NCAA Tournament roundup: Houston escapes with wild layup; Arizona gets upset
Rob Gray drove for a wind-milling layup that just trickled over the rim with 1.1 seconds left, and Trey Kell’s off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer was no good, giving No. 6 seed Houston a 67-65 victory over 11th-seeded San Diego State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
Devin Watson had just tied the game for the Aztecs with a turnaround 3-pointer, his second in a matter of seconds, when Gray dribbled up floor with 29 seconds left. He allowed the clock to tick down to six seconds before crossing over, scooting under two defenders and scooping up his shot.
The layup gave him 39 points and the Cougars (27-7) their first tournament win since 1984.
Devin Davis and Corey Davis Jr. added nine points apiece for Houston, which lost two players to fouls down the stretch and struggled to contain the Aztecs’ big front line.
Jalen McDaniels had 18 pints to lead San Diego State (22-11). Kell finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, though it’s the three points he missed at the end that will stand out.
Michiga 61, Montana 47— Charles Matthews had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Michigan locked down on defense and the third-seeded Wolverines beat Montana in a plodding game.
Michigan (29-7) trailed by 10 in the opening minutes, struggled to get into rhythm until late in the first half, and never really went on a big run to seize control of the game.
Instead, coach John Beilein’s team methodically drew away over a long period of the second half when No. 14 seed Montana (25-8) failed to score, and chugged into a matchup with sixth-seeded Houston — a last-second winner over San Diego State — in the second round of the West Region.
Michael Oguine and Ahmaad Rorie scored 15 points apiece to lead the Grizzlies.
Gonzaga 68, UNC Greensboro 64— Zach Norvell Jr. hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 20.8 seconds left to help Gonzaga escape a major scare.
The fourth-seeded Bulldogs (31-4) trailed 64-62 with 1 minute, 48 seconds left after squandering a 12-point lead they took early in the second half.
Josh Perkins tied the score 64-64, and after Greensboro’s Francis Alonso forced up a miss, Gonzaga got the rebound and worked the ball to Norvell, a redshirt freshman, who spotted up from the right elbow and made the 3 for the lead.
Alonso got called for an offensive foul on the next possession, but Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura missed a pair of free throws. Marvin Smith had a chance to tie it, and his 3-point attempt looked spot on, but it bounded in and out. Norvell made one more free throw to ice the game and finish with 15 points.
Gonzaga, in its 20th straight NCAA tournament, won its first game of March Madness for the 10th straight year, though that’s not the mission anymore for the Zags. They made the national title game last season and came into March playing well enough to make another run.
They ran into a grinder of a defensive opponent in the 13th-seeded Spartans (27-8), the Southern Conference champs who held Gonzaga to 37 percent shooting in the first half but couldn’t make many shots of their own: They went 0 for 13 from 3 over the first 20 minutes.
Ohio St. 81, South Dakota St. 73 — Kam Williams made a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:36 left, then added a trio of free throws after being fouled on another 3-point attempt, lifting Ohio State.
Fifth-seeded Ohio State (25-8) built a 13-point lead by reeling off 16 straight points midway through the second half of a game that featured 71 combined 3-pointers.
South Dakota State made a late run at the Buckeyes, scoring 10 straight points to tie it 70-70.
Williams answered — by being fouled on a pair of 3-pointers. He finished off the four-point play for a 74-70 lead and made all three free throws on the second, making it 77-70 with 64 seconds left.
Buffalo 89, Arizona 68 — Wes Clark scored 25 points, Jeremy Harris added 23 and No. 13 seed Buffalo pulled off the biggest upset of the NCAA Tournament’s opening round, rolling over No. 4 seed Arizona.
The smaller Bulls (27-8) used their quickness to zip around the Wildcats (27-8), scoring at the rim and on kickout 3-pointers.
Defensively, Buffalo neutralized Arizona’s size inside by collapsing on the paint, forcing the Wildcats to shoot from the perimeter. Arizona went 2 for 18 from beyond the 3-point arc, while the Bulls knocked down 15 of 30.
Florida 77, St. Bonaventure 62 — Egor Koulechov scored 20 points, and Florida ended the Bonnies’ postseason run two days after their first NCAA Tournament victory in 48 years.
Jalen Hudson scored 16 points, and Chris Chiozza had 11 assists for the sixth-seeded Gators, who have reached the Elite Eight the past five times they’ve been in the tournament. Florida (21-12) will face Texas Tech in an East Region second-round game Saturday.
A whirlwind week finally caught up with the Bonnies (26-8), who finished at 35 percent shooting but were in the 20s when the outcome was in doubt.
Courtney Stockard led St. Bonaventure with 14 points after scoring 26 in a win over UCLA in a First Four game in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday.
Texas Tech 70, Stephen F. Austin 60 — Keenan Evans scored 19 of his 23 points after halftime and third-seeded Texas Tech surged late.
The Big 12 runner-up Red Raiders (25-9) closed the game on a 13-2 run. Evans drove for a layup with 3:58 left, putting Texas Tech ahead to stay.
When Evans split through defenders with just over a minute left, he paused briefly to give a quick pose to the camera under the basket.
Evans had only four points in the first half, all on free throws while going 0 for 4 from the field. But he also ignited the highlight play of the night, chasing down an offensive rebound past midcourt and then throwing an alley-oop pass to 6-foot-5 freshman Zhaire Smith, who made a 360-degree spin in the air while completing the dunk.
Texas Tech will next play the winner of the Florida-St. Bonaventure game.
SFA (28-7), the Southland Conference tournament champion, led by eight points early in the second half was trying to take down a Big 12 opponent in an NCAA opener for the second time in three seasons. The Lumberjacks beat West Virginia in their last tournament appearance two years ago before losing to Notre Dame.
Villanova 87, Radford 61 — Jalen Brunson scored 16 points, and No. 1 seed Villanova hit 14 3-pointers in a romp at PPG Paints Arena.
The Highlanders (23-13) posed no threat at becoming the first 16 seed to ever knock off a No. 1 in the tournament.
Villanova (31-4) played to near-perfection for the first 30 minutes and everyone played a role. Mikal Bridges had 13 points, Eric Paschall scored 11 and Omari Spellman had 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Wildcats play on Saturday against the winner of Virginia Tech-Alabama.
Radford, out of rural southwest Virginia, must have felt like it was playing against ace pop-a-shot players. Villanova led 69-37 with 11:45 left and was shooting 75 percent (25 of 34) overall and 60 percent (12 of 20) from 3-point range.
Duke 89, Iona 67 — Marvin Bagley III dominated in his NCAA Tournament debut, pouring in 22 points to go with seven rebounds as Duke rolled at PPG Paints Arena.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year made 10 of 14 shots in 32 minutes, grabbed seven rebounds and knocked down his lone 3-point attempt as the second-seeded Blue Devils overwhelmed the 15th-seeded Gaels.
Grayson Allen scored 16 points and added a game-high nine assists for Duke (27-7), Trevon Duval finished with 19 points and eight assists and Gary Trent Jr. had 16 points and six rebounds as the deeper, more talented Blue Devils withstood an early push from Iona (20-14) to win going away.
Seton Hall 94, North Carolina State 83 — Khadeen Carrington scored 26 points, Desi Rodriguez added 20 and eighth-seeded Seton Hall won a foul-filled first-round matchup.
Myles Powell added 19 points, and Angel Delgado scored 13 for the Pirates (22-11), who led the entire way a year after a late meltdown cost them an early exit against Arkansas.
Seton Hall will play top-seeded Kansas on Saturday in the second round of the Midwest Regional.
Allerik Freeman hit six 3-pointers and had 36 points to lead the No. 9 seed Wolfpack (21-12), who returned to the tournament under first-year coach Kevin Keatts for the first time in three years.
Kansas 76, Penn 60 — Devonte Graham ignited sluggish Kansas midway through the first half, pouring in 29 points and lifting the top-seeded Jayhawks to a tough, grind-it-out victory.
Lagerald Vick added 14 points for the Jayhawks (28-7), who trailed the Ivy League champs by 10 in the early stages before going on a 19-2 run late in the first half to take control.
Graham, perhaps atoning for a miserable performance in last year’s tournament loss to Oregon, also had six rebounds and six assists.
A.J. Brodeur had 14 points to lead the Quakers (24-9), but he was just 6 of 16 from the field and committed five turnovers. He was also 1 of 5 from the foul line, where Penn was 5 of 14 as a team.
Kentucky 78, Davison 73 — Kentucky topped Davidson despite failing to make a single 3-pointer, snapping a nation-best streak of 1,047 games with a 3 that began in 1988.
The fifth-seeded Wildcats went 0 for 6 from behind the line and didn’t even try one over the final 8:46.
The last time Kentucky didn’t make a 3-pointer was at the Great Alaska Shootout against Seton Hall on Nov. 26, 1988 — when Eddie Sutton was coaching, LeRon Ellis was the team’s leading scorer and the 3-point arc was only in its third year in the college game.
UNLV now holds the longest streak at 1,040 games.
Kevin Knox led the Wildcats (25-10) with 25 points, as they pulled away after 12th-seeded Davidson tied things at 54 with 8:01 remaining.
Tennessee 73, Wright St. 47 — Admiral Schofield had 15 points and 12 rebounds as Tennessee advanced to the second round with coach Rick Barnes back in familiar territory.
Lamonte Turner had 19 points and a career-high nine assists for Tennessee (26-8), SEC co-champions in the regular season after being picked in the preseason to finish 13th in the 14-team league. Grant Williams added 14 points and nine rebounds.
The Volunteers never had much trouble with the Horizon League tournament champ making its first NCAA appearance since 2007, even after missing their first six shots in the game. The Vols led 3-2 when Schofield made a 3-pointer with 16:42 left, and Wright State (25-10) went back ahead on the next possession before Jordan Bowden’s layup put the Vols up for good.