Kentucky stays on unbeaten path, UCLA answers critics again
Two down, four to go for the Kentucky Wildcats as they try to become the first unbeaten national champion since Indiana in 1976. Villanova became the first top seed out as it lost to North Carolina State, while UCLA came up with a second win in the tournament, not bad for a team that many said didn't even belong in the field of 68.
The Atlantic Coast Conference continued its so-far perfect tournament run with wins by NC State, North Carolina and Notre Dame.
NC STATE 71, VILLANOVA 68
PITTSBURGH (AP) Villanova went from a top seed to No. 1-and-done.
N.C. State is back in the Sweet 16, attacking one of the top teams in the nation for 40 minutes and stunning Villanova 71-68 on Saturday night. The Wolfpack went wild as the final horn sounded and danced around the court in celebration.
No, it wasn't quite Jim Valvano's mad dash after the Wolfpack won the 1983 national championship. But the Wolfpack (22-13) have designs on their own big March run. They will move on to Syracuse, New York to play the winner of the Louisville-Northern Iowa game.
N.C. State guards Cat Barber and Desmond Lee shared a long embrace after buzzer. Barber pounded his chest and said, ''all heart!''
Lacey led them with 17 points and Barber had 13, each coming with big buckets to hold off a late Villanova charge.
The Wildcats saw a 16-game winning streak end and have not reached the second weekend since 2009.
UTAH 75, GEORGETOWN 64
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Utah is headed back to the Sweet 16 for the first time in a decade.
Brandon Taylor scored 14 points and Delon Wright added 12 and the fifth-seeded Utes beat No. 4 Georgetown 75-64 on Saturday night.
The Utes (26-8) will travel to Houston to play the winner of Sunday's game in Charlotte, North Carolina, between top-seeded Duke (30-4) and No. 8 San Diego State (27-8).
Utah hasn't advanced to the Sweet 16 since 2005, when the Utes fell as the No. 6 seed to No. 2 Kentucky. The Utes are making their first tournament appearance since 2009.
UCLA 92, UAB 75
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Tony Parker led five Bruins in double figures with a career-high 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for 11th-seeded UCLA on Saturday to advance to its second straight Sweet 16.
The Bruins (22-13), the team many thought shouldn't have even been in the field of 68, have won six of their last seven games in earning their first consecutive Sweet 16 berths since reaching the Final Four three straight seasons between 2006 and 2008. They will play either Gonzaga or Iowa on Friday in the South Regional semifinal in Houston.
Kevon Looney had 10 points and 11 rebounds for UCLA. Bryce Alford had 22 points, Norman Powell 15 and Isaac Hamilton 13.
The 14th-seeded Blazers (20-16) missed out on their first regional semifinal since 2004 coming off their big upset of No. 3 seed Iowa State on Thursday. Robert Brown led the Blazers with 25 points and William Lee added 10.
KENTUCKY 64, CINCINNATI 51
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Aaron Harrison scored 13 points and Trey Lyles added 11 points and 11 rebounds and top-ranked Kentucky outworked eighth-seeded Cincinnati to remain undefeated and reach the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.
Despite the Wildcats' sixth straight double-digit win, they faced their toughest test in a while and didn't seem totally in control until the final minutes. The physical, pesky Bearcats made Kentucky work hard for every shot and rebound in an intense contest.
But the Wildcats (36-0) succeeded by making life difficult on both ends for Cincinnati, holding the Bearcats to 32 percent shooting including just 24 percent in the second half. Kentucky blocked six shots after halftime and Willie Cauley-Stein had a highlight-reel slam dunk that may be the play of the tournament.
The Wildcats move on to face the Maryland-West Virginia winner in the Midwest Regional on Thursday in Cleveland.
NOTRE DAME 67, BUTLER 64 (OT)
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Notre Dame survived Butler's March magic.
Jerian Grant scored 16 points, including the clinching layup with 18 seconds left in overtime, and the third-seeded Irish edged the Bulldogs 67-64 on Saturday night.
Notre Dame (31-5) moved on to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003 and will play Kansas or Wichita State in the Midwest Regional semifinals on Thursday in Cleveland.
Steve Vasturia led Notre Dame with 20 points. Demetrius Jackson added 13 points, and Zach Auguste had seven points and 13 rebounds for the Irish, which beat the Bulldogs for the first time in 26 years.
Roosevelt Jones played through an injured left knee while scoring 23 points for Butler (23-11), but another this NCAA run ended abruptly in the extra session.
ARIZONA 73, OHIO ST. 58
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Gabe York made five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points and T.J. McConnell also scored 19 points as second-seeded Arizona advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third straight year.
The Wildcats (33-3) overcame a sluggish start until their outside shooting busted the Buckeyes' zone defense, which they rarely used during the regular season but broke out for the NCAA Tournament. The Pac-12 champions went ahead by 15 points with 6:34 remaining and held off 10th-seeded Ohio State (24-11) in the closing minutes.
Arizona will face the winner of Xavier-Georgia State in the West Regional semifinals Thursday in Los Angeles.
The Buckeyes gave the Wildcats all they could handle, even with standout freshman D'Angelo Russell struggling with his shot. Russell scored nine points and made just 3 of 19 shots after going for 28 points in Ohio State's overtime win over VCU in its tournament opener. He had seven rebounds and six assists.
Sam Thompson added 18 points and Shannon Scott scored 10 for the Buckeyes, who led by six points in the first half but never could match Arizona's size. The Wildcats won the rebounding battle 43-26.
XAVIER 75, GEORGIA STATE 67
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Jalen Reynolds and Myles Davis came off the bench for a combined 38 points as sixth-seeded Xavier end the biggest feel-good story of the NCAA Tournament with a 75-67 victory over Georgia State on Saturday night.
The Musketeers (23-13) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time in six years under coach Chris Mack. They'll face No. 2 seed Arizona - a 73-58 winner over Ohio State - in the West Regional semifinals in Los Angeles.
No. 14 seed Georgia State (25-10), whose injured coach Ron Hunter worked the sideline in a rolling chair, upset No. 3 seed Baylor Thursday. Hunter, who tore his Achilles tendon celebrating his team winning the Sun Belt Conference title, and his son and star player, RJ, became the darlings of the tournament.
NORTH CAROLINA 87, ARKANSAS 76
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Marcus Paige scored 22 points, including 20 in the second half, and North Carolina beat Arkansas 87-78 in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in three years.
Paige missed seven of eight shots in the first half, including all three from 3-point range, and was pretty much a non-factor as the Tar Heels let the Razorbacks keep things close.
But the junior guard took over in the second half, scoring 13 of his team's 17 points during a 5-minute stretch that helped North Carolina build a double-digit lead. The Tar Heels held on from there, thanks partly to Paige closing things out from the free-throw line and with his ball-handling skills.
UNC advanced to play either No. 1 seed Wisconsin or eighth-seeded Oregon in the West Regional next week in Los Angeles. It will be Carolina's 26th appearance in the Sweet 16.
Michael Qualls led Arkansas with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Bobby Portis finished with 18 points and 14 boards.