Iona may have snagged one of the last at-large spots in the 2012 NCAA Tournament but opponents should be far more concerned with the fact that the Gaels ranked as the No. 1 overall scoring offense when the Selection Committee chose them.
Iona's inclusion in the field of 68 teams was enough of a surprise on Selection Sunday that NCAA Tournament committee chairman Jeff Hathaway was compelled to make it clear that they were not the very last team to earn a bid. Led by prolific guard Scott Machado, the Gaels will push the tempo and move the ball to the open shooter in hopes of scoring enough points to make up for a porous defense.
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Bringing its own prolific offense, the BYU Cougars will be happy to light up the scoreboard, too. Returning to the tournament again, BYU is making its ninth appearance in 12 years. Even with tournament sensation Jimmer Fredette having departed for the NBA, BYU isn't sneaking up on anybody these days, even if they may actually have been the very last team to sneak into the field as Erick Smith of USA Today surmised.
Could Iona be this year's Cinderella? Or will BYU show that they were more than just the Jimmer Show? The winner will go on to play No. 3 seed Marquette in the East Region.
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After trailing by 25 points in the first half, BYU comes all the way back to send Iona home. A stellar performance by Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies on the interior and nimble coaching for BYU. The zone destroyed the Gaels' flow. Harrison provided a tone change from the bench. Amazing result!
Carlino fouled immediately after getting the inbounds pass. Iona looking to keep it going. But he knocks down both.
|@ YahooForde : What a completely berserk night in Dayton. You see maybe one game like this a year ... we get two in a night.|
Gaels miss to three-pointers but get a putback two. It's a four-point lead. BYU ball with 14 ticks to tock off the clock.
BYU turns back Iona at the net and then Zylstra gets all the way to the rack at the other end. HOOP AND THE HARM! And this could be it. Wow.
Iona gets another good shot but can't get it to drop. At the other end, BYU gets another whistle. A weak call to send Glover to the bench for the remainder. We've got 45 seconds remaining, BYU has two free throws coming and a 1-point lead.
He misses again but Glover has four fouls. Dezouvre is already gone.
Elastic zone is everywhere that Iona wants to be and that's a shot clock violation as we get under two minutes.
Is Noah Hartsock. Terrific ball movement around the perimeter looses Hartsock for a three-point shot and BYU has come all the way back to take the lead. It's 71-70 in favor of the Cougars with 2:11 remaining.
Glover misses a terrific look and BYU has it back.
|@ awfulannouncing : Nantz: "It's the season finale of Lizard Lick Towing Monday at 10 PM on truTV." Kerr: "Not quite like promoting the Masters, is it?"|
Another jumper buried by Hartsock, who is automatic right now, channelling his inner Jimmer.
|@ filmfanatic24 : The camera man really likes that BYU cheerleader|
The leads is cut to 4 again as Hartsock continues his monster second half. He's got 18 for the game. Timeout.
Dezouvre double pumps on break and misses layup. That he got out in transition is a good sign for Iona. That he missed means BYU is still breathing down their necks.
He gets into the lane and gets fouled. The lead is back to 6 for Iona.
Iona is attacking the zone on the dribble a bit more aggressively rather than passing around its edges but both teams are trading empty trips.
Ref far behind the play whistles Machado, incorrectly, for a having a foot out as he started a drive. Iona needs some sort of exclamation point play and it seemed like that could have been it. But no luck.
Gets another two for the Gaels. He's aggressive and still has that first half swag.
And Harrison nails another three. He's been very effective in the second half.
Iona pushing it into him in the halfcourt but Cougars converging on him with numbers. His shot is blocked out of bounds.
|@ YahooForde : Meh. @SethDavisHoops Learn to love it Pat. RT @YahooForde: As much as I hate the "First Four," two absolutely wild games to tip things off.|
And with those consecutive plays Iona can exhale. It's 65-61 and they'll have the ball after this timeout.
Jenkins sinks a much-needed three in the corner and gets right into its press.
It's just a one-point lead and a 17-0 run for BYU. Iona isn't running on BYU makes anymore (and they've got plenty of them to work with..)
Davies and Hartsock volleyball it around on one end for two points and then Davies takes a charge (looked like a flop) but BYU hs the ball and they trail by just three. And we've got about 9 minutes left. What a reversal?
Zylstra gets to the line but misses both. Iona still can't buy a hoop.
Iona trying to operate in the halfcourt out of the timeout but they can't crack the zone. Blocked on the drive! Here come the Cougars. Hartsock! It's a 13-0 run and five-point game.
|@ espn700bill : BYU's ability to play zone and protect the ball has been the key to getting back into this game|
BYU's rallies to ball after it gets inside again and we've got a tie up. It's staying at the Iona end. Timeout.