How about that start to the Sweet 16 round? Two great games. Two equally great Important Observations. I’m still festing from the BYU-Florida end.
53. Connecticut 74, San Diego St. 67 — Kemba Walker is fantastic, but the key to U-Conn getting any further will be how good Jeremy Lamb can be.
Maybe I get spoiled by Kemba Walker and his superhuman college basketball game, but when I watch a game like tonight’s and see him score 36, I’m just desensitized to his greatness. Anyways, Walker is good; he’s the best player in college basketball this year. And everyone knows that. I’m not saying that Walker should be forgotten about because he’s too good to comprehend, but I will say that the supporting cast that has been playing in his shadow came up pretty big in the endgame to this one tonight, Jeremy Lamb specifically.
When I say that Lamb came up big, I kind of mean his 24 point performance on 9-11 shooting. What I actually mean is that at the end of the game when a play needed to be made, Lamb made three huge ones:
1) With 1:39 left and U-Conn only up 1, Lamb drained a three-pointer off an offensive rebound to put the Huskies up 2 possessions.
2) With 24 seconds left and U-Conn up for, SDS came out of a timeout and Lamb stole a pass only 5 seconds later, then went down the court for the dunk that virtually sealed the game.
3) With 5 seconds left and the game mostly over, Lamb made the dunk that officially ended things for the Aztecs.
The good news about Lamb’s great performance is that U-Conn won this game and moved into the Elite 8. The great news is that Kemba Walker can rest easily knowing he doesn’t’ have to shoulder all of the weight of the endgame decisions anymore. Walker was good in this game, but my MVP is Lamb for sure.
54. Florida , BYU — Jimmer Fredette was good, but Florida’s team was better.
It’s hard to say this game wasn’t about Jimmer Fredette, because anyone who watched it would know I was lying. It’d hard to tell when he’s on and when he’s off because he does so much. I can’t remember seeing a team quite like this BYU team except for maybe the the Steph Curry Davidson team, but even that team wasn’t 100% Steph. I’m sure you can see news on Jimmer anywhere and he did have an incredible season and first couple of games in the tournament, but what I really want to focus on is how balanced Florida’s scoring was. Four players had 16 points or more for the Gators, which is insanely impressive. More importantly, Alex Tyus grabbed 17 rebounds.
When it comes to this time of year, no one player is going to win you games consistently. I like the Jimmer and I think he’s great, but he had a cold night shooting (yes, he scored 32, but he was still cold) and the team fell apart. It seemed like even when Jimmer was notably off, the other BYU players just kept feeding him the ball and watching him. Florida was excellent at sharing and managed to put together a very team-oriented effort to win. As much as I don’t want to say it, I underestimated that team considerably. To me, Florida looks like a favorite to make it into the Final Four over the Wisco/Butler winner.
Keep watching the games and come back for two more Important Observations later.