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East Region notes: Dakich wants Hoosiers job

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NO. 9 ARKANSAS 86, NO. 8 INDIANA 72

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Indiana basketball program is broken.

The resolve of interim coach Dan Dakich is not, even after the Hoosiers were beaten off the dribble, on the boards and to almost every loose ball while losing to Arkansas Friday night.

"They were just better tonight," a grimacing Dakich said in the aftermath. "It kills me to say that, but it's true."

Despite the Hoosiers' late-season slide after Kelvin Sampson and the school split in the wake of reports of NCAA violations for improper calls to recruits, the former IU player said he is the man to pick up the pieces permanently. Indiana lost four of its final seven games under Dakich after Sampson was jettisoned.

"There's no question that I should be the coach," Dakich said. "… There's a lot of things transpiring behind the scenes with where the program has to go. It has to be someone who understands it, or else you're going to get yourself in the situation just like we are."

Dakich, who played for Bob Knight and has head-coaching experience at Bowling Green, stayed on the subject for nearly five minutes, passionately stating his case.

"The basketball part of this is a difficult situation, but there are people with far more difficult situations," he said. "… But the passion, the desire to do things right academically, socially, on the court, style of play are all things that would absolutely happen if I become the head basketball coach.

"This needs to be built with a foundation of discipline. It needs to be built with a foundation of accountability. This needs to be built where there is a real pride, where players and former players can have pride with what is happening in the program. That could probably happen with a lot of people. But I'm just telling you that the culture right now, it has to be someone who understands. … This is something I know."

During the game a fiery Dakich implored his team to get back on defense, slapping his palms on the floor. He pumped his fist and jockeyed with the officials, drawing a technical foul three minutes and 45 seconds into the game. Clearly, he wanted this game badly.

But Arkansas, led by Sonny Weems' 31 points, outhustled and outperformed IU in every way.

Whoever gets the Indiana job will be looking at a very different roster. Senior D.J. White finished his career with a 22-point, nine-rebound effort, leaving the game with 1:46 left, grasping his left calf. He was receiving IV fluids and not available to comment.

Sophomore Armon Bassett (21 points, seven assists) said he was unsure what his future would be at the school, adding he will take the next week to think about it.

Meanwhile, freshman standout Eric Gordon, who many expect will bolt for the NBA, couldn't shake a slump. He scored just eight points on 3 of 15 shooting. Gordon was non-committal on his future in Bloomington.

"I don't know," he said. "This is a great team I play for and I've just got to see what happens. I'm real close to this coaching staff so I'm going to talk to them, talk to my family. It's a great opportunity that this team has in the future."

But not in the present.

NO. 1 NORTH CAROLINA 113, NO. 16 MOUNT ST. MARY’S 74

RALEIGH, N.C – Any questions about the status of North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson's injured left ankle appeared to be answered in the Tar Heels' thumping of Mount St. Mary's.

Lawson struck for 21 points and collected four assists in 18 minutes in the blowout of the 16th-seeded Mountaineers.

The 5-foot-11 sophomore looked particularly nimble in the second half, Lawson made a steal, spun off the dribble and drove to the hoop for a layup.

"My ankle has been feeling better for the last few games," Lawson said. "During the ACC tournament, I was trying to push off of it and things like that. I think that helped, playing in the ACC tournament. I feel a lot better and am trusting my ankle."

Lawson suffered the injury in an 84-73 overtime win at Florida State on Feb. 3.

BIG NUMBERS

North Carolina scored 60 points in the first half. It was their second-highest scoring half of the season. They lit up South Carolina State for 61 on Nov. 18.

The Tar Heels piled up more than 100 points for the first time in a tournament game since 1993 (a second-round, 112-67 win over Rhode Island).

Their all-time scoring mark in the NCAA Tournament is 123 points against Loyola Marymount in 1988.

UNC outrebounded Mount St. Mary's 48-22 Friday.

– Gerry Ahern

HARANGODY LIVES LARGE

DENVER – After an up-close look from courtside, followed by intensive film study, the Washington State Cougars have a good idea of what they'll be facing here Saturday in Notre Dame's Luke Harangody.

Tony Bennett's team has had to deal with powerful big men such as UCLA's Kevin Love and Washington's Jon Brockman this season. In Harangody, Bennett sees both.

"Someone said he's kind of like Brockman, maybe even steps outside and plays a little more off the dribble," Bennett said of Harangody, a 6-8 forward who averages 20.7 points and 10.3 rebounds a game. "But as far as their physique and how continuous they are, relentless, that's some similarities there. They way he fights for position is like Love.

"I was so impressed with how he makes a play. He'll shoot a shot, miss it, bang, he's back at the glass tapping it in. He'll start the fast break off a rebound. He's so continuous. That's the thing you like. He never stops playing. Very physical. Great footwork. Maybe more like Brockman than Love. I don't know, if you were going to pin me down, I'd say that."

If you were really going to pin him down, he would say he'd rather not deal with Harangody at all. This will be a test of Washington State's tough, sound, gap-closing man-to-man defense, especially when considering the shooters Notre Dame places around Harangody.

The Cougars don't have a perfect candidate to check Harangody. Senior forward Robbie Cowgill has the size at 6-10. So does massive center Aron Baynes (6-11, 270), but he doesn't have the footwork. Kyle Weaver, at a sleek 6-6, has the quickness. Reserve forward Daven Harmeling (6-7) also could get a crack. All must be ready to put a body on Harangody, especially after his initial shot.

"Playing in the Pac-10, we have played against some great post men," Harmeling said. "Brook Lopez, Jon Brockman, Kevin Love, Taj Gibson, all those guys. Looking at Harangody on film, he's another animal. He's a brute, just relentless. It's going to be a tough matchup."

PLAY NICE

Speaking of Harangody, he apparently is quite a prankster. He and Kyle McAlarney terrorized some teammates with Halloween masks in the fall. Freshman Tim Abromaitis was one of the victims.

"He got a little scared; that was about it," Harangody said.

McAlarney said Harangody always is devising pranks, although some are not fit for public consumption. He was asked to recall one that was safe to be repeated.

"At one team meal," McAlarney said, "he crushed up laxatives and put it in our walk-on Tim Andree's drink."

GIVING IT UP

Washington State junior guard Taylor Rochestie, who is in his second season with the Cougars after transferring from Tulane, has offered to give up his scholarship as a senior. That will allow Bennett to add another player to the freshman class.

"I think I've been blessed my whole life, just given so many things that maybe I'm undeserving of," said Rochestie, who was offered a chance by Bennett despite a serious knee injury. "Just to be part of this program, part of this team, be given a chance by Tony Bennett when I was down, hurt, looking for a school … I feel he gave me something maybe I was undeserving of, like I said.

"My parents have been looking for a way to give back to the program, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity."

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey was asked if he has had a player give up a scholarship.

"I haven't known anything like that. I'm going to ask two of my guys to do that when I get back," he cracked. "Talk about taking one for the team. I mean, that's pretty powerful."

Rochestie is third on the team with 10.8 points per game and leads it with 4.7 assists. He leads the Pac-10 and is seventh in the nation with a 2.8-to-1 assist-turnover ratio.

– Joe Rexrode

NO. 3 LOUISVILLE 79, NO. 14 BOISE STATE 61

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Cardinals and Broncos reversed roles, with Louisville shooting sharply from three-point range and Boise going stone cold. The Cardinals shot 50 percent (12 of 24) from behind the arc, while the Broncos managed only 23.5 percent (4-of-17).

"Probably the thing that hurt us the most besides their pressure, which got us out of our offense a little bit, was they hit threes and we didn't," Boise coach Greg Graham said. "They hit threes against our zone, which hasn't been a strong suit for them all year, and tonight it was. And it has been our strong suit all season and tonight it wasn't, and that was the key to the game."

The 12 three-pointers were the most for Louisville since it hit 13 against Morehead State on Dec. 26. Louisville came in shooting only 34.2 percent from beyond the arc, while Boise ranked 16th nationally at 39.7 percent. The Broncos also were eighth nationally in scoring at 82 points per game, but they struggled to reach 60 against the defensive-minded Cards. Six Louisville players scored at least nine points, led by Earl Clark's 15.

BENCH BONUS

Louisville's bench shot a stunning 80 percent and outscored Boise's bench 30-9. Clark shot 6-for-8, and Derrick Caracter hit all four of his shots en route to nine points in just 19 minutes. "We don't necessarily start our most talented guys," Pitino said.

Starting center David Padgett got into foul trouble early, necessitating the minutes for Caracter. "DC gave us a big lift, and Earl is playing tremendous basketball," Pitino said.

Neither player said he had a problem coming off the bench. "I want to be aggressive and play hard," Clark said. Caracter added: "I try to give a lift and do what I can do for my teammates."

UNDER PRESSURE

Louisville's pressure was a key in holding down the high-scoring Broncos. Boise committed 19 turnovers. Its players admitted the Cardinals' constant harassment kept their offense out of rhythm all night. Boise still shot 48.1 percent for the game, the third-best mark against Louisville this season. Boise State's 61 points were a season-low. "They keep coming at you," Broncos forward Tyler Tiedeman said. "I think they were able to keep us from getting into some things."

FREE-THROW WOES

Neither team was particularly effective from the line. Boise State hit less than 50 percent (41.7) for just the second time this season. Louisville continued a possibly disturbing trend. It has shot less than 64 percent from the line in each of its past nine games. It hit exactly 50 percent (9-for-18) Friday night, meaning it shot better from the floor than it did at the line.

– Joe Rexrode

NO. 2 TENNESSEE 72, NO. 15 AMERICAN 57

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – It was another spirited effort by a No. 15 seed, but it wasn't enough as the Tennessee Volunteers got 14 second-half points from Wayne Chism, including a couple of timely three-pointers and a three-point play, to take down the American Eagles.

"Those two threes that Chism hit may have been the biggest baskets of the game," American coach Jeff Jones said.

Tennessee closed the game on a 22-8 run after a three-pointer by Garrison Carr had cut the Vols' lead to 50-49 with less than 10 minutes to play. Carr, American's leading scorer, was every bit as good as advertised. The 5-11 junior shooting guard was the game's high scorer with 26 points, including six three-pointers.

"Congratulations to American," Vols coach Bruce Pearl said. "They represented themselves and the Patriot League extremely well. They made shots. Garrison Carr was spectacular."

JaJuan Smith led Tennessee with 19 points, and Chism finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.

PRESS DOES JOB

American committed a season-high 22 turnovers. Both coaches attributed the high number to Tennessee's pressure defense tiring out Eagles guards Carr and Derrick Mercer. Mercer played 39 minutes and Carr played 40.

"I think maybe the last 10 minutes American got a little tired, maybe fatigued," Pearl said. "I don't know if we played any more effectively on defense late, but being pressed and being guarded – I think fatigue may have been a bit of a factor. We play a lot more guys than they do."

American had only nine assists.

"I listened to Coach Pearl, and I think he was right," Jones said. "I think ultimately they wore us down."

EAGLES SOAR ON BOARDS

One thing American did do well was crash the boards, particularly in the first half.

The Eagles won the rebounding battle 39-27 because of the gap in offensive rebounding. They had 18 offensive boards to just six for Tennessee. They had 10 second-chance points in the first half.

"They had great energy on the offensive boards and they did that all year long," Pearl said. "A couple of things on that. They have a good idea when Carr is going to shoot the ball, and because your bigs are hedging and doubling, your inside guys aren't inside their guys. It's not a check-out situation; it's a race to the boards. You're out there doubling Garrison and Mercer, and that's what can happen when you're spread and it's a ball-screen offense."

POINT-GUARD PROBLEMS

Pearl did not play backup point guard Ramar Smith in the first half.

"We're trying to get better point guard play, so J.P. Prince was at the point a lot," Pearl said.

Starter Jordan Howell played 13 minutes and didn't score. Ramar Smith played 14 minutes in the second half and had four points and two assists. Prince played 21 minutes and had eight points, one assist and three turnovers.

– Bob McClellan

NO. 7 BUTLER 81, NO. 10 SOUTH ALABAMA 61

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Bulldogs eloquently stated their case for having been underseeded, blasting the Jaguars behind a barrage of 3-pointers.

Butler made 15 3-pointers in all, including eight from senior forward Pete Campbell, and led by as many as 27 points. Campbell hit six of his 3-pointers in the first half as Butler took a 47-30 lead into the intermission.

"We were doing an excellent job of running the offense," Campbell said. "I said 'good pass' one time to A.J. (Graves) and he said, 'I'm going to keep looking for you.' He got it to me a few more times."

Graves finished with 18 points, six assists and no turnovers in 29 minutes. He knocked down four 3-pointers.

"A.J. played so well," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "He was really good in transition."

USA coach Ronnie Arrow came away impressed with the shooting display and poise of Butler.

"To be a seven seed, I think they're a little bit better than that," Arrow said. "If they hit 3s like that, they're going to upset some people. I'm not saying this was an upset, but when they go up against Tennessee, if they shoot like that they have a great shot at beating Tennessee."

The seventh-seeded Bulldogs face the second-seeded Volunteers in the second round Sunday.

GOLDEN WITHOUT GREEN

Butler played the last 12 minutes of the first half without leading scorer Mike Green after he picked up two fouls. But the Bulldogs not only didn't skip a beat, they also stretched their lead. Graves moved to point guard and Campbell slid into the scoring role.

"Yeah, it was kind of a unique situation when Mike went out," Graves said. "That changes some of the things we do. But I had to step up and run the point and we brought in some other people. Pete came in off the bench and made some great shots, and that's just how things went."

Butler got out in transition on South Alabama misses, and the Jaguars had trouble locating Campbell.

"We knew they were very experienced and worked hard to get the next open guy a shot," Arrow said. "They had 18 assists and that speaks for itself. They did a great job of finding the open man."

Green had just five points, his second-lowest output of the season, in a season-low 21 minutes.

BENNETT STRIKES OUT

South Alabama leading scorer Demetric Bennett was a non-factor, scoring a season-low six points. Butler played man-to-man exclusively, with 6-8 senior Drew Streicher, the Bulldogs' power forward, assigned to the 6-4 shooting guard most of the time.

"He played good defense," Bennett said. "And every time I got around him, somebody else was there. They played good team defense."

Stevens gave most of the credit to Streicher.

"Drew has guarded the opposing team's best statistical player or whoever we think could give us problems in every game we've played," Stevens said. "He kept Bennett off-balance."

THREE-PETE

Campbell is one of the nation's best shooters. He shot 51.9 percent from beyond the arc last season and is hitting 45.8 percent this season through Friday's game, in which he was 8 for 10. His 26 points tied his season high.

There was some doubt as to whether he would play Friday because he suffered a sprained foot at practice Wednesday and didn't practice Thursday.

"I've been getting treatment non-stop for about the last 48 hours, so the training staff and doctors did a great job and I'm very thankful," Campbell said. "I had them by my side the whole time."

– Bob McClellan