Xavier fends off Kennesaw State
Pitino addresses St. John’s opening
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Jack Nunge blocked Terrell Burden’s driving attempt at a go-ahead layup in the final seconds, and Xavier dug out of a 13-point hole against surprising Kennesaw State to escape with a 72-67 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.
Souley Boum hit four clinching free throws in the final 2.6 seconds for the third-seeded Musketeers (26-9), who ran off 15 unanswered points as part of a game-ending 24-6 run. That was enough to turn away the 14th-seeded Owls (26-9) in the program’s first-ever March Madness game.
Xavier moves on to face Pittsburgh on Sunday in the Midwest Region.
Xavier led 68-67 when Burden — who’d been successful all day with dribble penetration — turned into the paint past Jerome Hunter and appeared to have a path to the rim. The 7-foot Nunge moved over and swatted the ball into the backboard.
Jerome Hunter scored 24 points to lead the Musketeers.
Burden and Chris Youngblood each scored 14 points to lead Kennesaw State.
PITTSBURGH 59, IOWA STATE 41: In Greensboro, Nelly Cummings scored 13 points and No. 11 seed Pittsburgh (24-11) held sixth-seeded Iowa State to 23% shooting.
Gabe Kalscheur and Jaren Holmes each had 12 points for Iowa State (19-14).
MIAMI 63, DRAKE 56: In Albany, N.Y., Nijel Pack scored 21 points, including the goahead jumper and a pair of free throws in the final minute, and No. 5 seed Miami )26-7) rallied past 12th-seeded Drake (27-8).
East Region MICHIGAN STATE 72, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 62:
In Columbus, Ohio, Joey Hauser scored 17 points and No. 7 seed Michigan State clamped down defensively on No. 10 seed Southern California in the second half.
Coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans (20-12) will face Marquette on Sunday for a spot in the Sweet 16. Joshua Morgan scored 14 and Kobe Johnson 13 to lead the Trojans (22-11).
MARQUETTE 78, VERMONT
61: In Columbus, Kam Jones scored 18 straight points for Marquette (29-6) in the second half, and the second-seeded Golden Eagles beat No. 15 seed Vermont for their first Tournament victory in a decade.
Dylan Penn, Matt Veretto and Robin Duncan each had 11 points for Vermont (23-11), whose 15-game win streak was snapped.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC 66, MEMPHIS 65: In Columbus, Nicholas Boyd drove into the lane and made a floater with 2.5 seconds left, and Florida Atlantic (32-3) earned the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
Coach Penny Hardaway’s Tigers (26-9) had the ball and a one-point lead with 19 seconds left, but a steal by Brandon Weatherspoon and a subsequent jump ball — Hardaway argued his team had called timeout before the tie-up — gave the Owls (32-3) a chance, and Boyd converted.
FAU advances to meet Fairleigh Dickinson, which shocked top-seeded Purdue.
KANSAS STATE 77, MONTANA STATE 65: In Greensboro, Markquis Nowell had 17 points and 14 assists and No. 3 seed Kansas State held off 14thseeded Montana State for its first NCAA Tournament win since knocking off Kentucky in 2018 to reach the Elite Eight. Now the two Wildcat programs will meet again Sunday in the second round.
KENTUCKY 61, PROVIDENCE 53: In Greensboro, Oscar Tshiebwe pulled down 25 rebounds, the second-most in the tournament since 1973, Antonio Reeves scored 22 points and Jacob Toppin had 18 for the sixth-seeded Wildcats (22-11).
SAINT MARY’S 63, VCU 51: In Albany, N.Y., Mitchell Saxen had 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, and Saint Mary’s beat ailing VCU. Alex Ducas also scored 17 points as the fifth-seeded Gaels (27-7) advanced to the second round for the second straight year.
Ace Baldwin led 12th-seeded VCU (27-8) with 13 points, but he appeared to sprain his right ankle on his landing after taking a jumper with just over 14 minutes left in regulation.
UCONN 87, IONA 63: In Albany, N.Y., Adama Sanogo scored 10 of his 28 points in the first five minutes of the second half as fourth-seeded UConn took control and beat Iona.
The Huskies (26-8) advanced to play fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s on Sunday after losing in the first round under coach Dan Hurley the last two seasons.
Coach Rick Pitino’s Gaels (27-8) had their 14-game winning streak snapped.
GONZAGA 82, GRAND CANYON 70: In Denver, slowstarting Gonzaga finally started playing like a title contender, then wore out Grand Canyon behind 28 points and 10 rebounds from Julian Strawther. Drew Timme finished with 21 points, six rebounds and three blocks for the third-seeded Bulldogs. Next up for Gonzaga (28-5) is a game Sunday against TCU.
TCU 72, ARIZONA STATE 70: In Denver, JaKobe Coles hit a floater from the lane with 1.5 seconds left and No. 6 seed TCU (22-12) rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to beat 11th-seeded Arizona State (23-13).
BAYLOR 74, UC SANTA BARBARA 56: In Denver, Caleb Lohner scored a season-best 13 points in just 18 minutes, and No. 3 seed Baylor (23-10) overcame a one-point halftime deficit and advanced to play Creighton on Sunday. Miles Norris led the 14th-seeded Gauchos (27-8) with 15 points. CREIGHTON 72, NORTH
CAROLINA STATE 63: In Denver, 7-foot-1 Ryan Kalkbrenner scored a career-high 31 points and sixth-seeded Creighton (22-12) overcame an abysmal 3-point shooting day to fend off No. 11 seed North Carolina State (23-11)
PITINO: After the 70-year-old Hall of Famer’s 13th-seeded Iona team was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament, Rick Pitino addressed speculation that St. John’s is targeting him as its next coach. He also said he didn’t know if he had coached his last game with the Gaels.
“I really don’t have an answer to it, to be honest with you. I have no idea if it is or isn’t because I’ve focused everything on this game, trying to develop a plan to beat Connecticut,” Pitino said.
Pitino broke into the Big East as a head coach at Providence in 1986 and made one of the most memorable Final Four runs in tournament history with the Friars in 1987.