San Diego St.-West Virginia Preview
Everyone else was impressed when San Diego State upset Texas on the Longhorns' home court. Less than 24 hours later, the Aztecs were rather ho-hum about it.
``We did not come here to beat Texas at Texas,'' San Diego State coach Beth Burns said Monday. ``That was one-half of what we had to do to get to our next goal, which is to get to Memphis ... Our work isn't done.''
The Aztecs, the No. 11 seed in the Memphis Regional, flew to Austin brimming with confidence after winning the Mountain West Conference tournament. They dismantled No. 6 Texas 74-63 to earn a second-round game Tuesday against No. 3 seed West Virginia, which beat Lamar 58-43.
Jene Morris scored 32 points against Texas, directing a fast-paced attack that blew open a 19-point lead in the first half and grabbed the attention of tournament watchers across the country.
With one powerhouse program dismissed, a win against one of the beasts of the Big East would send the Aztecs (22-10) to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
The Aztecs say they're ready to take on a Mountaineers team that fought through the regular season against the likes of defending national champion and undefeated Connecticut and Notre Dame, the No. 2 seed in the Kansas City Regional.
``They've won their league,'' Burns said of her players. ``They've been to the tournament. They've won in the tournament. They expect to win.''
In the first round, the Aztecs used the role of the underdog playing in someone else's backyard to pull themselves together. Morris' big shots in the first half quieted the Texas crowd, which never got a chance to get in the game.
``I think it's more fun playing in front of fans who aren't your fans. You always want to shut them up,'' Morris said.
Both teams are probably hoping someone will come watch them play Tuesday night. San Diego State and West Virginia both traveled more than 1,100 miles to Austin and had maybe 100 fans between them for their first-round games. With host Texas knocked out, prospects for even a decent-sized crowd in the 16,000-seat Frank Erwin Center seem dim.
``I think we'll be alright. We came into the NCAA tournament with ourselves. We know we have to stick together and bring our own energy,'' Morris said.
Generating the same kind of up-tempo offense the Aztecs used to dazzle Texas might not be so easy against the Mountaineers.
West Virginia outrebounded Lamar 48-28. Its shut-down defense on the perimeter begins with point guard Sarah Miles, the Big East defensive player of the year. Miles had five steals to go with 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists against Lamar.
Miles didn't even want to make the switch from shooting guard to the point when the season began and now embraces the role on both ends of the court.
``I was a little shaken up at first because of the responsibility,'' Miles said.
When she complained, she was told said she could keep calling herself a shooting guard, ``but you're still going to bring (the ball) up,'' coach Mike Carey said.
``After that, she accepted it,'' Carey said. ``She done a great job. She dictated our defense, our offense. Our biggest concern with her at the point guard, she doesn't look to score enough.''