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No. 1 seed Syracuse avoids upset; VCU surprises Wichita State

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Associated Press
March 16, 2012
— Reserve forward James Southerland had 15 points and a season-high eight rebounds, and Syracuse avoided becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed when it rallied for a 72-65 victory over North Carolina-Asheville on Thursday in the East Regional.

The Orange entered the tournament without starting center Fab Melo, who was declared ineligible for academic reasons, and they almost left early with a piece of history no team wants. Instead, Syracuse (32-2) will play eighth-seeded Kansas State in the third round Saturday.


The Orange overcame a terrible game from three-point range (5 of 23) to beat the smaller Bulldogs (24-10).


J.P. Primm had 18 points for UNC-Asheville.


East Regional

-- (8 seed) Kansas State 70, (9) Southern Miss 64—Rodney McGruder scored 30 points, and Jordan Henriquez added 15 points, nine rebounds and six blocks to lead Kansas State over Southern Mississippi.


The Wildcats (22-10) advanced past their opening tournament game for the third straight year.


Neil Watson led Southern Miss (25-9) with 16 points.


-- (5) Vanderbilt 79, (12) Harvard 70—At Albuquerque, N.M., John Jenkins made all six of his free throws down the stretch and finished with 27 points to help Vanderbilt hold off Harvard in a game billed as “The Brain Bowl.”


Brad Tinsley scored 16 for the Commodores (25-10), who last weekend stunned top-ranked Kentucky.


Laurent Rivard led the Crimson (26-5) with 20 points.


-- (2) Ohio State 78, Loyola (Md.) 59—At Pittsburgh, Deshaun Thomas scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Jared Sullinger added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Buckeyes (28-7).


Ohio State will play seventh-seeded Gonzaga in the third round on Saturday.


Erik Etherly had 19 points for the Greyhounds (24-9).


-- (7) Gonzaga 77, (10) West Virginia 54—Robert Sacre and Gary Bell Jr. scored 14 points apiece as Gonzaga routed West Virginia at Albuquerque.


Kevin Pangos added 13 points and five assists for the Bulldogs (26-6).


Gary Browne led the Mountaineers (19-14) with 15 points off the bench for West Virginia, which was handed its worst postseason defeat in 28 years.


West Regional

-- (6) Murray State 58, (11) Colorado State 41—At Louisville, Ky., Isaiah Canaan scored 15 points in Murray State’s return to the NCAA tournament after a two-year wait, and Donte Poole added 13 to lead the Racers past Colorado State.


Murray State (31-1) next faces Marquette.


Pierce Hornung led Colorado State (20-12) with 12 points and matched a career high with 17 rebounds.


-- (4) Louisville 69, (13) Davidson 62—At Portland, Ore., Peyton Siva scored 17 points, and Louisville finally moved on in the NCAA tournament by beating Davidson.


After getting ousted in their first tournament game the past two seasons, coach Rick Pitino and the Cardinals


(27-9) advanced to play New Mexico in the third round.


Jake Cohen had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Davidson (25-8).


-- (5) New Mexico 75, (12) Long Beach State 68—Kendall Williams scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and bottled up Long Beach State star Casper Ware defensively to help New Mexico hold off the 49ers at Portland.


Drew Gordon added 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Lobos (28-6).


Ware, the Big West player of the year, went nearly 25 minutes without a field goal and finished with 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting.


T.J. Robinson added 12 points and 14 rebounds for Long Beach State (25-9).


South Regional

-- (1) Kentucky 81, (16) Western Kentucky 66—At Louisville, Ky., Terrence Jones had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Doron Lamb scored 16 as Kentucky began its quest for an eighth national title.


Freshman and Player of the Year candidate Anthony Davis added 16 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks for Kentucky (33-2).


Western Kentucky (16-19) saw its improbable seven-game winning streak end.


-- (3) Baylor 68, (14) South Dakota State 60—At Albuquerque, N.M., Pierre Jackson scored 18 points, and Baylor (28-7) held off South Dakota State (27-8) to advance to the third round.


The Jackrabbits were making their first trip to the NCAA tournament.


-- (12) VCU 62, (5) Wichita State 59—At Portland, Ore., Bradford Burgess hit a key three-pointer with 1:33 left, and Oregon High School grad Shaka Smart coached VCU to another tournament surprise.


The Rams (29-6) led by as many as 13 in the second half, but the Shockers closed to


54-53 on Garrett Stutz’s layup with 5:39 left.


Stutz’s long jumper just before the buzzer was off for Wichita State (26-6).


VCU made a stunning run all the way from the First Four to the Final Four last season.


-- (8) Iowa State 77, (9) Connecticut 64—At Louisville, Ky., Chris Allen led four Cyclones in double figures with 20 points, and Iowa State scored their final 14 at the free-throw line.


It’s the first time since UCLA in 1996 that the defending champs lost in the opening game.


The loss is sure to renew questions about the future of Huskies coach Jim Calhoun, who missed a month with back problems and turns 70 in May.


-- (4) Indiana 79, (13) New Mexico State 66—At Portland, Ore., Jordan Hulls scored 22 points, and Indiana (26-8) picked up its first NCAA tournament win since beating Gonzaga in 2007.


The Hoosiers face No. 12 seed VCU on Saturday.


Wendell McKines New Mexico State (26-10) with 15 points.


-- (11) Colorado 68, (6) UNLV 64—At Albuquerque, N.M., freshman reserve Askia Booker scored 16 points and Colorado held off a furious UNLV rally.


Colorado (24-11) led 49-29 with just under 15 minutes remaining, then UNLV (26-9) went on a 26-8 run to cut the margin to two with 4:20 left.


But UNLV missed its next seven shots, and Carlon Brown took a full-court pass for a windmill dunk to help the Buffs gather themselves and win in their first NCAA appearance since 2003.


Austin Dufault finished with 14 points and Andre Roberson had 12 points and 16 rebounds for CU, which plays Baylor on Saturday.


Anthony Marshall had 15 for UNLV, which went 9 for 36 from 3-point range.



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