Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Saturday's top players

Well, that was quite a day, wasn't it?

Saturday's top players

WASHINGTON -- Well, that was quite a day, wasn't it?

I was riding the Metro this morning, heading down to the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium to see St. Joseph's play George Washington in the first event ever held at the venue.  The game wasn't much (the Hawks lost, 9-4), but the chance to be at the ballpark's inauguration wasn't something I wanted to pass up -- and it helped to have a Philly team as the opposition.

My mind was still focused on basketball, though, and there were plenty of West Virginia fans on the train with me. They were headed to the Verizon Center to see their Mountaineers play Duke. I don't know how many of them thought their team would win, but lo and behold.

A friend of mine who went to college here in D.C. told me today that West Virginia might be the only team outside this region whose fans are capable of matching Duke's for noise and size when their team plays in this town.

Maybe that made a difference, or maybe not. The Blue Devils certainly didn't help themselves any, shooting 5-for-22 from three-point range. But West Virginia really stepped up to get the 73-67 victory, and set up what should be a really fun game against Xavier.

I can already think of two interesting storylines. The obvious one is former Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins getting another shot at the Musketeers. But what you might not know is that Xavier joined the Atlantic 10 right after West Virginia left for the Big East, back in 1995.

After that, we had Wisconsin showing how good it is by blowing out Kansas State, 72-55, and the Musketeers overcoming an early hole to knock off Purdue, 85-78.

That was followed by two more blowouts: Kansas over UNLV, 75-56, and Washington State over Notre Dame, 61-41. I'm not all that surprised the Cougars beat the Fighting Irish, but to do so by 21 and hold Notre Dame to only 41 points is stunning.

Next came the best game of the day: Stanford's 82-81 overtime thriller against Marquette. It was a great effort by the Golden Eagles, but the Cardinal stepped up when it mattered -- especially big man Brook Lopez. If you hadn't seen him until today, now you know just how good he is.

Finally, two slugfests. Michigan State really proved something by knocking out Pittsburgh and advancing to a likely matchup with Memphis in the Sweet 16. Drew Neitzel and Kalin Lucas matched Levance Field's 19 points as the Spartans showed that their win over Temple was no fluke.

The Panthers had far more postseason experience than the Owls, and also more toughness. I expected the game to be low-scoring, but I also expected it to be close. Certainly not 65-54.

Lastly, the great drama of UCLA's 53-49 comeback win over Texas A&M -- rightly punctuated by two classic Dick Enberg "Oh my!" exclamations.

The first saluted Darren Collison's leap to the basket to give UCLA a two-point lead with nine seconds left in regulation. The second came after a blocked shot by Josh Shipp fell to Russell Westbrook, who raced away to end the game with an emphatic slam.

I need to get to sleep, as a 6 a.m. shift awaits Sunday morning. Soon thereafter, though, I'll post video of Westbrook's slam for those who didn't see it -- or those who want to see it again.

For now, here are my top 5 performances of the day.



5. Luke Harangody, Notre Dame. Yes, the Fighting Irish lost, but I don't remember ever seeing a guy get 22 rebounds in a game. It would have been great to see him against Tyler Hansbrough, but alas.

Name
Min
FG
FT
3pt
OR
DR
TR
A
S
TO
Blk
PF
Eff
Pts
L. Harangody
36
3-17
4-4
0-1
7
15
22
2
1
2
1
1
20
10



4. Joe Alexander, West Virginia. Lacking the size it needed, Duke just had no answer for this guy.

Name
Min
FG
FT
3pt
OR
DR
TR
A
S
TO
Blk
PF
Eff
Pts
J. Alexander
44
0-10
11-12
0-0
3
3
6
14
1
4
0
2
17
11



3. Jerel McNeal, Marquette. Had the best performance of the Marquette-Stanford game, but gets docked a spot in the rankings because the Golden Eagles lost.

Name
Min
FG
FT
3pt
OR
DR
TR
A
S
TO
Blk
PF
Eff
Pts
J. McNeal
34
13-25
0-0
4-12
2
6
8
2
1
3
1
0
27
30



2. Brook Lopez, Stanford. Not only did the Cardinal win, he hit the game-winning shot. Ah, to be seven feet tall.

Name
Min
FG
FT
3pt
OR
DR
TR
A
S
TO
Blk
PF
Eff
Pts
B. Lopez
28
10-20
10-11
0-0
1
3
4
1
0
2
1
3
23
30



1. Kevin Love, UCLA. What a performance from the freshman, including that dazzling turnaround fadeaway jumper to give the Bruins their first lead of the game. Even more so given the final score.

Name
Min
FG
FT
3pt
OR
DR
TR
A
S
TO
Blk
PF
Eff
Pts
K. Love
34
7-12
4-5
1-4
2
9
11
0
1
1
8
3
30
19


Jonathan Tannenwald Sports Producer
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Jonathan Tannenwald Sports Producer
Andrew Albert Sports Producer
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