As of Sunday, March 24, 2013
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
Preview: La Salle vs. Mississippi
Mississippi and La Salle have historically enjoyed their stays in Kansas City, Mo. during the NCAA Tournament and did nothing to dispel that with a pair of second-round upset wins Friday. One of those teams will add to its success in the city on Sunday when they meet in a West Regional quarterfinal. The 12th-seeded Rebels collected the program's fourth victory in the "Big Dance" when they stunned Big Ten power Wisconsin, improving to 3-0 in NCAA Tournament games played in Kansas City.
The fifth-seeded Explorers are also 3-0 all-time during NCAA Tournament play in Kansas City, where they won the school's only national championship in 1954. La Salle picked up its second tournament win in the same season for the first time since 1955 after it held off Kansas State in dramatic fashion, less than 48 hours after securing a first-round victory over Boise State in Dayton, Ohio. The winner of this contest will meet either Gonzaga or Wichita State in a Sweet 16 matchup Thursday in Los Angeles.
TV: 7:40 p.m. ET, truTV
ABOUT LA SALLE (23-9): The hot shooting that served the Explorers so well against the Broncos (season-high 63.3 percent) completely fell apart over the final 20 minutes Friday. La Salle shot 3-for-18 and scored 19 points against the Wildcats in the second half after shooting 58.1 percent and posting 44 points in the first half. However, the much-maligned La Salle defense - which allowed its opponents to shoot an Atlantic 10-high 45.6 percent - forced Kansas State to miss its final eight field-goal attempts. After scoring 12 combined points in losses to Saint Louis and Butler, leading scorer Ramon Galloway (17.1 points) is averaging 20 points through two NCAA Tournament games.
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI (27-8): Marshall Henderson - the leading scorer in the SEC - missed 12 of his first 13 shots against the Badgers, but outscored Wisconsin by himself 17-10 over the final 11:25. "He made that first shot and I celebrated," coach Andy Kennedy said following the game. "As long as he's taking shots within our offense, our guys understand that. We were getting him looks. Then once he makes one or two, we keep feeding him." The Rebels figure to enjoy a significant advantage in the front court against the undersized Explorers. Reginald Bucker - a 6-9, 235-pound forward - had five blocks against Wisconsin while 6-7, 240-pound Murphy Holloway has 13 double-doubles and led the SEC in rebounding.
Mississippi will set a single-season school record for victories with a win Sunday.
La Salle's 23 victories are its most since going 30-2 during the 1989-90 season.
Twelfth-seeded teams are 8-2 against No. 13s all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
PREDICTION: Mississippi 78, La Salle 71