- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

Roburt Sallie had a career in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The sophomore guard from Memphis had 35 points in the Tigers’ 81-70 victory over Cal State Northridge on Thursday.

Sallie came into the game averaging 4.5 points with a career high of 13. His 35 in the first-round win was almost one-fourth of his season total of 150 entering the game.

He knocked Larry Kenon, who led then-Memphis State to the 1973 championship game against UCLA, out of the school record book for points in an NCAA tournament game.

“That’s something that I don’t think my teammates would ever expect me to break a record like that,” Sallie said. “I’m just a shooter. I just was hitting shots today. I just found out I made 10 3-pointers. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. That’s also a record for me.”

Teammate Antonio Anderson didn’t sound as shocked as Sallie.

“You know what? I knew Rob had it in him all along,” Anderson said. “All during the year I tell him to shoot the ball, shoot the ball. He’s a little hesitant.”

Sallie’s scoring average for the season went up almost a full point to 5.4 per game.


QUIET REGIONAL:@ The only one of the four regionals not to have any games Thursday was the Midwest. The East Regional split its first-round games evenly between Thursday and Friday, while the South and West both had six games Thursday and two each on Friday.


A.J.’S 3S:@ Texas’ A.J. Abrams is the Big 12’s career leader in 3-pointers and even though he came into the tournament shooting 38.9 percent from beyond the arc, he hadn’t had the kind of shooting season expected of him.

Until Thursday’s 76-62 first-round win over Minnesota. The senior was 8-for-15 on 3s, one 3-pointer shy of his career high. He hit six in a row at one stretch including four on as many Longhorns’ possessions.

He was asked about who was defending him during that stretch and he admitted he didn’t know.

Does it really matter?

“No, not really,” he said laughing. “No, I’m just playing. I’m just playing hard, and just trying to find the open spots.”


STILL NO SWEET 16S:@ The No. 16 seeds entered this first round with an 0-96 record and both that played Thursday lost with Connecticut thrashing Chattanooga 103-47 and North Carolina handling Radford 101-58.

The record can reach 0-100 on Friday when Alabama State and East Tennessee State face Louisville and Pittsburgh, respectively.


HOME COOKING:@ In 2006, top-seeded Villanova struggled to a 58-45 first-round victory over No. 16 Monmouth at the Wachovia Center, the Wildcats’ second home court located about 20 miles from campus. The crowd that day was definitely behind the underdog Hawks, so much so that Villanova coach Jay Wright said the crowd “abandoned” the Wildcats.

That didn’t happen three years later.

Third-seeded Villanova trailed No. 14 American University 41-31 at halftime and was still down 53-43 with 13:15 to go. There was no problem with the crowd on Thursday, as it was in full throat support of the Wildcats as they tied the game at 55 with 7:30 to go, and then pulled away to an 80-67 victory.

“When the crowd was getting it going, it was nice,” Wright said.


GROUNDHOG DAY:@ This was the second straight year Brigham Young and Texas A&M; met in the first round. The big difference was the site: They played in Anaheim, Calif., in 2008 and in Philadelphia on Thursday.

Otherwise, the games were a lot alike.

Both years BYU was a No. 8 seed and the Aggies were No. 9. Last year, it was the Aggies winning 67-62, and they made it two in a row with a 79-66 victory Thursday.

In 2008, Texas A&M; opened the game on an 11-0 run with Josh Carter hitting three 3-pointers to lead the way. On Thursday, BYU scored the first three points before the Aggies scored 11 in a row, eight by Bryan Davis, who started alongside fellow forward Carter.

“We got off to a really good start again,” BYU’s Jimmer Fredette said sarcastically. “It was kind of the same thing as last year. We made our first shot, they went on and made their next 10 shots in a row, I think it was. That’s a credit to them.”

This was BYU’s third straight year as a No. 8 seed. In 2007, the Cougars lost 79-77 to Xavier. They’ve lost seven straight first-round games, last advancing in 1993.


BIG BLOWOUT:@ Connecticut’s 103-47 victory over Chattanooga in the third round was third-largest blowout in NCAA tournament history.

The only wins by bigger margins were Loyola of Chicago’s 111-42 win over Tennessee Tech in the first round in 1963, and Kansas’ 110-52 victory over Prairie View in the first round in 1998.

Loyola went on to win the national championship while Kansas was knocked out in the next round by Rhode Island.


BIG DIFFERENCE:@ Connecticut’s second first-round game at Wachovia Center as a No. 1 seed was a lot different than the first.

In 2006, the Huskies trailed Albany 50-38 with 11:30 to play. They went on a 20-4 run to take control and went on to a 72-59 victory.

On Thursday, the Huskies led Chattanooga 17-15 when they went on a 46-7 run on the way to a 103-47 victory.


ROUGH ROAD:@ Three teams qualified for the NCAA tournament by winning four games in as many days to win a conference tournament. Two of them lost Thursday.

Mississippi State, which won the Southeastern Conference, lost 71-58 to Washington, while Akron, the champions of the Mid-American Conference, was beaten 77-64 by Gonzaga.

The third team, Cleveland State of the Horizon League, plays Wake Forest on Friday.


PURDUE STREAK:@ Purdue’s 61-56 victory over Northern Iowa was the Boilermakers’ 11th straight first-round win. The last time there was a second-round win was 2000 when Purdue reached the regional finals.

“I think that’s a pretty interesting stat. I didn’t know that,” Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson said. “It’s pretty cool that we’re able to come out and win that first game and hopefully this year we can win the second game. I think that’s what we’re all trying to do.”

The last time Purdue lost in the first round was 1993 when Rhode Island beat the Boilermakers 74-68. The star of that Purdue team was sophomore Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson and one of the starting guards was current Boilermakers coach Matt Painter.

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