Top seed Stanford routs Greensboro, gets St. Joe's next
Updated: Thursday March 15, 2001 8:28 PM
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Stanford couldn't have found a more ideal way to open the NCAA tournament.
With 7-footer Jason Collins dominating inside -- and then hitting a long 3-pointer for effect -- the top-seeded Cardinal overwhelmed No. 16 North Carolina Greensboro 89-60 Thursday in the first round of the NCAA West Regional.
Collins scored 25 points, 20 in the first half as the Cardinal built a 23-point lead and cruised. Sophomore All-American Casey Jacobsen added 14 points, giving him 1,003 for his career.
Just as important, Jacobsen said, the Cardinal didn't need any starters to go all 40 minutes. Coach Mike Montgomery went to his bench early in the second half.
"If you look at this thing in the long run, the big picture, where we're trying to go with this thing, those are the kind of things that will help you," Jacobsen said.
"A win is a win, first and foremost. Would I rather have a 30-point win than a 10-point win? Probably."
Now comes the next hurdle, a second-round game against No. 9 St. Joseph's (26-6), which beat No. 8 Georgia Tech 66-62.
Stanford is trying to get back to the Final Four, which it reached in 1998 for the first time since winning the national title in 1942.
But Stanford's been eliminated in the second round each of the last two years, by Gonzaga in 1999, and last year as the No. 1 seed in the South, when it lost to North Carolina.
To get past the second round, Jacobsen said, "We just need to play Stanford basketball.
"If we have that mindset that we're not going to overestimate anybody, then we can do some great things in the tournament, because we are as talented as anybody."
Stanford (29-2), the three-time Pac-10 champion, won its opening round game for the seventh straight year. The 29-point margin was the biggest for the Cardinal in an NCAA tournament game, eclipsing last year's 19-point win over South Carolina State in the first round.
Montgomery said Thursday's win should get rid of any nervousness. He added that the Spartans played hard, "but we have a lot of weapons."
David Shuck, the hero of Greensboro's victory over Chattanooga in the Southern Conference tournament title game, led the Spartans with 16 points. Ronnie Taylor had 15.
A 16th seed still hasn't upset a No. 1, and the Spartans, who play in the shadow of the ACC, didn't come close.
Stanford "is a very powerful team," Greensboro coach Fran McCaffery said. "We did some very uncharacteristic things in the first half, but Stanford had something to do with that."
They talked a brave game on Wednesday, saying they weren't intimidated by the Cardinal. In the opening minute, the Spartans' 7-2 freshman center, Nathan Popp, blocked a shot by Collins' 6-11 twin, Jarron.
But the Spartans looked tight, missing their first five shots and committing five turnovers. They did warm up behind freshman guard Jay Joseph, who closed a seven-point deficit by hitting four 3-point shots in 3 1/2 minutes to pull the Spartans to 12-11.
That's when Collins took over. He scored six points in a 10-2 run, four on free throws and then a turnaround jumper, as Stanford took a double-digit lead for good, 27-15 with 6:46 before halftime.
Collins said he turned it on because he was unhappy with the way he played in the first five minutes.
"I just tried to relax," he said. "I was real anxious. I was ready to play the game last night. It's good to get it out of the way, put it behind us."
Stanford scored 16 of the final 20 points of the half, 10 by Collins. After hitting a long 3-pointer, he gestured to his teammates to keep it up, as if they needed it.
"They have a way of exploding, but at the same time it's methodical," McCaffery said.
Greensboro got into early foul trouble, and Stanford made 15 of 16 free throws in building a 48-27 halftime lead.
The Spartans finished with 22 turnovers.