Tim Graham: C-c-c-cold shooting f-f-f-freezes out Villanova and Notre Dame - The Buffalo News

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Tim Graham: C-c-c-cold shooting f-f-f-freezes out Villanova and Notre Dame

Notre Dame forward V.J. Beachem scored 30 points against Syracuse in January and made seven three-pointers just a month ago at North Carolina State.

Villanova's Kris Jenkins and Jalen Brunson went in the NCAA Tournament the second- and third-highest scorers on the country's best team.

All of the above went cold, and their seasons ended Saturday afternoon in KeyBank Center.

That's a big part of what makes March Madness so fascinating. In a best-of-seven series, there's enough wiggle room to make mistakes and a little time to work out of slumps.

In a one-and-done format, off nights lead to too many empty possessions that lead to dead seasons.

Beachem made only 2 of his 14 shots and 1 of  9 three-point attempts in an 83-71 loss to slight favorite West Virginia.

"My teammates did a great job of finding me open shots like they usually do," said Beachem, who averaged 14.7 points. "I just wasn't able to knock them down.

"You know, of course, they wear you down a little bit. Maybe that's why some of them were short, but I just didn't knock them down."

Villanova would've won had Jenkins or Brunson been even tepid. Instead, the defending national champ lost to eighth-seeded Wisconsin, 65-62.

Jenkins and Brunson combined for four points in the first half, making 1 of 10 shots and zero of their five three-pointers. They added just three rebounds and two assists in their 31 first-half minutes.

"We weren't worried about our shots not falling," Brunson said. "We were focused on defending against them, rebounding against them. It's been our mind-set all year not to worry about our shot."

Villanova shot 29.6 percent in the first half and 41.2 percent for the game, its third-lowest shooting performance of the season. Wisconsin made 53.1 percent (but shot an appalling 43.8 percent on free throws).

Jenkins suffered the worst of it. He scored six points in his final college game. He made 4 of 22 shots in Villanova's two tournament games. Jenkins averaged 15.5 points during last year's NCAA title run.

Villanova coach Jay Wright claimed Friday he wasn't concerned about Jenkins' failing accuracy, but Jenkins played only 12 minutes in the second half Saturday.

Wright said Jenkins is in the category of players who "don't fear a 2-for-13 night."

"I've been asked by a lot of people," Wright said. "Good basketball journalists that I know were around for a long time say, 'What about Kris? What about Kris? Is he going to be OK?' "

"It doesn't bother him at all. That's what I love about him. I want all our guys to be like that."

Brunson scored nine points in the final 13:28 to help Villanova take a 57-50 lead and made a layup to put Villanova up by a point with 99 seconds left. But that kind of production earlier likely would've prevented Wisconsin from scrambling back.

Much love

One of the most legendary NCAA Tournament news conference moments happened when Indiana University coach Bob Knight verbally mauled a moderator who dared speak out of turn.

After West Virginia beat Notre Dame, there were no further questions for winning coach Bob Huggins. So moderator Paul Vecchio, the athletics director at Alfred University, thanked Huggins for his time.

Huggins would have none of it!

There were, however, no fireworks. Huggins merely wanted to throw a bouquet Buffalo's way.

"Can I say this?" Huggins added. "Listen, I love Buffalo. I came here in '93, World University Games; we won. Played Canisius in '07, and we won. Came here in 2010, and we won, too. And we just won two now.

"I love Buffalo. Anytime you want to invite us to come back, we'll come back. Thank you."

Big if true

There were no upsets through five of Buffalo's six NCAA Tournament games. But there apparently must be at least one. Villanova should have been on alert.

The trend began in 2000, when No. 11 Pepperdine bombed No. 6 Indiana. The game was Knight's last with the Hoosiers.

No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth won its first NCAA Tournament game in 22 years by defeating No. 6 Duke here in 2007.

Three years ago, No. 11 Dayton stunned No. 6 Ohio State and then No. 3 Syracuse. In that same tourney, Villanova was a No. 2 seed when it lost here to No. 7 Connecticut.

Huggins' theory is that Cinderellas aren't worth as much as their trumpeted storylines suggest.

"I think the TV people would tell you -- if they're honest -- they'd rather have West Virginia and Notre Dame than they would a smaller school because the numbers are going to be better," Huggins said. "I mean that's pretty much a fact.

"You have an upset, so they have to play it, and they play it, and they play it. And then they have a meeting on Monday and they say, 'What the hell just happened?' I mean, that's the reality of it all."

Buhleedat

The All-Buffalo-Subregional team as selected by me. Only one of the eight teams used a true center in its starting lineup (Nana Foulland for Bucknell), so I went with a three-guard unit.

Guard: Wisconsin senior Bronson Koenig broke the Badgers' tournament record and tied the arena record Thursday night with eight three-pointers and sparked Saturday's comeback with eight of their final 13 points.

Guard: West Virginia junior Jevon Carter totaled 35 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals. The Mountaineers outscored the Fighting Irish by 20 points with him on the floor Saturday.

Guard: Villanova freshman Donte DiVincenzo willed his team through a rough first half Thursday night and was its most consistent player Saturday. He totaled 36 points, making 6-of-8 three-point attempts, with 19 rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Forward: Wisconsin senior Nigel Hayes gutted the Badgers through an eight-minute stretch of the second half when Koenig was out with four fouls. Hayes, the active NCAA Tournament scoring leader with 166 points, added 35 in Buffalo with 18 rebounds.

Forward: Notre Dame junior Bonzie Colson was a monster. He was the top scorer in each of his games, combing for 45 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. He made 57.1 percent of his shots.

We good here?

The NCAA Tournament was righteous.

Western New York enjoyed its place on the national stage and forgot for a few days how rare the postseason is for their hometown teams.

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