Watch Taco Bell Arena transform for March Madness
Boise will host four NCAA Tournament first-round games today at Taco Bell Arena. The schedule (click the links for previews):
▪ Gonzaga 68, UNC Greensboro 64 in the West Region
▪ Ohio State 81, South Dakota State 73 in the West Region
▪ Kentucky 78, Davidson 73 in the South Region
▪ Buffalo 89, Arizona 68 in the South Region
▪ No. 13 Buffalo vs. No. 5 Kentucky, 3:15 p.m. MT (CBS), in the South Region
▪ No. 4 Gonzaga vs. No. 5 Ohio State, 5:45 p.m. MT (CBS), in the West Region
You can follow the action through reporters at the event and each school’s official basketball Twitter account in the window below. Scroll farther below for some notes throughout the day. Gonzaga outshot UNG 37.9 to 28.6 percent.
Buffalo 89, Arizona 68
Buffalo, a 13-seed, pulled off not just an upset of 4-seed Arizona, the Bulls straight up dominated.
Full of confidence, Buffalo (27-8) was able to hit shot after shot in the second half, making 9-of-14 3-pointers in the final 20 minutes. The Bulls hit 15 3s in the win, while the Wildcats had only two (on 18 attempts).
Wes Clark led the Bulls’ guard-heavy barrage with 25 points, while Jeremy Haris tossed in 22 and CJ Massinburg had 19.
Buffalo had nine turnovers in the first half and just one in the second half. Arizona (27-8) forward Deandre Ayton, the expected No. 1 pick in June’s NBA Draft, had 14 points and 13 rebounds in likely his final college game.
“I felt like we had a shot,” Buffalo coach Nate Oats said. “I didn’t think we were going to win like that.”
Buffalo leads Arizona at half
A day of competitive basketball continued with the nightcap as No. 13 seed Buffalo took a 40-38 halftime lead over No. 4 Arizona, a team many have projected to reach the Final Four. Wes Clark nailed a transition 3-pointer shortly before the break to give the Bulls the lead.
Clark, who had 13 points in the first half, was the one who said Wednesday that the Bulls would be fun to watch and nice to look at.
“We’ve got a great group of guys — a lot of guys that are handsome,” Clark said. “We’re going to play hard, we’re gonna fight, but we’re gonna look nice at the same time.”
Projected No. 1 pick DeAndre Ayton has seven points.
Parting praise for Boise
Longtime Davidson coach Bob McKillop wasn’t ready to leave the stage when his press conference ended Thursday. He wanted to make sure he gave the people of Boise a thank-you.
“The fans in Boise, the hospitality here in Boise, the people that worked, the police department, the people in our hotel, absolutely sensational. I could not be more impressed, felt more a sense of belonging here, welcomed here,” he said.
Kentucky 78, Davidson 73
The theme continued: Favored Kentucky took a 13-point lead late in the first half but Davidson was able to draw even with 9:02 left in the game. Davidson had several chances in the final 5 minutes to tie or take the lead but couldn’t convert and Kentucky pulled away.
Freshman Kevin Knox, a projected top-10 pick in the NBA Draft, led Kentucky with 25 points.
Jon Axel Gudmundsson led Davidson with 21 points, including six 3-pointers.
Kentucky will play the Arizona-Buffalo winner in a South Region second-round game Saturday at Taco Bell Arena.
Kentucky leads Davidson at half
Kentucky posted the best first half of the three favorites to take the court so far in Boise. Kentucky leads Davidson 34-24.
PJ Washington leads Kentucky with 11 points. The Wildcats shot 53.6 percent in the first half, almost entirely from inside the 3-point arc. They were 0-for-3 on 3-pointers.
Ohio State vs. Gonzaga, the rematch
No. 5 Ohio State and No. 4 Gonzaga will meet in a West Region second-round game Saturday at Taco Bell Arena.
They already played this season, but that was before Ohio State became one of the nation’s most-improved teams. Gonzaga won 86-59 in November in the PK80 event in Portland.
Ohio State players say they’re eager for “revenge.”
“We’re nowhere near the team we were back then,” Kam Williams said. “The whole team is excited for this one. We’ve been wanting this matchup ever since the bracket came out. ... Hopefully they feel us, because they didn’t feel us in the first game.”
Ohio State 81, South Dakota State 73
South Dakota State rallied from 13 points down in the second half to tie the game 70-70 with 1:54 to play — igniting the crowd of 11,662.
But Ohio State answered with a 3-pointer from Kam Williams, who was fouled on the shot and converted the four-point play. The Jackrabbits missed a 3-pointer and fouled Williams again, and he hit all three free throws for a 77-70 lead.
“We were struggling there late, somebody’s got to want to make a play,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “... (Williams) is that kind of a kid — he wants the ball in his hands in those moments.”
South Dakota State star Mike Daum scored 27 points. Ohio State star Keita Bates-Diop scored 24 and Williams added 22. The teams were a combined 25-for-71 on 3-point attempts.
West No. 5 Ohio State will play No. 4 Gonzaga on Saturday in Boise. Time TBA.
South Dakota State tied at half
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits overcame a nine-point deficit behind star Mike Daum and outstanding 3-point shooting, forcing the tie at the half with Ohio State (43-43)
South Dakota State was 9-for-17 from distance in the first half. Ohio State was 9-for-24.
Daum and Ohio State star Keita Bates-Diop each scored 17 points in the half and contributed a big dunk. Both were players of the year in their conferences.
Gonzaga 68, UNC Greensboro 64
UNC Greensboro erased a 12-point deficit in the second half and took a 64-62 lead with 1:39 to go. But Gonzaga buried back-to-back jumpers, the latter a 3-pointer by Zach Norvell Jr., for a 67-64 lead with 20.8 seconds left. An offensive foul and an in-and-out 3-point attempt on UNC Greensboro’s next two possessions ended the Spartans’ upset hopes.
No. 4 seed Gonzaga plays the Ohio State-South Dakota State winner Saturday in the second round of the West regional.
Josh Perkins (16 points) turned and stared at coach Mark Few after he buried his game-tying shot. His message: “We got this,” he said.
Norvell followed with his 3-pointer. Norvell scored 15 points but was 3-for-12 from the field. He was 1-for-7 from 3 before the go-ahead shot.
“I don’t know how many shots I missed,” Norvell said during the press conference.
“A lot,” Few said.
Gonzaga won its first-round game for the 10th straight year, the longest active streak.
“I’m proud of how our guys hung with it and hung with it,” Few said. “We knew it was going to be that pace of a game. That’s how UNCG plays. We made enough plays down the stretch to hold them off. I thought they were really, really good.”
Francis Alonso and Demetrius Troy scored 16 points each for the Spartans, combining for 13 made 2-pointers by driving the lane.
“Those guards really hurt us with their penetration, and yet we were guarding them very, very well,” Few said. “They were able to make some very, very difficult shots.”
Gonzaga leads at half
The Gonzaga Bulldogs got off to a sluggish start against UNC Greensboro’s tenacious defense but lead 32-23 at the half. James Dickey of UNCG leads all scorers with 10 points. Corey Kispert has eight points for Gonzaga.