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Sweet 16 East Region Standouts

Posted on 27. Mar, 2010 by Marcus Kwamie in NBA Draft

Kentucky is clearly the dominant team in this bracket right now.  They've steamrolled their competition and dazzled America in the process.   West Virginia is one of the hottest teams left in the field.  They won the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Gardens and have relied on defense and half court excecution to win games.  Will they be able to control the tempo and slow down the Wildcats?  Time will tell.  For now, here's a look at who stood out and who flopped in the Sweet 16.

 

Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Kentucky

Cornell’s impressive run in the tourney came to an abrupt end on Thursday night in front of essentially, a home crowd in Syracuse, NY. The Big Red jumped out to an early 10-2 lead in the first 3 minutes of the game and that is when Kentucky made the adjustments and really showcased their defensive prowess. Eric Bledsoe demonstrated some great perimeter defence. He locked down Louis Dale and Chris Wroblewski, for the rest of the half, disallowing either player to get open for clean looks-something that previous opponents were unable to do. Bledsoe’s stellar defence doesn’t necessarily show up in the box score, unless you look deeper and consider the fact that Cornell only scored 6 points in the final 17 minutes of the first half, shot 33% from the field and 23% from 3-point range. On offence, the Wildcats really punished the Big Red inside. DeMarcus Cousins was a beast in the paint with 16 points and 7 boards. Cousins also showed his quick hands on defence and added 4 steals. John Wall had yet another impressive all-round game with 8 points, 8 dimes and 7 boards. Kentucky now moves on to what will undoubtedly be a defensive battle with West Virginia for the right to go to the final four.

 

Da’Sean Butler, Kevin Jones, Devin Ebanks, West Virginia

All season long, West Virginia’s frontcourt play has been the key to their success. Tough defence and strong rebounding has been their calling card. With starting point guard Truck Bryant going down with a broken metatarsal; the frontcourt would have to step up even more and fill the scoring gap left by Bryant (9.3 PPG). In Thursday’s game against Washington, they answered the call: Da’Sean Butler, Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks spread the division of labour with 14, 12 and 18 points respectively. The trio also cleaned up on the glass with 7,7 and 8 rebounds respectively. Kevin Jones was especially impressive with 5 offensive boards. It was not a pretty game, as the Mountaineers turned up their defensive intensity and frustrated the Huskies into 21 turnovers. Devin Ebanks had 4 steals that led to fast break opportunities. West Virginia continue to win ugly and their next round matchup against Kentucky should be a physical contest with both teams up for it.
 

Untimely Flop

 

Quincy Pondexter, Washington

Throughout the tournaament, Quincy Pondexter’s strength has been his aggressiveness on the offensive end. However, in Thursday’s game against West Virginia, his aggressiveness worked against him as he was whistled twice for dropping the shoulder on his way to the hoop and he picked up 3 quick fouls-only playing 7 minutes total in the first half. Foul trouble plagued him throughout the game, as he was unable to get into any sort of rhythm. When Pondexter re-entered the game in the 2nd half, he was hesitant and did not display the confidence that he played with all season long. This resulted in 4 turnovers and 3-9 shooting. Not the way that the senior forward would have like to end his career at Washington, but his overall body of work speaks well of his prospects to succeed at the next level.

 

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