NCAA men’s roundup: Razorbacks shut down Jayhawks’ bid to repeat as champs

AP photo by Charlie Neibergall / Arkansas men's basketball coach Eric Musselman celebrates with fans after the eighth-seeded Razorbacks beat No. 1 seed Kansas in an NCAA tournament West Region second-round game Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Eric Musselman and his players rushed across the basketball court at the final buzzer to celebrate with their joyfully delirious friends from Arkansas.

The 58-year-old coach jumped onto the press table, ripped off his red polo shirt and waved it over his head, shouting all the while to the fans' delight, as has become his tradition after the biggest of his wins.

And this was a really big one.

The Kansas Jayhawks' bid to repeat as national champions ended in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday when Ricky Council IV made five free throws in the closing seconds and the eighth-seeded Razorbacks took down the West Region's No. 1 seed, 72-71.

Now they're truly headed West, out to Las Vegas for the Sweet 16.

"I would love to lie and say that I felt composed, but we only led for 1:43," Musselman said. "This has been as challenging and as up and down a season as I've ever been a part of.

"For these guys to be rewarded for sticking with it and being able to go to Las Vegas and participate with only 16 teams still standing. ... It's really hard to make this tournament. It's really hard to win a game in this tournament. It's really hard to beat defending champions, No. 1 seed. We did it."

Arkansas was playing a No. 1 seed for the third straight year. Last year, the Razorbacks knocked out Gonzaga on the way to their second straight Elite Eight appearance. This time, the Razorbacks survived shaky offensive play early and foul trouble late. They became the first team to beat a No. 1 seed with three players fouling out, according to OptaSTATS.

"That's such an unbelievable win for our program," Musselman said. "I keep telling people that we're getting better. Not many teams can get better this time of year. I've never been prouder of a team like tonight."

Davonte Davis scored 25 points and Council added 21 as Arkansas rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit. Kansas, playing without coach Bill Self as he recovers from a recent heart procedure, became the second top seed not to escape the tournament's first weekend after Purdue lost on Friday night to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson.

Arkansas (22-13) is in the Sweet 16 for the third straight year and will play again Thursday, facing Sunday's winner between No. 5 seed Saint Mary's and No. 4 seed Connecticut.

Self has been with the Jayhawks (28-8) since they arrived in Des Moines and has attended practices and meetings, but he still didn't feel well enough to coach. Longtime assistant Norm Roberts was acting coach for a fifth straight game in Self's absence.

Kansas, bidding to become the first repeat national champion since Florida in 2006-07, was ahead 35-27 at halftime and lost for the first time in 27 games when entering the second half with a lead. Kansas had been 47-0 in the NCAA tourney when leading by eight points or more at halftime.

"Our guys have been terrific all year," Roberts said. "They fought to the very end, made huge plays. It was tough not having Coach here, but we don't make any excuses. We have to line up and get it done, and we came up a little bit short today."

Davis scored 21 of his points in the second half. He fouled out with 1:56 left, turning things over to the veteran Council, a transfer from Wichita State who scored nine of the Razorbacks' final 11 points.

"This team was struggling, and we figured it out," Davis said. "I'm glad we did at the right time. Hopefully we continue to do it."

Council's free throw put Arkansas ahead to stay, 68-67, with 24 seconds left. He then rebounded his own miss of the second free throw and made two more to give the Razorbacks a three-point lead.

The teams traded free throws, and Arkansas sent the Jayhawks' Jalen Wilson to the line with three seconds left to prevent a potential tying 3. Wilson made the first free throw and appeared to try to miss the second intentionally, but it banked hard off the glass and in, and Kansas never regained possession.


UCLA 68, Northwestern 63

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 24 points, and No. 2 seed UCLA withstood a second-half push from No. 7 seed Northwestern to get back to the Sweet 16.

The Bruins (31-5) turned up the defensive intensity late, holding the Wildcats to 1-for-12 shooting during a key stretch.

UCLA made it to a third straight Sweet 16 for the first time in 15 years. The Bruins will play either Gonzaga or TCU on Thursday night in Las Vegas. The third-seeded Bulldogs and sixth-seeded Horned Frogs meet Sunday.

Amari Bailey added 14 points and Tyger Campbell scored 12 for UCLA.

Boo Buie scored 18 points to lead Northwestern (22-12), Matthew Nicholson added 17 and Chase Audige scored all 16 of his points in the second half.


SOUTH REGION

Alabama 73, Maryland 51

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Brandon Miller heated up, and so did Alabama, which avoided the fate of two other top NCAA tourney seeds and brushed aside Maryland behind a dominant second half.

The Crimson Tide (31-5) advanced to their second Sweet 16 in three tournaments and ninth overall. Alabama will face fifth-seeded San Diego State on Friday in Louisville, Kentucky.

Before the game even tipped off, two top seeds — Purdue and 2022 national champion Kansas — had gone down, and No. 1 seed Houston trailed Tide rival Auburn by 10 points at halftime earlier at Legacy Arena before pulling away.

Overall No. 1 seed Alabama and Miller got off to a slow start, but the All-America freshman and top NBA prospect wound up with 19 points after going scoreless in the first-round win against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Thursday. Miller is nursing a groin injury and missed his first nine shots of the tournament.

Jahvon Quinerly scored 22 points, shooting 4-for-6 on 3-pointers, and Charles Bediako had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Alabama's starters hit the bench with a couple of minutes left to chants of "Sweet 16!" in the friendly crowd.

Julian Reese had 14 points for Maryland (22-13) before fouling out, and Jahmir Young scored 12.

The first half was more to the Terrapins' liking — other than the 28-23 deficit — for a team that came in giving up just 63 points a game. 


San Diego State 75, Furman 52

ORLANDO, Fla. — San Diego State had little trouble ending the run of March Madness darling Furman, getting 16 points from Micah Parrish to pace a balanced scoring attack.

Darrion Trammell had 13 points, Lamont Butler added 12 and Matt Bradley finished with 10 for San Diego State (29-6), which is heading to its first Sweet 16 since 2004. The Aztecs have won 11 of their past 13 games.

San Diego State is the first Mountain West Conference team to reach the Sweet 16 since Nevada in 2018.

Mike Bothwell led the 13th-seeded Paladins (28-8) with 15 points. The Southern Conference champions had eliminated top-seeded Virginia in the first round, the initial bracket-busting result in this year's tournament.


Princeton 78, Missouri 63

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Blake Peters made five 3-pointers in the second half, and Princeton shocked another power conference team to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in 56 years.

No. 15 seed Princeton (23-8) followed up a first-round win over Pac-12 tournament champion Arizona, a No. 2 seed, by dominating seventh-seeded Missouri (25-10) of the Southeastern Conference from the start.

The Ivy League school reached the regional semifinals for the first time since 1967, when only 23 teams even made the tournament. Princeton will play either Baylor or Creighton on Friday in Louisville. The third-seeded Bears and sixth-seeded Bluejays meet Sunday.

This marks the third straight year a team seeded 15th made it to the Sweet 16, following Oral Roberts in 2021 and Saint Peter's last year. The only other time a No. 15 seed made it this far came in 2013, when Florida Gulf Coast did it.

Ryan Langborg led Princeton with 22 points and Peters added 17.

DeAndre Gholston scored 19 points and Noah Carter added 14 for Missouri, which was seeking its first berth in the Sweet 16 since 2009.


MIDWEST REGION

Houston 81, Auburn 64

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Marcus Sasser looked just fine, scoring 22 points, and top-seeded Houston stifled local favorite Auburn in the second half.

The Cougars (33-3) overcame a 10-point halftime deficit. Essentially shutting down the lane, Houston played with the desperation of a national championship contender that wasn't ready to suffer the same fate as Purdue and Kansas – No. 1 seeds that already were sent home.

Led by Tramon Mark with 26 points, Houston advanced to face either Indiana or Miami on Friday in Kansas City, Missouri. The fourth-seeded Hoosiers and fifth-seeded Hurricanes meet Sunday.

Johni Broome and Jaylin Williams each scored 14 points to lead the Tigers (21-13) were doomed by a stretch of more than 10 1/2 minutes without a field goal and finished just 4 of 24 from the field in the second half.


Texas 71, Penn State 66

DES MOINES, Iowa — Dylan Disu had a season-high 28 points on 14-for-20 shooting, steadying Texas down the stretch after a late Penn State surge and leading the Longhorns to their first NCAA regional berth in 15 years.

The second-seeded Longhorns (28-8) made just one of 13 shots from 3-point range, so Disu turned this one into a mid-range game. He went 5-for-5 over the final 4 1/2 minutes and also had 10 rebounds in the game.

Sir'Jabari Rice scored 13 points for Texas, which will play the Pittsburgh-Xavier winner on Friday in Kansas City. The 11th-seeded Panthers and third-seeded Musketeers meet Sunday.

Camren Wynter had 16 points for the 10th-seeded Nittany Lions (23-14), the Big Ten tournament runners-up who were coming off their first March Madness victory in 20 years. Second-team All-American Jalen Pickett had 11 points and 10 rebounds with seven turnovers for Penn State.