PHILADELPHIA – Connecticut players were in their Wachovia Center locker room Thursday afternoon, watching on TV as Texas A&M finished off BYU, when they learned coach Jim Calhoun wouldn't be joining them for their West Region first-round game against Chattanooga.
Calhoun, 66, was hospitalized Thursday afternoon with an illness that the university did not disclose. He reportedly was treated for dehydration and administered an IV at the team's hotel. A statement from the school said
Calhoun – who has survived prostate cancer and two bouts of skin cancer &ndash will remain at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania overnight for observation and is listed in good condition.
With assistant George Blaney running things, the top-seeded Huskies toyed with the 16th-seeded Mocs, romping 103-47.
In the statement, Calhoun said he had been "feeling lousy" for the past few days and talked to Dr. Jeff Anderson, UConn's director of sports medicine, about his condition Thursday morning. Anderson recommended that Calhoun skip Thursday's game, then admitted him to the hospital.
"Fortunately, those tests have gone well, and I am feeling much better," Calhoun said in the statement. "I will stay the night as a precaution and anticipate being checked again in the morning and being able to leave the hospital at that time."
Huskies senior guard Craig Austrie said several UConn coaches arrived at the Wachovia Center before the players in order to scout the A&M-BYU game. Austrie assumed Calhoun had arrived early, too, since the coach wasn't on UConn's team bus.
"We rolled with it," Austrie said. "It's a little different not having Coach there, but we know how to play without him."
Calhoun has missed 21 games in his 37-year college career, including five in 2003 when he had surgery for prostate cancer. He spoke to his players briefly after the game via speaker phone, said junior forward Stanley Robinson, who scored a game-high 24 points.
"Coach prepared us all year, prepared us through practice," Robinson said. "We just went from there." – Mike Sielski
A&M ousts BYU again
PHILADELPHIA – After BYU's players said their familiarity with their first-round opponent would be to their advantage, Texas A&M had too much size and lateral quickness and got off to too good a start Thursday for familiarity to make much of a difference.
For the second consecutive season, the ninth-seeded Aggies knocked eighth-seeded BYU out in the opening round as junior forward Bryan Davis had 21 points and nine rebounds in A&M's 79-66 victory.
"They saw the best of us," said Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon, whose team faces Connecticut on Saturday. "We were pretty good for 40 minutes."
The Aggies (24-9) shot 58 percent from the field and built an 18-point lead in the game's first eight minutes. In their 67-62 victory over BYU last season, the Aggies raced out to an 11-0 lead.
Sophomore guard Jimmer Fredette led BYU (25-8) with 18 points. BYU has lost seven consecutive NCAA tourney games, last winning in 1993. – Mike Sielski
Northern Iowa tough to knock out
PORTLAND, Ore. – Northern Iowa didn't get much respect as the Missouri Valley Conference tournament champion and regular-season co-champion.
That changed Thursday after the 12th-seeded Panthers rallied from a 14-point deficit to put a serious scare into No. 5 Purdue, before succumbing 61-56 in a West Regional first-round game.
The Panthers shot just 30.4 percent from the field in the first half against the Boilermakers' physical, attacking defense, and fell into a 32-20 hole. Purdue looked like it was going to turn the game into a punchout.
But coach Ben Jacobson's team showed it could not only take a blow, but also deliver one in the second half.
Northern Iowa clamped down and held the talented Boilers to 31.8 percent shooting in the second half and started knocking down enough of their own shots (41.9 percent) to make Matt Painter's squad nervous. Jordan Eglseder had eight of his team-high 13 points. Lucas O'Rear had four of his seven rebounds. The Panthers out-rebounded Purdue 19-14 over the final 20 minutes. If not for a few missed open 3-pointers, the day might have belonged to UNI.
"I was really proud of the way we played in the second half," Jacobson said. " … We were in a position to win the basketball game."
Afterward it was clear that Purdue knew it had been in a fight, with stars Robbie Hummel (nine points, 12 rebounds) and E'Twaun Moore (17 points) wrapped in ice packs.
Sort of like playing against Wisconsin.
"It was similar to a Big Ten game," Hummel said. "It's just a few bumps and bruises that you get with the grind of a game. I think we'll be OK."
OK enough to advance.
The Boilermakers have now won their last 11 NCAA tournament first-round games, last falling to Rhode Island in 1993.
Northern Iowa, making its fourth NCAA appearance in the past six years, lost in Round 1 for the fourth consecutive time. – Gerry Ahern
Big guys run afoul
That's not to say the big guys weren't a factor. Brockman had a game-high 14 rebounds and 10 points, the 59th double-double of his career, in 26 minutes. Varnado, the nation's leader in blocked shots, had five swats but scored just seven points with three rebounds over 22 minutes. He managed only two points, one block and one rebound in the first half.
"It was tough," said Varnado, who was the last player off the court, head down, draped with a towel. "They did a good job in the first half of doubling me and forced a couple of turnovers."
Varnado played just six minutes of the first half and that helped the No. 4 seed Huskies build a 38-27 edge. Brockman played about 11 of the opening 20 minutes and had four points and five rebounds at intermission.
Varnado was whistled for his fourth foul with 14:18 left in the game and Washington leading by 13 points. He returned at the 10:38 mark with the Bulldogs down 16. For all intents and purposes, with a raucous purple-clad Washington partisan crowd cheering on, the game was over.
What was most impressive about Brockman was he didn't let his foul trouble (he picked up his fourth with 6:39 remaining) keep him from contributing in other ways. He was violently knocked to the court trying to collect a rebound early in the second half, but bounced up, bringing the crowd to a frenzy. When he sat with foul No. 4, he coached his teammates from the bench, barking orders, and the fans, waving his arms high above his head and urging them to yell a little louder.
"It was frustrating at first and I was sitting there like, 'Man, I've got a pretty sweet seat to watch our team go to work'. Our bench was able to come in and not just maintain what we had started, but they were able to increase it and get on a run. … We were able to just keep pushing. And that's the adversity you've got to be able to handle when you are playing in a tournament like this." – Gerry Ahern
Terps' defense too much for Golden Bears
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Greivis Vasquez scored 27 points to lead 10th-seeded Maryland to an 84-71 victory over seventh-seeded California, but the real hero in the Terrapins' victory may have been the guy wearing the coat on the sideline.
A little more than a month after questions began to surface about his job security, Gary Williams again proved he's one of the best tacticians in the college game.
In a matchup against the top 3-point shooting team in the country, Williams employed a full-court press to disrupt Cal's rhythm and flow on offense. The result was a 7-of-29 performance from beyond the arc for the Golden Bears.
"We came into the game knowing we were going to pressure them the whole game," Maryland forward Dave Neal said. "We knew they'd have a tough time with it."
Cal's effort from 3-point range was its fourth-worst showing of the season. Maryland, meanwhile, advances to play second-seeded Memphis on Saturday.
"With every team I've ever coached, I try to coach through the season and get better with every practice," Williams said. "Some teams buy into that better than others. These guys have bought into the idea that you can get better during the season." – Jason King
- Jon Brockman