With Iowa State down three in the closing seconds, guard Monte Morris, a 40 percent shooter from three-point range, had an open look to tie the game from behind the arc. The ball clanked off the rim, and though the Cyclones managed to tip in the rebound, it wasn’t enough. Instead, the Blazers, which entered the NCAA Tournament 19-15, pulled out the tournament’s first major upset.
Guard Robert Brown, who scored 21 points, paced the Blazers, but it was forward William Lee who clinched the victory for his team down the stretch. With under 30 seconds left to play and his team down one, Lee nailed a contested mid-range jumper to put the Blazers back ahead. Moments later, he hit two free throws to extend the lead to three and force the Cyclones into a long-range shot.
For the Cyclones, which entered the Big Dance with the momentum of winning the Big 12 Tournament less than a week before, played sloppily for most of the game. The Cyclones grabbed 16 less rebounds than their opponents and committed 11 turnovers. It didn’t help that forward Georges Niang, the team’s best player, scored just 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting.
UAB just kicked in the front door of the March Madness Mansion, snatched everyone’s brackets, ripped them up, stole some snacks and left.
— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) March 19, 2015
Next round: Oddly enough, UAB appears to have a chance to reach the Sweet 16. They’ll battle with UCLA, which narrowly defeated SMU, on Saturday. Expect the Blazers to attack the offensive glass, shoot a bunch of threes and play with nothing to lose.
Game Recap: #6 SMU Mustangs vs. #11 UCLA Bruins
In what was probably one of the weirdest endings in NCAA Tournament history, UCLA secured the upset over Larry Brown and SMU. Trailing by two with 13 seconds remaining, Bruins guard Bryce Alford attempted a three to put his team ahead. As the shot soared toward the basket, SMU center Yanick Moreira tipped the ball, prompting the referee to call a goal tend. The Mustangs had two shots in the final 10 seconds to regain the lead but couldn’t convert.
Was this a goaltend? https://t.co/SZ5PAwOgAL
— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) March 19, 2015
Alford carried the Bruins throughout the whole contest as he was almost unconscious from three. He finished the game with 27 points, shot 9-of-11 from behind the arc, and was the second coach’s son to nail the game-winning shot.
For the Mustangs, it was guard Nic Moore and forward Markus Kennedy providing the scoring production. The duo combined to score 40 of 59 points and fueled the team’s 17-0 run in the second half that helped the Mustangs gain control of the game.
But in the end, the Bruins, behind Alford, pulled out yet another upset on the first day of the tournament.
Next round: The Bruins, who many thought shouldn’t have gotten into the tournament to begin with, have a favorable draw to the Sweet 16. The Bruins met the Blazers at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 28 and came out with the 12-point victory.
As a 12-seed last season, Stephen F. Austin provided the country with an improbable comeback before handing fifth-seeded VCU an overtime loss. And this year, the Lumberjacks were a trendy upset pick once again. But Utah, behind 14 second-half points from forward Jakob Poeltl, pulled out the seven-point win.
Despite entering the tournament with three losses in their past five games, the Utes controlled the opening 20 minutes. The team’s stout defense held the Lumberjacks, who average 79.5 points per game, to just 19 points in the first half.
But in the second frame, the Lumberjacks made a comeback and kept the contest close until the closing minutes, getting as close to a deuce with 30 seconds left. Guard Delon Wright, however, sank two free throws to put the Utes up four. Guard Isaiah Wright nailed three more freebies to seal the game and punch the Utes ticket into the Round of 32.
Next round: Larry Krystkowiak’s reward for winning is a game with Utah in the third round. The winner will likely have face the challenge of stopping No. 1 Duke.
Game Recap: #4 Georgetown Hoyas vs. #13 Eastern Washington Eagles
Many experts thought Eastern Washington, which features the nation’s leading scorer in guard Tyler Harvey, had enough star power to dismantle a Georgetown team that had struggled mightily in the tournament in recent years.
But after a slow start, the Hoyas strayed away from their normal tournament troubles and cruised to victory and a third round match with Utah.
I think we’ve hit the point of being able to step away from the TV. Eastern Washington looks pretty lifeless.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 20, 2015
Eastern Washington is going to lose, but Sir Washington always wins pic.twitter.com/gIZLrLfooO
— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) March 20, 2015
Next round: In the four-five match up nobody saw coming, the Utes and Hoyas will battle for a spot in the Sweet 16. The two teams ended their seasons in different ways–Georgetown won six of their final eight games while Utah lost three of their last five–but look to be pretty evenly matched. The way Georgetown demolished Eastern Washington, however, I give the edge to the Hoyas.