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BC-BKC--NCAA Tournament-The Latest

March 23, 2019
By The Associated Press

The Latest on the first round of the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern):

8:10 p.m.

The Zion Williamson show in the NCAA Tournament is getting off to a little bit of a ragged start, at least for his Duke team.

The No. 1 seed Blue Devils lead No. 16 North Dakota State 31-27 at halftime Friday in the first round of the East Region.

Williamson has 10 points, including a thundering dunk that finally gave Duke the lead after they trailed for nine minutes. RJ Barrett also has 10 points for the Blue Devils.

North Dakota State’s Vinnie Shahid leads all scorers with 15. The junior averages 13 points a game.

— Jeffrey Collins reporting from Columbia, South Carolina.

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8 p.m.

Washington started pulling away from Utah State late in the first half for a 40-28 lead at the break. The Huskies have the Pac-12′s player of the year in Jaylen Nowell and the top defensive player in Matisse Thybulle, and both have figured prominently.

Nowell has 11 points. Thybulle has five points, two blocks and three steals, including a steal and a dunk during a 13-3 run that closed the half.

Utah State has the first No. 8 seed in school history after winning 10 straight and 17 of 18 while taking the Mountain West title. The Aggies haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2002.

— Joe Kay reporting from Columbus

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7:45 p.m.

A short jumper after forcing his way through two defenders and a blocked shot straight into the Duke bench is how Zion Williamson’s first — and possibly only — NCAA Tournament started.

And it’s all being captured with a CBS camera dedicated solely to the Blue Devils’ freshman star.

CBS took the unprecedented step of adding a single camera tracking Williamson for the tournament. CBS coordinating producer of college basketball Marc Wolff said the network will track Williamson 24/7. The coverage began when CBS filmed Williamson during his Thursday practice session with a cameraman hired specifically to track one player.

Williamson at least provided a quick burst of material for the top-seeded Blue Devils against 16-seed North Dakota State.

He hit the shot inside after winning the tip. Then, as Sam Griesel tried to drive for the Bison, the 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson swatted his shot near the lane all the way to the Blue Devil bench.

Williamson scored six of Duke’s first 12 points. Yet North Dakota State jumped to a 12-5 lead and has stayed right with the Blue Devils late in the first half.

— Jeffrey Collins reporting from Columbia, South Carolina.

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7:10 p.m.

Yes, Jimmy Kimmel, Gonzaga really does exist.

A reporter on Friday brought the late-night comedian’s bit about whether the Spokane, Washington campus is for real straight to coach Mark Few. On a recent show, Kimmel called March Madness the time of year that brings together “63 real (teams) and one from a made-up college called Gonzaga.”

“It’s like egg nog. You hear about it once a year, then for 50 weeks, it disappears,” Kimmel said.

Because it’s nowhere near a major media market and has an enrollment around 5,200, Gonzaga is, in fact, easy to miss.

But Few batted down any conspiracy theory. Sort of.

“As long as they are talking about Gonzaga and the program, I think that’s probably a really, really good thing,” Few said.

But, back to the question: Does it really exist?

“I’m not going to go down the road on some silly little deal,” Few said. “But as long as he’s having fun with it, he can have fun with it.”

— Eddie Pells reporting from Salt Lake City

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6:35 p.m.

Buffalo coach Nate Oats beat his former boss when the sixth-seeded Bulls topped Bobby Hurley and 11th-seeded Arizona State 91-74 in the West Region.

Hurley was Buffalo’s head coach during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons with Oats as an assistant before leaving to turn the Sun Devils around. The two shook hands and spoke briefly near the scorer’s table as time expired. Both coaches had said they weren’t thrilled about having to play each other.

The teams were tied at 14 in the first half before the Bulls went on a 17-5 run to take control.

Nick Perkins and Jeremy Harris each scored 21 points for Buffalo, which will play No. 3 seed Texas Tech on Sunday for a spot in the Sweet 16.

Zylan Cheatham scored 22 points for Arizona State.

— Cliff Brunt reporting from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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5:50 p.m.

A tumultuous season at Kansas has had an unexpected consequence: coach Bill Self has spent more on hair-care products.

“I’m not going to say I haven’t purchased Just For Men at some point in time over the last several months,” Self said to laughter Friday.

It’s been a rough season in Kansas, starting with the indefinite suspension of Silvio De Souza after his name surfaced in a federal probe into college basketball.

The Jayhawks also lost big man Udoke Azubuke to a season-ending wrist injury and senior guard Lagerald Vick left the team for personal reasons.

The attrition has forced Self to get creative with his lineups and coaching style, closing the season with four freshmen starting and a lineup he never would have expected at the start of the year.

“Sometimes the way we play in the past isn’t as available to us now, so we have to figure out different ways to do things,” Self said. “It’s been fun for me to try to tweak some things to get the most out of them.”

— John Marshall reporting from Salt Lake City.

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5:20 p.m.

Admiral Schofield had 19 points and No. 2 seed Tennessee held off a second-half rally by No. 15 seed Colgate for a 77-70 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Jordan Bone added 16 points and Jordan Bowden 14 for Tennessee (30-5), which advanced to play Iowa on Sunday. The Hawkeyes beat Cincinnati earlier in the day.

The Raiders (24-11) erased a 42-30 halftime lead by Tennessee with an 11-2 run to tie the score midway through the second half and keep the game close after that.

Schofield hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Tennessee a cushion with 45 seconds left, and Bone and Schofield followed up with a pair of foul shots each to extend the lead as Colgate ran out of time.

— Mitch Stacy reporting from Columbus, Ohio.

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5:15 p.m.

No. 1 seed Virginia avoided the ignominy of another first-round NCAA Tournament upset, rallying from 14 points down to beat No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb in the South Region.

The Cavaliers were the top overall seed last year but lost 74-54 to 16th-seeded UMBC. It was the first — and still the only — time in 35 years that a 1-seed has fallen in its opening game.

The Cavaliers trailed 30-16 with 6:42 left in the first half but rallied and cut the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ lead to six at halftime. Virginia then opened the second half with a 25-5 run that ended any ideas of another 1-and-done.

The Cavaliers used their trademark stifling defense to force 11 Gardner-Webb turnovers in the first 12 minutes after the break.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett told his team all season they needed to turn last year’s disaster into something positive.

— Jeffrey Collins reporting from Columbia, South Carolina.

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4:50 p.m.

If there’s any bigger insult in sports than calling a player a choke, it might be calling a player a bad sport.

Auburn’s J’von McCormick clutched his throat as New Mexico State’s Terrell Brown was toeing the free-throw line with 1.1 seconds left, getting ready for three shots that would decide Thursday’s game.

Brown missed two and Auburn prevailed by a point. On Friday, coach Bruce Pearl came to McCormick’s defense: “That’s not at all his character,” he said, “and that’s not at all ours.”

Pearl said McCormick came to Auburn on a scholarship when nobody else would, agreeing to come to a school not known for its basketball program without a guarantee of a starting spot.

“To his credit, he said, ‘I’m going to come in and push them,’” Pearl said.

The coach said he hadn’t seen footage from the dramatic ending of Thursday’s game, but he did address it with the junior guard from New Orleans.

“You have given the world an opportunity to focus on that, which I wish they wouldn’t, but sometimes you have a responsibility,” Pearl said. “So we’re dealing with it. All it is, you look at is as a lesson, not only for him, but for the next guy.”

— Eddie Pells reporting from Salt Lake City

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4:40 p.m.

Virginia is finally playing like a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cavaliers have rallied from 14 points down in the opening half to lead 16th-seeded Gardner-Webb 42-38 with 15:20 left to play.

A year ago, Virginia became the first top-seeded team in the men’s tournament to a fall to a No. 16 seed with a 74-54 loss to UMBC. And for much of this one, Gardner-Webb looked ready to do it again.

But Virginia is on a 26-8 over an 11-minute stretch to move in front, and are trying to set up a date with ninth-seeded Oklahoma in the second round.

— Pete Iacobelli reporting from Columbia, South Carolina

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4:35 p.m.

If Wofford was looking for some bulletin-board material for its second-round game against No. 2 seed Kentucky, Nick Richards provided it.

The 6-foot-11 center said bluntly Friday that the Wildcats have better big men than their next opponent. He calls is “a really good advantage for us.”

Richards says Wofford’s “bigs are skilled around the basket, they know how to move around the floor, but we’re just better than them overall.”

Even though leading scorer and rebounder PJ Washington will not play because of a sprained left foot, Richards says he, 6-10 EJ Montgomery and 6-8 Reid Travis should have a big edge Saturday against the seventh-seeded Terriers.

As Richards put it, “They’re not even as athletic as all three of us.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari was taken aback by the comments. He never wants one of his players to talk badly of an opponent, but the coach went on to say he’s glad Richards is confident.

Wofford big man Cameron Jackson shrugged off Richards’ assessment. He says it’s “not about proving them wrong. It’s about doing what we’re comfortable doing and making an impact on the game.”

— Paul Newberry reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.

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4:20 p.m.

Michigan State freshman Aaron Henry doesn’t know what all the fuss is about.

Tom Izzo’s heated exchange with him on the court during the Spartans’ first-round win over Bradley on Thursday has drawn wide attention on social media and from pundits opining about the coach’s fiery methods. But Henry said Friday that it was just Izzo being Izzo.

“No abuse was done. Nothing bad was done. It was just coaching,” he said. “That’s what he is, that’s his life, that’s his job. Coaching. You can’t be upset how he does it.”

TV cameras caught Izzo laying into Henry as he came off the court during a timeout, and players stepped in to separate the two in the team huddle. Izzo said after the game that he was upset with the level of effort Henry was playing with at the time.

“My parents loved my response. I didn’t show disrespect or fight back,” he said. “Not that I wanted to, which in this period in general, most people would have in this generation. Not me.”

Henry said he doesn’t doubt Izzo has faith in him. After all, he is a freshman starting for one of the top teams in the country and playing about 30 minutes a game the last month.

— Eric Olson reporting from Des Moines, Iowa.

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4:15 p.m.

Evan Leonard hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start a run of 12 straight points in the second half that sent No. 13 seed UC Irvine to a 70-64 victory over fourth-seeded Kansas State.

The Anteaters (31-5) held on after that run and stunned the regular-season co-champions of the Big 12 for the first tournament win in school history.

UC Irvine lost 57-55 to Louisville in 2015 in its only previous trip to the tournament.

One year after making a run to the Elite Eight, the Wildcats (25-9) had a short stay in the tournament as they struggled to decipher the Anteaters zone defense and missed star forward Dean Wade, who was sidelined by a foot injury. Kamau Stokes led Kansas State with 18 points.

— Josh Dubow reporting from San Jose, California.

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4:10 p.m.

The unthinkable is happening to Virginia (again) in the NCAA Tournament.

The top-seeded Cavaliers are trailing 16th-seeded Gardner-Webb 36-30 at halftime, one year after becoming the first men’s No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 since the tournament expanded to 64 teams.

It was UMBC last year. Now it’s the champions of the Big South.

The Cavaliers came in with 29 wins and a share of an Atlantic Coast Conference championship. But they were outhustled and at times lost in the first half as the Bulldogs led by as many as 14.

Virginia closed the half with a 14-6 run in the final seven minutes.

— Pete Iacobelli reporting from Columbia, South Carolina.

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4 p.m.

Third-seeded Texas Tech shook off a slow first half to roll past 14th-seeded Northern Kentucky 72-57 on Friday in the West Region.

Jarrett Culver, the Big 12 Player of the Year, scored 29 points on 10-for-17 shooting. The Red Raiders shot 53 percent from the field overall.

Tyler Sharpe scored 23 points for Northern Kentucky.

Tech led 30-26 at halftime before dominating on both ends after the break. The Red Raiders’ largest lead was 20 points.

The Norse shot just 37 percent for the game.

— Cliff Brunt reporting from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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3:55 p.m.

No. 2 seed Tennessee is taking advantage of turnovers to stay on top of 15th-seeded Colgate.

The Pioneer League champions turned the ball over eight times in the early going, leading to a 42-30 Tennessee lead at halftime in Columbus, Ohio.

Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden have 10 points apiece for the Volunteers, who lost in the first round of last year’s tournament to 11th-seeded Loyola of Chicago.

Jordan Burns has 12 points for Colgate, going 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

Colgate is seeking its first tournament in three tires. Its last chance came in 1996.

— Mitch Stacy reporting from Columbus.

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3:50 p.m.

PJ Washington is out for Kentucky’s game against Wofford in the NCAA Tournament.

The sophomore forward sprained his left foot in the Southeastern Conference tournament last weekend, and it hasn’t healed as quickly as the Wildcats were hoping.

Washington missed their opener against Abilene Christian, but No. 2-seeded Kentucky had more than enough talent to make up for his absence. The Wildcats romped to a 79-44 victory.

Wofford is expected to present a much tougher challenge in the second round Saturday, especially with Washington watching from the bench. He is Kentucky’s leading scorer and rebounder.

The ailing foot was placed in a hard cast that likely will come off early next week. Then, coach John Calipari said, it’s just a matter of making sure Washington is fully recovered.

If Kentucky beats Wofford, he might be able to return for the round of 16.

— Paul Newberry reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.

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