By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 18, 2002
The NCAA Tournament, especially the frenetic four days when the field is slashed from 64 to 16, is the nation's most reliably captivating sporting event. Last weekend, as always, the tournament delivered on its annual promise.
BEST CELEBRATION: The UNC Wilmington bench erupted in a spontaneous burst of unrequited joy when senior forward Stewart Hare slammed home a two-handed dunk with 41 seconds left in overtime Thursday, essentially clinching the No.13-seed's upset of No.4 USC.
BEST CELEBRATION (ILLEGAL CATEGORY): Several players on the Creighton bench dashed across the court after Terrell Taylor's 3-pointer at the end of the second overtime Friday lifted the Bluejays over Florida. Except two-tenths of a second remained on the clock, so a technical foul could have been called. It wasn't.
DON'T CALL THEM CINDERELLA: No.10-seed Kent State has won 25 of its past 26 and was slightly favored by oddsmakers in its first-round game against No.7-seed Oklahoma State. It was an upset only to the seeding committee. In its second-round victory over Alabama, the Golden Flashes, who beat Indiana in the first round last season, beat a team that hadn't been in the NCAAs since 1995.
DITTO: Would anyone trade Missouri's roster for Miami's or Ohio State's? Of course not. So the No.12-seed's victories over the No.5 Hurricanes and No.4 Buckeyes weren't so much upsets as confirmation the Big 12 is good and the Tigers underachieved during the regular season.
INTRODUCING CINDERELLA: Southern Illinois.
OKAY, I'LL BUY A PONTIAC!: Just please stop running those hokey, annoying commercials.
PRIME PERFORMERS: As usual, they ranged from the well-known -- 2001 SEC player of the year Tayshaun Prince, whose 41 points Saturday in Kentucky's victory were the most in an NCAA Tournament game since Wally Szczerbiak in 1999 -- to relative unknowns such as Tulsa's Greg Harrington, who lifted the Golden Hurricane into the second round on a shot with 14.6 seconds left against Marquette. Said Tulsa coach John Phillips, "It was an old-school shot. A little one-handed runner like back in the '50s."
CONFERENCE CALL: The Sweet 16 has four teams from the Big 12, three from the Pac-10, two from the ACC, Big Ten and Big East and one from the Missouri Valley, Mid-American and SEC (ouch).
BEST FINISH: Thursday: USC rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit against UNC Wilmington to tie with eight seconds left on a 3-pointer by freshman Errick Craven but lost in overtime. Friday: The end of regulation and overtimes in the Creighton-Florida game were titillating. Saturday: Duke's harrowing victory over Notre Dame had a few million people clutching their brackets. Sunday: No.8-seed UCLA trailed almost the entire game but knocked off top-seeded Cincinnati 105-101 in double overtime.
HOLY TRINITY: Oregon's Luke Ridnour, Luke Jackson and Frederick Jones combined for 81 of the Ducks' 92 points in a 92-87 second-round victory Saturday over Wake Forest.
YOU BLEW IT: Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish had an historic victory over top seed and defending champion Duke in their grasp Saturday, leading 71-64 with six minutes left. They didn't close it out.
MR. MELODRAMA: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on Blue Devils freshman guard Daniel Ewing, who had a career-high 18 points in his team's 84-77 victory over Notre Dame: "Daniel had a great game because Daniel had the courage to have a great game."
WAS IT THE SAME GUY?: Creighton's Taylor had zero points at halftime against Florida. After intermission, he made eight 3-pointers and scored 28. Perhaps he found some courage in the locker room.
WELCOME BACK: North Carolina State's victory Friday over Michigan State was its first in the tournament since its last appearance in 1991. Missouri and Indiana advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1994.
BAD DECISION: UNC Wilmington junior guard Brett Blizzard attended Tallahassee Florida High and wanted to go to Florida State. The Seminoles didn't offer a scholarship, however, so Blizzard headed to UNC Wilmington. He had 18 points against USC and 29 in Saturday's loss to Indiana. Think FSU could use him?