0

NCAA TOURNAMENT ROUNDUP: No. 13 La Salle, No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast shake up field with upsets; No. 1 Kansas survives scare

La Salle Explorers guard D.J. Peterson (1) celebrates after beating the Kansas State Wildcats, 63-61, during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament on Friday at the Sprint Center.

La Salle Explorers guard D.J. Peterson (1) celebrates after beating the Kansas State Wildcats, 63-61, during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament on Friday at the Sprint Center.

PHILADELPHIA -- Florida Gulf Coast has only been a Division I program for two years.

The way they played on Friday night against Georgetown in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, it felt more like it was the Hoyas' introduction to March Madness rather than the Eagles' first time in the Dance.

The Eagles pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament, knocking off the Hoyas 78-68 in front of a packed house at Wells Fargo Center.

FGCU took a two-point lead into the half, and came out of the intermission even stronger. Sherrod Brown's 3-pointer with 13:54 remaining pushed the FGCU lead to 46-33, and that advantage would grow to 19 with 12:30 remaining at the end of a 21-2 run by the Eagles.

"I just try to get my team really going whenever I play because I feel like if you can get one player to just get everyone involved and to get everyone's momentum going, then I feel like you can do anything," Brown said. "I was just trying to get my team going."

FGCU would continue to hold a double-digit advantage until an Otto Porter 3-pointer with 2:50 remaining got Georgetown within nine at 64-55.

The exclamation point came exactly one minute later, when Brett Comer found Chase Fieler on a broken play for a one-handed alley-oop slam that had everybody -- including the broadcast crew -- out of their seats. Fieler, a 6-foot-8 junior forward, had a number of impressive highlight dunks as part of his nine points and seven rebounds, but none more meaningful than that one.

"I think that might have been the highest (up) I've ever been," Fieler said, though he added he'd have to go watch the video to see. "Brett has great vision. He just threw it up and I had to go get it."

Georgetown wasn't totally finished, however. Markel Starks hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to cut the deficit to 72-68 with under a minute to play. But FGCU did what it needed to, however, hitting 10 of 12 free throws in the final 76 seconds to seal the victory.

"They went on that stretch early in the second half where they made a bunch of shots, and then I think we got a little nervous and started spreading out too much," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.

Brown finished with 24 points on 6 of 13 from the floor while Bernard Thompson added 23 and Comer 12 (and 10 assists) for the Eagles.

FGCU benefited from 33 team fouls against Georgetown that allowed the Eagles to get to the free-throw line 44 times, making 30. Conversely, FGCU committed just 18 fouls as the Hoyas went 13 of 20 from the free-throw line.

The Eagles became just the seventh 15-seed in NCAA history -- but the third in the past two years -- to pull off a first-round upset. Last year, Norfolk State beat Missouri and Lehigh sent Duke home early.

Florida Gulf Coast certainly played confident and poised from the outset, hanging with Georgetown the entire opening 20 minutes to take a 24-22 lead into the break.

Georgetown led by as many as seven midway through the period, but that advantage was short-lived, as FGCU closed out the half on a 13-4 run to take that two-point advantage into the break.

That FGCU even made the NCAA Tournament was somewhat surprising considering it was just the school's second full year as a Division I postseason-eligible member after joining the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2007.

They've made the Atlantic Sun title game in each of those two seasons, losing to Belmont last season before downing Mercer this season to lock up their first March Madness berth.

The Eagles already had one marquee win on the resume, a 63-51 decision over Miami (Fla.) back on Nov. 13. They played one of the tougher nonconference slates in the country, with losses to Virginia Commonwealth, St. John's, Iowa State and Duke helping to prepare them for the likes of 2nd-seeded Georgetown.

"At the beginning of the season, I asked our players what kind of schedule they wanted to play. ... One exempt tournament we played in had Duke and VCU in it and they wanted to play in that one," FGCU coach Andy Enfield said. "We thought we had the talent to do that.

"We'll play anyone, anywhere, at any time," he added later.

Clearly, that work paid off when it mattered most.

FGCU will play San Diego State in the third round on Sunday.

NOTES: FGCU hasn't trailed at the half for 21 consecutive games, a streak that dates back to Dec. 31, when they trailed 36-35 to Kennesaw State ... Brown is the first player in FGCU history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. ... The Hoyas entered the game as the fourth-best defensive team in the country, allowing only 0.84 points per possession according to KenPom. ... The win is the first for an Atlantic Sun team since Georgia State beat Wisconsin in 2001, and just the third win for the conference in NCAA Tournament play since 1981.

NOTES: FGCU hasn’t trailed at the half for 21 consecutive games, a streak that dates back to Dec. 31, when they trailed 36-35 to Kennesaw State. … Brown is the first player in FGCU history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. … The Hoyas entered the game as the fourth-best defensive team in the country, allowing only 0.84 points per possession according to KenPom.

Henderson leads Ole Miss again to upset win

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Marshall Henderson had a horrible first 28:39 of the game. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, a college game still requires 40 minutes.

Henderson had two points and was 1-of-13 from the field (including 0-of-6 from 3-point range) when his first long-ranger went in with 11:21 left in the second half.

It triggered something, because he exploded for 17 second-half points to help No. 12 seed Mississippi defeat No. 5 Wisconsin, 57-46, in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Sprint Center.

“I was waiting for that first three to go down,” Henderson said. “A few of my shots were rimming in and out, just a little long. That was frustrating.

“But Coach has told me all year to be a ‘serial killer.’ I just have to keep shooting. When that went in, we were down by three points. Everything started falling from that point.”

Henderson, who came into the game averaging 20.1 points per game, scored 19 points, but on 6-of-21 shooting.

Henderson finished 3-for-12 from long range.

“We’ve seen this show before,” Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. “If you go 0-for-5, it’s going to be a long night; if you go 5-for-5 it’s going to be a great night.

“As long as he’s taking shots within our offense, our guys understand. Once he makes a big one, we just keep feeding him and feeding him.”

With Mississippi (27-8) clinging to a three-point lead with 2:49 remaining, Henderson drained a 35-footer with plenty of shot clock left to give the Rebels a comfortable cushion.

Henderson scored 17 of Mississippi’s final 27 points.

“I thought we did a pretty good job on Henderson in the first half,” Wisconsin’s Jared Berggren said. “He made some pretty tough shots in the second half. We knew he was going to get going. It doesn’t take much to get a player like that going. He got hot and did what he does.”

Added the Badgers’ Sam Dekker: “Henderson got some big shots. When he hits those, if you’re not stopping that they’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

The Rebels will face the winner of the No. 13 LaSalle vs. No. 4 Kansas State in Sunday’s third round.

Neither team could muster much offense, mainly because of horrid shooting. The Rebels shot 39 percent, although they did connect on 48 percent in the second half.

Wisconsin (23-12) hit only 25 percent of its shots.

The first half was back and forth, with the largest lead by either team four points before Dekker of Wisconsin hit a 3-piont shot with 26 seconds remained in the half.

Mississippi answered with its own 3-point play to cut the halftime lead to 25-22.

The Badgers shot only 30 percent in the first half, while the Rebels connected on only 31 percent of their shots.

Wisconsin was led by Dekker, who scored 10 points in the first half. Reginald Buckner led Ole Miss with seven points.

Henderson was held to two points in the half on 1-of-11 shooting, including 0-of-4 from 3-point range.

NOTES: Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy reached 20 wins for the sixth time in his seven seasons in Oxford. The program had won 20 games seven times in the 96 seasons before Kennedy’s arrival. … The Rebels are making their seventh appearance in the NCAA tournament, and first in 11 years … Wisconsin was appearing in its 15th straight NCAA tournament, and 20th overall. The Badgers won the championship in 1941. … Kennedy (SEC) and Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan (Big Ten) won their conference’s coach-of-the-year honors.

Duke 73, Albany 61: Seth Curry scored 26 points to lead Duke to a 73-61 victory over Albany in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Curry and senior forward Mason Plumlee combined for 49 points on an efficient 25 shots from the field, part of a 27-of-46 shooting performance (58.7 percent) by the Blue Devils, who are seeded second in the Midwest Regional.

Albany, the 15th seed, made a late first-half run to cut a 13-point Duke lead to five with 1:54 remaining before halftime. The Blue Devils’ advantage was back up to nine at the half and reached 14 in the first five minutes of the second half, a margin they would sustain for the next 10 minutes.

Duke’s lead was whittled to eight with 4:40 remaining on two free throws by Albany’s Jacob Iati, but the Great Danes would get no closer the rest of the way.

Iati led Albany with 15 points, hitting 3 of 4 3-point shots. Peter Hooley (13 points), Mike Black (10) and Sam Rowley (10) also scored in double figures.

Curry, younger brother of Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and half of the highest-scoring pair of brothers in NCAA history, hit 10 of 14 shots from the field, including both of his 3-pointers, and added six rebounds.

Plumlee, who finished with a game-high eight rebounds, helped the taller and more athletic Blue Devils to a 36-20 points advantage in the paint.

In beating Albany, Duke avoided falling to a No. 15 seed in the first round of the tournament for the second consecutive year. Lehigh shocked the nation with a 75-70 victory over the perennial powerhouse Blue Devils in 2012.

Duke advanced to the third round and will face the Creighton-Cincinnati winner.

Temple 76, North Carolina State 72: Khalif Wyatt hit the clinching free throws with 2.2 seconds left and led the way with 31 points as the ninth-seeded Owls held off the Wolfpack in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Dayton, Ohio.

Jake O’Brien added 18 points and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson scored 12 for Temple (24-9), which will play James Madison or No. 1 seed Indiana in the third round on Sunday. The Owls are attempting to reach the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2001.

Lorenzo Brown scored 22 points, C.J. Leslie had 20 and Richard Howell collected 14 points and 15 rebounds, but North Carolina State (24-11) lost its opening game in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003.

Temple held a 38-22 lead at the half and led by as much as 18 in the second half before the Wolpack began to chip away. North Carolina State chopped it to single digits three times before Wyatt gave the Owls their last double-digit edge on a 3-pointer with 4:40 left that made it 62-51.

Leslie responded with a 3-pointer and Wood buried two in a 9-1 run to pull within 63-60 with 3:09 to play. Wyatt and Leslie traded free throws to keep it a three-point gap, but Lorenzo Brown missed a 3-point attempt that would have tied it and Temple went 11-of-14 from the free throw line in the final 1:27 to close it out.

GAME NOTEBOOK: North Carolina State outshot (55.8 percent to 48 percent) and outrebounded (34-24) Temple, but the Owls only committed five turnovers to the Wolfpack’s 13. … Wyatt was fighting through an injury to his left hand but went 12-of-14 from the free throw line to make up for a 9-of-22 effort from the floor. … North Carolina State went 4-of-13 from 3-point range.

Miami (Fla.) 78, Pacific 49: Whatever the seed, the Miami Hurricanes opened the NCAA Tournament in national championship-contender fashion.

The second-seeded Hurricanes breezed to a victory over 15th-seeded Pacific, 78-49, on Friday at the Frank Erwin Center.

Miami (28-6), which won the ACC regular season and tournament championships only to receive a No. 2 seed in the East Region, will have its chance to prove it is a legitimate contender.

To open the tournament, the Hurricanes toyed with the Big West Conference tournament champion, as bigger, stronger Miami took care of a formality.

Shane Larkin finished with 10 points and nine assists, leading the charge in the first half. Durand Scott heated up in the second half, scoring 18 to finish with a game-high 21.

Miami put its stamp on this one midway through the first 20 minutes.

Pacific (22-13) went more than seven minutes without scoring in the first half, a stretch that included 11 straight missed shots and air balls on consecutive possessions.

Tiger forward Khalil Kelley finally broke the drought with a dunk on an assist from Colin Beatty.

But Miami, thanks to its stingy defense, took control during Pacific’s scoreless stretch.

Larkin started a 14-0 run with two free throws and later went to the basket for a lay-in and completed a three-point play. Miami guard Rion Brown added a 3-pointer on an assist from Larkin during the run.

By the time Kelley got Pacific back on the board, the Tigers trailed, 22-9, and wouldn’t get back to within 10 points.

Following the key run, Larkin and Brown each hit 3-pointers and the Hurricanes’ big men found easy baskets inside, as Pacific struggled to deal with Miami’s size and athleticism.

Hurricane center Julian Gamble flipped an interior pass to Reggie Johnson, who hit a flat-footed layup, and Tonye Jekiri had a put back and a layup on an assist from Larkin to help Miami stretch its lead to 36-13 with barely over a minute left in the first half.

Pacific reserve guard Markus Duran hit a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer, but it was much too little, much too late as Miami led, 40-19.

NOTES: No. 2-seeded Miami is the first team to win the ACC regular season title and the conference tournament championship in the same season, and then not earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. “We play at our best when we have a chip on our shoulder,” Miami senior center Julian Gamble said before the tournament. … Pacific coach Bob Thomason, who is retiring, finished his career with 489 wins and 347 losses. He coached the last 25 seasons at Pacific, his alma mater. … Pacific entered the game with a 5-1 record on neutral courts, including 1-1 against NCAA Tournament teams, with a victory over St. Mary’s and a loss to California.

La Salle 63, Kansas State 61: Jerrell Wright matched a career high with 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Explorers held on to defeat the Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., after blowing a huge first-half lead.

Wright hit all six of his field goals and went 9-for-10 from the foul line for No. 13 seed La Salle (23-9), which will meet No. 12 seed Mississippi in the third round of the West Regional on Sunday. Ramon Galloway added 19 points for the Explorers.

Jordan Henriquez posted his first double-double of the season with 17 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks to pace Kansas State (27-8). Shane Southwell also chipped in 17 points for the Wildcats.

The Explorers had their way early against the top scoring defense in the Big 12, draining their first three 3-pointers and shooting 58.1 percent in the first half to race out to a 35-16 advantage with 6:04 left before intermission. La Salle held a 44-26 lead at the break - the second-highest point total Kansas State has surrendered in the first half.

The tide completely turned in the second half as Southwell drained a 3-pointer to spark a quick 8-0 run out of the break and the Wildcats took their first lead at 57-56 with 7:12 remaining. Wright hit five of his final six free throws down the stretch - including three over the final 30 seconds - as La Salle grabbed a 63-61 lead with eight seconds left and forced Angel Rodriguez into a difficult shot as time expired.

GAME NOTEBOOK: La Salle survived hitting three of its 18 second-half field-goal attempts. … The Wildcats fell to 108-78 all-time in Kansas City. … The Explorers have notched two wins in the same NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1955.

No, 1 seed Indiana rolls past James Madison 83-62

DAYTON, Ohio -- On Thursday, Indiana guard Victor Oladipo said playing in the Big Ten Conference had taught the Hoosiers to not take any opponent for granted. And while James Madison, Indiana’s second-round NCAA Tournament opponent, isn’t considered Big-Ten caliber, Indiana still left nothing to chance against the upset-minded Dukes.

Freshman guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell scored 14 of his team-leading 16 points in the first half, and five players scored in double figures to lift No. 1 seed Indiana to an 83-62 victory Friday at University of Dayton Arena.

“We know pretty much anything can happen in the NCAA Tournament,” said Ferrell. “We weren’t going to take this team lightly.”

Will Sheehey scored 15 points, and Cody Zeller and Oladipo each had 11 for Indiana (28-6) which advanced to face No. 9 seed Temple (24-9) in the third round Sunday at Dayton.

Andre Nation led James Madison (21-15) with 24 points, and Charles Cooke added 18.

“Watching Indiana on tape in preparation and then playing them … it took a half for us to catch up to the speed at which they play the game,” said JMU coach Matt Brady. “It’s impressive.”

Christian Watford hit a 3-pointer and Oladipo drove baseline and finished with a two-handed dunk to put Indiana ahead 26-10. Oladipo hit a 3-pointer moments later to put the Hoosiers ahead by 19 points with 8:07 left in the first half.

“We were locked in from the start,” said Sheehey.

Nation scored 10 points in the first half for James Madison, which made only 29 percent of its shots.

Indiana went 6-for-13 from 3-point range in the first half to take control of the game early. The Hoosiers led, 43-22, at halftime.

Zeller’s one-handed jam put the Hoosiers ahead, 56-26, with 14:09 left.

Ferrell scored 14 points in the game’s first five minutes, helping Indiana build a 21-point halftime lead.

“Our guys prepared like it was any other game,” said Hoosiers coach Tom Crean. “We had great respect for James Madison’s players and coaching, and we played that way.”

NOTES: James Madison’s leading scorer, Rayshawn Goins, who was suspended for the first half of its First Four victory over LIU Brooklyn following an arrest for disorderly conduct at a campus party, started Friday’s game and finished with two points on 1-of-6 shooting. … Kevin Ferrell scored 14 points pf his 16 points in the first half, but couldn’t reach his career-high of 19 set on March 2 against Iowa. … Indiana’s only previous meeting with James Madison was an 84-52 win on Dec. 11, 1987. … James Madison is no stranger to NCAA Tournament upsets. In consecutive seasons in the early 1980s, the Dukes pulled off first-round upsets of Georgetown, Ohio State, and West Virginia.

Illinois 57, Colorado 49: Brandon Paul scored 10 of his 17 points over the final 6:06 as the Fighting Illini dispatched the Buffaloes in the NCAA Tournament at Austin, Texas.

D.J. Richardson scored 14 points and Tracy Abrams added 13 for Illinois (23-12), which let a 16-point halftime lead slip away before closing the game with an 18-5 run. The Illini face second-seeded Miami on Sunday in the East Regional for a berth in the Sweet 16.

Askia Booker scored 14 points and freshman Josh Scott had 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Buffaloes (21-12), who opened the second half with a 23-2 burst to hold a five-point lead just past the midway point of the second half.

The Illini moved ahead to stay as Richardson and Paul hit 3-pointers to cap a 9-0 run for a 48-44 lead with 6:06 to play. Illinois didn’t make another field goal and Paul hit six consecutive free throws and Nnanna Egwu hit one during a 7-0 surge that gave the Illini a 55-46 edge with 24.6 seconds left.

Richardson hit two 3-pointers as Illinois scored the final 13 points of the first half for a 37-21 lead. The Buffaloes missed their last 11 shots of the half and then erupted in the second half as Illinois missed 14 consecutive shots.

GAME NOTEBOOK: The Illini scored 15 points off Colorado turnovers in the first half and finished with a 21-8 edge. … Buffaloes G Spencer Dinwiddie scored just six points on 1-of-8 shooting while battling foul trouble. … Illinois was 8-of-31 from 3-point range with Richardson making four. Booker had four for Colorado, which went 5-of-19.

No. 7 Creighton 67, No. 10 Cincinnati 63: Doug McDermott scored a game-high 27 points and was 11-for-11 from the free-throw line as the Blue Jays held off the Bearcats in a second-round game of the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional at Philadelphia.

Cincinnati had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Sean Kilpatrick missed a long, off-balanced 3-pointer with six seconds to play. Austin Chatman sealed the game with a free throw with three seconds left as seventh-seeded Creighton went 11-for-12 from the line in the final two minutes.

Gregory Echenique added 13 points for the Blue Jays (28-7), who will play second-seeded Duke on Sunday. Kilpatrick led the 10th-seeded Bearcats (22-12) with 19 points and Cashmere Wright had 15.

McDermott, second in the nation in scoring at 23.1 points, hit a leaner in the lane to give the Blue Jays their biggest lead of the game at 52-44 with 8:39 to play. But Cincinnati responded with a 10-2 run to tie the game on a jumper by Kilpatrick with 3:31 left.

Echenique broke the tie with a contested layup as the Blue Jays scored the next six points and never trailed again. Creighton has won six in a row.

GAME NOTEBOOK: McDermott was called for a flagrant 1 foul with 53 seconds left. Shaquille Thomas missed both free throws but Kilpatrick hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession. …The Blue Jays, who lead the nation in shooting, shot 63.2 percent in the first but cooled off in the second half and finished at 45.2 percent. …McDermott had 14 points by the break and Creighton scored the final six points to take a 32-27 lead into intermission.

North Carolina 78, Villanova 71: P.J. Hairston scored 23 points and hit five 3-pointers to lead four players in double figures as the Tar Heels topped the Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Kansas City.

Eight-seed North Carolina (25-10) advances to face either top-seed Kansas or Western Kentucky in the round of 32 on Sunday. James Michael McAdoo added 17 points for the Tar Heels.

JayVaughn Pinkston led Villanova (20-14) with 20 points. Villanova led by one point early in the second half before the Tar Heels surged ahead. North Carolina held a slender 70-68 on Mouphtaou Yarou’s layup with 1:44 remaining, but North Carolina finished the game on an 8-3 run.

Reggie Bullock scored 15 points and Marcus Paige added 14 points for North Carolina. The Tar Heels shot 49 percent from the field and hit 11 3-pointers.

Darrun Hillard added 18 points and Yarou scored 17 for the Wildcats. Villanova shot 4-for-21 from 3-point range

GAME NOTEBOOK: North Carolina coach Roy Williams won his 700th career game. … Bullock added three 3-pointers. … Villanova outrebounded the Tar Heels 35-18.

Ohio State 95, Iona 70: Sam Thompson had career highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds and the second-seeded Buckeyes used a pair of 15-0 runs to pull away in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Dayton, Ohio.

Deshaun Thomas added 24 points, Lenzelle Smith Jr. finished with 12 and Shannon Scott matched his career high with 10 assists for Ohio State (27-7), which has won nine straight heading into the West Regional quarterfinals Sunday against seventh-seeded Notre Dame or No. 10 Iowa State.

Tavon Sledge scored a career-high 20 points for No. 15-seed Iona (20-14). Sean Armand contributed 17 points and David Laury had 14 points, eight rebounds and a season-high six turnovers before fouling out with 10:36 remaining.

The Gaels missed nine straight field-goal attempts and committed three turnovers in a 15-0 run that gave the Buckeyes a 20-6 lead with 12:38 left in the first half. Iona managed to get back within four, but Ohio State scored the last six points of the half to take a 43-33 lead in the break.

The Buckeyes scored the first nine points of the second half - capped by a Thompson dunk - for another 15-0 run and Iona continued to fade.

GAME NOTEBOOK: The Buckeyes entered the game 17th in the nation in scoring defense (57.9), Iona second in the nation in scoring offense (80.7). … Iona senior G Lamont Jones, who came in averaging 23 points, second-most in the tournament, finished with nine points on 3-for-14 shooting while also committing four of the Gaels’ 19 turnovers. … Ohio State G Aaron Craft spent much of the game guarding Jones and picked up his first foul in 100 minutes late in first half.

Florida 79, Northwestern State 47: Kenny Boynton became the second Gators player to score 2,000 points while third-seeded Florida advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year by dispatching Northwestern State in Austin, Texas.

Erik Murphy had 18 points to lead four players in double digits for Florida (27-7), which will face UCLA or Minnesota in Sunday. Patric Young added 16 points while Boynton and Scottie Wilbekin added 11 apiece - with Boynton reaching the milestone on a jumper at the 18:45 mark of the second half.

DeQuan Hicks paced Northwestern State (23-9) with 12 points. The Demons, the nation’s top offensive team with an 81-point average, were held to their lowest point total of the season.

Florida led the vast majority of the game, but didn’t start pulling away until midway through the second half, when they embarked on a 19-1 run to open a 68-42 advantage with 6:38 remaining. The Demons were held to a single field goal over the final 13:13, and made five shots in the entire second half.

Florida, the nation’s third-ranked scoring defense at 53.7 points allowed, has held 13 of its 34 opponents to less than 50 points.

GAME NOTEBOOK: This marked the third time in the past 10 games Florida had four players score in double figures. … Boynton is 85 points away from surpassing Ronnie Williams as Florida’s career scoring leader. … Florida improved to 10-3 in NCAA Tournament openers during the tenure of coach Billy Donovan.

Minn. crushes UCLA

AUSTIN, Texas -- Officially, 11-seed Minnesota opened the NCAA Tournament as the underdog against sixth-seeded UCLA.

In every other respect, though, the Gophers seemed like the favorite.

Minnesota established a double-digit lead in the first half and then answered every challenge from the Bruins in the second half to claim an 83-63 victory over UCLA Friday night in the South Regional at the Frank Erwin Center.

Gophers guard Andre Hollins hit four 3-pointers in the second half on his way to a game-high 28 points. Meanwhile, Austin Hollins filled up the stat sheet with 16 points, seven assists and four steals.

Throw in Trevor Mbakwe's nine points and 12 rebounds and it's easy to see why Minnesota (20-13) is moving on to face Florida in the round of 32 on Sunday.

The Gophers won just five of their last 16 games entering the NCAA Tournament. But it's a new season of surviving and advancing and Minnesota gave the Big Ten a sweep in its matchups with the Pac-12 in Austin.

"It's huge," Andre Hollins said. "Growing up you dream of these moments. We have more games to go. We have to raise our intensity at this part of the year and that's what we did tonight."

The loss could spell doom for UCLA coach Ben Howland as rumors that he needed to at least reach the Sweet 16 to keep his job circulated before the tournament.

Howland answered a direct question about his future with "no comment." At other times, Howland praised the Bruins (25-10) and their accomplishments this season having won the Pac-12 regular season title.

"I'm not going to let this diminish what a great season these kids provided," Howland said. "I'm really proud of the spirit of this team."

Shabazz Muhammad scored 20 for the Bruins, but UCLA couldn't slow down Minnesota long enough on the defensive end to climb back into the game in the second half.

Instead, the Gophers put the game away with a 16-5 run to establish a 19-point lead with 6:04 left.

UCLA briefly closed the gap to five points when Norman Powell hit a 3-pointer with 15:01 remaining.

But Minnesota fired back as Hollins hit 3s on back-to-back trips increase the Gophers' lead to 50-39.

"We cut it to five and then Hollins -- he played great, unbelievable -- he made two big 3s in a row," Howland said.

Minnesota used a 19-4 run to gain a 14-point lead late in the first half.

Hollins hit a pair of 3-pointers to bookend the run, including the shot that ignited the surge to give Minnesota a 17-15 lead. By the time Hollins capped the run with a 3, the Gophers had taken a 33-19 edge. Mbakwe had a put-back and two more interior baskets during the surge.

Hollins finished the first half with 11 points and five assists.

"I thought we were pretty efficient," Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. "When you make shots, that's always a remedy for a lot of things. When we're making shots from the outside, we're pretty effective."

UCLA struggled to find its offensive rhythm playing without freshman standout Jordan Adams, who broke his foot at the end of the Bruins' Pac-12 Tournament semifinal against Arizona. The Bruins shot 27 percent from the field -- just 2 of 10 from 3-point range -- and had nine turnovers in the first half.

But the Bruins dominated the boards in the first half, out-rebounding Minnesota, 24-16. And UCLA guard Norman Powell hit a 3-pointer in the final minute of the first half to slow Minnesota's momentum going to the break, cutting the Gophers' lead to 10.

NOTES: Howland reminded media members on Thursday that legendary Bruins coach John Wooden expected a call from Minnesota when he instead got a call from UCLA and accepted its head coaching job, later turning down Minnesota to keep his word. ... Minnesota was one of two lower-seeded teams in the tournament to be favored by the MGM-Mirage line in the first round. Missouri was the other. ... Minnesota is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010 and had an 11 seed for the second consecutive appearance.

Kansas holds off challenge from 16th seed

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas coach Bill Self could laugh after his Jayhawks escaped a historic upset to 16th seeded Western Kentucky. But it was nervous laughter.

Kansas edged Western Kentucky 64-57 to avoid being the first No. 1 seed ever to lose its first game in the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks were 9-of-10 from the free-throw line in the final minutes to close out their victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center on Friday.

"Obviously we're pleased we won, but we didn't play our best, by any stretch," he said. "But give Western credit. I thought they were the most aggressive team. They controlled the game for the most part until the second half when we got the ball inside some."

Self's laughter came when asked about his team's defense that held Western Kentucky to 3-of-20 shooting from 3-point range.

"That (stat is) true, but we also made one shot for the game outside of two feet, and that was (from) our 7-foot center," he said. "We didn't exactly light it up either.

"But our defense was pretty good in the second half. I thought we were playing better with about seven minutes left in the second half. We had 17 points and they had about six. I thought there were some good things we did defensively."

Jeff Withey's inside presence finally paid off for the Jayhawks, as the 7-footer scored nine points in the second half to help Kansas pull away. His short hook in the lane with 3:52 left gave Kansas a double-digit lead for the first time at 52-42.

Withey led Kansas with 17 points. Ben McLemore and Travis Releford each contributed 11 points for the Jayhawks.

Four Hilltopers, led by Jamal Crook with 13 points, scored in double figures.

Kansas will play North Carolina, who defeated Villanova earlier in the day, in Sunday's third round.

"The entire country got a glimpse of what they're made of, their character, their heart," Western Kentucky coach Ray Harper said. "A lot of people doubted us."

Western Kentucky didn't doubt itself. In fact, the players felt like they let one slip away.

"We had a lot of looks," George Fant said. "We just didn't finish. I had a lot of looks myself."

That point was not disputed by the Jayhawks.

"We definitely let them get some open looks in the second half," Travis Releford said. "It just wasn't falling for them. It was miscommunication on our end. We (weren't) talking much."

The Jayhawks (30-5) had their hands full with the Hilltoppers. Kansas scored the first four points of the second half to grab their biggest lead of the game at 34-31. Both teams started the second half in sluggish fashion. The Hilltoppers made only one of their first 12 shots of the half.

The Jayhawks just couldn't shake Western Kentucky (20-16). Even when Kansas led by six points on several occasions, Western would answer. It wasn't until Withey scored seven points in a 9-3 run that Kansas could feel comfortable.

Western Kentucky actually out-rebounded the Jayhawks 41-35, including a whopping 18-4 on the offensive glass.

"We obviously didn't rebound the ball," Self said. "They got way too many extra possessions."

For a moment, at least. The Hilltoppers answered Kansas with an 8-2 run to cut the lead to 55-50. But Kansas' success from the free-throw line in the closing moments clinched the victory.

Western Kentucky continued the trend of lower-seeded teams putting scares into their opponents. No. 12 seed Mississippi beat Wisconsin and 13-seed LaSalle beat Kansas State in the opening session in Kansas City. Also, ninth-seeded Villanova overcame a 20-point deficit to take the lead before falling late to North Carolina.

The Hilltoppers led through most of the first half. They led by as many as four. A layup by Crook with 45 seconds left in the first half allowed Western to take a 31-30 lead into intermission.

Kansas was led by Withey with eight points and Perry Ellis had seven.

Western Kentucky got nine points from Aleksejs Rostov and eight from George Fant. The Hilltoppers outrebounded Kansas 18-13, including a 5-2 edge on the offensive end.

NOTES: Western Kentucky is in the NCAA Tournament for the 23rd time overall, and fourth time in the past six seasons. The Hilltoppers have won at least one game in each of their last three appearances. ... The Hilltoppers are 1-1 against Kansas all-time in the NCAA Tournament. Western Kentucky won the third-place game of the 1971 Final Four (later vacated) and lost in the second round of the 1995 NCAA Tournament. ... Kansas is in its 42nd NCAA Tournament, including its 24th in a row, the longest active streak in the nation. The 1988-89 Jayhawks were ineligible. The last time Kansas was eligible for the NCAA Tournament and didn't make it was 30 years ago. ... This is the 11th time that Kansas has earned a No. 1 seed since the NCAA began seeding in 1979.

Aggressive approach pays off as Cyclones defeat Irish, adavance

DAYTON, Ohio -- Iowa State, the nation's top 3-point shooting team, made nine shots from the beyond the arc in Friday's second-round NCAA Tournament win over Notre Dame. But that wasn't what led to the Cyclones' domination of the Irish.

Cyclones forward Georges Niang said it was the threat of the 3-pointer that created openings for him to get easy baskets.

Niang scored 19 points and Melvin Ejim added 17 lifting No. 10-seed Iowa State to a 76-58 win over No. 7-seed Notre Dame Friday night at University of Dayton Arena.

"Coming into the game we thought we'd have a mismatch against their bigs," Niang said. "The guards were staying on our shooters. That gave us a lane to go by them. I got some easy lay-ins, and that got us going. We fed off that."

The Cyclones (23-11), who advance to face No. 2 seed Ohio State in the third round at 12:15 p.m. Sunday at Dayton, used an aggressive, attacking defense to force 17 Irish turnovers and record four steals.

"We usually don't turn the ball over like that," said Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant. "We made mental mistakes we couldn't afford to make. We picked the worst day to have our worst game."

Iowa State's goal coming into Friday's game was to speed up the Irish and get them out of their half-court offense. The Cyclones outscored the Irish 12-to-2 on fast-breaks and scored 16 points of Irish turnovers.

"If you play that team in the half-court, it's going to be a long night, we knew that," said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg.

For Notre Dame, it was yet another early NCAA Tournament exit, leaving some unfinished business for the Irish who move to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

"It stings," said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey who is 6-9 in the NCAA Tournament, and just 5-5 as a higher seed. "It's what keeps me up at night. We've been so consistent in the regular season. Winning in this tournament is the next step for our program."

Notre Dame (25-10) was led by Jack Cooley and Tom Knight who each scored 14 points. Grant added nine points for the Irish.

Iowa State used an 8-0 run beginning with Will Clyburn's layup at the end of the first half to go ahead 41-25 early in the second half.

Niang, who had just six points in the first half, scored seven consecutive points making the score 51-33.

Korie Lucious hit a 3-pointer to give Iowa State its largest lead, 57-37, with 11:24 left.

With the game in hand late in the second half, the 3-pointers began to fall again for Iowa State.

Back-to-back Tyrus McGee put the Cyclones ahead by 27 points with 7:58 left. Bubu Palo hit a 3-pointer to make the score 74-47.

Notre Dame went scoreless for nearly four minutes to start the game and Iowa State produced a 7-0 run to grab the lead.

Ejim's dunk put the Cyclones ahead 25-19 with 4:34 remaining in the first half.

Iowa State went 5 of 13 from beyond the arc in the first half. But it was the Cyclones' defense that made the difference in the first half, forcing 14 Irish turnovers with three steals. Iowa State scored 13 of its first-half points off turnovers.

Iowa State broke open a close game late in the first half.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Chris Babb put the Cyclones ahead 31-21. Clyburn later beat the first-half buzzer with a layup putting Iowa State ahead 35-23 at halftime. Clyburn led all scorers in the first half with eight points.

"They're so potent offensively with the way they spread you out," Brey said. "At times I thought it was men against boys tonight. I don't want to take anything away from Iowa State. But I'm thoroughly disappointed."

Notes: It was the second meeting between Iowa State and Notre Dame. The Irish won the only other meeting, 87-77, in South Bend in 1979. .. This is the first the Irish have qualified for four straight times to play in the NCAA Tournament since making six straight trips from 1985-90. ... Iowa State made 10 or more 3-pointers in 19 games this year. ... The Cyclones made their 15th NCAA Tournament appearance.

Fisher's experience trumps Kruger's in San Diego State victory

PHILADELPHIA -- In a matchup of two coaches with no shortage of NCAA Tournament experience, it was Steve Fisher's San Diego State squad that got the better of Lon Kruger's Oklahoma team as the Aztecs earned a 70-55 win over the Sooners in a second-round NCAA Tournament game Friday night.

The No. 7-seeded Aztecs trailed by two at the break but took the lead less than three minutes into the second half and would never trail again. The 10th-seeded Sooners would tie the game twice after that, the last time being 48-48 with 10:41 remaining.

After a 3-pointer by senior Romero Osby cut the Aztecs' lead to 56-51 with 6:55 remaining, the Aztec defense would clamp down and hold the Sooners without a point for the next 5:30. By the time Amath M'Baye converted a layup with 1:25 remaining, the San Diego State lead was 10 and the game was well in hand.

"The score was 48-48 and over the next eight minutes and change we outscored them 15-3 because we didn't give them easy baskets, we didn't give them second-chance opportunities and we took advantage of our opportunities," Fisher said.

SDSU has just three NCAA Tournament wins in program history, but all three have come in the last three seasons. When the Aztecs were a 2-seed in 2011 when they advanced to the Sweet 16, they were a far less battle-tested team than the experienced squad that took the court late on Friday night.

"I think that experience always helps, but effort has to be there," Fisher said. "Sometimes it's just a little, little, little thing that if you let up just that much, that hard shot becomes a little bit easier and they make them."

Three Aztecs scored in double figures, led by Jamaal Franklin's 21. The junior guard also had eight rebounds and a team-high five assists.

"Jamaal does what every coach expects but doesn't always get," Fisher said. "He gives you maximum effort every second he's out there, and it's not 100 percent what you want but you're not going to ever fault him for effort."

James Rahon added 17 points and Chase Tapley 10 for SDSU. DeShawn Stephens contributed seven points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

San Diego State only made one more field goal than their opponent but made 12 more free throws, going 16 of 17 from the line as compared to just 4 of 8 for Oklahoma.

Fisher picked up his 23rd NCAA Tournament win to go along with three Final Fours, including a national championship at Michigan in 1989 after Bill Frieder left at the end of the regular season to take the Arizona State job.

Kruger has 14 NCAA Tournament victories and one Final Four appearance under his belt.

Oklahoma led for most of the first half, going up by as many as nine before taking a 33-31 lead into the break in the last of the day's four games at the Wells Fargo Center.

Osby scored 22 points on 9 of 15 shooting was the only Sooner in double figures. He also added a team-high eight rebounds though San Diego State won the battle of the boards, 40-29.

"I knew it could potentially be my last game and I wanted to go out there and fight as hard as I can," Osby said. "But I've got to credit my teammates, they found ways to get me the ball in certain situations and they really kept coming to me when I got a little hot hand for a minute."

San Diego State advances to face upstart 15th-seed Florida Gulf Coast, which upset No. 2-seeded Georgetown.

NOTES: Tapley, a senior guard, is the first player in San Diego State history to play in four NCAA Tournaments. ... Kruger is the first coach in NCAA history to take five Division I programs to the NCAA Tournament (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV, Oklahoma). ... Osby is the only Sooner with any previous NCAA Tournament experience. He played 12 minutes as a freshman at Mississippi State in a first-round loss to Washington in 2009. ... SDSU improved to 15-0 this season when wearing their white uniforms.

Comments

atticusjones78 1 year, 5 months ago

It was great to see La Salle hold on for a win and earn major upset against Kansas State yesterday, which was one of many I didn’t expect. I work at DISH and several of my coworkers said that making free throws is important in postseason play, and Wright proved that one by being so clutch in the end. I tuned in to the last few minutes of this game after seeing its interest spike on my DISH Hopper Game Finder app. I like to keep up with the most-intriguing college basketball games and I’ve been able to do that by using this feature.

0

Sign in to comment