While Spartans roll, Saint Louis coach sleeps

By RUSTY MILLER | March 17, 2012 | 6:28 AM EDT

Saint Louis' Rick Majerus coaches against Memphis during the first half of an NCAA college basketball tournament second-round game Friday, March 16, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — His team had just played a near-perfect defensive game in pulling a mild upset against a good Memphis team.

So was Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus planning on burning the midnight oil watching videotape of his next opponent?

Nope. He was going out to dinner. Then to bed.

"My mind's on Michigan State," he said, referring to the top-seeded Spartans, who held off LIU Brooklyn 89-67 in Friday's nightcap of the regional at Nationwide Arena. "I'm not going to watch it here. I'll watch it at (my hotel). I'll watch the tape. I've got assistants who work the way I used to work, as dedicated as I used to be.

"I just can't stay up all night anymore."

The way his team played defense, he should have sweet dreams. The ninth-seeded Billikens held Memphis to its worst offensive night of the season in pulling off a 61-54 win.

That paved the way for Saint Louis to move into Sunday's third round against the Spartans, who got 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists from Big Ten player of the year Draymond Green in an easy 89-67 win over 16th-seeded LIU Brooklyn.

In Friday's other games at Nationwide Arena, Richard Howell doubled his average with 22 points in 11th-seeded North Carolina State's surprising 79-65 win over San Diego State, and Jason Clark scored 21 points and No. 3 seed Georgetown's nasty zone defense befuddled Belmont in a 74-59 victory.

Majerus was probably disappointed that LIU Brooklyn lost the nightcap, long after he had left the arena.

"(My assistants) have already done a lot of work on Michigan State," he said before the tip of the Spartans' game. "We didn't think Long Island would win. Although I hope Long Island wins."

No such luck, coach.

It was Green's second NCAA triple-double in as many games. The last player to have more than one? Michigan State icon Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

Just like he does on the court, Green tried to get his teammates involved.

"A lot of the time on TV you're going to see a triple-double pop up in my stats, but you will never see the other guys' stats on what they did to contribute to me getting that triple double," he said.

The Spartans (28-7) had difficulty getting away from pesky LIU Brooklyn (25-9) in the first half. They led 42-37 at the break, but then started flexing their muscles inside. They ended up with a 43-20 advantage on the boards, shot 59 percent from the field and completely intimidated the Blackbirds.

"Those guys are monsters," LIU Brooklyn coach Jim Ferry said.

MSU coach Tom Izzo praised his team, but he also knew that there were tougher tests coming up.

"One down, many to go," he said to no one in particular as he walked down the hallway to the locker room.

In the win by Saint Louis (26-7), Kwamain Mitchell scored 22 points, including three momentum-shifting 3-pointers, and Brian Conklin hit five free throws in the last minute.

But it was the Billikens' defense that starred.

Averaging over 75 points a game, Memphis (26-9) had just 23 at half and shot just 39 percent from the field and hit only 2 of 15 3-pointers.

"We tried to make sure that we limit fast-break baskets and put defense as a priority," said Majerus, who has won 517 games at four schools.

The Tigers, led by Will Barton's 16 points, led by eight with less than 12 minutes left but couldn't hang on.

"We didn't play the way we normally played," said Memphis coach Josh Pastner, whose team came in having won 20 of the its last 23 games.

Howell, averaging under 11 points a game, was the star attraction as North Carolina State's upended San Diego State.

He scored 15 first-half points as the Wolfpack (23-12) built an early lead and then helped them hold onto it as the Aztecs (26-8) fought back in the second half.

"In today's game, we felt we could have success around the basket," first-year coach Mark Gottfried said. "We made the decision to go toward Richard, and he lit up like a Christmas tree."

The Wolfpack had size inside — the Aztecs' biggest starter was just 6-foot-7 — and exploited it as much as possible.

"It's one thing to be big," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. "It's another thing to be big and good. And they were big and good."

Jamaal Franklin had 23 points and Chase Tapley 19 for the Aztecs, regular-season champs of the Mountain West.

Georgetown had lost early in the tournament the last two years, but made sure that didn't happen this time.

With a ruthless defense that bottled up Belmont (27-8), the Hoyas forged a nine-point halftime lead and led by as many as 19 points near the finish.

"It was so good to get that first game," said Hoyas center Henry Sims, who had 15 points. "But we didn't come here just to win one game."

Georgetown's previous two seasons ended with embarrassing opening-round losses to Virginia Commonwealth and Ohio, scrappy mid-majors who made the big, bad Hoyas look silly. This time around, Georgetown played like the Georgetown of old, using inside muscle and a swarming defense that choked the life out of the Bruins.

"They're well-taught, and they've got great athletes," Belmont coach Rick Byrd said. "If (Big East champion) Syracuse is better than that, I'm glad we didn't play Syracuse."


AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed to this story.


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