Ohio State Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft (4) celebrates with teammates after hitting the game-winning basket against the Iowa State on Sunday.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tyrone Garland's layup in traffic with 2.5 seconds remaining gave La Salle a 76-74 victory over Mississippi in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center on Sunday.
Thirteenth-seeded La Salle advances to face ninth-seeded Wichita State in the West Regional semifinals Thursday in Los Angeles.
Ramon Galloway led La Salle (24-9) with 24 points. Tyreek Duren added 19, and Garland had 17.
Marshall Henderson paced 12th-seeded Mississippi (27-9) with 21 points. Murphy Holloway had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
The teams traded buckets for most of the second half. After Henderson hit a baseline jumper to tie the score at 42 with 18:34 left, neither team scored consecutive buckets until Holloway followed his own missed free throw for a second straight layup at the 10:40 mark.
Henderson followed that by hitting a 3-pointer, and Mississippi led 59-55.
La Salle tied it at 62-62, but Mississippi went on a quick 7-2 run to grab its biggest lead. The Explorers answered with a 5-0 run, and the score was knotted again at 69-69.
Jarvis Summers sank a jumper to give Ole Miss a 71-69 lead, but Duren's 3-pointer gave the lead back to La Salle. Reginald Buckner's layup in traffic put the Rebels back on top, and LaDarius White's free throw extended the lead to 74-72. Duren went to the line with 1:07 left and hit both ends of a one-and-one to tie the score at 74-74.
Henderson's shot with 33 seconds left missed everything, and La Salle took over the ball with no shot clock.
Henderson hit a key 3-pointer right before the half to get Mississippi within two points. La Salle had led by seven with less than four minutes remaining before the break.
Galloway scored 19 first-half points. He was 5-for-8 from 3-point range, helping La Salle take a 40-38 lead at halftime. Only three other Explorers scored in the first half. Tyrone Garland had nine points, Tyreek Duren added eight, and Jerrell Wright had four.
Meanwhile, Henderson led Mississippi with 11 first-half points on three 3-pointers. He shot nine times from beyond the arc prior to intermission.
OHIO STATE 78, IOWA STATE 75
DAYTON, Ohio -- Fitting Ohio State would win it with a 3-pointer. The Buckeyes beat Iowa State at its own game Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in in four consecutive seasons in its storied basketball history.
Aaron Craft’s winning 3-pointer with 0.5 of a second left lifted second-seeded Ohio State to a heart-stopping 78-75 victory over 10th-seeded Iowa State in a third-round NCAA Tournament game at University of Dayton Arena.
The Buckeyes (28-7) advance to face No. 6 seed Arizona in the West Regional semifinals on Thursday in Los Angeles.
Deshaun Thomas led Ohio State with 22 points, Craft added 18 and LaQuinton Ross had 17.
Iowa State, the nation’s top 3-point shooting team, hit 12 3-pointers. But Ohio State went 9 of 18 from beyond the arc, including Craft’s winner.
The Cyclones (23-12) rallied from a 13-point deficit late in the second half to take the lead before Craft’s heroics rescued Ohio State. Korie Lucious led the Cyclones with 19 points, including five 3-pointers.
With the score tied at 75, Craft missed a jumper, but the rebound caromed off an Iowa State player and the Buckeyes retained possession. With 29.9 seconds remaining, Craft dribbled until there was about two seconds left before draining his winning shot.
Iowa State missed seven of its first nine 3-point attempts, including one by Bubu Palo that struck the side of the backboard. But the Cyclones would heat up later.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Will Clyburn and Georges Niang late in the first half put Iowa State ahead 36-32. Clyburn finished 17 points.
Iowa State played the second half without starting guard Chris Babb, who left with an apparent left ankle injury with 36.6 seconds left in the first half.
Ohio State’s small lineups were dominated on the boards in the first half, with Iowa State owning a 24-13 rebounding disparity, including 8-2 on the offensive end.
The Buckeyes, who led 38-36 at halftime, went on an 8-0 run early in the second half to build a six-point lead. But Iowa State kept creating second-chance scoring opportunities off its offensive rebounding, including a dunk by Melvin Ejim that cut Ohio State’s lead to 52-51.
Ross scored 10 straight points to put Ohio State ahead 65-53.
But it took Iowa State 2:11 to erase a 13-point deficit and tie the score 69-69 with 3:53 left. The Cyclones took the lead on Tyrus McGee’s 3-pointer. He finished with 14 points.
FLORIDA GULF COAST 81, SAN DIEGO STATE 71
PHILADELPHIA -- Florida Gulf Coast doesn't have any high school All-Americans on its squad. It doesn't have an experienced head coach, and with only one senior starter, there isn't a wealth of experience on the roster either.
What the team does have is a berth in the Sweet 16 and a place in NCAA Tournament history.
Florida Gulf Coast became the first No. 15 seed to advance past the first weekend of March Madness, using a 17-0 second-half run to blow past San Diego State in a 81-71 win at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday.
The Eagles (26-10) will play third-seeded Florida in the South Regional semifinals in Arlington, Texas.
After an entertaining first 30 minutes that saw 10 ties and nine lead changes, Florida Gulf Coast produced a run that nobody in the building saw coming -- except maybe the Eagles' bench.
Seventh-seeded San Diego State (23-11) pulled within two points on a Xavier Thames bucket with 11:33 remaining, but the Aztecs went the next 7:33 without putting the ball through the bucket as the Eagles took control.
How Florida Gulf Coast managed to fly under the national radar for so long is a bit of a mystery. A win over Miami (Fla.) in the second game of the season showed that the Eagles were capable of playing with the best teams in the country, though winning two games in March is much different than winning one in November.
The Eagles were paced by sophomore guard Bernard Thompson's 23 points. Sherwood Brown added 17 points and eight rebounds, and three other Florida Gulf Coast players scored in double figures.
Eagles point guard Brett Comer is establishing himself as one of the nation's top floor generals. The 6-foot-3 sophomore followed up a 10-assist, two-turnover performance against Georgetown on Friday with a 10-point, 14-assist, three-turnover effort against one of the toughest defenses in the country.
The Eagles became only the second team all season to score 80 points against the Aztecs, joining UNLV, which had 85 points back on Jan. 16.
Comer isn't the only Eagle who's earned himself a reputation this weekend. Chase Fieler, a 6-8 junior forward, has had a number of highlight-reel dunks that have earned the program the moniker "Dunk City" on social media. Fieler finished with 11 points, the same total as sophomore guard Christophe Varidel.
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State's do-everything junior guard, finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four steals. Chase Tapley added 17 points, James Rahon 12 and DeShawn Stephens 10 for the Aztecs.
Florida Gulf Coast's advancement was one of the big early storylines of the tournament, as the Eagles knocked off second-seeded Georgetown on Friday in just their second year as a full Division I member. Now the Eagles are sure to be one of the biggest stories of the year, no matter how much further coach Andy Enfield's squad can go.
The Fort Myers school moved up from Division II to the Atlantic Sun Conference back in 2007, then went through a four-year transition period before gaining postseason eligibility.
The schools played an entertaining first half of basketball at the Wells Fargo Center, as San Diego State took a 35-34 lead into the half.
In a first half with five ties and four lead changes, neither team held an advantage larger than the six-point lead SDSU had with 2:20 remaining break intermission.
NOTES: The Eagles had led 21 consecutive games at the half before Sunday. ... Franklin, a 6-foot-5 junior, is one of two players nationally to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.
INDIANA 58 TEMPLE 52
DAYTON, Ohio -- Temple’s Khalif Wyatt hit big shots all afternoon, but Victor Oladipo and the Hoosiers’ defense came through when it mattered most, helping Indiana avoid being the second No. 1 seed to lose during the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
Oladipo, who finished with 16 points, hit his only 3-pointer of the game with 14 seconds remaining and the Hoosiers outlasted ninth-seeded Temple 58-52 in a third-round NCAA Tournament game on Sunday at University of Dayton Arena.
Cody Zeller scored 15 points and Will Sheehey added 10 for Indiana (29-6) which advances to face No. 4 seed Syracuse in the regional semifinals Thursday in Washington, D.C.
“Temple, like I said to our players in the huddle, they’re as tough a team physically and mentally as we faced all year,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “This was a hard earned victory that can only make us better.”
Wyatt scored 20 of his 31 points in the first half and made a career-high 12 field goals to carry Temple (24-10). He hit three 3-pointers and went 4 of 4 from the free-throw line.
“He was tremendous,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. “He’s a great basketball player. He did a wonderful, wonderful job today. It’d be great to be able to celebrate it.”
But in the final six minutes and 31 seconds, Indiana held Wyatt to just two points and no field goals opening the door for a late rally.
“The whole game, they were overplaying me,” Wyatt said. “When I did get the ball I was able to make some plays. But they really started to faceguard me in the second half and made it difficult for me to get the ball. In the last six minutes, they pretty much took me out of the game.”
Anthony Lee added 10 points for the Owls, which have never defeated a No. 1 seed in nine tries. For a while it appeared Wyatt was going to accomplish the feat on his own.
He hit eight of his first 12 shots from the floor to keep Temple close, reaching 20 points with 3:08 still remaining in the first half.
But the Owls didn’t get much offensive production from Wyatt’s teammates and Indiana trailed just 29-26 at halftime despite Wyatt’s best efforts. It was the fifth time this season that the Hoosiers trailed at the half.
Wyatt took 14 of Temple’s 34 shots from the field in the first half. The Owls outrebounded Indiana 21-18 and forced eight turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
The second half began in similar fashion, with Wyatt hitting a jumper putting Temple ahead, 31-26. “I was just trying to be aggressive,” Wyatt said. “My teammates kept coming to me.”
But then Indiana, led by Oladipo, put the clamps on the Temple star.
“He’s an amazing player,” Oladipo said. “I was just trying to slow him down and limit his touches. He made a few tough shots. He’s just a tough player, man.”
It was clear throughout that the Owls were not intimidated by the top-seeded Hoosiers, as demonstrated by Lee’s demonstrative block of a Zeller shot early in the second half.
And while Indiana was out of sync offensively for much of the game, Oladipo provided a spark with two straight baskets, including a dunk off his own steal, to trim the Hoosiers’ deficit to 33-32.
After Sheehey hit a 3-pointer to tie the score 43-43, Wyatt immediately answered with a 3-pointer. But Temple was never able to extend its lead, keeping Indiana on the brink of a comeback.
Two free throws by Zeller tied the score 52-52. Oladipo hit one of two free throws, putting Indiana ahead by one point with 1:19 left.
After Temple’s Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson missed a jumper, Oladipo delivered with a deep 3-pointer with 14 seconds left putting the Hoosiers ahead to stay.
NOTES: Wyatt’s big game came after he injured his left thumb in Friday’s win over North Carolina State when it became tangled in the jersey of a Wolfpack player. X-Rays on the thumb were negative. … Indiana guard Jordan Hulls set an Indiana record with his 134th career game for the Hoosiers, breaking the mark held by Randy Wittman (1979-83) and Jeff Newton (2000-03).
FLORIDA 78, MINNESOTA 64
AUSTIN, Texas -- If Florida’s supposed weakness is that it hasn’t won close games this season, then the Gators’ strength is that they seldom have to play them.
No. 3-seeded Florida rolled into the Sweet 16 with a 78-64 victory over 11th-seeded Minnesota on Sunday evening at the Frank Erwin Center.
Florida entered the tournament with an 0-6 record in games decided by single digits. That record wasn’t tested as Florida notched a 32-point victory over Northwestern State and then the 14-point win over the Golden Gophers.
Florida (28-7) raced past Minnesota in the first half, then stiff-armed a Gopher charge in the second half to advance to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season. The Gators will face Florida Gulf Coast in the South Region semifinal on Friday at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“It’s something special to be a part of that,” Florida senior forward Erik Murphy said regarding the Gators’ third straight Sweet 16 trip. “The program is special. That first Sweet 16 team, those guys showed us what it took. It speaks to coach (Billy Donovan) and what he’s done with the program.”
Mike Rosario finished with 25 points to lead Florida, and Erik Murphy finished with 15 points after sitting out most of the second half in foul trouble. Scottie Wilbekin had 12 points and six assists.
Rosario played just 15 minutes in the Gators’ NCAA Tournament opener and scored eight points. Donovan said he was confident Rosario would bounce back against Minnesota.
“Someone asked how I thought Mike would be and I said he would be fine,” Donovan said. “He’s got a very short-term memory and he rises to the next challenge pretty quickly.”
Minnesota’s Andre Hollins led the Gophers with 25 points.
Rosario and Murphy highlighted an efficient first half for the Gators. Rosario hit 4-of-6 3-pointers on his way to 17 first-half points, and Murphy added 15 on 5-of-7 shooting. As a team, Florida shot 65 percent from the field in the first half to take a 48-27 lead to the break.
Rosario connected from 3 on back-to-back possessions to set off a 12-2 run that gave Florida a 22-12 lead midway through the first half.
“We knew Rosario was a talented shooter and he proved it again,” Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. “They were moving the ball pretty well. He moves pretty well without the ball and does a good job of spotting up.”
Minnesota briefly battled back to get within 10, but then the Gators went off again.
This time Rosario and Murphy hit back-to-back 3s, and Rosario capped a 15-1 run with another trey that put the Gators in front by 22.
“I think our guys came out and played a terrific first half,” Donovan said. “(The Gophers) got themselves right back in the game and I give our guys a lot of credit for battling and fighting off that run.”
Minnesota went more than six minutes in the first half without a field goal and scored just one point as Hollins hit one of three free-throw attempts after he was fouled shooting a 3-pointer. The Gophers took open shots during the stretch, but still missed nine straight as Florida surged ahead.
The Gators pressed Minnesota for much of the first half and forced nine turnovers in the period. Florida also dominated the boards, outrebounding Minnesota, 16-8, in the first 20 minutes.
Andre Hollins made 3 3-pointers as the Gophers surged back in the second half. Hollins’ third trey cut the Florida lead to nine, but Minnesota never got closer than seven points.
Instead, Wilbekin and Rosario hit 3-pointers for a 6-0 run that boosted the Gators’ lead back to 13.
Hollins picked up his fourth foul with 6:12 left and went to the bench. Minnesota failed to keep its run going after that.
NOTES: Florida guard Kenny Boynton scored his 2,000th career point in the Gators opening-round win over Northwestern State. … Florida has advanced to the Sweet 16 and then to the regional final of the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons. Prior to that, Florida had not advanced past the first round since winning the national championship in 2007. … Minnesota’s win over UCLA was Smith’s first NCAA Tournament victory as the Gophers coach. … Minnesota has not advanced to the Sweet 16 since the Gophers reached the Final Four in 1997. Minnesota was stripped of those NCAA Tournament wins due to academic infractions. … Not counting vacated wins, Minnesota’s first-round win was its first NCAA Tournament victory since 1990, when the Gophers defeated Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Minnesota went on to lose to Georgia Tech in the Southeast Regional final that season.
KANSAS 70, NORTH CAROLINA 58
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Hopefully someone taped Bill Self’s halftime speech. He might want to use it again.
Top-seeded Kansas (31-5) outscored North Carolina 49-28 in the second half to defeat No. 8-seeded North Carolina 70-58 in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at Sprint Center.
Kansas advanced to the Sweet 16 and will play Michigan Friday in the South Regional semifinals.
Self said his team “played miserably” in the first half, but the Jayhawks stormed out the gate in the second half behind Travis Releford.
“I told them, ‘If we just keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll be fine,’” Self said, tongue in-cheek. “I wasn’t happy with them. It’s OK not to play your best, but at least don’t play your best when you’re being yourself. We weren’t ourselves at all in the first half. We had to have some individuals step up. Travis was terrific.”
Releford scored 12 points in the first 8:24 of the second half to help Kansas turn a nine-point halftime deficit into a nine-point lead.
“The first half we just let those guys get whatever they wanted,” Releford said. “The key in the second half was we got out and defended them a lot better.”
Releford finished with 22 points, including 13 in the second half, to lead the Jayhawks. Jeff Withey added 16 points and 16 rebounds for Kansas. He also blocked five shots. Withey now stands second to Tim Duncan (50) of Wake Forest in blocks in NCAA tournament history with 43.
“Hopefully we can keep on winning games so I can keep on blocking shots,” Withey said. “Hopefully I can pass (Duncan).”
Withey contributed to Kansas’ domination on the glass, as the Jayhawks outrebounded the Tar Heels 21-12 in the second half, and 50-36 overall.
“In the first half, I thought (the team’s approach to attacking Withey) was pretty good,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “In the second half, it wasn’t nearly as effective.”
P.J. Hairston had 15 points and James Michael McAdoo had 11 for North Carolina, which finished the season 25-11.
The Jayhawks started the second half on a run that lasted well past the midway point of the half. Releford, the only Jayhawk with more than one made field goal in the first 23 minutes of the game, had a put-back and a 3-point field goal to begin the surge. He later followed another Kansas miss with a basket to cut the lead to 33-32. When he tipped in a Ben McLemore miss at the 14:36 mark, Kansas had regained the lead at 37-35.
“The second half we didn’t quite have the same energy,” Williams said. “They got into rhythm, started making shots, and we couldn’t stop them.
“I think their defense fed off that. When the ball started going in the basket, I thought their defense got even stronger.”
Both teams started cold, with the Jayhawks hitting just one of their first 13 shots. North Carolina was only slightly better, going 4-of-17. But two of those were 3-pointers as the Tar Heels grabbed a 12-2 lead. Kansas stormed back with a 13-2 run of its own to grab its first lead.
But the Tar Heels pulled away late in the half to lead 30-21. North Carolina finished the first half shooting only 26 percent. Kansas was at 25 percent. It was the worst shooting half in Kansas’ NCAA Tournament history.
Withey didn’t contribute much on the offensive end early in the first half, but he certainly made his presence felt on the defensive end. He had nine rebounds and two blocks, plus he altered a number of shots in the first half.