The Bulls pulled away in the second half with clutch three-point shooting and effective defense against Arizona’s star Deandre Ayton. Wes Clark led the winners with 25 points and Jeremy Harris added 23. The two combined to shoot 20-of-34 and hit six three-pointers. Ayton was held to 14 points and 13 rebounds. He had trouble hitting his mid-range shots and was solidly double-teamed throughout the contest. The Bulls tried to make the rest of the Wildcat team beat them and the strategy worked out very well.
Buffalo connected on 15-of-30 (50 percent) three-pointers while the Wildcats could muster only a 2-of-18 (11 percent) shooting performance from deep. That’s a 45-6 edge in three-point points. Arizona’s loss quickly eliminates the Pac-12 from the tournament with a 0-3 record.
Buffalo ran out to a 10-4 lead and held a 19-12 lead before Arizona mounted a comeback. They tied the game at 21 on a Rawle Alkins layup and battled evenly throughout the rest of the half. There were 12 lead changes and four ties. Jeremy Harris led Buffalo with 14 points while Wes Clark added 13 points including a three-pointer with 18 seconds left which gave the Bulls a 40-38 halftime lead. Alkins led the Wildcats with eight points. Buffalo held a +6 advantage on the boards and held Arizona to 1-of-8 three-point shooting.
A three-pointer by Zach Norvell Jr. with 23 seconds remaining broke a tie and led No. 4 seed Gonzaga to a 68-64 win over UNC-Greensboro in the opening NCAA Tournament game in Boise before 11,662 fans.
UNCG’s Marvin Smith had a potential tying three –point attempt rattle out with 13 seconds left. Norvell Jr. clinched the game with a free throw with eight seconds left. Johnathan Williams led the Zags (31-4) with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Guards Francis Alonso and Demetrius Troy led UNCG with 16 points each.
Gonzaga held a nine-point lead (32-23) at halftime and still led by eight points (54-46) with 9:43 left. UNCG battled back and eventually tied the game at 60 on a jumper by Troy with 4:19 remaining. They took a 64-62 lead n a layup from Jordy Kuiper with 1:49 left. Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins tied the score at 64 on an 18-foot jumper with 54 seconds to set the stage for Norvell Jr.’s three-pointer.
Both teams shot poorly from long distance with Gonzaga hitting 5-of-23 (21.7 percent) and UNCG 3-of-22 (13.6 percent). Both teams shot 42 percent overall and battled fairly evenly on the boards with UNCG having a +3 advantage. The Zags big edge came at the free throw line as they had 15 more attempts than UNCG, They shot only 13-of-25 but outscored UNCG at the lineby eight.
In the second game Kam Williams scored seven straight points to break a 70-70 tie to lead No. 5 seed Ohio State (25-8) to a hard-fought 81-73 win over No. 12 seed South Dakota State (28-7).
Williams hit a three-pointer with 1:36 remaining, was fouled and completed the four-point play. On Ohio State’s next possession Williams was fouled on another three-point attempt and subsequently connected on all three free throw attempts. Williams scored 22 points while Keita Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 24 points and 11 rebounds. 6-9, 250-pound junior Mike Daum was impressive for South Dakota State scoring 27 points and converting 5-of-10 from long distance.
The game was close throughout with the teams battling to a 43-all tie at halftime. The Buckeyes pulled out to a 70-60 lead before the Jackrabbits scored ten straight points over a two minute stretch to tie the game and set the stage for Williams” heroics. Ohio State had a +8 rebounding advantage in the game with a 15-8 edge on the offensive boards. The Buckeyes relied on their three-point shooting too much, hoisting up 40 long distance attempts, connecting on only 12 (30 percent) . Ohio State committed on nine turnovers and forced 13 Jackrabbit turnovers. The Buckeyes came up with 10 steals against only three from South Dakota State. Ohio State will face Gonzaga in Saturday first game for the right to head to the West Regional in Los Angeles.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox helped Kentucky (25-10) pull away from Davidson (21-12) late in the game in a 78-73 win. The due combined for 26 of Kentucky’s last 28 points after Davidson had tied the game at 54 with 7:41 left in the game. Knox scored a game-high 25 points while Gilgeous-Alexander added 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Jon Axel Gudmundsson canned 6-of-11 three-pointers and led Davidson with 21 points.
Davidson kept the game close despite off-shooting nights from the team’s top scorers Payton Aldridge (12 points) and Kellen Grady (16 points). The two combined to shoot 8-of-31 including a poor 2-of-14 from deep. They were bothered by Kentucky’s length but also missed some good, open attempts.
Kentucky held a ten-point halftime lead (34-24) but Davidson battled back helped by Gudmundsson’s hot three-point shooting. Kentucky didn’t convert any three-pointers (0-of-6) instead relying on transition offense and mid-range shots. Knox converted well from 15 feet out from the corner or wing. Hamidou Diallo (3 blocks) was effective guarding Grady at times and PJ Washington finished with 11 points before fouling out.
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