It’s 12:30 a.m. I’ve watched 7 hours of live basketball today (missed the first 28 minutes of the Purdue-Illinois game getting back from dinner).
And it was definitely worth it–if only for the last 3.4 seconds of action at Conseco. Let’s recap those three and a half seconds:
- Eric Gordon gets fouled driving the lane. He needs to make both free throws to tie the game. An 85% free throw shooters, Gordon nevertheless misses the first attempt.
- He’s forced to miss the second attempt intentionally–which he does beautifully, as D.J. White gathers the rebound, scores, and gets fouled.
- But he misses the free throw. Overtime, right?
- But in the scramble for the ball, he gets fouled again.
- But he misses the first attempt.
- Then makes the second attempt. The 50% of the Conseco crowd wearing Crimson and White erupts, as victory is now apparently grasped.
- Minnesota calls time out to set up the desperation shot.
- IU calls time out to set up the defense against the desperation shot.
- With 1.5 seconds showing on the clock, Travis Busch throws an in-bound pass the length of the court. Blake Hoffarber manages to catch the ball, turn, and throw up a left-handed floater from fifteen feet out–that drops straight through the net. Gophers win.
That’s 9 bullet points for 3.4 seconds–less than 0.4 seconds per bullet. The most spectacular finish to any basketball game I’ve ever attended in person.
Just one bullet point per game for the other two non-MSU games:
- Zach Gibson is the only reason the Wisconsin-Michigan game was even close into the second half. Not only did he score 8 points in the first half for the Wolverines, he played phenomenal defense on first team All-Big Ten selection Brian Butch. Butch finished with just 1 point, missing all 7 of his FG attempts.
- Demetri McCamey found some more of whatever he had caught in a bottle in that double OT game vs. IU. He put Illinois on his back, hitting a number of huge shots and throwing a beautiful bullet pass for a lay-up from the top of the key in the OT.
With the Illinois and Minnesota upsets, one of the finalists in the tournament final will be playing for an NCAA tournament slot on Sunday. So much for that great IU-Purdue match-up everyone was anticipating. My guess is that the secondary market for tickets to Saturday’s and Sunday’s games has dropped dramatically in the last two hours.
The results also mean that the winner of the Wisconsin-MSU game becomes the favorite to take home the trophy.
As for MSU’s performance today, I thought they played quite well, all things considered. They could have easily won by double digits if (1) Morgan had made a decent amount of the 6-7 mid-range jumpshots he missed or (2) the refs had made a few calls for MSU when the Spartans drew contact near the basket.
They didn’t attack the press quite as much as I would have liked, but they didn’t turn it over much, either–particularly when you consider Ohio State pressed the full 40 minutes after made baskets (as this blogger speculated they might after Sunday’s meeting). Izzo put three ball-handlers in the backcourt. That prevented the front two in the Buckeye 2-2-1 press from double teaming the ball-handler. It also caused a bit too much passing it back and forth with no purpose. But it worked well enough to win.
Quick hits from the box score:
- Just 9 turnovers in 62 possessions for MSU (14.5%).
- 28 points on 17 FG attempts for Neitzel. He took care of the first key to the game, hitting 6 of 12 three-point attempts. Ohio State stuck with the zone, and it cost them late, as Neitzel got free for a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 6 with a minute left.
- Only 11 points and 4 assists for Butler. MSU did an excellent job hounding him throughout the game (the second key to the game), led by Walton.
- Only 8 minutes for Summers–but he made the most of them. He hit a key 3-pointer followed by a fast break layup to build MSU’s lead from 2 to 7 at about the 7-minute mark.
- Marquise Gray is now officially a complete liability on the court. He played only 6 minutes after leaving Koufos wide open in the first half for a 3-pointer and long 2-pointer for absolutely no reason other than apparently not realizing Koufos could shoot the ball.
- I knew Morgan missed a lot of shots, but I’m surprised to see he finished just 3-14 from the field. Also surprised at Lucas’ poor shooting numbers (4-13). He did force a few shots.
- Suton wasn’t aggressive enough when he got the ball in the lane, but had a nice game on the boards (9 rebounds; 5 offensive) and defended Koufos well in the second half. As a team MSU pulled down 18 of 43 offensive rebounding opportunities (41.8%).
- Walton continues to look lost with the ball on offense, but he made his free throws (5-6 in the last two minutes).
Morgan’s play worries me the most going into the game against the Badgers tomorrow. We know Flowers will do everything possible to hold Neitzel in check. We’re unlikely to be able to score in transition against them. Morgan becomes the guy who should have match-up advantages in the half-court offense. Sure would be nice if he could come out and hit his first couple jumpshots; he looked completely out of synch shooting the ball today. I think the game will simply come down to making shots–the ones MSU didn’t make in the loss in Madison.
Alright, hopefully some of that made sense. Off to bed for me. This was definitely the best day of Big Ten Tournament play I can remember. Perhaps tomorrow’s basketball can just come somewhere close to matching today’s. Of course, a really ugly MSU win would be OK too.