UConn rolls over Bucknell in NCAA Opening Round, 81-52

Okay, so I’ll probably get corrected for calling it the Opening Round, since the ‘First Four’ already were played.

UConn surprised me tonight, rolling over Bucknell in the opening round.  Sure, it was a 3 seed against a 14 seed, but I expected a young, and perhaps tired UConn team to struggle against a pretty good Bucknell team.  This is usually the type of team that gives the Huskies fits.  Instead, the Huskies methodically put them away, just continuing to grow the lead through the latter part of the first half and into the second half, quickly putting the game out of reach.

With some talk coming into this about whether Bryan Cohen of Bucknell would stop Kemba Walker (not sure where I read that, maybe it was tongue in cheek), Walker had a pretty good night, leading the Huskies in scoring with 18 points, racking up a pretty impressive 12 assists, and barely missing a triple double with 8 boards.

For all that, I thought that Walker’s final stats overshadowed the breakout game played by Roscoe Smith, who scored 17 with 7 boards and 2 blocked shots, and Jeremy Lamb’s performance, with 16 points.  Lamb carried the Huskies early in the game, before Walker really got going.

Alex Oriakhi chipped in with 9 points and 12 rebounds, despite playing only 19 minutes.  I’m not clear on whether Jim Calhoun believes that Oriakhi plays better with fewer minutes, or if he’s trying to keep him out foul trouble, but Big Alex seems to be playing fewer minutes lately.

Pretty good game for the Huskies, who take on Cincinnati on Saturday.

With 2 Big East teams as 3 seeds, and 3 teams as 6 seeds,  it was impossible to guarantee that no Big East teams would meet in the second round.

The Big East had 6 teams in action tonight, and received mixed results.  UConn, Pitt,  West Virginia, and Cincinnati all won.

Louisville suffered a major upset, losing to Morehead State by a final score of 62-61, on a late 3.  Louisville really choked this game away at the free throw line, missing the front end of a 1-and-1 just before the game winning shot, and shooting 7-16 overall from the line.

St. John’s also lost, despite being favored over Gonzaga.  I have to say, even if Gonzaga was having a down year, I’d hate to have to play them in the tournament, even when they’re an 11 seed.  I really expected St. John’s to make a run in the tournament — I’m a big believer that teams loaded with seniors should do well.  Not so with St. John’s.  I guess the loss of D.J. Kennedy to injury did them in.

Speaking of West Virginia, the headline from their victory blamed Clemson’s fatigue for the loss.  The Tigers played in the First Four, then evidently had to travel to the next site.  Why West Virginia can’t be credited with the win, instead of making an excuse for Clemson, is beyond me.  I have to say, I don’t like this concept of 12 seeds playing in — the 5-12 games seem to already result in the most upsets, now you have 12 seeds coming in off of a win, with momentum — as Clemson had today early in the game before succumbing to fatigue.  Because, remember, a Big East team didn’t beat them — fatigue beat them!

The biggest choke in the tournament was nearly committed by UCLA, who let Michigan State come back from 19 points down with under 8 minutes, and 10 points with 1:15 remaining to get within 1 point.  Missing 7-8 free throws in the last 1:15 and turning the ball over allowed the Spartans to nearly pull of the upset.


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