Photo Credit: AP Photo - Elaine Thompson via Yahoo.com
I will admit I had my doubts about this game as soon as I saw the potential match-up last Sunday. SC had really made me question their ability after the blowout loss to Oregon. I should be fair there though because I spent most of that evening in the ER with my wife who collapsed suddenly at our anniversary dinner so you'll understand if I didn't give a s--t. Looks like she will be fine but more tests are needed. So you could see that I was not in the mood to discuss or dissect last weekend's loss thus not ready to give SC a chance.
Now that I have seen what they could do against a surging Arkansas team, a team who should not have been in the tourney and a dominant Texas team that hung tough against Kansas, SC is the real deal. Now, I'm talking about the here and now not some other crap about tradition and legacy and the like. For all the crap that some have given Tim Floyd he has hardly received the credit he should for putting it all together this season, a season after the tragic death of Ryan Francis and starting off without Gabe Pruitt due to academics, but it came together.
So how did they do it? As I said in my game preview Durant was going to get his points but was it going to be enough? If he had to work for those points that meant that his teammates weren't being effective. While they, SC, may not have banged him like I thought they might have, they did keep him out on the perimeter, going 11-of-24, and they kept him off the line where he went 6-of-8. He wasn't as dominant on the inside as he had been in other games. SC also had the benefit of a cold D.J. Agustin who only went 1-of-8 and A.J. Abrams who played a little better going 7-of-14 scoring 20 points. Texas looked asleep from the out-set as they never led in the game. I was a little bummed when at the end of the first half with SC up by 10 with 4 seconds left, that they allowed Abrams to hit a 3-pointer. I thought uh-oh here we go, but SC even though the let Texas get within 4 points went on an 8-0 run before Durant hit a 3 at 3:30 into the 2nd half. SC never looked back as Texas just didn't have the answers.
On the SC side of the ball it was a totally different story, Nick young and Taj Gibson led the way on offense and defense respectively. Gibson was monster even after getting hit in the face, which ended up sending him to the bench. Gibson was 9-of-14 from the line and had 14 rebounds. He looked better than Durant and he was more effective. Don't kid yourself Durant is a stud who will go #1 in the draft but tonight was not his night. Wherever he goes he will make an immediate impact. Young on offense had a great night, 22 points 4-of-4 from the line and 7 rebounds, that's being effective but importantly what the line doesn't show is his leadership on the court and that is where SC had the advantage. I admit I totally overlooked that, Texas has some great players but most of them are freshman who haven't been there before. Young has a lot of game experience and that showed tonight.
Hackett also had a great game with 20 points, 4-of-4 from the line and 4 rebounds. He is going to be a special player in the years to come I'm no expert but you could see that Texas was not firing on all cylinders based on their 1st round game. N.M. St. was as easy as the Longhorns may have thought they were going to be. Maybe that took their toll but that is not the Texas team that I had seen a number of times this year.
I am uninterested in calling this win redemption for last years Rose Bowl. There is no way that this game could ever take that pain away so there is no comparison. So I am hearing none of it. That was then and this is now and we focus on the now.
So it's on to East Rutherford and the Tar Heels. I plan on attending that game, as it is literally 5 minutes away. I have a work commitment to work around but I should be able to make it work.
I am looking for a ticket or two, anyone have any suggestions?