In a match up that gleamed of guard play and coaching, the spoils of war went to the big men, as warrior Michael Cobbins was no match for Joey & Stevie Graham and Ivan McFarlin.
The 2005 trio pounded the paint the entire game, finishing with a combined 42 points and an astonishing 31 rebounds, 13 on the offensive end.
Catch All The Tournament Action
Catch All The Tournament Action
Despite the marquee match ups on the perimeter, the 2013 squad couldn't stand up to the superior physical and organized play of the interior of Sutton's 2005 team.
The battle of the guards was everything advertised, as Marcus Dove and John Lucas tag teamed Marcus Smart, Jameson Curry and Markel Brown showed off their athleticism, and Daniel Bobik was tasked with defending 2013's sharpshooter, Phil Forte.
The teams traded early buckets, including an all-world alley oop from Smart to Brown on 2013's second possession of the game, but it was clear from the start that Ford's team would struggle for points in the paint. Le'Bryan Nash was forced to settle for jumpers and was unable consistently get to the line. While experiencing some success against Joey Graham, Nash was 0-6 under the watchful eye of Stevie. After battling to a 15-15 tie with a little under 12 minutes left in the first half, 2005 came out of a timeout and promptly went on a 17-2 run that effectively took the air out of this contest, and eventually led to a 40-22 halftime score. The only time the 2013 Cowboys would get closer than 15 the rest of the way was after a meaningless layup as time expired.
With no consistent inside threat and limited offensive weapons, the 2005 team slowly extended their defense and choked the offensive life out of the 2013 Cowboys. Forte hit two early 3's off the bench, but Sutton quickly switched Bobik to defend him, which resulted in Forte going 2-9 the rest of the game, all from behind the arc. The 2013 squad struggled with offensive flow, and never really looked to be in sync, with many possessions resulting in one-on-one plays while other players watched.
Despite the physical defense from both sides, the officials let them play, resulting in only 30 FT attempts combined. This did seem to favor 2005's team, as 2013's Smart and Nash came into the game making a living at the charity stripe.
With lack of depth at the point, Smart was harassed by Lucas and Dove, and he clearly wore down as the game went on, ending with 10 of 2013's 18 turnovers. Nash and Brown led the 2013 Cowboys in scoring with 15 each. Smart tallied 13, but only 2 of those came after halftime, and he was 4 of 20 from the floor. Forte finished with 12. Bryan Williams, who was overmatched at both guard and forward positions, never attempted a shot, ending up with 3 rebounds and 4 fouls.
The 2005 Cowboys were nearly perfect on the offensive boards, with 13 rebounds resulting in 24 second chance points, 12 of those coming in that 17-2 run that put them ahead for good. Lucas and Curry hit consecutive 3's off of offensive boards that extended the lead to 25 at one point in the first half, before a late flurry by Brown and Nash closed the gap before halftime. Ford's crew brought out a tremendous full court press, resulting in 5 quick turnovers to start the 2nd half, but couldn't capitalize, scoring only 5 points off those turnovers.
Cobbins, depsite the battering, managed 12 rebounds, 7 points, and 4 blocks, but the lack of interior depth left him alone against the Graham twins and McFarlin. Sutton's side predictably won the rebounding battle, 42-26.
John Lucas III was the picture of efficiency, posting a Marcus Smart stat line of 14-3-8-4-1 with no turnovers. Curry put up a quiet 12 points, except for one highlight reel lay in that still doesn't seem possible, even in slow motion replay. He was solid on defense, contesting almost every one of Brown's shots. Joey and Stevie Graham had 15 and 13 points respectively, while McFarlin finished with 14. Bobik registered 5 points, while Dove netted 2 on 2-2 shooting from the line.
In the end, 2005's balance was just too much for 2013. Only 5 players recorded points for Ford's group, while Sutton's team saw 7 register points, five in double figures, and three with double-doubles.
While they can't imagine playing much better, the 2005 Cowboys have no time to bask. Up next in the Black Bracket will be the #2 seeded 1995 Final Four Oklahoma State Cowboys, featuring Bryant "Big Country" Reeves and Randy Rutherford, whose name is all over the 3pt record lists at Oklahoma State. This very well could be one of the best match ups in the tournament, outside of the finals.