La Salle

La Salle sophomore Steve Zack cleared to play in Sweet 16 vs. Wichita St.

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La Salle center Steve Zack has been cleared to play for the Explorers in their Sweet 16 matchup with Wichita State on Thursday, almost four weeks after spraining his left foot in a win over Duquesne on March 2.

“If he can make a play here and there, can make a difference, it could help us,” La Salle coach John Giannini said, as reported by Philly.com.

According to the report, how much Zack plays is contingent on how he feels Thursday prior to the team’s tip off at approximately 10:20 p.m. ET.

Zack’s presence in the middle would be important for a La Salle team that is undersized on the whole and relies heavily on four key guards to play major minutes. Having Zack in the lineup alongside forward Jerrell Wright gives the Explorers a chance to match up better with the size that Wichita State will feature on the interior.

Zack stands at 6-10, which will be important in containing Carl Hall and Cleanthony Early, two of the driving forces behind the Shockers’ offensive and defensive attack. Hall and Early combined for 26 points and five blocks in Wichita State’s Round of 32 win over No. 1-seeded Gonzaga.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Late Afternoon Snacks: Philly Friday is 2-0 for city teams so far

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Game of the Day

No. 13 La Salle 63, No. 4 Kansas State 61: I’m a firm believer that there can only be one game of the day, and I chose this one because the Explorers were the biggest underdogs of the day, having started out in the First Four, and because they beat Kansas State in front of what was, essentially, a home crowd in Kansas City. The Explorers have found their way to the day’s other upset darlings, Ole Miss. They’ll meet Marshall Henderson and company in the round of 32.

Meaningful Results

No. 7 Creighton 67, No. 10 Cincinnati: This was a close game, but the higher-seeded team won in the end. The Bearcats had four players in double figures, but Creighton had Ethan Wragge bombing away from outside, where he hit 4-5 treys and left room inside for big Doug McDermott to operate. I highly suggest you click the link, because Rob Dauster thinks the Bluejays can take down Duke in the next round.

No. 9 Temple 76, No. 8 NC State 72: Rarely have we seen a team exhibit such defensive indifference (thanks for the phrase, Raph) in such an important game. The Wolfpack played the toreador defense and couldn’t win a close game because they lacked a matador when things got tough. Temple will need more than that against likely next-round foe Indiana, but a win is a win.

No. 12 Ole Miss 57, No. 5 Wisconsin 47: Marshall Henderson declared his intentions to go out and gain the attention of professional basketball scouts today, and he did. First, he did it in negative fashion, as he bombed his way to a 1-13 first half. The willing tourney villain recovered somewhat in the second half and ended up with 19 points as the Rebel Black Bears advanced to play the K-State/La Salle winner.

No. 2 Miami 78, No. 15 Pacific 49: The Hurricanes had on painfully-bright yellow and orange shoes in this one, but they blinded the Pacific Tigers with stellar play, not footwear. Durand Scott and Shane Larkin proved that they are one of the best backcourts in the tournament, and a true danger to make a long run.

No. 2 Duke 73, No. 15 Albany 61: The Dukies may not have dominated Albany, but they still showed they have all the pieces necessary to win a title. Duke advances to face Creighton.

Starred

Khalif Wyatt, Temple: Wyatt took his “Old Man Guard” game and advanced to the next round over the sleek, high-flying Wolfpack. Wyatt was good for 31 points and 5 boards in the win.

Seth Curry, Duke: Against the smaller Great Danes, Curry was able to use all of his arsenal, including some drives to the hoop. He even banked in a long three, which amused the pun-happy amongst us, since it happened in Wells Fargo Center. Curry ended up with 26 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and was remarkably efficient along the way. He hit 50 percent of his three-pointers and all of his free throws to help the Bluejays hold off Cincy.

Struggled

Roman Banks, Southern: The head coach of the Southern Jaguars was so proud of the effort his kids put in, that he couldn’t contain his emotions in the post-game press conference. We feel you, big guy.

NC State’s defense: The stats show that the Wolfpack didn’t put in much effort – the Owls had a high shooting percentage, and only lost five turnovers all game long – but you really had to watch the game to see just how thoroughly dis-interested NCSU seemed in the whole process of stopping opposing scorers.

Hofstra and Furman: Both programs said goodbye to head coaches, as Jeff Jackson resigned under pressure and Mo Cassara was outright fired after a terrible season on and off the court.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

La Salle outlasts furious Kansas State rally to score upset

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La Salle snuck into the NCAA tournament as a No. 13 seed in the First Four in Dayton on Selection Sunday. Less than a week later, it now has two NCAA tournament victories, including a big upset over a BCS-conference opponent, and is headed to the Round of 32.

Jerrell Wright had 21 points and eight rebounds as the No. 13-seeded La Salle Explorers upset No. 4 Kansas State, 63-61, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

La Salle grew its lead to as many as 19 points in the first half by doing a lot of the same things it did in its First Four win over Boise State. Guards Ramon Galloway and Sam Mills were able to find open shots on the perimeter off of dribble penetration and ball movement. Galloway finished with 19 points and four assists and Mills added 10 points. They were complemented on the interior by Wright, who was bullying what appeared to be a less active Kansas State front line.

The Explorers carried an 18-point lead into halftime, but the game changed in the second half.

Kansas State center Jordan Henriquez, who had been less of a factor in the first half, shined in the second. His presence around the rim deterred the four-guard La Salle set and kept the Explorers from getting good dribble penetration. The Kansas State defense also rotated much more effectively in the second and kept a defender’s hand in the face of most La Salle three-point shooters. Henriquez finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks.

The Explorers made just three field goals in the entire second half and were outscored, 35-19, in the final 20 minutes. They went without a field goal for the final 7:55 of game time. Wright made 7-of-8 free throws in the last 6:04, which accounted for La Salle’s only scoring down the stretch. His presence on the interior in the second half is the reason La Salle was able to keep its head above water when Kansas State neutralized the Explorer guards.

Also, consider this from CSNPhilly.com:

In the span of three days, La Salle has won as many NCAA tournament games as it won in the previous 57 years combined.

La Salle now moves on to play Ole Miss in the Round of 32 after the Rebels beat No. 5-seeded Wisconsin earlier in the day Friday. That sets the stage for a matchup between polarizing Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson and this strong collection of backcourt players for La Salle.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_