Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: A wild, wild NCAA Tournament weekend

Texas A&M guard Danuel House (23) shoots a foul shot against Northern Iowa in the second overtime of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament Sunday, March 20, 2016, in Oklahoma City. Texas A&M won 92-88.
Texas A&M guard Danuel House (23) shoots a foul shot against Northern Iowa in the second overtime of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament Sunday, March 20, 2016, in Oklahoma City. Texas A&M won 92-88. The Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Monday:

Recurring problems end Kentucky’s season, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “Throughout the 2015-16 season, Kentucky produced highly entertaining basketball and, if you were a fan of mystery, induced exciting drama. Tyler Ulis was arguably the best player, pound for pound, in UK history. Freshman Jamal Murray joined him to form college basketball’s highest scoring backcourt duo this season. The frontcourt players? The “bigs” too often came up small. “

For Kentucky women, there’s no escaping defense, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “After UK lost back-to-back games — at home to Vanderbilt and then a few days later at Florida — Matthew Mitchell had to find a way to emphasize defense. ‘We were in both of those games, but when you looked back and looked at the tape, we should’ve won both of those games if we would’ve just hustled on defense,’ Mitchell recalled. “

Texas A&M mounts incredible comeback, reports Richard Croome of the Bryan/College Station Eagle. “Thirty-three seconds of arguably the most unbelievable basketball in March Madness more than made up for the first 39 minutes for Texas A&M and the Aggies were still pinching themselves 15 minutes later in a shocked but raucous locker room. A&M outscored Northern Iowa 14-2 over that final 33 seconds of regulation, tied the game on an Alex Caruso drive with five seconds left in overtime and then held on to win 92-88 in double overtime.”

Texas A&M’s prayers answered, reports Andy Staples of SI.com. “The Aggies pressed again. Northern Iowa’s Paul Jesperson caught the inbound. Jesperson, less than 48 hours removed from a half-court buzzer beater to sink Texas, tried to bounce the ball off Texas A&M’s Tonny Trocha-Morelos and out of bounds. Trocha-Morelos dodged. Aggies forward Jalen Jones grabbed the ball and dunked it. Six. In 21.7 seconds? No way.”

North Carolina’s path appears less daunting, writes Andrew Carter of the Charlotte Observer. “When the NCAA tournament field was announced a week ago, on Selection Sunday, you could have made the argument – and I did – that North Carolina, the top seed in the East Region, had the most difficult path of any No. 1 seed to reach the Final Four. There was the potential game against Kentucky, the No. 4 seed, in the regional semifinals. Xavier, the No. 2 seed, and West Virginia, the No. 3, were lurking in the bottom half of the bracket. And then, one week later, there were none of those teams. “

Kentucky baseball takes series at Georgia, says H-L staff report. “JaVon Shelby hit two home runs and a triple to drive in seven runs in the Kentucky baseball team’s 14-6 win over Georgia in the series rubber match on Sunday afternoon at Foley Field in Athens, Ga. Kentucky (14-5, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) used the career outing from Shelby, a junior third baseman out of Tates Creek, to earn its third consecutive series road win at Georgia. “

Xavier suffers tough loss to Wisconsin, reports Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It was a game played on a high wire, and someone had to fall off. The finality of it is never less than compelling. A team wins at the buzzer, gathers in a happy circle, exhorts its fans, lives for the next game. Its band plays. The other guys sit in a spent, disbelieving heap, roust themselves to shake hands, then walk off slowly, exhausted and wondering what they’ll do tomorrow when there is no practice.”

Kentucky’s season ends without questions for the future, writes Sam Vecenie of CBS Sports. “In 2016, Kentucky won the SEC, won the SEC Tournament, will likely have a first-team All-American, and could have multiple first-round picks in the NBA Draft. Despite all of that, it’s hard not to wonder if we look back on this season in five years as a transition year for the Wildcats between the Platoon season and 2016-17 after they fell to Indiana in the second round Saturday.”

It was the wildest weekend in tourney history, writes Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports. “Cinderella is dead. But March Madness is very much alive. That is the takeaway from what almost assuredly is the greatest, wildest opening weekend in NCAA tournament history. So much happened that it will take days to sort it all out – and forget trying to make sense of it all. That’s not possible. “

ACC Tournament continues with NCAA success, writes Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star. “The ACC Tournament didn’t end with North Carolina’s championship last week. It continued in arenas across the country in what is otherwise known as the NCAA Tournament. When Syracuse ran away from Middle Tennessee State 75-50 in the Midwest Region on Sunday, the hoops-loving conference advanced its sixth team to the Sweet 16.”

NCAA Tournament schedule

Thursday

  • 7:10 - South: Miami vs. Villanova (CBS)
  • 7:37 - West: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma (TBS)
  • 9:40 - South: Maryland vs. Kansas (CBS)
  • 10:07 - West: Duke vs. Oregon (TBS)

Friday

  • 7:10 - Midwest: Iowa State vs. Virginia (CBS)
  • 7:27 - East: Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame (TBS)
  • 9:40 - Midwest: Gonzaga vs. Syracuse (CBS)
  • 9:57 - East: Indiana vs. North Carolina (TBS)

Oklahoma vs. Kentucky women

When: Monday, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Memorial Coliseum

TV: ESPN2

Radio: UK Radio Network with Neil Price

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