Game of the Day: Robert Morris 59, Kentucky 57
This is finally the painful end of the 2012-13 season for Kentucky. Robert Morris perfectly executed an inbound play with nine seconds remaining an drew a foul, hit its free throws, and sealed the upset win over the No. 1-seeded Wildcats. Coach John Calipari never got this 2012-13 group to gel like his other one-and-done-centric teams at Kentucky, but the incoming 2013 recruiting class for UK could ease the pain pretty quickly.
North Carolina A&T came into the game ranked 317th in Division I in shooting percentage at 39.9 percent from the floor. And in the spirit of this season of unlikely outcomes, what happened? The Bulldogs shot 52 percent Tuesday night and eeked out a one-point win. But the reason for the close game was A&T’s inability to hit free throws, including two key one-and-ones down the stretch.
The West Coast Conference hasn’t gotten as much credit as it likely has deserved this season and Saint Mary’s showed what it can do Tuesday night. Matthew Dellavedova broke out of his NCAA tournament struggles with a huge 22 points. He was the orchestrator of the entire Gaels’ offense and SMC moves on to play Memphis.
In the battle to find out who is the true “SJU,” Sir’Dominic Pointer hit a fallaway jumper from the baseline to send the Red Storm on to the second round of the NIT. St. Joe’s underperformed all season after being chosen to win the Atlantic 10 in the preseason. The Hawks struggled with injuries at different points in the season, but have ended up being one of the more underachieving teams in the country.
1. Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s (22 points, 5-of-7 3pt FG, 6 rebounds, 4 assists)
Dellavedova showed Tuesday how versatile he is from the guard position, finding his shooting stroke again to go 5-of-7 from three-point range. He is one of the best in the country at controlling pace, which is what he will need to do in the next round against Memphis.
2. Bruce Beckford, North Carolina A&T (16 points, 9 rebounds)
Beckford led an uncharacteristically efficient and accurate NC A&T offense Tuesday with his near double-double. Jeremy Underwood added 19 points.
3. Tyler Haws, BYU (37 points, 6 rebounds)
Haws led BYU to a win over Washington in the NIT win this offensive outburst. This is three straight games for him with at least 20 points, following a 24-point performance against Loyola Marymount and 20 more against San Diego.
1. Alex Poythress, Kentucky (6 points, 3-of-7 FG)
His stat line isn’t necessarily indicative of major struggles Tuesday, but one major play hurt him in the loss to Robert Morris. On an important inbounds play with nine seconds left, Poythress was caught out of position and allowed the Pioneers to get to the basket, eventually leading to a Willie Cauley-Stein foul and game-winning free throws from RMU.
2. C.J. Aiken, St. Joe’s (2 points, 0-of-6 FG)
Aiken was out of sync on the offensive end and only had 20 percent of his typical per-game scoring output on Tuesday in a loss to St. John’s. To his credit, he affected the game in other ways with two blocks and eight rebounds, but the Hawks could have used him during the two-point loss.
3. Kenneth Smith, Louisiana Tech (4 points, 2-of-8 FG, 6 TOs)
Louisiana Tech was still able to get a win Tuesday over Florida State, but Smith could not find his groove. The typically efficient Smith had six turnovers.