Boise, ID. –Gonzaga rode Zach Norvell Jr. and Rui Hachimura to another Sweet 16 appearance. The Zags fought back a game Ohio State squad in a 90-84 win in the nightcap in Boise before a predominantly Zag audience.
Norvell Jr. saved his best game of the year for the right time as he scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. He connected on 6-of-11 from deep. Hachimura also had an excellent game finishing with 25 points and five rebounds. Keita Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 28 points.
The Zags broke out to a 15-0 lead and led 44-33 at the half. Ohio State came out strong in the second half eventually taking a four-point lead (58-54) on a dunk by Jae’Sean Tate (11 points). They led by 67-62 after Bates-Diop canned a three-pointer with 6:06 remaining. From that point Gonzaga outscored Ohio State 28-17 to secure the victory. Norvell Jr. and Hachimura each made key late three-pointers and Hachimura came up with an important blocked shot. Hachimura’s three-pointer put the Zags up 73-67 and capped an 11-0 run.
At one point Gonzaga was 4-of-14 from the foul line which helped the Buckeyes get back into the game. They finished 19-of-31 from the line, making 15 of their last 17 shots. Gonzaga made it to the charity stripe 25 times in the second half and had 15 more free throw attempts than the Buckeyes. The Zags also dominated the boards with a 39-25 advantage including a 13-8 edge on the offensive boards. Ohio State stayed in the game shooting efficiently fro three, making 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) of their attempts from distance.
Kentucky ran away from the Buffalo Bulls in the first game in Boise by a score of 95-75. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was exceptional for the Wildcats, scoring 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting to go along with six rebounds and six assists. Hamidou Diallo scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half and added eight rebounds. Wenyen Gabriel came off to bench to register a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 3-of-5 from distance. Wes Clark led the Bulls with 26 points, hitting five three-pointers. His backcourt mate CJ Massinburg added 18 points to go along with eight rebounds.
Kentucky used their height to dominate inside, outscoring Buffalo 44-30 in the paint and out-rebounding the Bulls by 12. After their outstanding three-point shooting on Thursday night Buffalo managed to hit only 7-of-31 (22.6 percent) from distance. Kentucky shot 56 percent for the game including an efficient 7-of-15 on three-pointers.
Buffalo connected on 15-of-30 three-pointers in their stunning upset victory over Arizona on Thursday night outscoring the Wildcats from distance 45-6. While that clearly was excessive it seemed that they needed to have another good shooting performance from three to compete with Kentucky today. They started off missing their first seven three-point shots before some started falling. They ended the first half 5-of-17 from deep and trailed 51-42 at halftime.
Clark (13 points) and Massinburg (14 points) started connecting after awhile hitting five three-pointers combined. Gilgeous-Alexander had an exceptional half for the Wildcats, hitting all six of his field goal attempts and scoring 17 first half points. Kevin Knox added eight points before heading to the bench with his third personal foul. Kentucky shot an efficient 56 percent in the half, either getting to the basket or relying on good mid-range attempts.
Kentucky heads to the South Regional in Atlanta where they face the Kansas State – UMBC winner.
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