Basketball·March Madness

Morant's triple-double leads Murray State past Marquette

Ja Morant logged the ninth triple-double in 30-plus years of NCAA Tournament history as Murray State trounced fifth-seeded Marquette 83-64 in the first round of the West Region.

LSU, FSU, Minnesota other winners from 1st day of tournament

Fans cheer as Murray State's Ja Morant (12) celebrates a basket during the second half of a first-round game against Marquette. (Elise Amendola/The Associated Press)

Ja Morant logged the ninth triple-double in 30-plus years of NCAA Tournament history as Murray State trounced fifth-seeded Marquette 83-64 in the first round of the West Region.

Murray State continued a trend of a No. 12 seed winning at least one game in all but three tournaments since 2001 — including last year's — but this looked nothing like an upset.

Morant had 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds as he sliced through Marquette on Thursday and showed the Racers (28-4) were better in every way than their opponent from the Big East. The Ohio Valley Conference champions face fourth-seeded Florida State on Saturday as the Racers next try to take down an Atlantic Coast Conference foe.

Auburn survives furious comeback

After a teammate passed up an open layup that could have tied the game, New Mexico State's Terrell Brown was fouled behind the arc and missed two of three free throws as the Aggies dropped a 78-77 heartbreaker Thursday to fifth-seeded Auburn in the NCAA Tournament.

The Aggies were trailing 78-76 in the opening round of the Midwest Region when guard A.J. Harris had his defender beat and looked to be headed to the glass for the tying bucket. He instead lobbed out to Brown, who was spotted up at the elbow for a possible game-winner.

Brown missed but was fouled with 1.1 seconds left.

With Auburn's J'von McCormick grabbing his throat as Harris toed the line, Brown missed the first, made the second, then watched the third one rim out.

Nevada rally falls short against Florida

Nevada's "Comeback Kids" didn't have it in them in this NCAA Tournament.

The seventh-seeded Wolfpack, who twice used double-digit rallies to reach the Sweet Sixteen a year ago, cut an 18-point Florida deficit to just two points with 2:02 left. But the Gators closed the game with an 11-2 run, beating the Wolfpack 70-61 to advance in the West Region.

Kevarrius Hayes had 16 points and Jalen Hudson scored 15 for Florida.

Kentucky routs Abilene Christian

With injured star PJ Washington watching from the bench, second-seeded Kentucky had no problem with 15th-seeded Abilene Christian in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Keldon Johnson scored 25 points, Reid Travis added 18 and the Wildcats from the Southeastern Conference overwhelmed the overmatched Wildcats from the Southland Conference, 79-44.

Big Blue, as expected, dominated every matchup. The Cats led 39-13 at halftime and opened a 30-point lead shortly after the break. Tyler Herro chipped in 14 points for the powerhouse program from the Bluegrass State.

FSU withstands Vermont barrage

Florida State withstood a barrage of 3-pointers from 13th-seeded Vermont and advanced to the second round with a 76-69 victory.

The Catamounts went 16 for 32 from 3-point range but cooled in the second half just enough for the Seminoles to take over with their size.

Canada's Mfiondu Kabengele scored 21 points to lead fourth-seeded FSU.

LSU sneaks past Yale

Third-seeded LSU advanced in the East Regional, holding off upset-minded Yale 79-74.

The Tigers led 45-29 at halftime and pushed the edge to as many as 18 points before the Bulldogs rallied down the stretch with a barrage of 3-pointers.

But LSU made enough free throws to hold off No. 14 seed Yale, which was trying for the Ivy League's first victory in the tournament since its upset of Baylor in 2016.

The Tigers will face the winner of Belmont-Maryland game on Saturday. Yale's season ended with a record of 22-8.

Zags roll past Farleigh Dickinson

When it comes to a 16 seed beating a 1, it's still true — anything really can happen in the NCAA Tournament.

Just not on Thursday night. And not against Gonzaga.

One year after dreamers and underdog lovers rejoiced at top-seeded Virginia's first-of-its-kind, first-round loss, the Gonzaga Bulldogs crushed any thought of a repeat with a wire-to-wire 87-49 thumping of Fairleigh Dickinson in the West Region.

Villanova survives Saint Mary's

Phil Booth scored 20 points and defending NCAA Tournament champion Villanova held off Saint Mary's in a hard-fought 61-57 victory on Thursday night.

Fellow senior Eric Paschell added 14 points for the sixth-seeded Wildcats, who led for almost 33 minutes, but never by more than eight points.

Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts each had 13 points for Saint Mary's, which finished the season 22-12. The 11th-seeded Gaels, who pulled off an upset win over Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament, had a chance down the stretch in this one.

Gophers move on

Freshman Gabe Kalscheur scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half to lead No. 10 seed Minnesota past No. 7 seed Louisville 86-76.

The win was Richard Pitino's first in the tournament in his six seasons with the Gophers and extra sweet because it came against the school that fired his father, Rick Pitino, in 2017.

Backed by a throng of fans who made the easy drive to central Iowa, the Gophers were at their best in the East Region game. They took the lead midway through the first half and built it to 19 with 9:48 left.

Maryland outlasts Belmont

Maryland's Darryl Morsell made a crucial defensive stop as Belmont went for a last-second upset in the NCAA Tournament, allowing the Terrapins to escape with a 79-77 victory Thursday in the East Regional.

Playing their second tournament game in less than 48 hours, the 11th-seeded Bruins left no doubt they belonged after receiving one of the selection committee's final at-large bids.

But the mid-major powerhouse from Nashville, Tennessee couldn't knock off the No. 6-seeded Terrapins (23-10) from the Big Ten, despite a 35-point performance by Dylan Windler.

Michigan State holds off Bradley

Cassius Winston scored 26 points and second-seeded Michigan State held off Bradley 76-65 on Thursday in the opening round of the East Region.

Xavier Tillman had 16 points with 11 boards for the Spartans (29-6), who'll face Big Ten rival, 10th-seeded Minnesota, on Saturday in search of their first trip to the Sweet Sixteen in four years. Michigan State throttled the Gophers 79-55 in East Lansing back on Feb. 9.

Bradley gave the Big Ten champions all they could handle, though.

Lawson carries Kansas over Northeastern

Dedric Lawson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Kansas dominated inside for an 87-53 rout over Northeastern on Thursday in the opening round of the Midwest Region.

The fourth-seeded Jayhawks (26-9) had a notable size advantage inside and used it, outscoring the Huskies 50-16 in the paint while grabbing 17 more rebounds.

Kansas shot 56 per cent and advanced to Saturday's second round against fifth-seeded Auburn.

Michigan puts away Montana

Charles Matthews had 22 points and 10 rebounds in his best performance since coming back from injury, and No. 2 seed Michigan put away Montana early in a 74-55 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.

Ignas Brazdeikis added 14 points and seven rebounds, and Jon Teske had 11 points and nine boards for the Wolverines, who led by as many as 27 points in the second half.

The Wolverines (29-6) are in the round of 32 for the third straight year. They'll play Florida on Saturday.

Wofford tops Seton Hall for 1st tourney win

Fletcher Magee set the Division I career record for 3-pointers, poured in 24 points and led seventh-seeded Wofford to an 84-68 victory over Seton Hall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.

Magee hit seven treys against the No. 10 seed Pirates to help the Terriers to their first tournament win in five tries. Wofford also won its 21st consecutive game overall.

Magee now has 509 3-pointers in four seasons, breaking the career mark set by Oakland's Travis Bader in 2014. Duke's J.J. Redick (457), Tennessee's Chris Lofton (431) and Davidson's Stephen Curry (414) also rank in the top 10.

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