Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First Four Features Record Breaking Comebacks

HARTSOCK (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Most NCAA basketball fans haven’t even gotten into the habit of watching the opening round, the First Four, just yet.  Count T.A.H. among those somewhat disinterested in the new “play in” games if they don’t include an ACC school.

That said, last night Brigham Young and Western Kentucky put the basketball watching community on high alert staging two of the biggest comebacks in an NCAA tournament game.  

The Cougars come-from-25-points-behind victory eclipsed the record of 22 points in 2001 when Duke fought back to beat Maryland 95-84 in the national semifinals.  Western Kentucky’s rally was the largest comeback with less than 5 minutes left of an NCAA tournament game. That previous record was 15, by Illinois in its 90-89 OT win over Arizona in the 2005 Elite Eight.

Noah Hartsock scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half and Brandon Davies added 18 points and Damarcus Harrison 12 for the 14th-seeded Cougars (26-8), who advanced to play third-seeded Marquette on Thursday in Louisville, Ky.

Iona was heartsick obviously and back in the news after being part of the “last in, first out” debate since Sunday. 

"It's going to be one that we have to live with the rest of our lives," Gaels coach Tim Cluess said. "It's a tough one we let get away. No excuses."

PRICE (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
It was the second incredible turnaround of the night in Dayton. With President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron watching, Western Kentucky came back from a 16-point deficit in the final 5 minutes to beat Mississippi Valley State 59-58.

T.J. Price's three-point play with 33 seconds to go completed the Hilltoppers' rally.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron had front-row seats to see the tournament open with a ragged game that had an engrossing ending.

"It's a crazy feeling," said Derrick Gordon, who had 11 points. "That's the president of the United States coming to watch our game. We wanted to put on a show. Things didn't work our way for the first 35 minutes, but we came away with the W. I'm sure he liked what he saw."

The Hilltoppers (16-18) are the only squad in the 68-team field with a losing record. They played like it for most of the game, shooting only 30 percent and turning the ball over 28 times.

Kevin Burwell scored 20 points for MVSU (21-13).

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