HARTFORD, Conn. – Ja Morant recorded the ninth triple-double in the NCAA Tournament since 1987 as Murray State trounced fifth-seeded Marquette in the first round of the West Region.
Murray State continued a trend of a No. 12 seed winning at least one game in all but three tournaments since 2001 – including last year’s – but this looked nothing like an upset.
Morant had 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds as he sliced through Marquette and showed the Racers (28-4) were better in every way than their opponent from the Big East. The Ohio Valley Conference champions face fourth-seeded Florida State on Saturday as the Racers next try to take down an Atlantic Coast Conference foe.
With 4:36 left in the second half and Murray State up 20, Morant grabbed his 10th rebound. Racers fans began chanting “triple-double” to mark the first one since Michigan State’s Draymond Green in 2012 against LIU-Brooklyn.
The game was billed as a showcase of two of the nation’s best point guards and Morant and Markus Howard delivered plenty of highlights. Howard scored 16 in the first half on a mix of 3s off screens and hard drives to the hoop and finished with 26 points for Marquette (24-10).
VILLANOVA 61, ST. MARY’S 57HARTFORD, Conn. – The defending national champions are moving on in the NCAA Tournament.
Phil Booth scored 20 points, fellow senior Eric Paschell added 14 and No. 6 seed Villanova held off Saint Mary’s 61-57 in the first round of the South Region.
Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts each had 13 points for Saint Mary’s (22-12), which never trailed by more than eight.
The 11th-seeded Gaels, who pulled off an upset win over Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament, had a chance down the stretch in this one.
Ford’s basket in the lane after a few nifty moves got the Gaels within six points at 61-55 with 34 seconds left. After Paschell missed a foul shot on the other end, Fitts cut the deficit to four points with a leaner in the lane.
The Gaels had two more chances in the final seconds after a foul by Booth and some missed free throws. But Fitts hit the rim on a 3-point attempt and Saddiq Bey stole the ball from Ford in the final seconds to seal the win.
GONZAGA 87, FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON 49SALT LAKE CITY – One year after dreamers and underdog lovers rejoiced at top-seeded Virginia’s first-of-its-kind, first-round loss, the Gonzaga Bulldogs crushed any thought of a repeat with a wire-to-wire thumping of Fairleigh Dickinson in the West Region.
Rui Hachimura led the Zags (31-3) with 21 points and eight rebounds.
Gonzaga led by 10 after the first 4:12, by 20 after 10:25 and by the score of 53-17 at halftime.
By the time Gonzaga turned it over when Josh Perkins tried flipping a no-look pass backward to Killian Tillie, coach Mark Few looked barely awake, sitting in his chair, cheek cupped in his hand. The Bulldogs led 70-34.
The Knights (21-14) were unable to repeat their amazing shooting three nights earlier in a come-from-behind win over Prairie View A&M in the First Four.
Fairleigh Dickinson shot 30 percent and went 6-for-21 from 3-point range. Its star from the win, Darnell Edge, had trouble getting any looks, let alone good ones. He went 2-for-11 for seven points.
FLORIDA 70, NEVADA 61DES MOINES, Iowa – Kevarrius Hayes scored 16 points, Jalen Hudson added 15 and 10th-seeded Florida beat Nevada in the West Region in the first round of the NCAA Tournament after squandering most of an 18-point lead.
Andrew Nembhard, whose last-second shot beat LSU in the Southeastern Conference Tournament last week, drove to the basket for a layup with 1½ minutes left and Florida scored the last seven points after the Wolf Pack had cut the lead to two points.
The Gators (20-1) won their tournament opener for the third consecutive year and became the third double-digit seed to win on Thursday.
Cody Martin scored 23 points and twin brother Caleb Martin had 19 for the Wolf Pack (29-5). The two combined for 28 of their team’s 33 points in the second half.
KENTUCKY 79, ABILENE CHRISTIAN 44JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Keldon Johnson scored 25 points in a huge mismatch that was over by halftime, and second-seeded Kentucky romped in the Midwest Regional over NCAA Tournament newcomer Abilene Christian.
The Wildcats shot 60 percent in the opening period, held Abilene Christian to 5 of 26 from the field and went to the locker room with a 39-13 lead.
Even without PJ Washington, who sprained his left foot in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, the Wildcats had far too many weapons for the Southland Conference representative, a No. 15 seed. Reid Travis added 18 points and Tyler Herro 14.
Jaren Lewis led Abilene Christian with 17 points, the only player in double figures.
The big question: Will Washington be able to go? Kentucky coach John Calipari tweeted before the game that a foot specialist confirmed the injury was only a sprain, not a fracture.
MARYLAND 79, BELMONT 77JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Maryland’s Darryl Morsell made a crucial defensive stop as Belmont went for a last-second upset in the NCAA Tournament, allowing the Terrapins to escape in the East Regional.
The mid-major powerhouse from Nashville, Tennessee couldn’t knock off the No. 6-seeded Terrapins (23-10) from the Big Ten, despite a 35-point performance by Dylan Windler.
Maryland was clinging to a one-point lead and the shot clock was off as Belmont (26-6) had a chance to win it at the buzzer. The Bruins didn’t bother calling a timeout to set up a play; they knew what they wanted to do – a backdoor pass to Windler. But Morsell anticipated the pass and stepped in front of Windler to pick intercept the pass while the Belmont star tumbled to the court.
Morsell was fouled with 2.5 seconds to go, sending him to the foul line for two shots. He made the first and missed the second, and Windler heaved an unsuccessful desperation shot from midcourt.
Jalen Smith led four Maryland players in double figures with 19 points, including a huge three-point play with 1:41 remaining, and Bruno Fernando added 14 points and 13 rebounds
Belmont led by as many as 12 points in the first half and went to the break with a 40-34 lead.
MINNESOTA 86, LOUISVILLE 76DES MOINES, Iowa – Minnesota won its first NCAA Tournament game in six years behind 24 points from freshman Gale Kalscheur as the 10th-seeded Gophers rolled past Louisville in the opening round of the East Region.
It was the first tournament win in Richard Pitino’s six seasons coaching the Gophers and came against the school that fired his father, Rick Pitino, in 2017.
Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey each had 18 points for Minnesota (22-13), which knocked down 11 3s despite entering play ranked 344th nationally in made 3s per game.
Kalscheur’s layup early in the second half gave Minnesota its first double-digit lead, 43-33, and Murphy’s layup made it a 50-38 game with 16:06 left.
The Cardinals went to a full-court press in an effort to slow the surging Gophers. But that just left Kalscheur open from the same spot on back-to-back possessions, and he drilled two 3s to give Minnesota a 59-43 lead.
The seventh-seeded Cardinals (20-14) did cut it to seven late, but Christen Cunningham missed an open 3 that could’ve made things interesting down the stretch.
Cunningham led Louisville (20-14) with 22 points, and Steven Enoch had 14.
AUBURN 78, NEW MEXICO STATE 77SALT LAKE CITY – After a teammate passed up an open layup that could have tied the game, New Mexico State’s Terrell Brown was fouled behind the arc and missed two of three free throws as the Aggies dropped a heartbreaker to fifth-seeded Auburn in the Midwest Region.
The Aggies (30-5) were trailing 78-76 when guard A.J. Harris had his defender beat and looked to be headed to the glass for the tying bucket. He instead lobbed out to Brown, who was spotted up at the elbow for a possible game-winner. Brown missed but was fouled with 1.1 seconds left.
With Auburn’s J’von McCormick grabbing his throat as Harris toed the line, Brown missed the first, made the second, then watched the third one rim out.
Auburn (27-9) knocked the ball out of bounds on the rebound and New Mexico State had one more good look, but Trevelin Queen’s 3 at the buzzer was an air ball.
MICHIGAN STATE 76, BRADLEY 65DES MOINES, Iowa – Cassius Winston scored 26 points and second-seeded Michigan State held off Bradley in the East Region.
Xavier Tillman had 16 points with 11 boards for the Spartans (29-6), who’ll face Big Ten rival, 10th-seeded Minnesota, on Saturday in search of their first trip to the Sweet Sixteen in four years. Michigan State throttled the Gophers 79-55 in East Lansing back on Feb. 9.
Bradley gave the Big Ten champions all they could handle, though.
It was a one-possession game until Matt McQuaid drilled a crucial 3 to put Michigan State ahead 61-55 with 3:31 left. Aaron Henry followed with a layup to cap a 9-0 run, but Darrell Brown hit a 3 for Bradley to make it 65-60.
The Spartans iced the game at the line, where they hit their first 20 and finished 25-of-26.
Bradley (20-15) surged to a 35-34 halftime lead by shooting 6-of-9 from 3-point range.
Elijah Childs scored 19 points and Brown had 17 for the Braves, who went just 3-of-12 from beyond the arc in the second half.
FLORIDA STATE 76, VERMONT 69HARTFORD, Conn. – Mfiondu Kabengele had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Florida State held off a barrage of 3-pointers from 13th-seeded Vermont in the opening round of the West Regional.
Terance Mann added 19 points for the fourth-seeded Seminoles (28-7), who were tied with the Catamounts at halftime but pulled away late.
Anthony Lamb had 16 points to lead a balanced, long-range attack for Vermont (27-7), which lost for the first time in seven games. Three Catamounts finished with 15 points.
The America East champions stayed close by hitting 16 of 32 3-point attempts. The Seminoles countered by wearing out Vermont down low, outscoring the Catamounts 30-14 in the paint.
A dunk by Kabengele gave Florida State a 50-45 lead with nine minutes left, part of a 6-0 run that put the Seminoles ahead for good.
LSU 79, YALE 74JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Skylar Mays hit four free throws in the final 15 seconds to help embattled LSU slip past 14th-seeded Yale.
Mays scored 19 points but sealed the game from the foul line, and the Tigers (27-6) needed each one of his free throws.
Yale (22-8) hit four 3-pointers in the final minute and whittled an 18-point deficit to three in the closing seconds. With the lead on the line, Mays calmly stepped to the line and sank all his free throws.
Tremont Waters finished with 15 points, but had just two after the break for LSU. He was 0-for-7 from the field in the final 20 minutes after dominating the first half with 13 points and six assists. Naz Reid had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kavell Bigby-Williams also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
LSU moves on without coach Will Wade, who is suspended for his role in an alleged cheating scandal. University officials won’t allow Wade to resume his duties unless he speaks with the school about an FBI wiretap that resulted in his suspension. Tony Benford continued in his role as interim coach.
Alex Copeland led Yale with 24 points.
KANSAS 87, NORTHEASTERN 54SALT LAKE CITY – Dedric Lawson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and fourth-seeded Kansas dominated inside in a rout over Northeastern in the Midwest Region.
The fourth-seeded Jayhawks (26-9) had a notable size advantage inside and used it, outscoring the Huskies 50-16 in the paint while grabbing 17 more rebounds.
Devon Dotson controlled the offense and scored 18 points, while Dedric’s brother, K.J., chipped in 13 points.
Kansas shot 56 percent and advanced to Saturday’s second round against fifth-seeded Auburn.
The best shot for the 13th-seeded Huskies (23-11) was to make their 3-point tries. They didn’t. The Colonial Athletic Association champions went 6-for-28 from the arc after finishing the regular season 17th in Division I at 38.6 percent.
WOFFORD 84, SETON HALL 68JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fletcher Magee set the Division I career record for 3-pointers, poured in 24 points and led seventh-seeded Wofford to an 84-68 victory over Seton Hall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
Magee hit seven treys against the No. 10 seed Pirates to help the Terriers to their first tournament win in five tries. Wofford also won its 21st consecutive game overall.
Magee now has 509 3-pointers in four seasons, breaking the career mark set by Oakland’s Travis Bader in 2014. Duke’s J.J. Redick (457), Tennessee’s Chris Lofton (431) and Davidson’s Stephen Curry (414) also rank in the top 10.
Extending his record might not be easy against second-seeded Kentucky in the Midwest Region on Saturday. The long, lanky Wildcats tend to give opponents fits, especially from behind the arc.
BAYLOR 78, SYRACUSE 69SALT LAKE CITY – Baylor solved Syracuse’s vaunted zone with the long ball
Makai Mason scored 22 points and Baylor set a school NCAA Tournament record with 16 3-pointers to beat Syracuse 78-69 Thursday night in the West Region.
The ninth-seeded Bears (20-13) found gaps in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, mostly by getting the ball into the high post or driving and kicking out. Baylor nearly matched the school tournament record of 11 3-pointers in the first half (10) and made 16 of 34 overall.
Baylor shot 54 percent and slowed Syracuse’s 3-point barrage in the second half to earn a shot at top-seeded Gonzaga on Saturday.
PURDUE 61, OLD DOMINION 48HARTFORD, Conn. – Carsen Edwards scored 26 points and third-seeded Purdue coasted to a 61-48 victory against Old Dominion on Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The third-seeded Boilermakers (24-9) will play reigning NCAA champion Villanova, the sixth-seed in the South Region, on Saturday.
Edwards, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, has been slumping recently and dealing with a sore back that he insisted was fine on Wednesday. The junior guard had shot 32 percent in his last 11 games, and was 7 for 33 from 3-point range in his last three games.
Ahmad Caver scored 19 points and B.J. Stith had 14 for Old Dominion (26-9). The Monarchs shot 27 percent from the field in their first NCAA appearance since 2011.
MICHIGAN 74, MONTANA 55DES MOINES, Iowa – Charles Matthews had 22 points and 10 rebounds in his best performance since coming back from injury, and No. 2 seed Michigan put Montana away early in a 74-55 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Ignas Brazdeikis added 14 points and seven rebounds and Jon Teske had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Wolverines, who led the 15th-seeded Grizzlies by as many as 27 points in the second half.
The Wolverines made it to the round of 32 for the third consecutive year. They’ll play Florida on Saturday.
Sayeed Pridgett led Montana with 17 points.