Back in 1989, when he played at Northwestern, Rex Walters, who's now with Kansas, missed three shots down the stretch in a loss to Brigham Young. He has kept a BYU schedule card from that season in his wallet ever since, and on Saturday, in the Jayhawks' 90-76 second-round victory over the Cougars, Walters scored 28 points and had six rebounds and six assists.
With Seton Hall gone—"Whenever people write that we're great, we usually stink," Pirate coach P.J. Carlesimo said, prophetically, on the eve of the Hall's upset loss to Western Kentucky—the nation's hottest team is Kentucky, North Carolina's 112-67 win over Rhode Island notwithstanding Winners of five in a row by an average of more than 30 points, the Wildcats cruised past Rider and Utah. "We can't play any better at both ends than we're playing right now," said coach Rick Pitino. And no one can play any better inside and out than Jamal Mashburn, the Wildcats' 6'8", 240-pound forward. When Utah started out with 6'9" Larry Cain on him, Mashburn went outside to burn Cain with three-pointers. So Ute coach Rick Majerus sent in 6'5" Phil Dixon—and Mashburn returned to the blocks for a little close-in mashing. "We're a difficult team to guard," said Mashburn, accurately.
Ninety-three is the magic number that Southern coach Ben Jobe recites to his Jaguars. Just squeeze off 93 shots a game, including free throws—that's one shot about eight seconds into every possession—and everything will work out fine. Southern, the champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, changed absolutely nothing for its first-round meeting with Georgia Tech of the high-rent ACC. This was the '93 tournament, and the Jags scored 93 points in a 15-point victory that left Tech coach Bobby Cremins shaking his snowy mop top. While doing its up-tempo thing, Southern shot less than 40% but so accelerated the pace of the proceedings that the Yellow Jackets found themselves playing a completely alien game. The Jags outscored Tech 54-34 in the second half. But don't ask Jobe if his Jaguars are like Loyola Marymount when Paul Westhead was coaching there several years ago. "No, they were similar to us," Jobe said. "I was playing this way when those Loyola guys were in diapers. You remember the jitterbug? We want to jitterbug, not slow drag."
The only mystery about Jobe is his age. He may be 62. Then again, he may be 63. "He was 58 for about four years one time," says Rodney Lockett, the school's sports information director. Call him Obi-Wan-Benjobe.
Southern's upset, a case of a 13th seed defeating a No. 4, still didn't match the shock value of the game that created the other great hole in the West Regional bracket. Arizona coach Lute Olson wasted so much breath defending the honor of basketball in his region this season that one wondered if he didn't protest too much. Turns out basketball in the West isn't so bad; Santa Clara, the 15th seed, looked pretty good knocking off Olson's Wildcats, who were seeded No. 2.
Half of the Santa Clara team looks like guys who took up basketball one overcast summer day when the surf was running low, and the Broncos must have been bummed indeed when their 12-point lead in the first half fell to a 25-0 Arizona run. Santa Clara nonetheless edged back, and won the game largely on the free-throw shooting of freshman point guard Steve Nash, a British Columbian who was signed after Bronco coaches watched him on a grainy home video. Nash sprinted to the foul line to take eight crucial free throws over the final minutes and made six of them, while Arizona repeatedly missed jumpers.
Also missing: the wife of Bronco coach Dick Davey, who was back home in San Jose directing a grade school play. It was, of course, Cinderella.
Both Southern and Santa Clara were gone by Sunday night. But as Jeannie Davey's child thespians and Jason Kidd and a host of other kids reminded us last week, come March, the play's the thing.