NCAA TOURNAMENT: Pac 12's No. 12 seeds have good day at tourney
Twelve turned out to be a lucky number for the Pac-12 Conference.
A year after sending only two teams to the NCAA tournament, the league doubled its win total from last March in two games — on one day at one site: Oregon and California, both No. 12 seeds, scored upsets in San Jose on Thursday. Even sixth-seeded Arizona added to the strong showing by beating Belmont 81-64 in Salt Lake City.
“I don’t think anybody in our league came in with a chip on our shoulder, like we weren’t good,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “I think Oregon thought it was supposed to win. I think we thought we were supposed to win and that’s the way we approach these games. It’s an opportunity and I think we so far have done a good job.”
Buoyed by the support of a strong contingent so close to the Berkeley campus, the Golden Bears burnished the conference’s credentials perhaps more than anybody else.
Allen Crabbe had 19 points and nine rebounds, reserve Robert Thurman scored all 12 of his points on dunks and Cal upset fifth-seeded UNLV 64-61.
A few hours earlier on the same floor, freshman Damyean Dotson led the way with 17 points to help Oregon extend a run that began in the Pac-12 tournament by beating fifth-seeded Oklahoma State 68-55 in another second-round game.
“Shows you that our conference is tough,” said Cal guard Justin Cobbs, who had 13 points and five rebounds against UNLV.
The Pac-12 still has two other teams that play today. Sixth-seeded UCLA (25-9), the league’s regular-season champion, will open its tournament bid against No. 11 seed Minnesota (20-12) in Austin, Texas. Colorado (21-11) also faces Illinois (22-12) in the same location.
ARIZONA 81, BELMONT 64: Mark Lyons scored 23 points and sixth-seeded Arizona rolled past Belmont.
The Wildcats (26-7) used their huge size advantage to shut down the Bruins (26-7), who are 0-6 in tourney games. Arizona held a 44-18 edge on the boards, outscored Belmont 36-18 in the paint, blocked five shots and outshot the Bruins from 3-point range.
The Wildcats made 9 of 17 3-pointers, including a critical one from Solomon Hill with 4:40 remaining to stop an 11-2 Belmont run.
Kerron Johnson led Belmont with 22 points and Clark finished with 21.
Kevin Parrom, Kaleb Tarczewski and Nick Johnson added 12 points each for Arizona.
GONZAGA 64, SOUTHERN 58: A March Madness warmup turned into a great escape for Gonzaga.
The Zags got pushed to the limit by Southern, pulling out a victory in the closing minutes to avoid becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 in the NCAA tournament.
Kelly Olynyk led the Zags (32-2) with 21 points. They play No. 9 Wichita State on Saturday.
But it was a pair of 3-pointers — one by Gary Bell Jr., the next by Kevin Pangos — that staked the Bulldogs to a 62-58 lead only moments after the game was tied at 56 with 3:45 left.
Derick Beltran had 21 points to lead Southern (23-10).
No. 1 seeds are now 113-0 against 16s.
MARQUETTE 59, DAVIDSON 58: Vander Blue’s layup with a second left capped Marquette’s late rally against 14th-seeded Davidson.
Blue and Jamil Wilson made consecutive 3-pointers to bring Marquette to 58-57 with 11 seconds left. The third-seeded Golden Eagles then caught a huge break when De’Mon Brooks’ long inbounds pass went out of bounds at midcourt with 5.5 seconds left, providing another opportunity.
Blue took full advantage after taking Wilson’s inbounds pass, driving left and finding room for the winning basket. Blue scored seven of Marquette’s final 11 points to finish with 16. Wilson added 14 points for the Golden Eagles (24-8).
Jake Cohen’s 20 points led Davidson (26-8).
BUTLER 68, BUCKNELL 56: Andrew Smith had 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, Roosevelt Jones also scored 14 and sixth-seeded Butler made its free throws down the stretch to hold off Bucknell.
After trailing for most of the game, 11th-seeded Bucknell got back into it with a 19-2 second-half run.
But after Joe Willman’s jumper cut Butler’s lead to 43-42 with 6:56 left, the Bison (28-6) went almost five minutes without scoring.
Butler went 18 of 20 at the line in the last 4:43.
CALIFORNIA 64, UNLV 61: Cal turned a tie game into a nine-point lead and withstood a late UNLV push for its first tournament win since 2010.
The Golden Bears (21-11) held the Runnin’ Rebels (25-10) without a basket for more than 11 minutes in the second half.
Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 15 points and Anthony Bennett shook off a poor start to finish with 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Rebels, who beat Cal 76-75 in Berkeley on Dec. 9.
SYRACUSE 81, MONTANA 34: Brandon Triche scored 20 points, C.J. Fair added 13 and the fourth-seeded Orange shut down No. 13 seed Montana.
Michael Carter-Williams chipped in four points, eight rebounds and nine assists as the Orange (27-9) raced out to an early lead that grew as big as 50 points and coasted past the Grizzlies (25-7) to their most lopsided tournament win since beating Brown 101-52 in the first round in 1986.
LOUISVILLE 79, NORTH CAROLINA A&T 48: Russ Smith scored 23 points and had eight of Louisville’s NCAA tournament-record 20 steals in an easy win over North Carolina A&T.
Peyton Siva added eight assists and four steals for top-seeded Louisville, which limited the 16th-seeded Aggies (20-17) to 42 percent shooting and harassed them into 27 turnovers. It was the 11th straight victory for the Cardinals (30-5).
COLORADO STATE 84, MISSOURI 72: Dorian Green scored 17 of his 26 points in the first half and eighth-seeded Colorado State ran away from Missouri.
Green, who went scoreless with five turnovers in last year’s second-round loss to Murray State, did much better this time as the Rams shot nearly 58 percent in the first half. Rams big man Colton Iverson outrebounded Missouri by himself through 27 minutes and finished with 13 boards.
Phil Pressey’s 20 points led the Tigers (23-11).
MICHIGAN STATE 65, VALPARAISO 54: Derrick Nix had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to help power third-seeded Michigan State past the 14th-seeded Crusaders in the Midwest Regional.
The Spartans went on a 26-5 run in the first half to take control, and cruised to an easy victory.
Michigan State (26-8) will play Memphis on Saturday.
The Crusaders (26-8) were no match for Michigan State in their first NCAA tourney in nine years.
MEMPHIS 54, SAINT MARY’S 52: Matthew Dellavedova’s 3-pointer from the right wing missed everything as time expired, allowing sixth-seeded Memphis to hold on for a win over 11th-seeded Saint Mary’s.
With Memphis ahead 54-49, Eividas Petrulis banked in a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds to play. The Tigers then lost the ball on the inbounds pass.
Saint Mary’s (28-7) was out of timeouts but had a chance to regroup while officials reviewed the previous sequence. Dellavedova was able to get a shot off, but it didn’t come close.
D.J. Stephens had nine points and eight blocks for Memphis (31-4).
SAINT LOUIS 64, NEW MEXICO STATE 44: Dwayne Evans scored 24 points, Cody Ellis added 12 and fourth-seeded Saint Louis overwhelmed New Mexico State in the Midwest Regional.
Playing through Rick Majerus’ death in December, Saint Louis reached another mark for its late coach. The Billikens (28-6) eclipsed the 1988-89 team’s school record of 27 victories.
Bandja Sy had 17 points for the 13th-seeded Aggies (24-11).
OREGON 68, OKLAHOMA STATE 55: Dominic Artis scored 13 points and helped frustrate the Cowboys’ star freshman Marcus Smart on the defensive end to give the Ducks (27-8) their first tournament win in six years.
Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 17 rebounds to help 12th-seeded Oregon beat fifth-seeded Oklahoma State.
Smart came into the game with the hype of a top NBA prospect but was held to 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting for the Cowboys (24-9).
MICHIGAN 71, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 56: Glenn Robinson III scored 21 points and Mitch McGary added 13 points and nine rebounds, helping fourth-seeded Michigan overcome a rough night for star Trey Burke.
Burke made only two field goals and left the game briefly in the second half after a hard fall under the basket.
Michigan (27-7) advanced anyway behind Robinson, McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 21 points.
South Dakota State (25-10), the 13th seed, trailed by only four at halftime but couldn’t keep up.
VCU 88, AKRON 42: Troy Daniels had 23 points, Juvonte Reddic scored 21 and VCU routed Akron in the most lopsided victory by a fifth-seeded team over a No. 12 in NCAA tournament history.
The Rams (27-8) forced 22 turnovers.
Akron (26-7) was seriously short-handed, and it showed.
In addition to playing without suspended point guard Alex Abreu, starting guard Brian Walsh and reserve center Pat Forsythe were limited by the flu, and reserve guard Deji Ibitayo wasn’t even in uniform because of back spasms.