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NCAA Tournament notes: Arizona's Rawle Alkins coming of age

Published March 18, 2017 7:38 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

New piccolo girl

In the tradition of the crying Villanova piccolo player from the 2015 NCAA Tournament, the internet found a new "March Sadness" star in a young Northwestern fan.

With 7:36 left in the game and Gonzaga leading 63-52, the camera singled out the sobbing fan flailing his arms and mouthing "Oh my God" and "so bad."

The video quickly went viral on Twitter, and the broadcast repeatedly went back to the fan.

— Brennan Smith

So much for hosility

Northwestern fans flocked to Salt Lake City this week for the school's first ever taste of March Madness. That had Gonzaga bracing for what it thought would feel like a road game Saturday at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

To that end, it seems, the Zags were let down.

"No, I didn't feel it at all," coach Mark Few said when asked if the atmosphere presented a challenge. "I thought Gonzaga had a crowd. I thought Northwestern had a crowd. You need to come to BYU with us sometime with a No. 1 ranking, that's all 20,000 of them against you. So I thought this was split pretty evenly."

— Aaron Falk

The game that wouldn't end

The Gonzaga-Northwestern game started 10 minutes late due to a television backlog and lasted 2 hours, 22 minutes. The second half was especially long, partly because of a sequence of three timeouts in 16 seconds — in the first five minutes. Gonzaga called a timeout during a Wildcat run at 16:01, then came the under-16 media timeout, followed by a Northwestern stoppage during a fight for the ball.

— Kurt Kragthorpe

Center of attention

Two of the top five centers in college basketball took center stage this weekend. Gonzaga's 7-foot-1 redshirt senior Prezemek Karnowski and Saint Mary's 6-foot-11 junior Jock Landale were among the finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award as the nation's best center.

Landale, a native of Australia, averaged team highs with 16.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.21 blocks per game through Thursday. He posted a double-double in the first-round win over VCU with 18 points and 13 rebounds, then finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds against Arizona in a second-round loss.

Karnowski, who hails from Poland, averaged 12.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.03 blocks per game through Thursday. After scoring 10 points in the team's first-round win over South Dakota State, Karnowski chipped in nine points and four rebounds in Gonzaga's 79-73 second-round win over Northwestern.

BYU center Eric Mika joined Karnowski and Landale on the All-WCC first team this season.

— Lynn Worthy

Long time no see

Gonzaga and Northwestern have had some common opponents this season, but have never met on the hardwood since the schools opened in 1887 and 1851, respectively.

Bryant and Mississippi Valley State are the only teams both the Bulldogs and Wildcats have faced, with a 4-0 combined record in those contests.

Bryant went on to finish with a 12-20 record in the Northeast Conference while Mississippi Valley State fared worse, finishing 7-25 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

— Brennan Smith

Alkins leaves impression

Despite all the well-deserved attention placed upon Arizona freshman forward and John R. Wooden Award nominee Lauri Markkanen, freshman guard Rawle Alkins turned in the team's most efficient offensive performance of the season in Thursday night's first-round win over North Dakota.

Alkins went a perfect 8 for 8 from the field on his way to a career-high 20 points. On Saturday, Alkins, who left the court with a dislocated finger in the first half of the game but returned to the court after popping it back into place, scored six points, made two steals and dished out one assist in a 69-60 win against Saint Mary's.

"For me being a freshman, this is obviously my first time in March Madness," Alkins said Friday. "Last year, I was watching it on TV at home. And to be playing in it is a great feeling. Not every team in college basketball is playing in March, and to be one of the few teams playing in March is a great opportunity."

— Lynn Worthy

The other Zags

Gonzaga/Jazz legend John Stockton spent Saturday in Seattle, where his daughter's No. 11-seeded Bulldog team lost 75-62 to Oklahoma in the first round. Laura Stockton led Gonzaga with 14 points.

— Kurt Kragthorpe






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