2001 NCAA Men's Tourney

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Day at a Glance

O'Connor, Bell save the day

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Posted: Saturday March 17, 2001 11:25 PM
Updated: Sunday March 18, 2001 8:13 AM

By Albert Lin, CNNSI.com

Best Game
Biggest Surprise

Best Matchup
Upset Special
Player to Watch

Six of Saturday's games turned into mismatches, and it looked like we were in for a ho-hum afternoon of play. But two guards singlehandedly gave us something to get excited about.

Thank god for Marvin O'Connor and Troy Bell.

Bell, everyone already knew about. The Big East co-Player of the Year seemed the only Boston College Eagle who hadn't left his game at the team hotel. In their 3 vs. 6 matchup against USC, the Eagles continued the shooting woes they developed Thursday, and this time they weren't able to bail themselves out with timely offensive rebounding.

The only reason B.C. was even within shouting distance of the Trojans was their sophomore point guard, who scored a career-high 32 points, had a team-high five rebounds, a team-high three assists, and two steals. Did anyone else play? With his jumper also off (8-for-20), Bell smartly took the ball aggressively to the hole and converted 12 of 14 chances from the foul line. Down 73-68, the Minneapolis native connected on a huge off-balance 3-pointer to pull his team within two. Unfortunately, Bell never got another chance to be the hero. After a USC free throw put the Trojans up three, Bell passed the ball up court and never received it back (see Goat). Final: USC 74, B.C. 71.

O'Connor is March Madness' newest star. He turned St. Joseph's second-round game into his coming-out party. A Villanova transfer who was the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, the Philadelphia native had already proved he could score in bunches when he somehow poured in 18 points in the last minute of play in a loss to La Salle.

Saturday, he matched the career-high 37 he set in that game by almost shooting St. Joe's past No. 1 Stanford. The corn-rowed sensation was absolutely unconscious the entire evening, sinking 15 of 20 shots (5-for-10 3s). Like Bell, O'Connor also nailed a late 3, with 13 seconds left to pull his team within three. But Stanford didn't miss a free throw in the final 45 seconds, and the Hawks never even had a chance for a game-tying shot. Final: Stanford 90, St. Joe's 83.

Luckily for college basketball fans, both O'Connor and Bell return in the fall. Teamed with dynamic sophomore backcourtmates -- Jameer Nelson at St. Joe's and Ryan Sidney at B.C. -- look for both to lead their teams back into the tournament. And who knows? Maybe with the two games of postseason experience under their belts, next March will have a different resolution.

Best Game
No. 6 USC 74, No. 3 Boston College 71
The Trojans were in control most of the night, but the Eagles twice fought back to make a game of it -- just before halftime and then again in the game's final minutes. With the score 56-48, USC point guard Brandon Granville fouled out with 7:06 to play, and B.C. swarmed to an 8-1 run and eventually took a brief lead at 64-63. But the Trojans calmed their nerves, and down the stretch they always had an answer. Granville's replacement, Robert Hutchinson, was only 4-for-7 from the line all season; Saturday, he hit five of six attempts in the last 75 seconds as B.C. never was able to pull even again.
Marvin O'Connor, junior, guard, St. Joseph's
See above. O'Connor made 12 of his first 14 shots to bring the Hawks from a 10-point deficit into a five-point lead. After toiling in anonymity for most of his career, O'Connor proved he could produce against top-notch competition, drilling shot after shot. Now the challenge is to raise his level of play even further, rather than disappearing as the likes of Harold Arceneaux and Brandon Armstrong have done before him (and their teams actually won).
Kenny Harley, senior, guard, Boston College
Head coach Al Skinner tried his best to defend Harley, but the fact is that the Bronx native made a boneheaded play by driving to the basket with under four seconds left and the Eagles trailing USC by three. Granted, even if Harley had pulled up or kicked the ball back out beyond the arc, the Eagles wouldn't necessarily have hit a 3-pointer to tie the score. But had he made the two with about a second remaining, what then?
Biggest Surprise
That Boston College forced 27 turnovers -- and lost.
But the Eagles were severely outclassed on the backboards, as USC ran up a 41-28 advantage; B.C. had 30 offensive rebounds alone in its first-round win against Southern Utah. The Eagles managed to beat taller teams during the entire season, but Saturday the Trojans took advantage of their physical superiority, getting a host of easy buckets to shoot 59.5 percent from the field (to B.C.'s 30.4). With the Eagles' big men in foul trouble and nobody but Troy Bell hitting jumpers, the only reason the game was close was because of all those turnovers.
Best Matchup
No. 3 Florida vs. No. 11 Temple, 2:30 p.m. EST
Temple shut down one run-and-gun team Thursday when it beat No. 6 Texas; now the Owls face what the young Longhorns could turn into in a couple years. Florida is the nation's best at running and pressing, and although the Gators have had to scale back their aggressiveness because of injuries, they still have plenty of firepower and can cause plenty of turnovers. Undersized center Udonis Haslem had a big game Friday against Western Kentucky 7-footer Chris Marcus by beating him down the court; he should be able to do the same against Temple's oversized Kevin Lyde and Ron Rollerson. Although the Owls lack depth, nothing seems able to wear down their iron-man starting five. Temple has experience in the backcourt, and if its perimeter players are hitting their shots, the Owls could be on their way to Atlanta.
Upset Special
No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 10 Butler, 2:20 p.m.
Once again, the Glance is stumped. As we said above, Temple could knock off Florida. But besides that, all of the matchups figure to go the way of the higher seed. One to keep an eye on: No. 10 Butler against No. 2 Arizona. The Wildcats are a popular Final Four pick and have jelled since these two clubs met Dec. 28 in Tucson. However, Butler is also an improved team from the one that played the Wildcats even for 34 minutes before succumbing 72-60; the Bulldogs' three losses since, all on the road, have come by a total of seven points. And we all saw what they did to Wake Forest Friday. We think Arizona is too strong, but it should still be interesting.
Player to Watch
Jason Harrison, junior, guard, No. 3 Mississippi vs. No. 6 Notre Dame, 4:50 p.m.
If you haven't caught a glimpse of Harrison before, you're in for a treat. The 5-5 backup point guard follows in the tradition of Muggsy Bogues and Shawnta Rogers, tiny but solidly built floor generals who are good playmakers and disruptive defenders. Harrison was on the floor for most of crunch time Friday as the Rebels held off pesky Iona, finishing with seven points, four assists and two steals in 25 minutes. He's hard to miss; just look for the guy who doesn't seem to belong on the court.

Check back for a new Day at a Glance every day there's NCAA tournament action.

Related information
Saturday's Day at a Glance: Little guys prove they belong
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