The Friday afternoon portion of the first-round started like Thursday’s session. The No. 7 seed Texas A&M Aggies defeated the Providence Friars to move the SEC to (4-0). However, the SEC didn’t win every game in the first round. The Arkansas Razorbacks gave the conference their first loss of the weekend. Still, the SEC continued to play great basketball throughout the first two days. In all, the higher seeds went (6-2) in the day session. Still, one of the games was not an upset.
7 Texas A&M Aggies 73
10 Providence Friars 69
The Texas A&M Aggies couldn’t hit a shot to start the game. They started 0 of 10 from the field. However, the Aggies were a difficult unit to stop once the train started rolling. They ended the first half with a 28-27 lead. In the second half the Aggies answered every run by the Providence Friars to win, 73-69. Behind the exploits of Admon Gilder, Robert Williams and Tyler Davis, the Aggies advanced to the Round of 32. Gilder led the team with 18 points. Davis and Williams both ended up with double-doubles and combined for 27 points and 29 rebounds. T.J. Starks didn’t play flawless basketball, but he still finished with 15 points and 8 assists to go with his 6 turnovers. The Aggies will play the winner of North Carolina and Lipscomb.
2 North Carolina Tar Heels 84
15 Lipscomb Bisons 66
The North Carolina Tar Heels displayed a total team effort during their 84-66 win over the Lipscomb Bisons on Friday. Kenny Williams led the Tar Heels with 18 points, despite some early foul trouble. However, it was the all around game by Theo Pinson that helped limit the high-scoring Bisons to 7 of 28 from 3-point range. Pinson held Garrison Matthews to eight points on 3 of 14 shooting. Meanwhile, Pinson finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Moreover, the Tar Heels shot 52 percent from the field and had five players reach double figures. They move onto the second-round to face the Texas A&M Aggies.
2 Cincinnati Bearcats 68
15 Georgia State Panthers 53
Sometimes, you can be fooled by the final score. For most of the first-round game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and Georgia State Panthers, it looked like the contest would come down to the final second. Then, Cincinnati’s defense kicked into high gear and ran away in the final five minutes. Jarron Cumberland led everybody with 27 points and 11 rebounds. D’Marcus Simonds scored 24 points for the Panthers.
7 Nevada Wolf Pack 87
10 Texas Longhorns 83
The Nevada Wolf Pack scratched and clawed their way to an overtime victory against the Texas Longhorns. Kendall Stephens led the Wolf Pack with 22 points. Yet, it was a total team effort to erase a double digit effort and defeat the Texas Longhorns. Caleb and Cody Martin combined for 33 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in the victory. The Wolf Pack took an early lead in the game at 5-2. The next time they led was in overtime after some brilliant plays to complete the comeback The Wolf Pack had six players score and five of those players reached double figures.
2 Purdue Boilermakers 74
15 Cal State Fullerton Titans 48
For a brief moment, the Cal State Fullerton Titans had an idea on upsetting the No. 2 seed Purdue Boilermakers. Even when they weren’t hitting many shots, they standing toe to toe with the Purdue Boilermakers. However, a quick spurt by the Boilermakers turned a tight contest into a 30-21 lead at halftime. From there, the Boilermakers found their offene to win going away, 74-48. Vince Edwards led the Boilermakers with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
7 Arkansas Razorbacks 62
10 Butler Bulldogs 79
The SEC finally lost a game in the NCAA Tournament courtesy of the Big East. The Butler Bulldogs jumped out to a 21-2 lead in the first half and didn’t look back. Just kidding. After the Bulldogs cruised to a 19-point lead early in the first half, they had to withstand run after run from the Arkansas Razorbacks. However, the Bulldogs made the final run of the game with a few minutes left to stretch a small lead to an insurmountable amount with about a minute left in the game. Kelan Martin scored 27 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in the win. Meanwhile, Kamar Baldwin finished with 24 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists in splendid game for the Bulldogs. Now, the Bulldogs enter the Round of 32 against a team that gave them a non-conference loss early in the year.
4 Wichita State Shockers 75
13 Marshall Thundering Herd 81
The Fighting D’Antoni’s move on to the Round of 32 after an 81-75 victory over the Wichita State Shockers on Friday evening. Jon Elmore was as advertised during the brilliant performance by the Thundering Herd. Elmore scored 27 points and added 4 rebounds and 4 assists to lead Marshall to their first victory in the NCAA Tournament. In all, the Thundering Herd had three players connect on six shots apiece. Ajdin Penava dominated like he needed to with 16 points and 8 rebounds before fouling out. He also had two blocked shots, while making 6 of 9 from the field. In all, the Thundering Herd hit 9 of 23 shots from 3-point range which was right on average for both teams. However, it was the rim runs and dunks that really did the damage to the Shockers’ season. Conner Frankamp scored 27 points in his final game for the Shockers. He made 6 of 10 3-pointers to keep the team afloat. However, it was not enough to advance. Instead, the Herd will Thunder into the second round for a chance at a Sweet 16 berth.
5 West Virginia Mountaineers 85
12 Murray State Racers 68
Methodical wins are way better than losses. That should be the motto for the West Virginia Mountaineers. It took a long time, but the Mountaineers discarded the Murray State Racers, 85-68 in their first round matchup. Senior guard Jevon Carter was the catalyst the Mountaineers. Carter produced 21 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 6 steals to deliver a knockout blow late in the second half over a game squad from the OVC. The win pushed the Mountaineers into the second round. However, the joke is on everybody else. The Round of 32 features and instate matchup between the Marshall Thundering Herd and Mountaineers on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if the Mountaineers only attempt 11 3-pointers in their next outing. That’s all that was needed to advance on Friday.