Saturday, March 26, 2011

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: NCAA East Region Semi-Finals

by Ray Floriani

NEWARK, NJ - Probably fitting with a city of Newark's long history there will be a regional final between two programs with a lengthy, stored tradition of their own. Kentucky will face North Carolina Sunday for the right to go to Houston.

The Nasto's stand at the Fanfest.
Received a complimentary reginette (it is very good) from the staff.

The scores...

North Carolina8163Marquette
Kentucky6260Ohio State

The game one pace and possessions saw the Tar Heels stepped things up and dictate a tempo more in their favor. Only a strong second half salvaged any offensive efficiency for Marquette. At intermission their OE was an almost unprintable 44.

Marquette players at the anthem

The pace and efficiency:

tr>td>North Carolina

The Four Factors:

North Carolina51194810

A tale of two halves. A first half 19-0 run by the Tar Heels basically opened up the game and was a deciding factor. Marquette trailed 40-15 at the half. In addition they had 12 turnovers, 6 field goals, zero assists and a 35% TO rate. The second half they shot and defended better but never seriously challenged North Carolina. That 25 point spot midway was too much to overcome.

the packed Rock

North Carolina owned a 29-15 edge in points off turnovers, the damage done mostly the first half. They also outscored Marquette 46-32 in points in the paint. In somewhat of a stat oddity, Marquette led 42-5 in bench points. Two reasons. Non-starters, Davante Gardner (16 points) and Jae Crowder (11) were two of Marquette's better point producers. Secondly, Roy Williams used a short, in numbers, rotation with six players getting 21 or more minutes.

Buzz Williams in the post game press conference
More questions than answers...

The Second Game
Game two, no surprise in the pace. These teams were content to grind this one out.

Ohio State60100

The Four Factors:

Ohio State38293912

The obligatory cheer shot.
Yours truly with the North Carolina cheer squad

Brandon Knight was 2 for 10 when he tried to come off a pick and roll, was defended, and opted for a mid-range jumper instead. The shot found the bottom of the net and proved to be the difference in the Kentucky victory. The late season maturity of Knight cannot be measured statistically. On the game he was 3 of 10 (1 of6 from three) for nine points. But in the stretch the freshman guard stepped up to hit a big trey before the game winner. Don't forget, he scored two points, again the game decider in the first round win over Princeton. With Knight, it's quality not quantity.

Kentucky was hit hard on the offensive glass. Normally they give up a 30% OREB percentage to their opposition. Ohio State put up above average numbers on the offensive glass, largely due to Jared Sullinger's 8 offensive boards.

The Wildcats, though , compensated with a strong showing on defense, limiting turnovers and having Brandon Knight on the floor in the clutch.

Attendance was 18,343...North Carolina was led by Tyler Zeller with 27 points 12 boards. John Henson teamed with Zeller to form a tough inside game. Henson added 14 points, a dozen rebounds and 5 blocks...Marquette finishes at 22-15.…Marquette's perimeter threat Darius Johnson-Odom struggled through a 2 of 9 shooting night finishing with 7 points…Jared Sullinger led all scorers in game two with 21 points…Josh Harrellson paced Kentucky with 17...Some Manley numbers:

Tyler Zeller, UNC35
Josh Harrellson, UK27
Jared Sullinger OSU26
DeAndre Liggins, UK21
John Henson, UNC20
Harrison Barnes, UNC20
Davante Gardiner, Marquette17

On a per minute basis, Zeller's efficiency was an off the charts 1.30. Zeller played 27 minutes. Jimmy Butler of Marquette had a solid 16 efficiency. Johnson-Odom struggled, as noted, with a -2 metric. Kentucky's Brandon Knight had only a 4 efficiency. No complaints, I'm sure, from coach Cal, given the outcome.

The Rock about 1:30 am after a long but enjoyable evening

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