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Tournament first-day roundup: Gonzaga survives a scare

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Sports,College,Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- It was every frontrunner's nightmare.

Top-seeded Gonzaga ran into a No. 16 seed that wasn't playing like one, a crowd itching for an upset and the very real prospect of making history in a most embarrassing way.

Somehow, the Zags maneuvered their way out of that mess Thursday with a 64-58 win over Southern University, but not before they provided plenty of fodder for all those who wondered if that small school from the small conference really belonged at the top of the West Region bracket.

"The more I watched film on them, the more I thought, 'This could be a real grinder,'" coach Mark Few said of the Jaguars, champions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. "They don't give you many easy opportunities. They're very patient on offense."

Gonzaga's win wasn't safely in hand until the final buzzer sounded. No. 1 seeds improved to 113-0 since the NCAA tournament field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Led by Derick Beltran's 21 points, Southern (23-10) made life hard on the West Coast Conference champions from beginning to end, blocking eight shots, making 10 3-pointers, harassing its star player, Kelly Olynyk, and never letting the Bulldogs out of striking range.

Olynyk scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half to help the Zags (32-2) advance to Saturday's game against Wichita State.

But there was no celebration. Just a big sigh of relief.

"That crowd gets going, everyone wants to see that first 1-16 loss," Few said. "My guys deserve credit. They showed a lot of poise down the stretch when things weren't going their way."

Robinson, Michigan beat South Dakota State 71-56
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Glenn Robinson III scored 21 points and Mitch McGary added 13 points and nine rebounds, helping fourth-seeded Michigan overcome a rough night for Trey Burke in a 71-56 NCAA tournament win over 13th-seeded South Dakota State on Thursday night.

Burke made only two field goals and left the game briefly in the second half after a hard fall under the basket. The star point guard came back after that, but he finished with only six points.

Michigan (27-7) advanced anyway behind Robinson, McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 21 points.

South Dakota State (25-10) trailed by only four at halftime but couldn't keep up. High-scoring guard Nate Wolters was held to only 10 points.

Burke was held in single digits for the first time all season.

Top seed Louisville rolls to 79-48 rout of NC A&T
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Pay attention, No. 1s. This is how it's done.

Russ Smith scored 23 points and set a Louisville NCAA tournament record with a career-high eight steals, and Peyton Siva had eight assists as the Cardinals demolished North Carolina A&T 79-48 on Thursday night.

Louisville finished with a season-high 20 steals as it forced the Aggies (20-17) into 27 turnovers. It was the 11th straight win for the Cardinals (30-5), who will play Colorado State or Missouri on Saturday.

Rick Pitino and the Big East champions quickly ended a postseason run for the Aggies, who finally earned their first NCAA tournament win on Tuesday. Bruce Beckford led North Carolina A&T with 12 points.

Marquette escapes Davidson 59-58
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Vander Blue had no doubt where he was going with the ball. The Marquette guard's only concern was whether he'd have room to make it happen.

Blue needed just four seconds to make his own path. Taking Jamil Wilson's inbounds pass at midcourt with 5.5 seconds remaining, he drove left past Jake Cohen for a layup that completed a rally from nine points down and gave the third-seeded Golden Eagles an improbable 59-58 victory over No. 14 Davidson in Thursday's second-round NCAA tournament game.

"All I was thinking was, 'if I get to the rim, I have to finish,'" said Blue, who scored seven of Marquette's final 10 points including a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left. "I'm not ready to go home, I know our team's not ready to go home.

"We got down by like seven, nobody ever panicked. ... Nobody missed a beat. We knew the game isn't over until the clock hits zero."

Blue was there to ensure time ran out on Davidson, intercepting the last-ditch inbounds pass to seal a remarkable rally and set off a noisy celebration among players and Golden Eagles fans at Rupp Arena. Marquette advanced to Saturday's third round against Butler, a 68-56 winner over Bucknell.

Memphis avoids late collapse, tops Gaels 54-52
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Before he could celebrate his first NCAA tournament victory as a head coach, Josh Pastner had to sweat out a couple of frantic seconds.

Memphis held on -- though the Tigers learned quite a lesson about how quickly a game can slip away.

Matthew Dellavedova's 3-pointer from the right wing sailed long as time expired, allowing the sixth-seeded Tigers to breathe a sigh of relief. Memphis beat 11th-seeded Saint Mary's 54-52 on Thursday after nearly blowing a five-point lead in the last few seconds.

"All I know is when you wake up the next morning, it's a 'W' -- at this time of the year, it's win, baby, win. Survive and advance," Pastner said.

The Tigers (31-4) led by 15 in the first half but nearly gave the game away at the end. With Memphis up 54-49, Eividas Petrulis banked in a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds to play. The Tigers then lost the ball when the Gaels' Jordan Giusti deflected the inbound pass off Joe Jackson of Memphis and out of bounds.

"I should've called a timeout. It was my fault, but I just wanted to get it in to one of our best free throw shooters," Memphis sophomore Adonis Thomas said. "It bounced off Joe. It was on me. I should've called a timeout at the end, but the game was going so fast."

Saint Mary's (28-7) was out of timeouts but had a chance to regroup while officials reviewed the previous sequence. The extra time didn't matter. Dellavedova, the career leader in scoring for Saint Mary's, was able to get a shot off, but it missed everything.

Smith's double-double leads Butler to 68-56 win
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The cast of characters has changed.

Butler's character has not.

Rotnei Clarke scored 11 of his 17 points in the last 8:44, Andrew Smith had a double-double with a career-high 16 rebounds and 14 points and Butler withstood a late rally from upset-minded Bucknell for a 68-56 victory in the NCAA tournament on Thursday. Roosevelt Jones added 14 points for the sixth-seeded Bulldogs, who watched an 11-point lead turn into a six-point deficit before regaining control of the game for good.

Butler has now won 11 of its last 13 games in the NCAA tournament, the only two losses coming in the 2010 and 2011 title games.

"The similarity is they're Butler," coach Brad Stevens said. "They have some mettle. They have some intestinal fortitude built up over time. The difference is just the people. We have to play a little bit differently on both sides of floor because of it.

"But it truly is a Butler team, which I feel good about."

Joe Willman had a career-high 20 points for Bucknell. But the 11th-seeded Bison couldn't overcome an off day from two-time Patriot League Player of the year Mike Muscala, who had nine points, only the second time this season he's failed to reach double figures. Going almost five minutes without scoring late in the second half didn't help, either.

3rd-seeded Michigan State beats Valpo 65-54
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Derrick Nix got a pass down low, backed up his beefy body to put an opponent on his back and scored.

For much of Michigan State's NCAA tournament-opening win, it was as easy as giving Nix the ball and getting out of his way.

Nix had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to help power the third-seeded Spartans past 14th-seeded Valparaiso 65-54 on Thursday with an inspired effort by their only senior.

"It's my last go-around," he said. "And, I'm not ready to be done yet."

The Spartans went on a 26-5 run in the first half to take control, and cruised to an easy victory much to the delight of a crowd filled with green-clad fans at the home of the NBA's Detroit Pistons.

Their hard-driving coach, though, wasn't totally satisfied because he said a "sluggish" start was followed up by a "disgusting," finish.

"I was pleased with about 33, 34 minutes of that game," Tom Izzo said.

Armstead leads Wichita State past Pitt 73-55
SALT LAKE CITY -- Wichita State's Tekele Cotton didn't just shut down Pitt's leading scorer, he had him in tears after the game.

The Shockers' guard held Tray Woodall to two points while coming up with five steals and a key 3-point basket in helping ninth-seeded Wichita State to a 73-55 win over eighth-seeded Pitt on Thursday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

At the news conference after the game, Woodall broke down and had to be comforted by Dante Taylor, who wrapped an arm around his teammate's shoulder.

"It's a bitter taste in my mouth to end my career with one of worst game I've ever played," said Woodall, who came into the game averaging 11.8 points. "I'm sorry. I let my team down."

Cotton, a 6-2 sophomore, hit his 3-pointer to start as 12-4 run and added a fast-break dunk to put the Shockers ahead 45-35 with 10:31 remaining. Woodall finished just 1 of 12 from the field, and 0 of 5 from 3-point range.

Oklahoma St ousted by No. 12 seed Oregon, 68-55
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Marcus Smart had his pocket picked twice by Dominic Artis, missed four free throws and played like a jittery freshman instead of a heralded NBA prospect.

With its best player struggling all game, fifth-seeded Oklahoma State had little chance against the streaking Oregon Ducks.

Damyean Dotson scored 17 points and Artis had 13 points and four steals while shutting down Smart to help 12th-seeded Oregon beat the Cowboys 68-55 in the second round of the NCAA tournament Thursday.

"I definitely wish I could have done more for my team," Smart said. "I feel like I let my team down. I didn't contribute to my team the way that I usually do. And it hurt us a little bit."

Smart came into the game with the hype of a top NBA prospect but was held to 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting, a disappointing finish to a stellar season for the Cowboys (24-9). He turned the ball over five times, was 4 for 8 from the foul line and was unable to exploit his size advantage against Artis and Johnathan Loyd.

Evans leads Saint Louis past New Mexico St 64-44
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Saint Louis is carrying on the memory of Rick Majerus the best way it knows how: by advancing in the NCAA tournament.

Dwayne Evans had 24 points and six rebounds, Cody Ellis scored 12 points and the fourth-seeded Billikens overwhelmed New Mexico State 64-44 in the second round Thursday behind a dominating defense.

"It was like Rick was up on top of the backboard slapping the ball out," Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said.

Playing with a heavy heart since Majerus died in December, Saint Louis reached another mark in March for its late coach. The Billikens (28-6) eclipsed the 1988-89 team's school record of 27 victories and are back where they were a year ago in the round of 32.

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