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Abilene Christian stuns Texas, caps upset-heavy first round

March 21, 2021 GMT
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Abilene Christian players celebrate their 53-52 upset win over Texas in a college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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Abilene Christian players celebrate their 53-52 upset win over Texas in a college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Abilene Christian and its frantic, havoc-causing defense bounced coach Shaka Smart and Texas out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round yet again, as the 14th-seeded Wildcats stunned the third-seeded Longhorns 53-52 on Saturday night.

Joe Pleasant, a 58.8% foul shooter on the season, made two free throws with 1.2 seconds left, and the Wildcats took down their in-state rivals in the first meeting between the schools.

Pulling off one final upset in a first round filled with two years’ worth of excitement, Abilene Christian became the fourth team seeded 13th or lower to reach the round of 32 in this NCAA Tournament.

The pesky Wildcats caused headaches for the bigger, more talented Longhorns all night and got just enough offense to earn their first NCAA Tournament victory in their second appearance.

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Pleasant finished with 11 points as did Coryon Mason for the Wildcats, who forced 23 turnovers. Abilene Christian (24-4) will face No. 11 seed UCLA in the second round Monday.

Andrew Jones scored 13 points for Texas (19-8) and was nearly the hero. Jones hit two free throws with 56 seconds left and his 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining put the Longhorns in front 52-51.

ACU had one more chance. Damien Daniels drove to the basket but his shot was blocked by Kai Jones. Pleasant grabbed the rebound and Matt Coleman III was called for a foul. Pleasant stepped to the line and calmly sank both, then picked off Texas’ final desperation pass at midcourt to hand the Longhorns their third first-round exit under Smart.

BYU 73, UCLA 62

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Johnny Juzang poured in 27 points in his second big game of the NCAA Tournament, Jules Bernard provided a big second-half lift, and No 11 seed UCLA beat sixth-seeded BYU.

Bernard finished with 16 points and Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 13 for the Bruins (19-9), who survived a First Four scare from Michigan State and will now play for a spot in the Sweet 16.

It was the first win for UCLA in regulation since handling Utah on Feb. 25.

Alex Barcello led the Cougars (20-7) with 20 points, most of them coming as Mark Pope’s team tried to rally from a 38-27 halftime deficit. Brandon Averette added 15 points and Matt Haarms finished with 11 points and 10 boards as BYU — which fell to Gonzaga in the Mountain West finals — suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in 60 games.

MICHIGAN 82, TEXAS SOUTHERN 66

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Juwan Howard won his first NCAA Tournament game since taking over as Michigan’s coach, guiding Mike Smith and the top-seeded Wolverines past Texas Southern.

Smith scored 18 points and Hunter Dickinson added 16 as Michigan rolled into the second round without Isaiah Livers, who is out with a foot injury. Eli Brooks and Brandon Johns Jr. had 11 points apiece.

Howard is back in the tournament for the first time since his stellar playing career with Michigan, including back-to-back Final Four appearances in 1992 and 1993. It’s his second season in charge, but the NCAA Tournament was canceled last year because of the pandemic.

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Howard and the Wolverines (21-4) had little trouble with the No 16 seed Texas Southern, but the absence of Livers could lead to adversity down the road. Next up is No 8 seed LSU on Monday.

Michael Weathers had 24 points for the Tigers (17-9).

LSU 76, ST. BONAVENTURE 61

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Freshman Cameron Thomas scored 27 points in another impressive performance and his LSU teammates provided the rebounding muscle, leading the eighth-seeded Tigers past ninth-seeded St. Bonaventure.

LSU (19-9) can reach its second straight Sweet 16 if it beats Michigan.

Darius Days and Aundre Hyatt each had 13 points and Trendon Watford had 11. Days and Watford also had 11 rebounds each while Hyatt grabbed 10. The Tigers have won five of six.

Jaren Holmes scored 18 points and Osun Osunniyi had 15 points and nine rebounds for St. Bonaventure (16-5).

COLORADO 96, GEORGETOWN 73

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Colorado used an early 3-point barrage to parlay its highest seeding ever into a win over Georgetown and coach Patrick Ewing.

Led by freshman Jabari Walker’s 5-for-5 shooting clinic from 3-point range, the fifth-seeded Buffs (23-8) made 16 3-pointers and shot 64% from long range.

Walker missed only one of his 10 shots on his way to a career-best 24 points, and D’Shawn Schwartz (18 points) made four of his five 3s in the first half to put Colorado into cruise control. The Buffs made the round of 32 for only the third time since the brackets expanded to 64 teams in 1985. They will face fourth-seeded Florida State.

Georgetown won four games in four days earlier this month to take the Big East Tournament title and make a surprise trip to the NCAA Tournament. But the Hoyas finished 13-13 on the season. Qudus Wahab led Georgetown with 20 points.

FLORIDA STATE 64, UNC GREENSBORO 54

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — RaiQuan Gray scored 17 points and Florida State began what it hopes will be another deep run under coach Leonard Hamilton, holding off 13th-seeded UNC Greensboro.

The Seminoles, who reached the Elite Eight and the Sweet 16 in the previous two tournaments, allowed the Spartans to hang around deep into the second half thanks to an uneven offensive performance.

Florida State went 0 for 9 from 3-point range, winning a game without a made 3 for the first time since February 2018. The Seminoles still managed to shoot 50% overall.

Balsa Koprivica had 13 points and nine rebounds and Anthony Polite added 12 points for the Seminoles.

Isaiah Miller scored 17 points and Keyshaun Langley added 16 for Greensboro (21-9), which was seeking its first tournament win.

MARYLAND 63, UCONN 54

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Eric Ayala scored 23 points and 10th-seeded Maryland clamped down on defense down the stretch to beat No. 7 seed UConn.

The 10th-seeded Terrapins held UConn to 32% shooting to overcome the Huskies’ strong physical game. Maryland was outrebounded 40-29 but its defense carried the Terps to a second-round matchup against second-seeded Alabama.

Maryland (17-13) shot 51% for the game and converted 9 of 18 from behind the arc.

Aaron Wiggins had 14 points and Donta Scott 12 for Maryland.

James Bouknight had 15 points and Jalen Gaffney 12 for the Huskies (15-8), who won five of their last six games to earn their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2016.

ALABAMA 68, IONA 55

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Herb Jones scored 20 points and second-seeded Alabama pried open a tight game to beat coach Rick Pitino’s underdogs from Iona.

Jones had a steal and layup that highlighted an 11-0 run and gave Alabama (25-6) breathing room at 54-46 after the teams seesawed with the lead through much of the second half.

Even though he came in with his highest seeding ever — a 15 — Pitino came to Indy with eight suits and at least a glimmer of hope he might use more than one.

Isaiah Ross scored 19 points on 8-for-18 shooting for the Gaels (12-6). The rest of the team went 15 for 41.

WEST

GONZAGA 98, NORFOLK STATE 55

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Corey Kispert scored 15 of his 23 points by halftime and No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga rolled in its opener, beating Norfolk State.

Anton Watson had 17 points on 7-for-7 shooting for the Bulldogs (27-0), who shook off a slow few opening minutes and easily handled the 16th-seeded Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions.

Next up for the undefeated Zags is eighth-seeded Oklahoma in the second round of the West Region.

Gonzaga led by 22 points before the break and kept stretching the lead after halftime. It has won 31 straight dating to last season.

Devante Carter and Kyonze Chavis each scored 12 points for the Spartans (17-8), who had won seven straight.

OKLAHOMA 72, MISSOURI 68

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Austin Reaves scored 23 points, Brady Manek added 19 and Oklahoma slipped by ninth-seeded Missouri.

The eighth-seeded Sooners (16-10) are on to the second round for fourth time in the last six tournaments.

The Sooners pulled out to an eight-point lead with 1:08 left behind Reaves’ free-throw shooting, but Dru Smith made two 3-pointers in the final minute to keep the pressure on and pull Missouri within 70-67 with 46.7 left.

Smith led the Tigers (16-10) with 20 points.

Reaves missed a jumper and Missouri got a possession to tie with 17 seconds to go, but the Tigers never managed to get off a 3-pointer, in part because Elijah Harkless committed a smart foul with 2.1 seconds left.

CREIGHTON 63, UC SANTA BARBARA 62

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Christian Bishop made both ends of a one-and-one with 16 seconds left to give fifth-seeded Creighton the lead, and the Bluejays hung on to beat 12th-seeded UC Santa Barbara.

Creighton’s turbulent season, which included a one-game suspension for coach Greg McDermott after he made a racially insensitive remark in the locker room, continues Monday in the West Region when the Bluejays (21-8) face 13th-seeded Ohio.

Bishop was fouled by Amadou Sow on the floor after grabbing an offensive rebound and went to the line with the Gauchos (22-5) up 62-61.

The junior came into the game making 57% from the line, but dropped in both, barely touching the rim.

JaQuori McLaughlin had a chance to put the Gauchos back on top but couldn’t finish at the rim. He led UCSB with 13 points.

OHIO 62, VIRGINIA 58

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Virginia’s unusual title defense ended with another upset loss, falling 62-58 to Jason Preston and Ohio.

The fourth-seeded Cavaliers struggled to score during a key stretch in the second half and shot 35% from the field for the game. Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to drop its opening game in the NCAA Tournament when it lost to UMBC in 2018, but it used the setback as motivation in its run to the championship in 2019.

Last year’s NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the pandemic, delaying the Cavaliers’ title defense. They just arrived in Indiana on Friday because of COVID-19 issues, and now they are heading home again.

Preston and Ben Vander Plas delivered for Ohio (17-7) after leading the Bobcats to the Mid-American Conference Tournament title.

Vander Plas scored 17 points and Preston finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

Sam Hauser had 15 points and nine rebounds for Virginia (18-7).

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 72, DRAKE 56

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Evan Mobley had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 6 seed Southern California used smothering defense to beat Drake.

Mobley, a 7-foot freshman forward and AP second-team All-American expected to be a lottery pick if he declares for the draft, made 7 of 15 field goals and blocked three shots.

Isaiah Mobley scored 15 points and Drew Peterson added 14 for USC (23-7), which advanced to play No. 3 seed Kansas in the second round on Monday.

Joseph Yesufu scored 26 points for 11th-seeded Drake (26-5), but none of his teammates scored more than six. Drake shot 29% overall, including a dismal 19% in the second half.

KANSAS 73, EASTERN WASHINGTON 84

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — David McCormack returned from his COVID-19-caused hiatus just in time to rescue No. 3 seed Kansas, piling up 22 points and nine rebounds as the slow-starting Jayhawks rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to beat No. 14 seed Eastern Washington.

Ochai Agbaji scored 21 points, Marcus Garrett fought foul trouble to add 20 and Dajuan Harris Jr. had 13 for the Jayhawks (21-8).

Tanner Groves scored a career-high 35 points and younger brother Jacob Groves had 23 for the Eagles (16-8), whose third trip to the NCAA Tournament ended just as quickly as the first two — though not without putting up a fight.

IOWA 86, GRAND CANYON 74

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Iowa got 24 points from Luka Garza and avoided the early NCAA Tournament exit that befell other high seeds, beating Grand Canyon.

The second-seeded Hawkeyes (22-8) used a strong shooting display to advance.

Iowa shot the Antelopes and their boisterous fans back to the desert, hitting 54% from the floor while going 10 of 22 from behind the arc.

Joe Wieskamp added 16 points to help lead the Hawkeyes into the next round Monday against Oregon, which advanced after Virginia Commonwealth became the first team to bow out of the bracket due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Asbjorn Midtgaard had 18 points and Jovan Blacksher Jr. scored 15 for Grand Canyon (17-7).

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and updated bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket