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March Madness Friday Morning Recap: Michigan, Notre Dame Shine; George Mason Pulls Last-Minute Upset

Patrick Crawley, Dave Dulberg, Victor Marticorena, James Santelli |
March 18, 2011 | 3:46 p.m. PDT

Bruce Pearl is on the hot seat after Tennessee's loss to Michigan. (Shotgun Spratling)
Bruce Pearl is on the hot seat after Tennessee's loss to Michigan. (Shotgun Spratling)
There's nothing like the opening days of March Madness, and Neon Tommy Sports has you covered every step of the way. We'll be updating you with scores and analysis three times a day, bringing you the best the 2011 NCAA Tournament has to offer.

Here's our take on Friday morning's Round 2 games:


Texas Outlasts Oakland 85-81

The three-headed monster of Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton and J'Covan Brown proved too much for the ambitious Golden Grizzlies on Friday as fourth-seeded Texas beat No. 13 Oakland 85-81.

Size and talent were the determining factors in this one. Oakland struggled to guard Texas' big men throughout the game and failed to control the boards in crucial situations (especially on the defensive end). Both Thompson (17 and 10) and Hamilton (19 and 10) finished with double doubles, while Brown led the Longhorns in scoring with 21 points off the bench.

Sparkplug guard Reggie Hamilton did his thing for Oakland, leading all scorers with 25 points, but 6-foot-11 pro prospect Keith Benson was largely ineffective against Texas' constant double teams. Benson finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but he shot just 6-of-15 from the field and was hardly the destructive force he was expected to be.

Oakland rallied late to close a double-digit Texas lead to five points (80-75) in the final minutes, but the Longhorns calmly closed out the game with defense and free throws.

Player of the Game:
Tristan Thompson (F, Texas)

The freshman from Toronto was a monster against Oakland, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and a Texas NCAA Tournament-record 7 blocks. Thompson was everywhere, snatching boards, finishing putbacks, stymying Keith Benson. As good as Hamilton and Brown were, he was the key to the game for Texas. Already a projected top 20 pick, his NBA draft stock is surely on the rise after this performance.

Memorable Moments:
Pretty much anything Reggie Hamilton did for Oakland. He's a 5-foot-11 dynamo who can create his own shot no matter how tight the quarters. At one point, he went toe-to-toe with Texas' Hamilton (Jordan) in a showdown that included consecutive Reggie threes. I'm really going to miss seeing him in action. He's flat out fun to watch.

What This Means:
Texas moves on to face fifth-seeded Arizona on Saturday in what should be a fantastic interior matchup between Thompson and Wildcats forward Derrick Williams (both potential lottery picks). 

For Oakland, Keith Benson's draft stock likely takes a dive after this performance. He struggled against double teams and failed to make a significant impact on the game.

- Patrick Crawley


Michigan Handles Tennessee in Convincing Fashion

Less than 48 hours after athletic director Mike Hamilton took to the airwaves expressing doubt about Bruce Pearl’s future with the Volunteer program, John Beilein and the No. 8 Wolverines may have put the final nail in the coffin of the beleaguered coach’s tenure in Knoxville, routing No. 9 Tennessee 75-45 on Friday in Charlotte, NC.
The Wolverines -- in just their second tournament appearance since 1998 -- employed an effective 2-3 zone for the final 30 minutes of the second round contest, and pushed a four-point halftime lead to 19 following a 21-6 run just eight minutes into the second half.

From there, the Blue and Maze never looked back, handing Pearl his worst loss in tournament history.

Tennessee’s freshman forward Tobias Harris led all scores with 19 points but found himself helpless on the perimeter in the second half as Michigan held him without a field goal (0-for-5) in the final 20 minutes of play.

For Michigan, as has been the case all season, the team received balanced offensive production across the board. Junior guard Zack Novak (younger brother of NBA veteran Steve Novak) led the team with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Freshman guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (son of former-NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway) pitched in with 11 second half points in his tournament debut. Junior guard Stu Douglass also added 11 points for the Wolverines.

Michigan made history with its 30-point victory, becoming the first team in NCAA history to win a tournament game without a free-throw make (0-for-1 on the afternoon).

Player of the Game:
Darius Morris (Michigan)

On a night when the Los Angeles native could not buy a bucket, the Wolverines’ leading scorer managed to take over the game at both ends of the floor despite his lack of point production. His 8 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds are only partially indicative of his impact on the game.

Morris was also Michigan’s anchor at the top of the 2-3 zone and its primarily stopper against guards Scotty Hopson (4 points on 1-of-5 shooting) and Cameron Tatum (5 points on 2-of-9 shooting).

Memorable Moments:
Outside of the high-fade Tobias Harris was sporting, the whirling dervish-like, right-handed scoop shot Darius Morris made over Tennessee center Brian Williams to beat the first half buzzer was the most memorable moment of the game. It was by far was the most creative finish in the first two days of the tournament.

What This Means:
With a win over Tennessee, Michigan will likely play the Duke Blue Devils, the No.1 seed in the West Region.

Besides the enormous home court advantage Duke will have playing in their backyard of Charlotte on Sunday afternoon, the matchup comes with a bit of irony attached to it.

Exactly a week ago, ESPN’s Jalen Rose came under heavy scrutiny for comments he and Michigan teammate Jimmy King made regarding the Duke program and their recruitment of black athletes like Grant Hill in a Fab Five documentary produced by Rose.

- Dave Dulberg


Irish Come Through With Post-St. Patty's Day Win

Notre Dame didn't lose a home game all season, and they continued the streak in what was essentially a Tournament home game Friday.

Playing just 75 miles from the ND campus at Chicago's United Center, the Irish topped Akron 69-56. The second-seeded Irish shot 45 percent from the field, including 7-of-17 from three in the victory.

Big East first-teamer Ben Hansbrough led all scorers with 15 points, and Tim Abromaitis added 14 points (3-for-3 beyond the arc) for Notre Dame, which improved to 27-6.

The MAC champion Zips (23-13) failed to gain their first NCAA Tournament in school history (it was their third appearance). The Zips committed 21 fouls, allowing ND to reach the line 26 times, while shooting just six free throws themselves.

Quincy Diggs led Akron with 11 points off the bench, and center Zeke Marshall had four blocks, but it wasn't enough for the 15th-seeded Zips to pull off the upset.

Player of the Game:
Carleton Scott (F, Notre Dame)

ND's leading rebounder cleaned up Friday. Despite giving up four inches to 7-foot Akron center Zeke Marshall, Scott led the game with 14 rebounds. The senior forward added 8 points and 3 blocks.

Scott's biggest contribution, though, was limiting Akron's frontcourt. Marshall went 2-of-13 from the field and forward Brett McKnight finished just 3-of-12 with Scott patrolling the paint.

Memorable Moments:
Akron went into halftime down just four points. If the Zips had an upset on their mind, they needed to come out firing after the halftime break.

Instead, they came out flat.

The Zips missed the first eight shots of the half and didn't score in the first five minutes. In that time, Notre Dame extended its lead to 13 points and never looked back.

What This Means:
Notre Dame will play the winner of Florida State-Texas A&M on Sunday, with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line.

- James Santelli


Cinderella Returns to Down Villanova

Can a No. 8 seed be considered a Cinderella? When they are the reincarnation of the 2006 George Mason team that made a fairy tale run to the Final Four, why not?

Regardless of the fact that they were the higher seed, the underdog George Mason Patriots pulled off a come-from-behind 61-57 victory against the favored No. 9 Villanova Wildcats.

Villanova had taken the lead at the 14:24 mark of the first half and never relinquished that lead until the final minute of the game. Nova’s attack, led by the two Coreys, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, kept George Mason at bay for the majority of the game, but the Patriots’ tenacity proved to be just enough in the end.

Nova led in the first by 10, and took a seven-point lead into the half. Villanova continued to lead in the second half. However, with a minute left in the game, George Mason finally did what it hadn’t been able to do since the first five minutes of the game: take the lead.

An intense final minute ensued with Nova’s Fisher hitting three free-throws to retake the lead, but George Mason’s Luke Hancock responded with a 3-pointer of his own, which proved to be the game winner.

Player of the Game:
Luke Hancock (G, George Mason)

Hancock led his team with 18 points, shooting 5-of-10 from the field, 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and 6-of-8 from the charity stripe. Hancock also logged 5 assists and 3 rebounds and hit the eventual game-winner, pushing his team into the next round of the tournament.

Memorable Moments:
With about 20 seconds left on the clock and his team down by one, Luke Hancock led the Patriots down the court, put a move on his defender, stepped back behind the 3-point line and swished what ended up being the game winning shot.

What This Means:
The clock has yet to strike midnight for George Mason as they continue their road to not-so-unfamiliar territory: the Final Four.

The Patriots will most likely face the overall No. 1 seed in the Tournament in Ohio State, barring a miracle in Cleveland and UT-San Antonio pulling out the biggest upset in the history of the tournament.

- Victor Marticorena

Check back this evening for more coverage of the NCAA Tournament.


To reach Patrick Crawley, click here. Follow him on Twitter, @BasketballFiend.

Dave Dulberg can be reached here.

Email James Santelli. Follow him on Twitter, @JamesSantelli.

To reach Victor Marticorena, click here. Follow him on Twitter, @GrandpapaSports.



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