The Dig: Conference USA Championship Madness Day 2 Edition

In The Dig:  The dust has settled on Day 1 of the Conference USA Championship.  All of the Top Seeds, except for the SMU Mustangs, advanced.  SMU was stunned by Arsalan Kazemi & Rice.  The Iranian Sensation put on an absolute clinic last night.  As for UTEP, the Miners take on a ferocious Marshall squad who simply couldn't miss from downtown against the Coogs.  Today, we get ECU v. UAB, USM  v. Memphis, Marshall v. UTEP, and Rice vs. Tulsa.  

All that and Joe Lunardi slowly has UTEP & Memphis creeping up the bubble ladder.  Take a Deep Breath.....

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UTEP Miners vs. Marshall Thundering Herd

They Were on Fire:  Marshall went on a three point hot streak during an 18-2 run that sunk Houston in the second half.  Dago Pena, yes the same Dago Pena that "took out" A.J. Rompza last week was on fire NBA Jam style.  

Good thing for Marshall he wasn't suspended, right?

A 3-point barrage fueled an 18-2 Marshall run over a 5:09 stretch in the second half. Dago Pena scored all nine of his points on three consecutive shots behind the arc, and Johnny Thomas and Kane added one apiece. Pitts made three free throws during the surge, with the last giving the Herd an 80-64 cushion with 3:24 remaining

97 Points:  The Houston and Marshall game was certainly full of offense.  Marshall scored a ridiculous 97 points.  Marshall hasn't hit the 90 mark since January 8 when they blasted Southern Miss 95-65.  Here are some numbers:

Damier Pitts tied his career high of 28 points and DeAndre Kane added 21. Johnny Thomas had 17 and Tirrell Baines 11 before both fouled out

Tim Floyd Was Watching

UTEP's Tim Floyd was really impressed with Marshall's performance last night.

"The things we knew them to be were evident tonight," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said after watching Marshall outlast Houston 97-87 on Wednesday evening. "They are a good rebounding team, they can score a lot of points in a short period of time. (Johnny) Thomas had a couple of rebounds unlike any I've seen in the league this year. His arms were above the rim. (Damier) Pitts shot the ball very well. (Dago) Peña helped change the game with three threes."

Bubble Watch

Miners Creeping Up the S-Curve:  Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology watch has UTEP as the 6th team out of the NCAA Tournament.  Alabama, USC, Missouri State, Washington State, and Memphis are the first five out.  Washington State plays Washington today.  USC plays Cal in what amounts to an elimination game.  And Alabama beat Georgia to boost their profile.  The good news is that Marshall's RPI sits at #51 right now.  Let's not get too carried away looking at the bubble, but the Miners can get a quality win tonight.  

Miner Rush Meet-Up

Come One, Come All:   Looks life we've officially set the Miner Rush meet-up at 3:30 pm at Hemingways.  Should be good times.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. Rice Owls

The Arsalan Kazemi Show:  Kazemi and Papa Dia battled all night but Kazemi's 24 points and 13 rebounds were enough to carry Rice past the SMU Mustangs 58-57.

The exciting big man match-up between Rice's Arsalan Kazemi and SMU's Papa Dia lived up to expectations, with Kazemi scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 boards, while Dia contributed 22 points and 15 rebounds. The Owls overcame poor shooting performances from the floor (20-of-56) and beyond the arc (4-of-16). Tamir Jackson scored just 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting, but still contributed with seven rebounds and five assists

Cappetto's & Cattleman's:   The Tulsa Golden Hurricanes basketball team has grubbed at both El Paso restaurants.  Doug Wojcik talked about how the meals served as a "bonding experience" and a bit about basketball with Eric Bailey from the Tulsa World.


The East Carolina Pirates vs. the UAB Blazers

You Don't Make that Call:  Jamarr Sanders thinks UAB has done enough to make the NCAA Tournament.  Personally, I think UAB's computer numbers should be enough as well.  Unfortunately, the world doesn't work that way.

"I think we've done enough," Sanders said. "We won nine road games, that's a lot of road games compared to the rest of the teams in our conference, and we won our conference outright. At the same time, it's not up to us; it's up to the guys who pick the tournament."

Slug Fest:  The East Carolina and Central Florida Knights game was a real slug fest as a fight broke out in the first half.  On the court, Jamar Abrams and Robert Sampson couldn't miss from downtown.

Jamar Abrams hit four 3-pointers among his 15 points, and Robert Sampsonwent 3-for-3 on 3-pointers in scoring 12 for East Carolina, which went 10 of 17 from long range. Brock Young added nine points, seven assists and five steals.

Last Time:  Last time ECU and UAB played, the Blazers simply took care of business against the Pirates.  BlazerTV has the story and some video.


The Memphis Tigers vs. The Southern Miss. Golden Eagles

Memphis on the Bubble:  The Commercial Appeal's Jason Smith did a Q&A with Memphis fans.  He noted that Josh Pastner believes one more Memphis win will put the Tigers in the discussion and two more will send them into the field of 68.  Smith isn't quite as confident.

I wrote a story about this for today's paper. The players believe they've got to win the Conference USA Tournament to get in and are pretty much focused on that. Josh Pastner, on the other hand, believes Memphis is in as an at-large with two wins this week and in the conversation with one. I'm not sure about the latter, but I do believe they have a shot at an at-large bid if they knock off both Southern Miss and UAB and get to Saturday's finals

On a Mission:  USM's Gary Flowers had a ridiculous game against Tulane.  

Flowers had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the fifth-seeded Golden Eagles (22-9), who will face fourth-seeded Memphis (22-9) in the quarterfinals Thursday. The senior forward reached double figures for the 27th consecutive game.

The Streak:  January 10, 2004.  That's the last time USM beat the Memphis Tigers in a basketball game.  Can Southern Miss. finally get past the Tigers?

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