NCAA Tournament Day 7 Live Blog: UConn, Arizona, Florida, Butler Advance to Elite Eight


March 24, 2011

NCAA Tournament Day 7 Live Blog: UConn, Arizona, Florida, Butler Advance to Elite Eight

12:28 a.m.: Butler finished off its 61-54 upset of Wisconsin, which has lost to a lower-seeded team in four of the last five NCAA tournaments. The night started with two intense, exciting games, and it ended with a pair of shocking upsets that lacked drama.

The end result: Butler will play Florida, and UConn will take on Arizona, and the winner of each game Saturday will earn a trip to the Final Four.

12:20 a.m.: Wisconsin went on a 9-0 run, and Gus Johnson woke the neighborhood, but Shelvin Mack's jumper gave Butler a 55-49 lead with 39 seconds to go. It was going to take a miracle for Wisconsin to erase this 20-point deficit — especially after a 12-minute stretch without a single bucket — but the difficulty of that miracle has reached new miraculous levels now.

12:16 a.m.: It's not completely over, but Wisconsin has scored 44 points in the game's first 38 minutes (1.16 points per minute). Wisconsin will need to average five to 10 points per minute to have any prayer over the final few ticks.

12:08 a.m.: Jordan Taylor couldn't grasp a loose ball after a Butler miss, and the Bulldogs got a chance to extend their possession with about four minutes to go. It's been that kind of night for Taylor, whose misses and poor shot selection have completely thrown off the rest of his game. And as a result, the Badgers are having a nightmarish offensive performance.

11:58 p.m.: Arizona shocked Duke with a massive second-half output and won 93-77. Derrick Williams finished with 32 points and 13 rebounds, but his 25 first-half points simply kept Arizona afloat before the Wildcats had an unconscious second half. Arizona will play UConn on Saturday.

So what now for Duke? Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler will graduate, and Kyrie Irving could turn pro, which would cripple the Blue Devils next season. I don't know what Duke's incoming freshmen look like, but that's a program that wins with experience, not superb freshmen.

11:52 p.m.: Interesting, most of the Arizona section has cleared out, while the Duke fans have remained largely intact. Weird, right? Well, Arizona kids know how to party. End of story.

11:47 p.m.: Who are these guys on Arizona? Did Mike Bibby and Miles Simon return to the program? This is unbelievable.

11:40 p.m.: The drought has ended, but that doesn't mean the Badgers are still heavily dehydrated. They went nearly 12 minutes without a field goal and about nine and a half minutes without a single point. That was embarrassing. The Badgers trail 42-27.

11:36 p.m.: Duke has lost its swagger, and Wisconsin has invented a new word for cold. The Badgers have missed 14 consecutive field-goal attempts, and they haven't hit a shot in more than 10 minutes. They haven't scored a single point in eight minutes, and Butler has opened up a 40-24 lead.

11:26 p.m.: Arizona has unleashed a relentless attack on Duke in the second half to the point where Duke looks like a high school team. The Wildcats are on a 19-2 run, and they've outscored Duke 28-11 in the first nine minutes of the half. Arizona has a 66-55 lead, and there is no end to the run in sight, aside from the fact that Duke is Duke.

11:20 p.m.: MoMo Jones has paced Arizona's 13-0 run to give the Wildcats a shocking 60-53 lead. Duke was easily in control in the first half, but Arizona has gone absolutely crazy in the second half. Jones has six of Arizona's last nine points.

11:15 p.m.: Duke hasn't been able to stop Arizona's run, and the Wildcats have tied the game at 53 with 15:20 to go. Duke collapsed late in the second half in last weekend's win against Michigan, but this run has come a whole lot sooner. It should be even more concerning for Duke that Arizona is making the run by getting contributions from guys not named Derrick Williams, who has two points in the second half.

11:10 p.m.: Arizona is on a 12-4 run to get within a point, and it's playing like the tougher, more desperate team at the start of the second half. It actually looks a lot like the first half of the early game in Anaheim when San Diego State came flying out of the locker room and used the crowd to its advantage. Duke's energy hasn't been helped by a cut to Kyle Singler's elbow. Singler had to hit the bench for a moment to tend to the blood.

11:03 p.m.: We've seen the great players play phenomenally Thursday night, and now we're seeing a great player perform like a dog. Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor can't get the Badgers' offense in gear, and he has missed 5 of 7 shots and 4 of 6 free throws. He unleashed a loud scream after missing a bunny in the final minute of the half, and Wisconsin will have absolutely no chance to erase a 33-24 halftime deficit unless Taylor snaps out of it.

10:53 p.m.: There was a great moment on the TBS broadcast, as Gus Johnson called out Reggie Miller for being a notorious flopper during his NBA career. Miller had no idea how to react, and it was even better because it happened during live action, not a stoppage in play. Awesome stuff, especially if you grew up despising Miller's game.

10:48 p.m.: Wisconsin needs a nap. With all of its shots that have hit the front of the rim — including two straight free throws from Jordan Taylor — the Badgers have to be tired, right? It's been a steady array of near-air balls.

10:42 p.m.: I don't know how Derrick Williams keeps doing it. He dropped a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to draw Arizona to within 44-38, and he's got 25 points at the break. Kemba who? Williams was off balance and shot a high-arching one-hander over Ryan Kelly at the buzzer. Duke has definitely been the better team, but Williams' five 3s have kept Arizona within striking distance all game.

10:35 p.m.: Derrick Williams has shown that he can do more than just dunk. He made back-to-back 3-pointers — jumping maybe a total of six inches off the ground in the process — to get Arizona within four. Williams has 22 points, and he has made 4 of 5 3-pointers. Meanwhile, four of Duke's starters have two fouls, which is significant because Duke isn't a very deep team. The last two minutes of the first half and the first six to eight minutes of the second half will really dictate how Duke has to use its bench.

10:25 p.m.: One thing really stuck out to me this season about Kyrie Irving. When he was injured, he was often the most vocal person on the bench, and he was extremely supportive of his teammates during games, constantly offering advice to players who were next to him on the bench. Irving won't spend much time on the bench against Arizona. He's got 12 points, and Duke leads 31-20 with six minutes to go in the first half.

10:17 p.m.: Wisconsin and Butler are under way in New Orleans, and the winner will meet up with Florida. Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor has been one of the tournament's biggest stars so far, so watch out for him.

10:11 p.m.: Kyrie Irving has come off the bench and given Duke seven of its first 19 points. He already looks much more fluid than he did last weekend, and if he improves game by game, Duke is going to be a heck of a tough out.

10:05 p.m.: Derrick Williams just threw down the loudest dunk of the tournament, tomahawking a missed lay-up through the cylinder and sending shockwaves back to Arizona's campus. That was big time, and it got Arizona to within 14-13.

9:57 p.m.: Duke and Arizona have tipped off in Anaheim, and the winner will draw UConn on Saturday. With the game in southern California — as well as a fairly strong national disdain for Duke — this should be a very pro-Arizona crowd. That didn't end up working out so hot for San Diego State, though.

9:53 p.m.: San Diego State and BYU are about to experience the tough part about losing in the NCAA tournament. The programs will have to completely reload before getting back on this stage, especially after each team jumped into the top 10 this season. Three of San Diego State's 10-point scorers will graduate, and the other could go to the NBA. Jimmer Fredette will join them after completing his four-year run at BYU.

9:41 p.m.: Florida outscored BYU 15-6 in overtime, and Jimmer Fredette's collegiate career has come to a conclusion. He didn't have the legs, and no one helped him out in the extra session. He's the reason BYU was in this game, but he'll want to forget the final period of his career, missing both of his shots, committing two turnovers and one foul.

9:35 p.m.: Florida is killing BYU in overtime and has opened a 79-72 lead. The Gators have scored on all but one possession in overtime, and Jimmer has a missed 3-pointer and two turnovers in the extra session. When things aren't going right for BYU, the Cougars are a horrific team to watch.

9:26 p.m.: So much for those lack of stops. BYU got two in the final 30 seconds to force overtime. Jimmer Fredette has 32 points, but he missed three of his last four attempts in the final four minutes of the second half. But hey, there was a point when Kemba Walker looked tired, and that didn't exactly hurt UConn earlier.

9:24 p.m.: Florida has had a big edge in toughness all game, and it showed up in its most critical moment here. Kenny Boynton missed a 3 from the left corner with 25 seconds to go, but Erving Walker grabbed an offensive rebound. Florida has a chance to win.

9:22 p.m.: BYU and Florida are tied at 68 with 35.4 seconds to go, and Florida has the ball. The Gators can't hold for the last shot, though, so Jimmer should have his shot to answer whatever the Gators can get. Aside from some of Florida's fumbling issues, the Cougars haven't been able to force many critical stops when the Gators get through their sets.

9:20 p.m.: Kemba Walker's 36 points were too much for San Diego State, and UConn won 74-67. But don't sleep on Jeremy Lamb's 24 points and crucial last-minute steal to lock up the win for the Huskies. Lamb shouldn't lose any of the spotlight because he was filthy all night.

9:18 p.m.: Kemba Walker looks gassed, but he just hit two free throws with 14.8 seconds remaining to extend the lead to five points. Walker has 36 points, and UConn will move on.

9:14 p.m.: Killer blow for San Diego State, which played great defense and forced a Kemba Walker miss, but Alex Oriakhi grabbed and offensive rebound, hit a wide-open Jeremy Lamb at the arc, and UConn got a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to four points.

9:11 p.m.: UConn has surrendered all of its momentum by yielding an 8-0 run in the last three and a half minutes, but the Huskies have the ball and a 65-64 lead with 2:09 to play. UConn has to beat the Aztecs and this wild home-like crowd for San Diego State.

9:08 p.m.: Jimmer Fredette just bombed home a 3-pointer from Timbuktu to tie the game at 63-63. That was insane. Who's got a pull-up jumper from 35 feet? Only The Jimmer.

9:00 p.m.: Kemba Walker has 12 consecutive points for UConn, which has a 62-56 lead with five minutes remaining, and he's got his 11th 30-point game of the season.

8:54 p.m.: Jeremy Lamb has 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting for UConn, and his fluidity on offense has been big. UConn can't get a third guy going, though, as Lamb and Kemba Walker have 39 of the Huskies' 53 points. There's no way UConn wins this game without someone else making a couple big shots, or someone like Alex Oriakhi making some big defensive plays.

8:48 p.m.: BYU's shooting touch has kept it in this game, even if it looks like the Cougars are being heavily outplayed by Florida. BYU bookended a pair of 3s around one defensive stop and quickly turned a five-point deficit into a one-point lead with 13 minutes to go.

8:44 p.m.: Fall asleep for a second, and you'll make a dumb play. Alex Oriakhi barely looked before making a nonchalant inbound pass that got stolen under the bucket. That was an easy four straight points for the Aztecs, who have taken a 53-49 lead with 9:18 to go.

8:41 p.m.: The UConn-San Diego State game has been fast-paced and action packed, and there's a ton of emotion on the court and in the crowd. The BYU-Florida game, on the other hand, has been quite the opposite.

8:35 p.m.: The Aztecs have taken their first lead of the half, 43-42, with an 11-2 run, and their ball movement has been crisp during the spurt. It's no coincidence that UConn has fallen flat because its ball movement has stopped. There is way too much individual playing happening on that end of the court. The Huskies got hot when they trusted each other late in the first half, and that helped spread the floor for Kemba Walker.

8:29 p.m.: The Aztecs have started the second half with a ton of energy, and they've cut the lead to three points. If they knocked down more of their wide-open 3-point looks, they'd have a lead at this point. UConn really has to squash this run, which is going to be even more difficult in the San Diego State-heavy crowd.

8:23 p.m.: Phew, 11 minutes of no basketball is over. That's the worst part about this tournament. The continuous stream of basketball stops for brief periods at a time. UConn and San Diego State are back at it in Anaheim, which might be home to the Sacramento Kings down the road.

8:12 p.m.: The Jimmers have tied up Florida, 36-36, at the half, and Fredette has led BYU with 10 points. He can be a big-time ballhog for possessions at a time, but when he's able to make those circus shots, it's hard to blame him. Meanwhile, Florida is killing itself with 10 turnovers, but that might be the Gus Johnson effect. No leads are safe when Johnson is calling a game. It's like playing NBA Jam.

8:01 p.m.: UConn was sizzling down the stretch, and Kemba Walker's halfcourt buzzer beater rimmed out — Gordon Hayward style — but the Huskies have a 36-27 lead at the break. They were simply on fire in the final few minutes of the half. Meanwhile, BYU has erased a 10-point deficit against Florida, and that matchup is tied at 30.

7:57 p.m.: All Kemba, all the time. The UConn guard scored eight straight for the Huskies, and his last bucket was the nicest. He intercepted a cross-court pass and led a two-on-one break down the court before faking a behind-the-back pass and laying it in. Walker went from struggling to having 14 points in a span of about three minutes.

7:51 p.m.: UConn is on a 10-0 run, and the impressive part is that four guys scored during the stretch, which has been capped by a deep Kemba Walker 3-pointer. The Huskies have a 27-22 lead with 4:23 remaining in the first half.

7:46 p.m.: Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette are a combined 2-for-10 so far, and their teams are trailing by a combined 12 points. UConn and BYU are indeed star-driven teams.

7:40 p.m.: Jimmer Fredette has missed all three of his shot attempts, and BYU has fallen behind 20-10. So that's what BYU looks like without The Jimmer.

7:29 p.m.: Kemba Walker and UConn trail 10-9 seven minutes into their game, and BYU and Florida just tipped off, too.

7:26 p.m.: On the last note, it's pretty wild that 2.5 assists is enough to rank second on a team that is a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

7:22 p.m.: Big developments already in Anaheim. Kawhi Leonard, a 6-foot-7 forward who leads the Aztecs in scoring (15.6 points per game), rebounding (10.6) and steals (1.5) and is second in assists (2.5), was hit with a foul and a technical foul just 3:48 into the game, so he had to hit the bench with two personal fouls right off the bat.

7:16 p.m.: UConn and San Diego State have started their tilt, and the Honda Center is still fairly empty in the lower bowl. Then again, it's only 4:16 p.m. in Anaheim, so it could be a late-arriving crowd. You could audibly hear a "Let's go Aztecs!" chant at the beginning of the game, though.

7:14 p.m.: This is going to be a tough one for the Kembas, who had to travel to California to take on San Diego State. The NCAA's bland parquet is about 90 miles from the Aztecs' campus.

6:45 p.m.: The Sweet 16 is a half hour away from getting started, and the tournament's two best names will be under way right away. San Diego State doesn't want to get Kemba'd, and Florida doesn't want to get beaten by The Jimmer.

8 a.m.: The NCAA tournament's opening weekend featured a host of phenomenal games that were highlighted by buzzer beaters, upsets and blown calls.

What will be in store now that the competition has heightened in the Sweet 16?

Here is a listing of Thursday's four games.

No. 2 San Diego State vs. No. 3 Connecticut, 7:15 p.m. (CBS)
No. 2 Florida vs. No. 3 BYU, 7:27 p.m. (TBS)
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 5 Arizona, 9:45 p.m. (CBS)
No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Butler, 9:57 p.m. (TBS)

The winner between San Diego State and UConn will play the winner of Duke-Arizona on Saturday in the West regional final, while the winners of the other two games will square off in the Southeast final.

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