Tennessee bests UMass
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jarnell Stokes scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to help Tennessee beat Massachusetts 86-67 on Friday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Jordan McRae added 21 points for the Volunteers (23-12), the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Regional. Tennessee had little trouble with the sixth-seeded Minutemen (24-9), shooting 54 percent from the field and handling UMass’ fullcourt pressure in a surprisingly one-sided performance that included another solid defensive showing.
The Vols are in the NCAAs for the first time in three seasons, starting with a First Four overtime win against Iowa. Now they are headed to Sunday’s third round to face 14th-seeded Mercer, who upset Duke in Friday.
In their tournament opener Wednesday night, the Vols controlled the boards and dominated the overtime to beat the Hawkeyes 78-65 in the program’s first NCAA tournament game since Bruce Pearl’s final game as coach in 2011. Martin had said he thought the win helped his Vols get the jitters out -- they didn’t score until 6 minutes into that one -- while also giving them a taste of tournament intensity by fighting through a tough game.
He was right. Tennessee protected the ball against pressure by committing three first-half turnovers, while Stokes and McRae led an offense that shot 52 percent in the first half and kept coming up with press-breaking answers to turn away every spurt by the Minutemen.
This was Tennessee’s biggest margin of victory in an NCAA game since beating Long Beach State 121-86 in the 2007 first round.
UMass shot 42 percent and went 3 for 11 from 3-point range.
Mercer shocks Duke 78-71 in NCAA tourney opener
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Dunk City is long gone. Make way for the next bunch of bracket busters from the little-known Atlantic Sun Conference: Mercer.
The 8,300-student school from Macon, Ga., delivered the biggest shocker in an already topsy-turvy NCAA tournament on Friday, going into Duke’s backyard and knocking off the No. 3 seed Blue Devils 78-71.
The 14th-seeded Bears -- with a starting lineup of five seniors -- came back from five points down in the last 4:52 as Duke’s offense collapsed.
They sent home one of the true blue-blood programs, coached by Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski and starring freshman Jabari Parker, sure to be one of the top NBA picks this year. Mercer is coached by former Oklahoma Baptist player Bob Hoffman, who has banged around the coaching ranks from women’s teams to the American Basketball Association to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Developmental League.
Next up: 11th-seeded Tennessee, which upset sixth-seeded Massachusetts 86-67, on Sunday in the third round.
Jakob Gollon scored 20 points and Daniel Coursey scored 17, helping the Bears overcome a season-high 15 3-pointers from Duke.
Mercer qualified for its first NCAA tournament since 1985 by winning the Atlantic Sun conference championship over Florida Gulf Coast, nicknamed "Dunk City" for the team’s above-the-rim offense. A year earlier, the Bears lost that game and watched FGCU advance to the Sweet 16.
Mercer scored 11 straight points during the late 20-5 run that clinched the biggest victory in school history and sent the Blue Devils to their second first-game exit in three years.
Duke went up 63-58 with 4:52 left after Parker converted a three-point play and Tyler Thornton hit three free throws.
The Blue Devils didn’t score again until the final minute.
Frustrated Nebraska falls in first NCAAs since ‘98
SAN ANTONIO -- Nebraska coach Tim Miles couldn’t fix the cold shooting or sloppy passes. The Big Ten coach of the year did see one thing he could correct: an overlooked shot clock error.
Nope. These Huskers weren’t even going to get that right.
Miles was instead ejected while trying to alert officials to the mistake, and 11th-seeded Nebraska would soon join their coach out of the NCAA tournament, falling to No. 6 seed Baylor 74-60 in the second round Friday.
Basketball success is expected at Baylor (25-11), which has won 11 of 13 after a dismal start in the Big 12. The Bears didn’t make last year’s tournament, but rolled to the Elite Eight in 2010 and 2012.
Baylor will play either No. 3 seed Creighton or No. 14 seed Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday.
Stanford knocks off
No. 7 New Mexico
ST. LOUIS -- Stanford made the most of its first NCAA appearance since 2008, starting fast and finishing strong. New Mexico made another hasty exit.
Randle scored 23 points for 10th-seeded Stanford (22-12), which built an early 16-point lead then held on after New Mexico rallied to tie it midway through the second half. They got four crucial free throws from reserve walk-on Robbie Lemons and Randle in the final half-minute after New Mexico had cut the deficit to two points. They will play the Eastern Kentucky-Kansas winner on Sunday in the third round.
Arizona beats Weber
State 68-59 in West
SAN DIEGO -- Arizona avoided becoming the latest and biggest upset victim in an NCAA tournament that’s been filled with them.
The Wildcats will have to play a little better if they want to keep going in the bracket.
Nick Johnson scored 18 points, Aaron Gordon added 16 and top-seeded Arizona overcame a shaky start and a late run by Weber State to beat the Wildcats 68-59 in the West Regional on Friday.
The first full day of the tournament was a wild one filled with upsets, and the bracket-busting trend continued early Friday, when Mercer, a No. 14 seed, knocked off mighty Duke.
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