Smack / Mar 28, 2010 / 7:52 am

West Virginia, Butler punch their Final Four ticket; Kobe leads the Lakers’ recovery

West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler

For two teams that were ranked in a lot of people’s national Top 10 in the preseason, it still seems like an underdog story for West Virginia and Butler to have made it to the Final Four. It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, though, as the Mountaineers and Bulldogs have most of the elements required to succeed in March: Defense, experience, strong guard play, versatility, good coaching, and a couple of legit stars. And perhaps more importantly, both teams got hot at the right time. West Virginia’s win over Kentucky yesterday was their 10th in a row, while Butler’s win over Kansas State was their 24th in a row … Da’Sean Butler led WVU with 18 points against UK, but the MVP was Joe Mazzulla. Starting in place of Truck Bryant, Mazzulla scored 17 and went toe-to-toe with John Wall (19 pts, 9 rebs, 5 asts, 4 stls), giving as good as he got. That one-man fast break where Mazzulla sprinted right at Wall and used a slight shoulder fake to completely lose him on the way to a layup was ill … And Kentucky couldn’t hit ANYTHING from long range. They missed their first 20 threes, and finished 4-for-32 beyond the arc. The Wildcats were able to out-run and gun their opponents earlier in the tourney, but eventually their team-wide shooting slump was gonna come back to bite them. (Weird stat: West Virginia didn’t hit a two-pointer in the first half.) … That should be a wrap for Wall and DeMarcus Cousins in college. Junior PF Patrick Patterson is projected Lottery and will probably go pro, and we’re hearing Eric Bledsoe is considering, too. If they all go, don’t feel bad for Coach Cal, though; he’ll have another stacked recruiting class coming in, plus guys like Daniel Orton, Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins to pick up the slack … And reportedly WVU point guard Bryant said he can play in the Final Four despite breaking a bone in his foot about a week and a half ago. And maybe he can play, but no way he’s 100 percent. If you’re advising the kid, would you push him to play or sit out? Getting to the Final Four doesn’t happen every year, but messing up your foot long-term isn’t the way to go … The big X-factor going into Butler/K-State was whether the 2-seed Wildcats would have enough energy after going to double-overtime with Xavier a couple days earlier. K-State did look worn down at first, but give them credit for battling back. Even with Jacob Pullen (14 pts, 4-13 FG, 6 stls) and Denis Clemente (18 pts, 7-17 FG) not lighting it up like they did against Xavier, K-State had it tied with three minutes left, but Butler responded with a 9-0 run to put them away … Is Gordon Hayward (22 pts, 9 rebs) an NBA player? At 6-9 he’s got more athleticism than people would think just looking at him, but he’s also more of a streaky shooter than a pure shooter. He’s just a sophomore, though, so he’s got time. Watching Hayward drill step-back threes and constantly come up with big plays in big moments — whether it was a bucket or getting a hand on a pass — there’s got to be some NBA teams that can use a player like him … Coming off their worst performance of the season in OKC on Friday, the Lakers were locked in against Houston last night. They went on a 20-0 run in the second quarter to build a sizable cushion, although the Rockets did get the lead down to single-digits in the fourth quarter after Kobe Bryant (17 pts, 10 rebs, 9 asts) sat down. Kobe looks like he’s pacing himself for the playoffs. In the last five games since he hit Sacramento for 30 points on 26 shots on March 16, he hasn’t attempted more than 17 FG’s in a game … Chasing down a loose ball, Ron Artest got his ankle tangled up with Trevor Ariza and hopped around for a minute like he was doing an old-man version of The Jerk. Ron-Ron shook it off and played the rest of the game … Brandon Roy hit the Hornets for 28 points (12-14 FG) on what seemed like a video loop of drives and jumpers out of the post. The loss officially eliminated New Orleans from the playoffs. Now that they have nothing to play for, do you think N.O. should shut Chris Paul down for the rest of the season, or keep playing him if that knee isn’t 100 percent? In no uncertain terms, that’s the franchise right there, and it’s not like Darren Collison can’t lead the team to a respectable finish … Other stat lines from Saturday: Rodrigue Beaubois dropped 40 points on the Warriors in a Dallas rout, hitting 9 threes and adding 3 blocks and 8 rebounds; Taj Gibson put up 22 points and 13 boards as Chicago snapped the Nets’ two-game win streak and prevented that all-important 10th win; and Deron Williams had 20 points and 12 assists, Carlos Boozer had 22 and 10 boards, and Mehmet Okur added 20 and 11 to lead Utah past the Wizards … Duke vs. Baylor and Michigan State vs. Tennessee on the Elite Eight schedule today. Who are your picks? … We’re out like UK …

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  • M Intellect

    Take your time…

  • sans

    Spartans blue devils….good v evil…did you know that green is the most positive color in the arab world? crazy.

  • mavs all the way

    if the playoffs started today…

  • spit hot fiyah

    what do u mean most positive color in the arab world?
    i heard before that green is a color that bring calmness, therefor a lot of hospitals are painted green on the inside, and i also heard that a lot of players like gyms that have green floors and stuff like that…. but i can’t back that up with a reference

  • Skeeter McGee

    Mazzulla did his thing steppin’ it up big time. Great showing by WVU but if you’re a Kentucky fan you have to be a little concerned with the fact that a team as solid as yours shot so poorly from the 3-point line. I mean I get there are times when the shots keep falling and there are times where the complete opposite is also true, but it just looked like Kentucky came in there cocky as balls.

    Good season for Coach Cal but it was nice watching you play in college, Mr. Wall…

  • Bill

    I was hating on Mazzulla at the beginning but he sure proved me wrong and stepped up big.

    Michigan State going to take it all as long as Summers is producing and Raymar gets going. Tom Izzo will have those guys prepared for anyone, Kentucky was only team left that could beat them with athleticism.

    Off topic but how can you guys not mention ufc 111?
    Although he got owned big time, you have to give it up for Dan Hardy for being a beast. Getting put in an arm-bar and kimoura for good thirty seconds each and fully in and not tapping out is amazing.

  • Luigi

    i would like to say that i am still a Wiz fan even if were at ground zero. n when we return to prominence.. ill gladly say that i was there when we were at our worse. btw. got Baylor n MSU tonight. intresting Final Four. to be honest. overall i like WVU to win it all. but Butler has the HC adv.

  • That’s What’s Up

    UFC? …tapping out?

    I tapped out some ass last night. Much better than any cage match with another dude

  • ben1en

    Hmm, another rookie scoring a ton of points against the Warriors. I guess he should be crowned ROY. Just saying…

  • smoove chips

    shut down cp3 for the season,let gil reload..i mean leave him alone.damn it was good to see my boys in rhythm albeit against the undermanned rockets.got to glimpse at the nets play..yikes! I could see a couple of college teams beatind them.. Don’t believe me.watch their next game.it can bring tears to your eyes

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    Tennessee and Baylor is who I’m pulling for.

    As much as I can’t stand Hardy he did earn my respect. I think that GSP could’ve easily broke his arm but didn’t want to. That’s class.

    If Josh McRoberts is an NBA player than so is Gordon Hayward. Just my opinion.

  • d

    Yeah, Kobe leads the Lakers’ recovery against a Rockets team that didn’t have Battier or Kevin Martin. And they only won by 7…

  • http://www.blueballs.net Chicagorilla

    Just watched the UCOnn women finish beating on Iowa State to the tune of 40pts.

    You guys asked if this UConn team could beat a D1 mens team. But the real question that would show their dominance is: Can this UConn team beat a WNBA team?

    I say yes. I would even go so far to say that if you put this team in the WNBA, they would fair pretty well.

    Imagine putting a D1 mens team in the NBA. They would fair worse than the NJ Nets.

    That should show you how good these women really are.

  • Tim Alvine

    I’ve bookmarked your site for the future.. love what you bring!! keep the articles pumping out!!

    Who would have thought it would be Michigan State and Butler in the Final Four playing against each other. Many people would have put Kansas, K-State, Syracuse, Georgetown, Ohio State, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt etc. before these teams. Michigan State was a top-dog before the season started and dropped as the season went on, but the fact they are doing all of this without Kalin Lucas is one of the most impressive parts about it. Heck, Tennessee was a shot away from making it as a 6th seed… man I love the NCAA

    If you want an in depth write up, preview and predictions for Michigan State vs. Butler go to: http://www.lionsdenu.com/march-madness-2010-final-four-vs-butler/ and weigh in on the action.. also vote who you think will move on to the national championship

    Butler is SO hot winning 24 straight games.. the last time they lost was back on December 22nd 2009… before X-mas!!! Insane! And the fact they are playing five miles away from their campus is going to be nuts .. talk about home-court advantage!!

  • K Dizzle

    Watchin Duke-Baylor (that charge/block call on Acy was wrong and a tech on only Baylor was bunk – I hate Duke)
    anyways, watchin the game and across the bottom of the screen on the ticker was “Orlando G Vince Carter left game with a sprained toe……..did not return”

    Do wit that info what you want…

  • heavy d

    ^^^ Duke won because of 48% from 3 and 22 offensive rebounds, not because of imagined conspiracy calls.