KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—For the clever and high-energy Maryland defense, it’s one great 3-point shooting team down and one great 3-point shooter to come.
By disrupting their timing and keeping them off balance, the Terps ousted California in the first round of the West Regional, eliminating the team that led the nation in 3-point accuracy.
But no one in NCAA tournament history had ever hit 10 3s in the opening round until Roburt Sallie came off the bench to rally second-seeded Memphis past Cal State Northridge. Sallie was 10-for-15 from 3-point land and his 35 points set a Memphis record for an NCAA game.
“When he comes on the court, we’re going to have to find where he is the whole time,” Maryland senior Dave Neal said Friday.
Even though he averaged only 4.5 points all year, the Tigers’ unlikely shooting sensation will draw plenty of attention when second-seeded Memphis goes against 10th-seeded Maryland in Saturday’s second round.
“We’re going into the game thinking he’s shooting the ball as well as he did yesterday,” Neal said.
Harried by a pressure defense, Cal wound up 7-of-24 from beyond the arc, far beneath its 43 percent season average.
But that was still better than the anemic 1-for-13 that Sallie’s more renowned teammates managed from long range during a game that remained in doubt until the final few minutes.
“Northridge did a good job preparing for Memphis,” said Maryland coach Gary Williams. “But you can’t prepare for that. You can go by what you see on tape, by what you see from stats, and here comes this guy averaging five points a game and he makes 10 3s.
“Obviously, we’re aware of that now.”
Maryland (21-13) will not have to worry about Sallie when the game begins.
“I’m not going to start him,” said Memphis coach John Calipari. “But I can’t wait to put him in.”
Sallie is happy not to be starting.
“I don’t think that would be smart at this point,” he said. “It might mess with team chemistry. We’re just going to stick to what we’ve been doing all season and continue from there.”
He does expect the Terps to keep a watchful eye out for the only man to ring up 10 3-pointers in a first-round game.
“I know I’m going to get a lot more extra attention,” he said. “Northridge, they were giving me extra attention toward the second half. But my teammates found ways to find me. I’m just going to play my role. If I have an open shot, I’m going to shoot it. If not, then I’m not going to shoot it. I’m going to look for my teammates.”
Using mostly a tight zone defense, Northridge managed to frustrate everybody except Sallie until the final 6 minutes.
“We’d rather have Memphis shoot as many 3-pointers as possible than have them get inside and put dunks back and shoot in the paint,” Neal said. “We’ve watched the film. We know they struggled against the zone. I’m sure you’ll see us play a little bit of zone, a little bit of man.”
Big and experienced, the Tigers (32-3) own a 26-game winning streak and cannot be expected to string together two lackluster games in a row.
“They’re long, they’re athletic, and they remind us a lot of Wake Forest, a team we just recently beat,” Neal said. “We’ve watched tape and seen what their weaknesses are. We’re going to be ready to go to go to war with them for 40 minutes.”
Memphis could have its hands full with Greivis Vasquez. The 6-foot-6 junior scored 27 against Cal and for the season leads the Terps in minutes, field goals, 3-pointers, free throws, rebounds, assists and steals.
He’s also their top scorer at 17.2 points per game.
“He’s a great player,” said Memphis senior Antonio Anderson. “You can’t just stop a player like that. It’s going to take five guys and all of us helping one another. It’s just got to be a team effort.”
The Tigers, last year’s national runners-up, admit everyone but Sallie was embarrassed by their performance against 15th-seeded Northridge.
“We just didn’t come ready to play,” Anderson said. “There’s no explanation. They came out and brought way more energy than we did. Roburt gave us the lift we needed.”