Foul Play In Pitt-Butler Game; 8 Players Go Off For 30-Plus

For anyone that was free to sit in front of the television all day, they were in for a treat. Between eight NCAA Tournament games and six NBA contests, there were enough highlights to make sure SportsCenter didn’t feel compelled to show us any B-roll from the NFL lockout negotiations. And if you’re a fan of amazing individual performances, you had eight guys drop 30-plus: Jacob Pullen (38), Jimmer Fredette (34), LeBron James (33), Dwyane Wade (32), David West (32), Shelvin Mack (30), Brandon Knight (30) and Blake Griffin (30). So let’s get started … The game that everyone will be talking about Sunday morning is Pitt-Butler. After being down early, Butler junior Shelvin Mack tied the game 60-60 with five minutes left. But after a shot clock violation by Pitt with nine seconds to play, Butler was able to convert on an excellent play drawn up by Coach Brad Stevens to give them a one-point lead. Now with two seconds left and up one, you’d think the game was over, right? Think again. Charging up the court, Mack fouled Pitt senior Gilbert Brown (24 points) near midcourt with 1.4 seconds left, sending him to the line for two. Brown made the first to tie it, but missed the second, where Butler senior Matt Howard (16 points) grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 0.8 seconds left – 90-feet from the basket. Howard then made his first free throw on the other end and intentionally missed the second. Game over. After the game, Mack called his foul the “worst foul in Butler history,” and thanked the “dude from Pittsburgh” (Nasir Robinson) for bailing him out. While all the talking heads and everyone in the Twitterverse seemed stunned from what had just transpired, everyone agreed that both fouls called were in fact fouls … Funny note from Tucson via Twitter from Sports Illustrated‘s Luke Winn: When the Butler game was 62-60, the DVR on the TV in Arizona’s locker room (being used by SDSU) tried to switch to record Jersey Shore … The second best game of the day came right before this one when Temple and San Diego State went to double overtime. In the first extra period, Temple junior Juan Fernandez (14 points) knocked down five quick ones to give the Owls their first lead since the 9:20-mark in the first half. But the Aztecs responded by getting to the line – a place they’d only been twice in all of regulation. After an impressive defensive stand, they had another chance to win it at the end, this time giving the ball to senior Malcolm Thomas (13 points, 9 rebounds), but his turnaround fell short. As one of the commentators stated, “With 27 seconds left in OT, out of a timeout, you take a 12-foot jump hook?” It wasn’t pretty. In the second overtime though, Thomas was able to redeem himself with some huge blocked shots before San Diego State pulled away for the win. As Bill Simmons tweeted after the game, “This will be the first double-OT Match Madness game that ESPN Classic passes on re-airing” … After hitting the winning basket on Thursday for his only points of the game, it was the inspired play of Kentucky freshman Brandon Knight which helped the Wildcats defeat West Virginia and move into the Sweet 16. Knight became just the sixth freshman in the past five years to have a 30-point performance in the Big Dance, and only the second to do so in a winning effort … Classic Charles Barkley moment after the game: Chuck was showing of his bracket in the studio when he said he picked “all his friends” in the first round, and the only other X’s on his bracket were from Louisville. Of course he didn’t care that Rick Pitino was in the room … And what is it about New York City guards with the last name Walker? Before UConn junior Kemba Walker put his team on his back en route to a 69-58 win over Cincinnati, Florida junior Erving Walker (21 points) willed his squad to a 73-65 victory over UCLA, scoring 10 of the Gators’ final 12 points. And for those of you that didn’t think Florida deserved a two-seed, they beat a UCLA squad with three future NBA players in Tyler Honeycutt, Malcolm Lee and Joshua Smith … Interesting fact: The Gators are the only NCAA team not to have a player foul out all season … The Jimmer Show was as good as expected, but the best part of this game came when Gonzaga redshirt junior Robert Sacre blocked Fredette’s shot and the mic picked him up saying, “Get that shit outta here!” The ref then brought the two together to patch things up. We don’t expect to see Sacre wearing one these shirts any time soon … While the 38 points from Kansas State senior Jacob Pullen was the third-most by a player in an tourney loss in the past 15 seasons, we’re pretty sure he’d rather have had a game like Wisconsin junior Jordan Taylor. Despite shooting 2-of-16 from the floor for just 12 points, Taylor came up huge in the clutch. With the game on the line, he knocked down a three, made all of his free throws, and then after fouling Pullen behind the arc, he blocked his three-point attempt as time expired that would have tied the game … When Ernie Johnson was soliciting commentary after the game in the studio, Barkley uttered, “I’ll go first so I can get the hell out of here” … In college coaching news, Mark Price would like to become Georgia Tech’s next basketball coach, and apparently Larry Brown would like to return as a college coach as well. No, we’re not kidding

And of course there were some NBA games too. Earlier in the day we were flipping back and forth to the Cavs-Clippers game at Staples Center, and rookie Samardo Samuels was doing work. Basically competing for a spot next year, he had 15 of his 17 points in the first quarter, and was also tasked with guarding Blake. While Griffin failed to record a double-double for the sixth straight game, he did finish with 30 points, eight boards and eight assists in the victory … From ESPN’s Ric Bucher via Twitter during the game: “Haven’t seen Blake live in a while. Notable change: giving death stare to one ref or another after any contact. Whiff of star entitlement” … Oh yeah, and there was a knife-wielding man at Staples before the game. But don’t worry, he was subdued by a beanbag gun. Side note: Where can we purchase a beanbag gun? … Other stat lines from Saturday: J.R. Smith and Danilo Gallinari had 27 and 23 respectively off the bench in Denver’s loss to Miami; Tony Allen had 19 points and 11 boards in Memphis’ win over Indiana; Tim Duncan sat, but Steve Novak had 19 points and five threes off the bench in San Antonio’s win over Charlotte; David West had 32 points in a loss to the Celtics; and Wesley Matthews had 28 points, while Gerald Wallace had 25 points, six rebounds, eight assists and four steals in a win over Philly … Is it crazy to think that the most important deal from this year’s trade deadline – at least for this season – could be Portland’s acquisition of Wallace? We know Knicks fans were excited to get ‘Melo, but they’re just 5-5 in their last 10 games … In other news from around the NBA, the Kings waived Luther Head, the Hornets won’t extend Jerel McNeal‘s 10-day contract, the Nets will sign Sundiata Gaines for the rest of the season and the Bulls are re-signing John Lucas III, while also possibly bringing back Jannero Pargo. Apparently still no one wants to sign Antoine Walker … We leave you with this from a member of the Dime crew: Girl walks out of my building, dressed to go out for the night with a parrot on her shoulder! Live in NYC long enough and you’ll see it all … We’re out like fouling under a second …