Basketball·March Madness

Canada's Barrett leads top-seeded Duke's rout of North Dakota State

Canada's RJ Barrett led Duke with 26 points and 14 rebounds and combined with Williamson for a prolific showing for the freshmen stars. But it was Williamson who could not be contained in the second half and he turned a tight early contest into a Duke runaway in the first round of the East Region.

Iowa, Texas Tech, Oklahoma also moving on to 2nd round

Duke's RJ Barrett led his team to victory on Friday night with 26 points. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Zion Williamson had an explosive NCAA Tournament debut with 25 points and a can't-miss second-half showcase to lead top-seeded Duke to an 85-62 win over North Dakota State on Friday night.

Canada's RJ Barrett led Duke with 26 points and 14 rebounds and combined with Williamson for a prolific showing for the freshmen stars. But it was Williamson who could not be contained in the second half and he turned a tight early contest into a Duke runaway in the first round of the East Region.

Duke led just 31-27 at halftime but Williamson took over after the break. He opened the half by driving on two defenders for a layup that drew a foul. He missed the free throw but Williamson answered with a monster slam.

The highlight, though, came moments later on Williamsson's breathtaking dribble-behind-his-back-after-chasing-down-his-own-steal layup.

The 6-foot-7, 285-pound freshman outran 5-foot-11 190-pound Vinnie Shahid of North Dakota State for the ball after he tipped it for a steal. Williamson then dribbled behind his back, briefly losing and regaining his balance with a hand on the floor. That cleared room for Williamson to get to the lane and go up and under for a layup.

Just like that, the Blue Devils were up 40-27 and cruising.

The Bison (19-16) never recovered.

Barrett and Williamson gave Duke two players with 20 or more points in their NCAA Tournament debut for the first time since Mark Alarie and Johnny Dawkins did it in 1984.

No. 13 UC Irvine shocks Kansas State

UC Irvine got back-to-back 3-pointers from Evan Leonard to spark the deciding run in a 70-64 upset over Kansas State that marked the Anteaters' first NCAA Tournament victory in school history.

The Friday victory was the 17th consecutive for UC Irvine, which lost 57-55 to Louisville in 2015 in their only NCAA appearance.

Leonard and Max Hazzard each scored 19 points to send UC Irvine (31-5) into the second round of the South Region for a matchup against either Wisconsin or Oregon.

UC Irvine guard Robert Cartwright celebrates against Kansas State during the Anteaters' 70-64 upset victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. (Chris Carlson/The Associated Press)

One year after making a run to the Elite Eight, the fourth-seeded Wildcats (25-9) had a short stay in the tournament as they struggled to decipher the Anteaters zone defence and missed star forward Dean Wade, who was sidelined by a foot injury. Kamau Stokes led Kansas State, the co-champions of the Big 12, with 18 points.

Despite that, Kansas State led by four points midway through the second half before the two long shots from Leonard turned the tides with a streak of 12 consecutive points.

No. 1 Virginia avoids another upset

No. 1 seed Virginia this year avoided the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history.

The Cavaliers rallied from 14 points down Friday to beat No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb 71-56 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia was 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 one of the top four teams in the tournament has fallen in their opening game.

Iowa rallies for upset win over Cincinnati

Luka Garza scored 20 points, Jordan Bohannon made a three-point play during Iowa's closing surge, and the 10th-seeded Hawkeyes kept the Big Ten perfect in the NCAA Tournament against Cincinnati.

The Hawkeyes rallied from an early hole for a 79-72 victory over the No. 7 seed Bearcats, moving the league to 6-0 with Ohio State and Wisconsin still to play later Friday.

The Hawkeyes (23-11) got their first NCAA Tournament win in four years despite what amounted to a home crowd for the Bearcats, who couldn't overcome a subpar game by Jarron Cumberland.

Liberty surprises Mississippi

Caleb Homesley scored 22 of his 30 points in the second half and Lovell Cabbil hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:16 to play to send 12th-seeded Liberty to its first NCAA Tournament win in school history, 80-76 over fifth-seeded Mississippi State on Friday night.

The Flames (29-6) were making their fourth tournament trip in school history, but lost twice as a No. 16 seed and once in the play-in game. This year's team had more respect, a higher seeding and capitalized on the opportunity.

Homesley helped rally Liberty from a 10-point deficit in the second half by scoring 14 points in a span of less than five minutes. Cabbil then hit from long range to make it 72-70 and celebrated with an enthusiastic fan section that made the cross-country trip from Virginia for the game.

North Carolina overcomes early struggles

North Carolina overcame its first-half struggles to advance against Iona, ensuring there would be no repeat of a 16-vs-1 upset.

The Midwest Region's No. 1 seed trailed by five at half against Iona before dominating the second half to win 88-73, earning a trip to Sunday's second round to face ninth-seeded Washington.

UNC was the last of the four No. 1 seeds to complete play. Gonzaga won easily in Thursday's first round, though fellow Atlantic Coast Conference top seeds Duke and Virginia both had to rally from early deficits to win their games.

Texas Tech rolls into 2nd round

Third-seeded Texas Tech shook off a slow first half to roll past 14th-seeded Northern Kentucky 72-57.

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

Oklahoma blows out Ole Miss

Kristian Doolittle scored 19 points and matched a career-high with 15 rebounds as No. 9 seed Oklahoma blitzed Mississippi from the start in a 95-72 victory.

The Sooners (20-13) had four players score at least 18 points and shot 58 per cent from the field.

Oklahoma scored on eight of its first nine possessions and led 12-0 less than three minutes into the game.

Oregon extends March run

Payton Pritchard scored 19 points, Kenny Wooten protected the rim with four blocks and 12th-seeded Oregon extended its surprising March run by beating No. 5 seed Wisconsin 72-54 Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Ducks (24-12) won four games in four days to win the Pac-12 tournament last week just to make the NCAAs then followed it with an impressive victory over a higher-seeded opponent. Oregon advanced to play No. 13 seed UC Irvine (31-5) on Sunday in the second round of the South Region.

Louis King added 17 points, Paul White scored all 14 points of his points in the second half and Wooten had nine points, six rebounds and the tone-setting blocks to give the Ducks their ninth straight win.

Tennessee holds of Colgate

Tennessee didn't let an underdog fight back again and pull off a shocker in the NCAA Tournament.

Last year the Volunteers advanced to the second round as a No. 3 seed and were stunned when 11th-seeded Loyola of Chicago hit a jump shot with 3.6 seconds left for a 63-62 win that sent the Ramblers and Sister Jean to the Sweet 16.

This time No. 2 seed Tennessee let No. 15 seed Colgate overcome a 14-point lead to tie the game midway through the second half and keep it close until the Vols pulled away late for a 77-70 win in the opening round Friday.

Buffalo cruises past Arizona State

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.

Washington makes successful return

Noah Dickerson had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and ninth-seeded Washington made a successful return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years, beating Utah State 78-61 on Friday.

The Pac-12's regular season champions swept the league's awards — top player, best defensive player and coach of the year — and got something from all of them against one of the hottest teams in March.

Eighth-seeded Utah State (28-7) had won 10 in a row and 17 of 18 while taking the Mountain West title. The Aggies got the highest seed in school history and were trying to end their own long NCAA Tournament drought. They haven't won since 2002, dropping eight in a row — including 2006 against the Huskies.

Houston downs Georgia State

It's beginning to look like old times for Houston in the NCAA Tournament.

Corey Davis scored 26 points to help the third-seeded Cougars beat Georgia State 84-55 in the Midwest Region on Friday night.

After reaching the national final in 1984, Houston went more than three decades without winning an NCAA Tournament game. Now, the Cougars have tourney wins in back-to-back seasons and are starting to resemble the program that has five Final Four appearances and produced stars including Elvin Hayes, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon.

UCF claims 1st tourney win

Tacko Fall had 13 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks to lead ninth seeded UCF to its first-ever tournament victory with a 73-58 win over No. 8 seed VCU.

The win sets up a match Sunday with overall top seed Duke and its transcendent freshman star Zion Williamson. It also pits Knights coach Johnny Dawkins against his alma mater, where he led Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski's first Final Four team in 1986.

Fall played a big role for UCF, using his 7-foot-6 frame to continually thwart the Rams (25-8) around the rim. The Knights (24-8) made the NCAAs for the first time in 14 years and won for the first time in five appearances.

Ohio State powers past Iowa

Ohio State went from barely making the NCAA Tournament to a spot in the second round with a 62-59 upset of sixth-seeded Iowa State in the Midwest Region on Friday night.

Kaleb Wesson had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead the 11th-seeded Buckeyes (20-14).

Keyshawn Woods added 19 points for Ohio State, which will play No. 3 seed Houston on Sunday for a spot in the round of 16. Musa Jallow added 11 points for Ohio State.

Virginia Tech ends 12-year drought

Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 20 points, Kerry Blackshear added 15 and fourth-seeded Virginia Tech earned its first NCAA Tournament win in 12 years by beating No. 13 seed Saint Louis 66-52 on Friday night.

The Hokies (25-8) had lost in the first round the past two years under coach Buzz Williams before finally breaking through and earning a second-round matchup against No. 12 seed Liberty in the East Region.

Virginia Tech got a big boost to go along with the lopsided win with the return of star point guard Justin Robinson. The Hokies had been without their floor leader the past 12 games because of an injured left foot but he came in off the bench and scored nine points in 27 minutes as he works his way back into game shape. He got a hug from Williams on the sideline after he came out of the game in the final minute.