By Charley Green
The fourth annual Old Spice Classic featured six teams that reached the postseason in 2008, including four in the NCAA Tournament. Xavier advanced to the Sweet 16, while Marquette and Michigan reached the second round and Florida State bowed out in the opening round. Baylor and Creighton played in the NIT, with Baylor going to the championship game. All eight teams played three games at the 2009 Old Spice Classic; Florida State came away with ultimate bragging rights. Here’s how everyone did.
Alabama played three close games, winning twice. The Crimson Tide captured the most exciting game of the weekend, a 68-66 win over Michigan on the final day. All-tournament selection JaMychal Green dunked for the winning points with five seconds left, then blocked a tying shot as time expired. Alabama’s only loss was a 60-51 setback to eventual champion Florida State, a game in which the Tide shot just 40 percent and only attempted eight free throws. Alabama began the weekend with a 79-76 win over Baylor (Green scored 22 points).
Baylor went 2-1 at the Milk House, including a 69-64 victory over Xavier to finish the tournament. Tweety Carter sank six three-pointers as part of his game-high 27 points. The Bears’ other win was a 72-62 overtime affair against Iona. After the Bears squandered a nine-point halftime lead, Carter opened the extra period with a three, and Baylor was never threatened. The Bears lost its first game of the event to Alabama, 79-76. LaceDarius Dunn scored 19 points; all-tournament team selection Ekpe Udoh added 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Creighton suffered losses in all three games at the Old Spice Classic, capped by a 63-55 decision to Iona. Kenny Lawson Jr. led the team with 18 points while Justin Carter sat out the final 10 minutes with an injury. Ethan Wragge’s 21 points in Creighton’s second game were no match for Xavier, which prevailed with an 80-67 score. The Bluejays’ best game was the first tip-off of the tournament, an 83-76 overtime loss to 15th-ranked Michigan. Justin Carter scored 21 points as Creighton hit 50 percent of its shots in the loss.
Florida State never scored more than 60 points in any game but persevered to win the Old Spice Classic by a point over Marquette, 57-56. Tournament MVP Chris Singleton had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and was the key player in a comeback from a 12-point halftime deficit. Singleton also led the Seminoles with 14 points and six rebounds in a 60-51 decision over Alabama in the second round. FSU opened play with a 54-49 win over Iona, a game that was tied with 2:40 to play before Florida State scored six consecutive points to pull away.
Iona turned away Creighton, 63-55, to come away from the Milk House with its first win on the event’s final day. Kyle Smith led the way with 14 points, and the Gaels drained nine of 16 three-point attempts in the victory. Iona fought Baylor to overtime in round two before losing, 72-62. The team hit 12 three-pointers in that game and erased a nine-point halftime deficit. Long-range shooting was Iona’s downfall in an opening 54-49 loss to eventual champion Florida State, as the Gaels were 2-15 from behind the arc.
Marquette advanced to the championship game and seemed poised to raise the trophy with a 12-point halftime lead over Florida State. But the Golden Eagles went scoreless for over four minutes late in the game as the Seminoles snuck away with a 57-56 win. Lazar Hayward, who made the all-tournament team, paced a 79-65 win over Michigan in round two with 22 points. Hayward also led the way in Game 1, scoring 27 in a 71-61 win over Xavier.
Conference: Big Ten
Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
2008-09 record (postseason result): 21-14 (NCAA 2nd round)
Michigan was the only ranked team in the Old Spice Classic at the start of the tournament, but managed only an overtime victory against Iona in the first game of the weekend. All-tournament team member Manny Harris posted 20 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists, and was a key factor in the overtime period of the 54-49 win. He scored 22 the next day against Marquette, but the Wolverines were pushed aside, 79-65. Michigan’s final game was a 68-66 loss to Alabama, with Harris scoring 26 points.
Conference: Atlantic 10
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
2008-09 record (postseason result): 27-8 (NCAA Sweet 16)
Xavier missed 10 free throws (11-21) in a 69-64 loss to Baylor, which sent the Musketeers home with a 1-2 record. Jordan Crawford’s 22 points and seven rebounds led the way as Xavier won its second-round game over Creighton, 80-67. The team connected on nine of 18 three-point attempts in the victory. The Musketeers were turned back in their opening game, 71-61, by Marquette. Jason Love scored 21 points and grabbed a tournament-record 19 rebounds in that contest.
Charley Green has served as media coordinator for the Old Spice Classic since 2007.