A little late, but here are my Friday observations late in the evening from the tourney.
#2 Syracuse vs. #7 NC State
I missed the first half due to wrapping up my extra work on the Tar Heels loss. But I caught wind that the Orange were shooting atrociously. The stat sheet confirmed these rumors. Syracuse shot a miserable 26 percent from the floor.
NC State was playing some inspired basketball. Hard-fast-physical. Wait, that’s Larry Fedora’s motto – but State adopted it for this one. Warren was well, Warren. He had over 20 points by midway through the second half. Casual.
Tyler Ennis was coming up big with defense and offense – the full package. He was willing the Orange into this one. Would the Wolfpack learn how to close from their collapse up in Syracuse earlier this season?
The Wolfpack coaches ‘board meeting’ huddle is always an interesting sight. If you ask me, it’s just too many cooks in the kitchen.
Turnovers and sloppy mistakes were piling up yet again in the waning minutes for NC State. In fact, somehow, it looked like the Wolfpack was facing the zone defense for the first time late in the game.
Big plays by Warren and Turner kept the Wolfpack’s nose in front. With 26 ticks left, NC State had the 64-63 edge. But that scoreline apparently wasn’t entertaining enough for the guy sitting next to me in press row. He was in a deep slumber.
On the final possession, Syracuse can’t say they didn’t have their chances. But the fifth and sixth times weren’t the charms and the Wolfpack escaped to grab a huge NCAA Tournament resume booster.
FINAL: NCSU 66 – Syracuse 63
#3 Duke vs. #6 Clemson
After a frank and short postgame press conference from Boeheim, it was time for the nightcap. Duke was off to a quick start, not surprisingly. The Blue Devils had the 13-6 lead with 12:55 to play in the half.
But really, in my head, I was still trying to process this quote from Boeheim. I thought I was just hearing things. But I got verification. Here it is: “I thought C.J. got the shots he wanted. I think he’s the best offensive player in the league….”
Last time I checked, C.J. isn’t T.J., right? Crazy talk there.
But back to the game at hand. Clemson was settling in nicely, tying the game at 17 points apiece with 5:39 to play in the first half.
I enjoyed watching the Tiger mascot secretly run havoc behind a tournament official’s back. Little did the guy know what was going on behind him.
On the floor, the Tiger defense was doing an outstanding job on Jabari Parker and company. Coach K was all fired up before halftime – claiming he called a timeout before the time expired. His Blue Devils held a 29-25 advantage at intermission.
Both teams were shooting dreadfully from the foul line, but Duke was winning the rebounding battle 20-14.
The Tigers battled admirably down the stretch. The last no-call on the drive to the basket with three seconds left in the game had everybody in the Coliseum buzzing. Honestly, it could have been called either way. I prefer the refs to eat the whistle at the end of the game and just let the players play. But then again, they whistled Clemson for a foul on a similar look the possession earlier. **Sigh***
FINAL: Duke 63 – Clemson 62