NCAA tournament: Fla. Gulf Coast to Sweet 16

SOUTH REGIONAL
FLA. GULF COAST 81, SDSU 71

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Florida Gulf Coast went from shocking the college basketball world to downright impressing it. And the Eagles were smiling the whole time.

Playing loose and easy, FCGU beat San Diego State 81-71 on Sunday to become the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

The next opponent for the upstart state school will be the main campus, third-seeded Florida, on Friday night in the South Regional semifinal in Dallas.

Bernard Thompson had 23 points and Sherwood Brown added 17 for FGCU, the 16-year-old school in just its second season being eligible for postseason play.

In its first-ever NCAA tournament game on Friday, the Atlantic Sun champion busted brackets everywhere with an upset win over No. 2 Georgetown, a game the Eagles took control of with a 21-2 run in the second half.

It went much the same way against San Diego State (23-11).

“We’re all about having fun and also playing really hard and that’s something we like to do, we like to get the crowd involved,” said Brown, the A-Sun’s player of the year. “The whole crowd got behind us even if they are not from Fort Myers, or as I like to say, ‘Dunk City.’”

It turns out a rap video called “Dunk City” sprang up overnight in praise of the Eagles.

The notoriously tough Philly fans jumped on the bandwagon, too. One seated behind the FGCU bench held a sign — “Fly, Eagles, Fly!” — the motto of the NFL team that plays across the street from the Wells Fargo Center. And after it was all over, the whole team joined in a bird dance that the players on the bench had been doing during the game.

“I know I can say for all the players, this was the biggest game for us. None of us have played on this stage,” point guard Brett Comer said. “We are blessed to be here.”

WEST REGIONAL
OHIO STATE 78, IOWA STATE 75

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Aaron Craft made a last-second, tie-breaking 3 and Ohio State remained the lone high seed left in the NCAA tournament’s most-busted bracket.

Ohio State (28-7) needed Craft’s only 3-pointer of the game — an arching shot over 6-foot-7 defender Georges Niang from the top of the key — to avoid yet another upset in the oh-so-wild West Regional. Four of the top five seeds fell fast and hard in the first weekend.

Craft left the Buckeyes in position to fritter away a late lead with some missed free throws, then saved them in the final second. Craft also drew a charge on Iowa State’s Will Clyburn near the basket with 1:41 on a play that could have put the Cyclones up by three. It was a close call. Replays showed Craft’s right heel was at the semicircle restricting the area where players can take a charge.

Ohio State’s 10th straight win sent the Buckeyes into the round of 16 for the fourth straight year, a school record. They’ll play sixth-seeded Arizona on Thursday in Los Angeles.

Tenth-seeded Iowa State (23-12) overcame a late 13-point deficit by hitting 3s — the Cyclones’ specialty.

Deshaun Thomas led Ohio State with 22 points, and Craft had 18. LaQuinton Ross scored 10 straight for the Buckeyes as they built that second-half lead.

INDIANA 58, TEMPLE 52

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — On the verge of being the second No. 1 knocked from the NCAA tournament, Indiana finally stopped Temple’s No. 1.

Victor Oladipo hit a key 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining and the top-seeded Hoosiers, their season moments from ending in disappointment, shut down Owls star Khalif Wyatt in the final three minutes to hold off the Owls.

The Hoosiers (29-6) trailed by four with 2:56 left, but closed with a 10-0 run and advanced to the round of 16 for the second straight year.

Indiana will play No. 4 seed Syracuse in the regional semifinals on Thursday in Washington, a rematch of the classic 1987 title game won by the Hoosiers.

Wyatt scored 31 points to lead the Owls (24-10), who gave one of the Big Ten’s big boys all they could handle before collapsing when it mattered most.

Oladipo, who spent the afternoon doing all he could to slow down Wyatt, scored 16 and Cody Zeller added 15 for the Hoosiers.

KANSAS 70, NORTH CAROLINA 58

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas got the best of ‘ol Roy and his Tar Heels once again.

Behind the impassioned play of Travis Releford and Jeff Withey, the top-seeded Jayhawks shook themselves out of a first-half slumber and blitzed No. 8 seed North Carolina down the stretch.

Withey had 16 points and 16 rebounds, and Releford finished with 22 points for the Jayhawks (31-5), who also knocked former coach Roy Williams’ team out of the NCAA tournament during their 2008 title run and again last season, when Kansas marched all the way to the Final Four.

It’ll keep marching this year — at least to the Sweet 16 — thanks to a superb second half.

P.J. Hairston scored 15 points and James Michael McAdoo finished with 11 for the Tar Heels (25-11).

DUKE 66, CREIGHTON 50

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Let upsets take down the other heavy favorites. Duke is back to business as usual.

Rasheed Sulaimon scored 21 points, Seth Curry had 17 and No. 2 seed Duke held off seventh-seeded Creighton 66-50 on Sunday night to advance to the round of 16 for the fourth time in five years.

A year after they lost their NCAA tournament opener, the Blue Devils (29-5) are back in the regional semifinals for the 27th time. They’ll play No. 3 seed Michigan State (27-8) on Friday in Indianapolis.

Mason Plumlee, Josh Hairston and Ryan Kelly battled foul trouble all game long that could have doomed the Blue Devils.

Instead, they’re moving on to Indy.

“It was just so difficult,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “It was the best defense we played all year.”

The Blue Devils haven’t advanced past the round of 16 since Krzyzewksi won his fourth national championship in 2010. They lost last year to Lehigh and spent their first three days in Philadelphia still having to answer for that one. Yes, even after they beat Albany in the second round.

Creighton (28-8) went cold and never made a serious run in the second half. Doug McDermott scored 21 points but made only four baskets.

LA SALLE 76, OLE MISS 74

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — If anyone says La Salle is making its first trip to the round of 16 in a very, very long time, don’t believe it.

The last time the upstart Explorers got this far, the NCAA tournament didn’t even have a round of 16.

But now it does and the little school from Philadelphia is there.

Tyrone Garland banked home a scooping layup with 2 seconds left and the 13th-seeded Explorers beat Mississippi 76-74 on Sunday, making this their deepest run since they advanced to the championship game of the 24-team field in 1955.

“Time was running out, and I felt like I could get the drive,” Garland said. “When I cut, I just saw an opening and took the ball up.”

By inches, the ball off the hands of the 6-foot-1 Garland cleared the outstretched hands of Reginald Buckner, the Rebels’ muscular 6-9 center.

“He blocked my shot a couple times during the game, but I ain’t scared of nobody,” Garland said. “I went in there and knew if I could get an open shot, I could make it.”
In the regional semifinals in Los Angeles on Thursday, the Explorers will meet ninth-seeded Wichita State.

Ramon Galloway had 24 points for the last remaining team in the tournament from the Atlantic 10. The Explorers (24-9) were playing their third game in five days after starting the tournament in the First Four on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.

But they showed no fatigue.

“We’re pretty young. It just feels like AAU all over again. We play a game, go to sleep, wake up, play another game,” said Galloway. “We’re pretty excited for the whole trip.”

No. 12 Ole Miss (27-9) led 74-72 with 1:58 left but failed to reach the regional semifinals for the first time since 2001.

FLORIDA 78, MINNESOTA 64

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Mike Rosario scored 25 points and Florida used an overpowering first half to roll past Minnesota and into the NCAA tournament round of 16 for third consecutive year with a 78-64 win Sunday in the South Regional.

The No. 3 seed Gators (28-7) shot a blistering 65 percent in the first half and led by 21 by halftime. The win earns Florida a return trip to the Lone Star State to play their next game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Andre Hollins scored 25 points to lead the No. 11-seed Gophers (21-13). Hollins’ 3-point shooting sparked a second-half rally that pulled Minnesota within seven points, but Rosario’s sixth 3-pointer with 3 minutes left pushed the Gators’ lead back to 16 and effectively locked up the win.

The rematch of old coaching rivals Billy Donovan of Florida and Tubby Smith of Minnesota looked for a while like it would be a laugher.

Donovan’s Gators rode into the tournament as one of the best defensive teams in the country and backed that up in their first two games of the tournament. After thrashing Northwestern State, the Gators shoved aside the Gophers of the Big Ten in a 20-minute show of muscle and offensive firepower.

MIAMI 63, ILLINOIS 59

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Illinois senior Brandon Paul took one last 3-pointer.

When the ball bounced off the rim as time ran out, Paul put his head down and stared at the floor. After halfheartedly shaking hands with the victorious Miami players, Paul pulled his Illini jersey over his head as he walked off the court.

Miami got Shane Larkin’s go-ahead 3-pointer with a minute left and a close call after that — getting a ball that appeared to ricochet off the hands of Hurricanes post player Kenny Kadji — for a 63-59 victory over the Illini on Sunday night to the NCAA round of 16. Miami (29-6), the No. 2 seed, advanced to play Marquette (25-8) in Washington D.C. on Thursday night.

Larkin, the only non-senior starter for Miami and the ACC player of the year, finished with 17 points. Rion Brown had 21 with five 3s for the Hurricanes. Kadji added 10 points and eight rebounds.

Paul had 18 points for No. 7 seed Illinois (23-13), which hasn’t been the round of 16 since being national runner-ups in 2005. Groce was in the round of 16 as coach of mid-major Ohio last March.


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