SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Mitch Henderson's victory leap that punctuated Princeton's famed upset of UCLA in the first round of the 1996 NCAA tournament has become an iconic moment for March Madness in general and the Tigers in particular. There is a picture of the joyous jump at the school's practice facility that serves as a constant reminder of what's possible.
Now, though, Henderson's current players have authored one of their own.
Ryan Langborg lifted Ivy League champion Princeton to its first lead with 2:03 to play and the Tigers used a late run to earn their first NCAA tourney win in 25 years, topping No. 2 seed Arizona 59-55 on Thursday in a South Region opener.
"Pretty surreal feeling," junior guard Matt Allocco said. "To beat a great team like that on this stage is a pretty special feeling. But also, I can't say I'm surprised. This team has been so good all year, so gritty. On paper, it's going to look like a big upset. But we believe in each other and we think we're a really good team. When we're at our best, then I think we can beat anybody in the country."
The 15th-seeded Tigers (22-9) scored the final nine points, holding the Pac-12 tournament champions scoreless over the final 4:43.
Tosan Evbuomwan finished with 15 points in Princeton's first tournament victory since beating UNLV in 1998, when Henderson was a player for the Tigers.
Henderson also played on the 1996 team that beat reigning champion UCLA in the school's final tournament under coach Pete Carril, who died in August. This victory fittingly came in Sacramento, where Carril spent time as an NBA assistant after retiring as Tigers coach.
"He would be very proud of the group," Henderson said. "He wouldn't want any attention to be brought other than what these guys did. They played to win. We knew we had to keep the game low possessions."
Princeton moves on to play seventh-seeded Missouri in an all-Tigers showdown in the second round.
Arizona (28-7), which hasn't won a tournament game in consecutive years since 2014-15, is back at square one after making the Sweet 16 in 2022 as a No. 1 seed.
It marked the third straight year and 11th time overall that a No. 15 seed won a first-round game. Arizona is the only school to be on the wrong end of one of those upsets twice, also losing to Santa Clara in 1993.
Missouri 76, Utah State 65
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Kobe Brown hit three 3-pointers in a span of just more than three minutes to fuel a 13-2 run that turned a two-point deficit into a 62-53 lead, and Missouri posted its first NCAA tourney victory in 13 years.
The seventh-seeded Tigers (25-9) of the Southeastern Conference stopped a six-game tournament skid for the program with their first win since beating Clemson in the first round in 2010, when Missouri was still a Big 12 member.
The 10th-seeded Aggies (26-9) have dropped their past 10 tournament games since beating Ohio State in the first round in 2001. The loss was also the 11th straight for a Mountain West Conference team in March Madness.
San Diego State 63, Charleston 57
ORLANDO, Fla. — Matt Bradley scored 17 points, including two free throws in the final minute, and No. 5 seed San Diego State held on to beat 12th-seeded Charleston.
The Aztecs (28-6) won their first game in the Big Dance since 2015 — ending a four-game losing streak — and snapped an 11-game skid for the Mountain West Conference. They'll face 13th-seeded Furman, which took down No. 4 seed Virginia early in Thursday's action, on Saturday.
The Cougars (31-4) lost for the first time in six weeks and have not won an NCAA tourney game since 1997.
Maryland 67, West Virginia 65
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Maryland overcame a sluggish start and a final heave at the buzzer by Kedrian Johnson to beat West Virginia.
Johnson scored a game-high 27 points, but his potential winning shot bounced off the side of the rim as the horn sounded, allowing the eighth-seeded Terrapins (22-12) to advance to face overall No. 1 seed Alabama, which rolled past No. 16 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi — a First Four game winner two days earlier.
Julian Reese led Maryland with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Neither team could pull away over the final 20 minutes, and a late traveling call on Jahmir Young gave West Virginia (19-15) a chance to tie it with a 3, but the ninth-seeded Mountaineers could not find anyone open beyond the arc, forcing Tre Mitchell to bank it in under the basket.
Young was fouled but made only one of two free throws. The Mountaineers then got the ball in the hands of the guy they wanted, only to have Johnson come up short.
Houston 63, Northern Kentucky 52
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — With All-American Marcus Sasser watching from the bench, top-seeded Houston shook off Northern Kentucky University.
Chants of "NKU!" and "Overrated!" filled Legacy Arena as the 16th-seeded Norse (22-13) trailed by only three at halftime and made it 36-all with less than 16 minutes to go against the Cougars (32-3), but Houston pulled away behind 16 points from Jarace Walker, advancing to face ninth-seeded Auburn on Saturday.
And now all eyes turn to Sasser, the team's top scorer. After going down last weekend with a groin injury in the American Athletic Conference tournament, Sasser's status was a game-time decision Thursday.
He got the start and looked just fine when he knocked down an early 3, but Sasser didn't do much else, finishing with five points on 2-of-5 shooting in just less than 14 minutes.
When the second half began, Sasser wasn't on the court. The school announced he had aggravated his groin injury, forcing him to watch the rest of the game from the bench.
The Cougars didn't need him on this night. The Norse's upset bid went down in a hail of clankers, the Horizon League champions shooting just 27.5% from the field (19-of-69), including a horrendous 5-of-34 from 3-point range.
Auburn 83, Iowa 75
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Johni Broome had 19 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots as No. 9 seed Auburn beat No. 8 seed Iowa.
The SEC's Tigers (21-12) made 11 of 12 free throws over the final four minutes to advance. The Big Ten's Hawkeyes (19-14) twice got within four points in the second half but came no closer.
Four teammates joined Broome by scoring in double figures. Wendell Green Jr. had 15 points, Tre Donaldson and KD Johnson finished with 11 apiece and Allen Flanigan scored 10.
Payton Sandford came off the bench to lead Iowa with 21 points, Kris Murray had 15 on 5-of-18 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds, and Filip Rebraca scored 14 points.
Texas 81, Colgate 61
DES MOINES, Iowa — Sir'Jabari Rice scored 23 points as No. 2 seed Texas (27-8) shot 13-for-23 from 3-point range and shut down sharpshooting Colgate (26-9).
Rice made five of his seven 3-pointers in the first half, helping the Big 12 champions get off to a fast start. Marcus Carr finished and Dylan Disu each scored 17 point, and Disu also grabbed nine rebounds.
In another inspired performance under interim coach Rodney Terry, Rice and the Longhorns picked the perfect time to get hot on the perimeter against the nation's leading outside shooting team. They matched their season best for 3-pointers made.
Ryan Moffat and Keegan Records each scored 13 points for the 15th-seeded Raiders (26-9), who went 3-of-15 from long range and fell to 0-6 all-time in NCAA tourney play.
Penn State 76, Texas A&M 59
DES MOINES, Iowa — Andrew Funk had the shooting game of his career on Penn State's biggest stage in more than two decades.
Funk went 8-of-10 from 3-point range and scored 27 points for the Nittany Lions' first NCAA tourney victory in 22 years.
Funk, in his first year at Penn State after transferring from Bucknell, led the 10th-seeed Nittany Lions (23-13) to their ninth win in their past 11 games. Next up is No. 2 seed Texas.
Penn State's most recent NCAA tourney win had been its second-round upset of North Carolina in 2001. The Nittany Lions lost to Temple in the Sweet 16 that year, and they lost to the Owls again when they returned to the tournament in 2011.
Texas A&M (25-10) had won 10 of 12 as it entered its first NCAA tourney since 2018. The Aggies lost in the first round for only the second time in nine appearances since 2006.
Dexter Dennis scored 19 points to lead the Aggies, who shot 34%.
Kansas 96, Howard 68
DES MOINES, IOWA — Jalen Wilson had 20 points and seven rebounds for No. 1 seed and reigning national champion Kansas, which allowed absent and recovering coach Bill Self to rest during an easy victory over Howard.
Self is still recovering from a recent heart procedure.
Gradey Dick had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the freshman's first NCAA tourney game. K.J. Adams Jr. scored 13 points and Dajuan Harris Jr. added 11 points for the Jayhawks (28-7), who will play Arkansas in the second round.
Kansas, which has won 16 consecutive first-round games, is trying to become the first repeat NCAA winner in 16 years.
Shy Odom had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Bison (22-13), who were making the program's first tourney journey since 1992.
UCLA 86, UNC Asheville 53
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 17 points, and UCLA raced out to a fast start and never looked back.
The second-seeded Bruins (30-5) scored the first 14 points of the game and rolled from there. Amari Bailey also scored 17 points for and David Singleton had 11 for UCLA, which advanced to play seventh-seeded Northwestern.
Drew Pember scored 13 points for the 15th-seeded Bulldogs (27-8). UNC Asheville, which won the Big South regular-season and tournament titles, has now lost all five times the program has advanced to the round of 64.
Jaquez scored inside to give the Bruins their biggest lead of the first half at 34-11, plenty of momentum to coast the rest of the way.
Arkansas 73, Illinois 63
DES MOINES, IOWA — Ricky Council IV scored 18 points and Arkansas survived some anxious moments in the second half against an opponent that simply wouldn't go away.
Devo Davis had 16 points for the eighth-seeded Razorbacks (21-13), who used relentless defense and rebounding to build big leads but couldn't get comfortable until the final minute.
Terrence Shannon Jr., held scoreless the first 16 minutes, finished with 20 points to lead the Illini (20-13). It was the first time in five tournament appearances since 2011 that Illinois didn't make it out of the first round.
The Razorbacks were up double digits in the middle of the first half, but no lead has been safe this season. In seven games, they blew advantages with scoring droughts of five minutes or longer — though not this time.
Northwestern 75, Boise State 67
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Boo Buie scored 22 points to lead Northwestern past Boise State in the Wildcats' second appearance ever in the NCAA tourney.
The seventh-seeded Wildcats (22-11) previously made it to the Big Dance in 2017, and just like that time, they made sure they wouldn't be a one-and-done team, never trailing in a game that was close most of the way.
The 10th-seeded Broncos (24-10) are still searching for their first NCAA tourney win, losing their opener for the ninth time in as many tries. Max Rice scored 17 points to lead Boise State, and Naje Smith added 14.
Chase Audige added 20 points for the Wildcats, and Ty Berry scored 13, including three 3-pointers.
Duke 74, Oral Roberts 51
ORLANDO, Fla. — Jeremy Roach matched his career high with 23 points, and No. 5 seed Duke (27-8) beat No. 12 seed Oral Roberts (30-5), with the Blue Devils winning first-year head coach Jon Scheyer's NCAA tourney debut.
Dariq Whitehead added 13 points for the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament champions. Roach also scored 23 in the ACC title game victory over Virginia last Saturday.
Duke is on a 10-game winning streak and will face fourth-seeded Tennessee, which held off No. 13 seed Louisiana-Lafayette late Thursday night, in the second round Saturday.
Oral Roberts entered the tournament on a nation-leading 17-game winning streak.