Top Seeds come up Big
Tajuan Porter
Tajuan Porter
Posted Mar 24, 2007

Greg Oden stood tall on Thursday night. One night later, it was another freshman — a foot and a half smaller than the 7-footer — who stole the spotlight.

Oregon's 5-foot-6 point guard Tajuan Porter picked up the slack while his senior backcourt mate, Aaron Brooks, struggled as the Ducks held off a late charge from UNLV.

Porter was unconscious from long range and finished with a NCAA regional record eight trifectas and 33 points.

This was no fluke, either.

Porter's lack of size scared most college coaches away when he was coming out of Detroit, but the pint-sized frosh is one of the best outside shooters in the country.

"He's been like that the entire year," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "He hits big shots in big games."

The Ducks are a tough matchup when they are making their shots. Porter, skilled big man Maarty Leunen and Malik Hairston were 13-of-20 from long distance.


Things weren't all that different for Florida against Butler than they were in the Gators' victory over Purdue.

Billy Donovan's team was tested, got a big bucket from Al Horford down the stretch and made its free throws to narrowly escape into the next round.

A year ago, everything seemed to come easy for the Gators. They were consistently winning games in double-figures. Nowadays, everyone is taking their best shot against the defending national champs — but Florida is still finding a way to win.

The Gators made 23 of 28 from the charity stripe while Butler missed three of four in a crucial stretch in the final few minutes. Mike Green missed a pair with 2:13 left and A.J. Graves, a 95 percent foul shooter, made one of two with 1:29 remaining.

Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey made enough 3-pointers that Todd Lickliter and the Bulldogs opted not to double-team Horford. Just as he did against Purdue, Horford made the opposition pay on a three-point play with 2:34 left. Then he swatted Julian Betko's shot with 16 seconds left to close out the 65-57 win.

Once again, all five starters contributed. Joakim Noah had 13 points and nine boards. Green finished with 17 points. Horford was a beast down low when it mattered and had 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Corey Brewer hit a critical jumper with 1:43 left and Lee Humphrey nailed a pair of key 3-pointers.

Now the only thing that stands in the way of a second consecutive trip to the Final Four is Kent's Ducks.


Jeff Green showed why he was the Big East's best player.

The Georgetown 6-foot-8½ junior can do whatever it takes. You need him to score, he can do it. He rebounds, passes and defends.

This time Green came through, with his sidekick on the bench, and made an improbable shot that sent the Hoyas into the Elite Eight for the first time in 11 years.

Green somehow squeezed through two Vanderbilt defenders and banked in an off-balance shot with 2.5 seconds left that gave Georgetown the 66-65 victory. Most players would have been celebrating the win. Instead, Green immediately got back down the court and contested the potential game-winning desperation 3-pointer from Commodores guard Alex Gordon.

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings opted not to call a timeout after Green's eventual game-winner — and Gordon was unable to get a decent look as time expired.

Green's line hardly told the story of his impact on the game — as is normally the case. He finished with 15 points, four boards, three assists while playing the entire game and shooting an efficient 7-of-11 from the field.

Big man Roy Hibbert had a dozen points and 10 boards before fouling out late in the game.

We've questioned Georgetown's guards in this space before, but the duo of Jonathan Wallace and Jessie Sapp combined for a single turnover in the win.


North Carolina became the latest No. 1 seed to get a legitimate scare.

But the Tar Heels used foul trouble to USC big man Taj Gibson to trigger a second-half run that helped set up a rematch of the 1982 national championship game with Georgetown that Michael Jordan won with a dramatic jumper.

Tim Floyd's team displayed its toughness in the first half and the Trojans built a 49-33 lead with less than 18 minutes left in the game.

However, Gibson's fourth foul became the start of USC's downfall.

It triggered a run in which North Carolina's only lanky freshman big man, Brandan Wright, was the key player. In fact, Wright picked up the slack all night for Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson — both of whom were frustrated by the Trojans defense.

Wright scored 21 points and grabbed nine boards while Hansbrough was held to five points and four rebounds. Lawson was slowed down by Gabe Pruitt and had four points.

Related Stories
This Elite Eight Is One For Numbers
 -by  Mar 24, 2007
Porter talks about Winthrop
 -by  Mar 17, 2007
Porter talks post game
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