The last leg

Quite an eventful weekend, and it isn’t often you get to see the two largest venues in college basketball at full voice within 14 hours of each other.

But between No. 3 Kentucky beating Tennessee at Rupp Arena and Louisville upsetting No. 2 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, not only did I get to see UK and U of L add to their NCAA Tournament credentials, but I got to compare a couple of projected No. 1 seeds in the tournament.

Some thoughts:

— Rupp Arena was crazy, but I think it may have lost some steam through the morning ESPN GameDay telecast. And give Tennessee and coach Bruce Pearl credit. Pearl had the Wildcats off balance for three-quarters of the game with his 3-2 zone, but when things started getting out of hand for the Vols, he was strangely reluctant to use time outs.

— DeMarcus Cousins had probably his worst game of the SEC season, but still pulled down double-digit rebounds. Of more concern was his visible frustration at times, and he flat gave up on several plays and never crossed midcourt. John Calipari described it as “freshmen playing like freshmen.”

— Louisville needs to parlay this victory in the late-season run people have been waiting for. Not a single player I talked to tonight could explain what happened at St. John’s. But they correctly point out that, if they’re able to beat Syracuse while playing far less than their best game, they should be able to play with anybody they have left.

— Give Rick Pitino some coaching credit today. He knew he was going to give up a lot of inside points, but he was determined not to let Syracuse’s Andy Rautins shoot the Cardinals out of the game, and Rautins’ inability to get going seemed to put the Orangemen (what is their nickname now again?) on their heels.

— Didn’t get into him too much in my column, but Jared Swopshire deserves special mention for his play today. He was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder in the first half. While Terrence Jennigns also came in and gave the Cards a lift when Samuels got off to a bad start.

One more flight segment to go. I’ll blog more on the day later . . .


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