NEW ORLEANS — John Calipari had to stop watching film of Wake Forest, if only for the sake of his appetite.
The Kentucky coach counts himself a big fan of New Orleans' renowned restaurant scene, but if he wanted to be in any shape to dine out Friday, he needed to take a break from the replays of Demon Deacon rebounders overwhelming Texas on the boards Thursday night.
"They outrebounded Texas by 25. Think about that — 25 rebounds. They got 20 offensive rebounds against Texas, who prides itself in that toughness and that rebounding," Calipari said. "I just watched tape, and you know, you get sick to your stomach."
Wake Forest (20-10), the No. 9 seed in the East Region, has no delusions about beating top-seeded Kentucky (33-2) in a high-scoring, finesse-type game when the two meet in the second round tonight.
The Demon Deacons had to struggle to survive their first-round encounter with Texas. They had to find a way to get hands on teammates' missed shots for 25 second-chance points. And they needed PG Ishmael Smith's pullup jumper in the final seconds of overtime to win.
"We have our shortcomings as a team," Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said. "We don't shoot the ball real well sometimes. We have to be really, really good on defense. We have to be really good on the backboard for us to be there to win basketball games."
Kentucky, in contrast, hasn't been tested.
The Wildcats turned their first-round game against East Tennessee State into an exhibition of alley-oops and 3-pointers.
"Obviously, Kentucky's a great team. They have everything. They have size, they have quickness, they have shooters, they defend. They do everything well," Wake Forest G L.D. Williams said. "We just want to go out there and try to compete and try to make the game a good game, try to have us in a situation to where we can win the game late."
Wanting more: Ohio lost 14 games in the regular season and finished below .500 in the mid-major Mid-American Conference, but it won its league tournament to earn a No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Then it knocked off third-seeded Georgetown. "I think that's why you come to a mid-major school: the challenge of getting into the tournament. And then to win, to advance in a tournament, is another big thing," Ohio G Armon Bassett said. "I think people are starting to like us and starting to follow us. But we've just got to keep a level head, a narrow path and stay humble. And keep trying to string these W's together." With a win over sixth-seeded Tennessee (26-8) today in Providence, R.I., the Bobcats (22-14) would become just the third No. 14 seed to reach the round of 16 since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
No surprises: Danero Thomas realizes Murray State lost its chance to sneak up on anybody else in the tournament when his jumper beat the buzzer and Vanderbilt. He certainly knows the 13th-seeded Racers won't catch Butler by surprise today in San Jose, Calif. The fifth-seeded, nationally ranked Bulldogs (29-4) got to the top of the mid-major heap by surprising one big-name school after another until they earned their own big name. "We've been doing it all year," said Thomas, whose 15-footer sent Murray State (31-4) into the second round. "It's just the next game, and we've been winning since the beginning, so we've just got to get in there and stay focused."
Shaking off pain: Although Darington Hobson's left wrist is sore and tender, he's determined to play with the pain for as long as New Mexico (30-4) stays in the field. "It's tournament time," said the Lobos' leader in points, rebounds and assists. "It's not going to affect me." Hobson brings his determination into today's game against 11th-seeded Washington (25-9) in San Jose, Calif.