Bobbitt's 3-pointer lifts Cincinnati

No. 4 seed Bearcats get past E. Tenn. State, 80-77

Illinois, Miss. St., Xavier win

Ncaa Regional Atlanta

March 20, 2004|By Avani Patel and Marlen Garcia | Avani Patel and Marlen Garcia,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Tim Smith's layup bounced off the rim, but teammate James Anthony made sure East Tennessee State still wasn't done.

Anthony's put-back off his rebound, too, bounced off the rim, but teammate Zakee Wadood again kept the Buccaneers alive. It wasn't until Wadood's subsequent put-back bounced off the rim and into the hands of Cincinnati forward Jason Maxiell that East Tennessee State looked, finally, to be finished.

But even as the seconds were winding down, it was impossible to count out the Buccaneers.

Only when the game clock struck zero could Cincinnati (25-6), the fourth-seeded team in the Atlanta Regional, celebrate its 80-77 victory over No. 13 ETSU (27-6) yesterday in a first-round game of the NCAA tournament at Nationwide Arena.

With 16.1 seconds left, Cincinnati reserve Tony Bobbitt broke a 77-77 tie with a three-pointer from the left baseline.

The Bearcats will face fifth-seeded Illinois tomorrow.

"We were going to go for the last shot, but when Tony and [point guard Field Williams] have that good a look, they know to shoot the ball," Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins said.

"If I hadn't taken it as early, I probably wouldn't have gotten as good a look as I got," said Bobbitt, who finished with 15 points.

The Bearcats got off to a quick start, scoring the game's first 11 points. But the Buccaneers fought back.

Point guard Tim Smith, a 5-foot-9-inch dynamo, brought ETSU back with scoring, passing, steals and even rebounds over players seemingly twice his size.

Smith, who played the full 40 minutes, scored a game-high 26 points with five assists, four steals and five rebounds.

"He's like Michael Vick with the basketball. You can't really contain him. He's so fast," said Bearcats point guard Field Williams.

Illinois 72, Murray State 53: At one point, Illinois' Dee Brown sprinted almost the full length of the court in a blur to snag a loose a ball before Murray State could get to it.

From start to finish, no one in Nationwide Arena could catch Brown.

Ultimately, he left Murray State's 12th-seeded Racers gasping in fifth-seeded Illinois' victory. Brown scored 21 points to secure Illinois' berth in the second round.

"He's a really fast player," Murray State guard Chris Shumate said. "He's really tough to contain. We tried to do it as a team."

The Racers (28-6) couldn't manage, similar to Illinois' Big Ten opponents in the final weeks of the regular season.

"Dee has done all the little things all year and, finally, in the last 10 or 12 games, he has shot the ball well," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "If you figure his stats down the stretch, he has been a 50 percent shooter, and they are not easy shots either."

In the second half, Brown's gusto spread to the Illini post players, whom Weber has been pressing for contributions. The Illini (25-6) got a boost from Roger Powell, who scored 11 points.

Murray State clearly couldn't match up with Illinois, especially with 6-7 forward Kelvin Brown serving an indefinite suspension. University officials disciplined him after he was arrested on drug and theft charges last weekend.

Orlando, Fla.

Mississippi State 85, Monmouth 52: Lawrence Roberts' eye injury, suffered in the second half, and subsequent absence had little effect on the second-seeded Bulldogs (26-3) in their victory over the No. 15 seed Hawks (21-12) at the TD Waterhouse Centre.

The Bulldogs, who will play Xavier tomorrow, never allowed Monmouth to lead during the game.

"I was a little disappointed about how we came out on the offensive end," said Monmouth Coach Dave Calloway. "I think that led to a lot of their scoring."

Xavier 80, Louisville 70: Never count out the value of experience come NCAA tournament time, especially in the case of Xavier's backcourt tandem of Lionel Chalmers (25 points) and Romain Sato (24 points).

Faced with a 14-point second-half deficit against No. 10 seed Louisville, the two seniors led the seventh-seeded Musketeers to a victory at the TD Waterhouse Centre.

Trailing 53-39, Chalmers and Sato sparked a 41-17 run that gave the Musketeers (24-10) control against the Cardinals (20-10).

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Orlando Sentinel, another Tribune Publishing newspaper, contributed to this article.

Regional highlights

Top performer: East Tennessee State's Tim Smith scored a game-high 26 points with five assists, four steals and five rebounds in a loss to Cincinnati.

Big surprise: Despite routing Murray State, Illinois had its share of problems. Through the first 16 1/2 minutes, the Illini shot 27.6 percent.

He said it: "He's like Michael Vick with the basketball. You can't really contain him. He's so fast." - Field Williams, Cincinnati guard, on Buccaneers guard Tim Smith

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