Game 9—(3) Kansas v. (30) Utah
The Jayhawks feature the deepest front line of the tournament.
The Utes were game as starting forward Tom Chambers shot like he was at a crooked election (early and often), but Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, and company proved to be too much on both ends of the floor.
Guard Andre Miller nearly had a triple-double for the Utes but Kansas’ Paul Pierce easily outplayed counterpart Mike Newlin, who was exiled to the bench after futilely chasing the All-American.
Final Score: Kansas 86, Utah 71
Game 10—(14) Louisville v. (19) Illinois
The red sport coat vs. the Lou-do, there was no shortage of flying athleticism on either side.
On paper, it looked like one of the most competitive match-ups in the tourneys. It was that way on the court as well.
Louisville’s Darrell Griffith got the better of counterpart Kendall Gill early on, but the Illini’s Nick Anderson used his savvy to overcome the defensive intensity of Terence Williams.
At the pivot, Cardinal Wes Unseld got in rare foul trouble, which made things a little easier for Ken Norman on the rebounding end.
It wasn’t until Louisville Coach Denny Crum put in All-America Charlie Tyra that the Cards controlled the early glass again and squeaked out to a two-point advantage at the half thanks to a last-second tip in by Pervis Ellison.
In the second half, Lou Henson’s bunch started their outside assault.
Deron Williams fed Gill, Anderson, and pine-rider Donnie Freeman until they were full while the Cards tried to match with numerous dunks.
In the end, Freeman would get a standing ovation as he contributed an unexpected 11 points off the bench, but it took a rare Butch Beard turnover to seal the deal for the Illini.
Final Score: Illinois 69, Louisville 65
Game 11—(6) Maryland v. (27) Memphis
Maryland Coach Gary Williams seemed a bit peeved that his Terrapins were only seeded sixth on the big stage. Rather than let it be a distraction his team decided to take it out on an unsuspecting Tiger squad.
Even though Memphis point guard Penny Hardaway enjoyed a significant height advantage over counterpart John Lucas, defensive stalwarts Buck Williams and Len Elmore locked down the recipients of Hardaway’s passes, Keith Lee and Lorenzen Wright.
Memphis tried to get some outside shooting to make up for the lost inside punch, but Elliott Perry and Chris Douglas-Roberts couldn’t provide enough firepower.
Meanwhile, Len Bias and sixth man Steve Francis had 20 points each. In the end, the Terps showed their mettle to the Kansas City crowd.
Final Score: Maryland 88, Memphis 65
Game 12—(11) Georgetown v. (22) Cincinnati
Fans of sweet-looking jumpers and fluid offenses went to look for some quality barbecue or switched the channel during this contest. This was a football game played in a mud bog.
Bearcats' guard Oscar Robertson was clearly frustrated as his passes to Kenyon Martin, Paul Hogue, and Jack Twyman were constantly rejected or defended by Pat Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutombo.
Nobody on either team reached the elusive 15-point mark until Georgetown’s Sleepy Floyd sank a jumper with 2:47 left that put the Hoyas up by six.
After that, Hoya Jeff Green sank four free throws. That made up all the scoring for both teams the rest of the game.
Final Score: Georgetown 57, Cincinnati 47
Game 13—(2) UCLA v (31) Texas
Texas barely got in the all-time tournament, much to the consternation of Boston College and Wake Forest. After this game, the Eagles' and Deacons' faithful probably got louder in their protests from the NIT.
All 12 Bruins scored, not to mention some of those who tried out for the team and didn’t make it.
At times, the Longhorns' front line seemed overwhelmed and confused until John Wooden decided to go with a makeshift group of Reggie Miller, Marques Johnson, and Don Maclean. Some makeshift group. By then, the outcome had been long decided.
Final Score: UCLA 101, Texas 67
Game 14—(15) UNLV v. (18) Alabama
The Runnin’ Rebels were in San Diego to strike a blow for the mid-majors against their super-conference brethren.
While Jerry Tarkanian’s bunch didn’t have a lot of height, most of their stars could play multiple positions. Fortunately for them, the Crimson Tide’s tallest player was backup center Leon Douglas, who only played two minutes.
Rebel Stacey Augmon made life miserable for Derrick McKey and Robert Horry while Reggie Theus filled up the basket for UNLV.
The game was nearly marred by an altercation between UNLV’s J.R. Rider and Alabama’s Latrell Sprewell. Both received technicals and were benched briefly.
As a result, the Tide's coach brought in T.R. Dunn and switched Mo Williams to shooting guard.
In response, Tarkanian switched out Shawn Marion for Armon Gilliam and pushed the tempo. His point guard, Greg Anthony, was only happy to oblige.
Final Score: UNLV 88, Alabama 77
Game 15—(7) Houston v. (26) Villanova
Some of the Big East contingent sneered at the Cougars, wondering aloud if the only thing they could do was dunk.
The Cougars’ response? Does it really matter?
Houston Coach Guy Lewis looked positively relaxed as Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Elvin Hayes made more flushes than a newbie at an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet.
The Wildcats tried to use some outside shooting by bench guard Chris Ford to get back in it but to no avail.
Final Score: Houston 85, Villanova 68
Game 16—(10) Michigan State v. (23) San Francisco
This was the most intriguing match-up of the 16 first-round games. Could the Dons’ “Twin Towers” lineup of Russell and Cartwright, coupled with point guard K.C. Jones, essentially beat the Spartans by themselves?
They certainly gave their best effort.
Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo made a bold move by starting Kevin Willis ahead of Morris Peterson in an effort to create his own “Twin Towers” lineup of Willis and Greg Kelser.
It didn’t matter as Russell had 20 points, 22 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots.
However, Spartan guard Magic Johnson more than held his own against Jones with 12 points, 10 assists, and numerous smiles.
The real difference was the rest of the starters. Steve Smith, Jay Vincent, and Peterson (who became a very effective sixth man) had a field day with Quintin Dailey, Kevin Restani, and Phil Smith, proving that there’s strength in numbers.
Final Score: Michigan State 79, San Francisco 64
Tomorrow: Second Round Action Begins