Sweet Sixteen field is set, and the Rockets grab the West’s 2-seed

By: 03.23.09  •  55 Comments
Pitt's Levance Fields

Pitt's Levance Fields

While No. 1 seeds UConn and North Carolina had little trouble getting through the first two rounds of the tourney and into the Sweet Sixteen, Louisville and Pitt haven’t looked nearly as strong. Yesterday, Pitt was tied with Oklahoma State around the 2:30 mark of the second half, struggling again to put away a lesser-talented team before Levance Fields took over. Getting the edge in his head-to-head with Byron Eaton (15 pts, 10 asts, 5 stls) in the 2009 Khalid El-Amin Chubby Point Guard Showdown, Fields (13 pts, 9 asts) owned the last couple minutes, getting the go-ahead bucket on a driving layup and sticking a three to extend the lead. DaJuan Blair then iced it with a putback of a Fields miss … Louisville actually fell behind late in the second half to Siena, but Terrence Williams (24 pts, 15 rebs) carried them down the stretch, making a couple touchdown-pass assists over Siena’s press, coming up with key rebounds and knocking down some timely threes. Wins are wins and that’s really all that matters at this point, but anyone who picked UL or Pitt to go all the way can’t be too comfortable right now … Michigan State/USC also went down to the wire, when MSU’s Travis Walton (a.k.a. “Big Shot Travis” according to Gus Johnson) turned into Sunday’s version of Roburt Sallie. Walton averages like five points a game, but all of a sudden had his offensive breakout at the most opportune time, hitting huge jumpers in crunch time and finishing with a career-high 18 points in the Spartans’ win … After the “Dominic James is gonna PLAY!” story threatened to break into “Daniel LaRussa is gonna FIGHT!” territory in terms of overhype, James ended up not having much impact at all on Marquette’s loss to Missouri (17 mins, 0 pts). Even though he was on the bench at the end of the game, James still got plenty of camera time being the picture of nervousness, chewing his towel like Jerry Tarkanian … Tied up with five seconds left, Missouri’s Kim English hit the game-winning free throws. On Marquette’s ensuring inbounds, Lazar Hayward stepped inbounds while he still had the ball, turning it over. “Had he been a size-11 instead of a size-13, it would have been OK,” one of the announcers said … In Sunday’s other Big Dance games, Cole Aldrich posted 13 points, 20 boards and 10 blocks in Kansas’ win over Dayton, Xavier beat Wisconsin, Arizona beat Cleveland State, and Syracuse knocked off Arizona State … After getting shut down back-to-back by Temple and Syracuse (10 pts, 2-10 FG), should James Harden be thinking twice about going pro? Everyone has bad games, but he picked the worst time to play his two worst games of the season …
Ron Artest

Beating the Spurs on the road, the Rockets took over 2nd place in the West by a half-game. After Tony Parker‘s layup put the Spurs up one with 20 seconds left, a rare defensive breakdown cost San Antonio in the end. Kurt Thomas and TP (22 pts, 12 asts) trapped Kyle Lowry by the sideline, but when Lowry got the ball to Yao Ming at the top of the key, it left Tim Duncan in a tough spot — he could either run out at Yao and contest the jumper (Thomas would have got there too late), or stay with Luis Scola under the basket. Duncan went with Yao, and Yao fired a pass underneath to Scola (19 pts, 17 rebs, 3 stls) for the game-winning layup … D-Wade dropped 39 points on the Pistons and helped win the game with his defense: Wade got a steal and game-tying breakaway dunk late in the fourth, blocked an Arron Afflalo three with 21 seconds left (and helped Afflalo up afterwards), then after Udonis Haslem hit the go-ahead jumper with six seconds left, Wade blocked Rodney Stuckey‘s layup to essentially end it … Other big stat lines from Sunday: Chris Paul had 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a win over Golden State; Andre Iguodala put up 27 points in a win at Sacramento; and Kevin Durant scored 30 in a win at Minnesota … LeBron had his standard monster dunk in the Cavs’ win at New Jersey — when he was driving left and threw down on Brook Lopez with his right hand — but LBJ (30 pts, 11 rebs, 8 asts) ended up on the wrong side of a highlight, too. And it wasn’t via Vince Carter. One time in the first half, Keyon Dooling got to the rim, and when LBJ came over to challenge, double-clutched and crammed on him with two hands … We’re out like Siena …

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