistency even within the course of a single game is troubling. While youth has served John Calipari well in the past, leaders aren’t just born or conjured. Sometimes it takes a wealth of experience — the type Florida and its veteran-heavy rotation has plenty of — and Kentucky just doesn’t have that. The Wildcats lost three out of four to end the regular season.
Harvard is the first team in the NCAA tournament field with a 70-58 win at Yale, but we already know that isn’t enough.
That is the testament to what Tommy Amaker has wrought.
It’s what the Crimson do with that, with a third straight outright Ivy League title and third straight NCAA bid.
A gleeful team gathered near the bench to soak in the moment with the fans that followed them to New Haven, Conn., on Friday night.
But Harvard didn’t linger long before Amaker demanded a full sprint to the locker room. There was more work to be done.
Across the way from Bryce Cotton’s childhood home at 321 E. Waverly St. in Tucson, Ariz., there was a large park. It has a proper name, Mansfield Park, but Cotton and his friends just called it The Park. Before moving to the other side of town made visits more sporadic, Cotton walked to The Park to play basketball every summer day. He began playing in the morning and stayed until sundown, avoiding the notorious slick spots on the courts. He did not stop at any point in between, not even in blast-furnace heat, and usually not at all until his mother showed up to drag him away.
“If anything, I may have taken a 10-minute break and went to the vending machine and grabbed some chips,” Cotton said. “And that’s when they finally built a gym (there) when I was in high school. When I was a kid, there were no breaks.”
Unlike the last team to enter its conference tournament without a loss, Wichita State’s brilliant, undefeated season did not splatter unceremoniously once the postseason began. The second-ranked Shockers did not go wobbly in the knees, as then-No. 1 St. Joe’s did almost exactly 10 years ago, getting routed by 20 points in its 2004 Atlantic 10 tournament opener against unranked Xavier. No, Wichita State encountered Evansville in an Arch Madness quarterfinal on Thursday and did the routing, advancing to the semifinals with an 80-55 victory that had a machete-through-underbrush feel.