By Stacey Kilpatrick
The reigning champs have fallen. I repeat. The reigning champs have fallen. Let’s get right into the upset of the day, shall we? The first of two Sweet Sixteen days ended on a very sour note for the 2010 National Champions, Coach K’s #1 Duke Blue Devils. They were speared by the #5 Arizona Wildcats, 93-77.
In the first period, Duke was playing pretty cohesively, with solid running communication. They were keeping close with Arizona, but edged the Wildcats out entering halftime, 44-38. In that play, Blue Devil high-scorer freshman Kyrie Irving (28 points, 3 assists, 1 steal) had 14 points, 2 assists and the steal, while senior Kyle Singler (18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 fouls) also netted 14 with 2 steals, 1 block and 1 assist.
But in the second half Duke wasn’t Duke and Arizona was pouncing. They went 13-0 with just under 15 minutes, were up by 11, 66-55, at 12:02 and took a 71-59 lead at 9:15. Arizona continued dominating by moving up to a 24-6 run at 8:33, top-scorer Derrick Williams (32 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, 1 block) threw down a sick dunk improving to 30 points and 11 rebounds at 8:16 and Duke was acting their color – blue, cold, stalled. Jamelle Horne (7 points, 5 rebounds) smashed a left-handed dunk with 7:02 remaining, putting Arizona up 77-63. The Wildcats couldn’t be tamed on the court or their bench. In rebounds they were 22 to Duke’s 6 at 3:46, Singler and senior Nolan Smith (8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) were taken out with 2:01 remaining and it was nothing but jubilation for the Grand Canyon State and all its fans as Lamont Jones made a jumper with 39 seconds, in one of the grandest victories (and upsets) this March Madness has presented.
Enough about the blue and white, so now, let’s talk about the rest of the night. Three of the four lower seeds, including Duke, were beaten. Does this tournament keep getting better or what? #8 Butler (last year’s losers) kicked #4 Wisconsin to their locker room with heads hanging, 61-54 and #3 UCONN trumped #2 SDSU 74-67. But the game of the night — again, a wicked hard decision at this point in the tourney – was the meeting of Jimmer Fredette and the #3 BYU Cougars and the #2 Florida Gators.
It came down to 0:02. Florida had come from a 10-point lead and BYU only ever had 3. Gator senior Chandler Parsons (16 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 block) was running up the right. He leapt, shoved his arm in the air and the ball went flying. But it didn’t sink. Fredette (32 points, 5 assist, 3 fouls, 2 rebounds) shook his fist in celebration for five more minutes of opportunity. But, Fredette wasn’t rejoicing once the buzzer alarmed and now all the Jimmer jokes are silenced. He missed two 3’s and caused a turnover and a foul in OT. He did make an assist on Kyle Collinsworth’s layup, but the Gators sunk their teeth into the Cougs, 83-74, advancing to the Elite Eight for the fifth time.
Alex Tyus of Gator fame earns the statistic of the day. The 6’8”, 220 lb. senior made a career-high 17 rebounds. He has averaged 5.7 this season; with his second-highest actually being in Florida’s previous game against UCLA on March 19, where he held 13 rebounds in the Gators’ 73-65 win.
Friday is the second and final day of the 16 Sweetness. Looking ahead, two number ones remain: Ohio State and Kansas.
In the East, the Buckeyes face #4 Kentucky in Newark and in the Southwest the Jayhawks play #12 Richmond in San Antonio. Seeing how games have gone, it really is a tossup, but I’m banking for Kentucky and Kansas.
#2 North Carolina tries to keep their fight alive as well, playing #11 Marquette in the East and #10 Florida State faces #11 Virginia Commonwealth in the Southwest.
Any predictions March Madness fans?