Column: Saint Peter’s boils Purdue; Is mighty Carolina next?

One thing about Saint Peter’s doesn’t add up. Put apart for the second how the Peacocks preserve profitable video games. It’s arduous sufficient getting a deal with on what they do effectively.

No. 2 Kentucky couldn’t, seventh-seeded Murray State didn’t, and by the tip of their Candy 16 matchup Friday, No. 3 Purdue was left greedy at air. That’s the brief reply to how the Peacocks turned the primary 15 seed within the historical past of the NCAA Match to e-book a spot within the Elite Eight.

Saint Peter’s isn’t lengthy on skilled gamers, just like the mid-majors which were turning over the tables on the event lately. The Peacocks aren’t huge, both, which suggests 6-foot-7 KC Ndefo, their greatest and most skilled participant, typically performs out of place. They don’t have an actual star, not to mention a surefire NBA prospect.

What they do higher than anybody else is flip these doubts into gas.

“What,” coach Shaheen Holloway requested after his Peacocks held off the Boilermakers for a 67-64 win, “are they going to say now?”

“Good luck” could be a very good begin, since Saint Peter’s attracts blueblood North Carolina — which already holds the report for many Last 4 appearances (20) — in Sunday’s East Regional Last. The Tar Heels beat UCLA 73-66, after Caleb Love made the game-tying and go-ahead 3-pointers 37 seconds aside, then added two free throws with 7.8 seconds left to seal the win.

Love shot for 1 for 8 within the first half, and in a transfer prone to be commemorated in a sneaker advert by the point you learn this, modified footwear at halftime after Eric Hoots, the crew’s director of operations, steered the swap. Love went 10 for 16 within the second.

“I’m going to give him a raise,” Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis stated, referring to Hoots and never Love.

Coach Invoice Self could be in line for a pay bump himself after the Kansas Jayhawks, the lone remaining No. 1 seed, locked up Windfall on the defensive finish of the ground and held on for a 66-61 win. Within the discount, Kansas superior to face No. 10 Miami, and in addition moved forward of Kentucky for many wins in Division I historical past with 2,354.

Historical past, nonetheless, didn’t come simple. Regardless of scoring simply 17 first-half factors and trailing by 13 early within the second half, the Friars roared again behind Noah Horchler, who hit a pair of 3-pointers to tug inside 41-40 on the halfway level. Horchler then added a layup with 5:49 left to provide Windfall its first lead at 48-47.

“I don’t know that I totally buy in 100 percent that we don’t ever get rattled,” Self stated afterward. “But I do think … our league (the Big 12) has prepared us in the way you play so many close games. Every game is a fistfight.”

The Hurricanes beat Eleventh-seeded Iowa State 70-56 within the nightcap, although the matchup of two of essentially the most suffocating defenses left within the tourney was a principally one-sided affair. The Cyclones shot 32% within the second half, submarining their very own trigger additional by turning the ball over 18 occasions.

Miami’s Kameron McGusty led all scorers with 27 factors on 10-of-18 taking pictures and added six rebounds.

“At the beginning of the season if we told you we were going to the Elite Eight, everybody would laugh at us and look at us crazy,” McGusty stated. “Even three weeks into the season, everybody would look at us crazy.”

The Peacocks, and particularly their 45-year-old coach, know the sensation. The arc of Holloway’s basketball profession is worthy of a documentary, although there are seemingly a number of extra chapters nonetheless to be written, and the one about his keep at Saint Peter’s could be near completed.

Holloway was among the best point-guard prospects within the nation in highschool, wresting MVP honors within the 1996 McDonald’s All-American recreation from the likes of Kobe Bryant, Richard Hamilton and Mike Bibby. He spurned scholarship affords from Duke, Kansas and Syracuse to remain near dwelling and selected Seton Corridor.

A freak ankle damage in a 2000 event recreation in opposition to Temple ended each his faculty profession and his possibilities of taking part in within the NBA. As a substitute of bitterness over what may need been, he went to work getting ready to develop into a coach. The 2 themes that outlined Holloway — loyalty and a pick-yourself-up-after-you’ve-been-knocked down mentality — proved irresistible to the gathering of missed and under-recruited he drew to a tiny commuter college in Jersey Metropolis, New Jersey.

In the end, what the Peacocks do effectively will depend on the night time. In opposition to Kentucky, it was Daryl Banks III going off for 27 factors. In opposition to Purdue, he scored the tying and go-ahead baskets late, however scored solely 14 complete. Clarence Rupert added 11 and battled the Boilermakers 7-foot-4 Zach Edey within the paint all through. Doug Edert added 10, together with two free throws that completed off Purdue.

Saint Peter’s will likely be an enormous underdog but once more when it meets North Carolina. What the Peacocks gained’t be is awed.

Requested after the Murray State upset how his gamers dealt with being pushed round by a much bigger, extra skilled crew, Holloway simply scoffed. His reply has develop into the Peacocks’ mantra.

“I got guys from New Jersey and New York City,” he stated. “You think we’re scared of anything?”


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