March 23, 2013

No. 15 Marquette 74, Butler 72

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Vander Blue scored 19 second-half points to rally third-seeded Marquette out of another hole, and the Golden Eagles survived No. 6 Butler 74-72 on Saturday to reach the Round of 16.

Like November's first meeting between the teams at the Maui Invitational, won 72-71 by Butler on Rotnei Clarke's buzzer-beating 3-pointer, this was a back-and-forth, high-intensity affair, that came down to the final shot.

Only this time, Butler missed.

Marquette (25-8) will meet the winner of Sunday's game between Illinois and Miami (Fla.) on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Clarke's 24 points led Butler (28-9).

Blue, the junior whose last-second layup edged Davidson on Thursday, led the Golden Eagles' rally from a 35-27 halftime deficit and tied the game at 69 on 3-pointer with 1:25 remaining.

That set the stage for more late-game drama by his teammates.

After Jamil Wilson's two free throws made it 71-69, Davante Gardner deflected Clarke's pass intended for Kellen Dunham underneath and then made the first of three late free throws for 74-70 lead with 4.7 seconds left.

After Wilson's goaltend on what would have been a layup by Andrew Smith cut the lead to two 2 seconds later, Blue almost became the goat by throwing away the inbounds pass intended for Wilson with 2.9 seconds left.

The Bulldogs, who seem to win every close game at this time of year, couldn't get a good last look. Smith took an off-balance 3 from up top that was way off, slamming into the backboard and setting off another Marquette celebration.

Blue finished with 29 points.

No. 25 Oregon 74, No. 13 Saint Louis 57

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Oregon is riding its much-debated No. 12 seed all the way to the round of 16.

Damyean Dotson scored 23 points, Carlos Emory added 14 points and the hot-shooting Ducks sprinted past fourth-seeded Saint Louis 74-57 in the NCAA tournament Saturday night.

Dotson made his first five 3-pointers to carry Oregon (28-8) into the second weekend for the first time since 2007, when it lost to eventual repeat champion Florida in the regional final. The Ducks made 8 of 11 shots from beyond the arc, while the Billikens finished 3 for 21 from long range.

Oregon will play No. 1 overall seed Louisville in the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis next. The Cardinals routed Colorado State 82-56 in Lexington, Ky.

Kwamain Mitchell scored 18 points and Dwayne had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Billikens (28-7), who set a school record in wins this season following the death of coach Rick Majerus in December. Instead of a storybook finish, Saint Louis lost in the round of 32 for the second straight year.

The Ducks' defense extended into a full-court press, forcing Saint Louis to play faster than it wanted.
The open space played perfectly into what the Ducks do best: find seams and shoot. Dotson, Emory and E.J. Singler (14 points) each made a 3-pointer before Johnathan Loyd capped the 25-8 run to end the half with another from the top of the arc in the final seconds, lifting his hand in the air after giving Oregon a 35-19 lead at the break.

The Billikens blitzed the Ducks in the first few minutes of the second half. Evans converted two quick layups and Mitchell made a 3-pointer to slice Oregon's lead to 37-26.

The Ducks built back a 44-28 lead carried by its defense, including Loyd stealing the ball from blue-haired Cody Ellis and finishing strong with a layup on the other end. Saint Louis made a couple of late runs but never got closer than 11 points.

The Billikens had to endure a few late highlights that will surely illuminate Oregon's run even more. The Ducks just about put the game away when Dotson tossed a midair bounce pass down the sideline for Emory, whose corner 3-pointer put Oregon ahead 58-39 with 8:16 remaining.

Dotson is 16 of 30 from beyond the arc since the start of the Pac-12 tournament. He had been 0 for 12 from long range in the five previous games.

Arsalan Kazemi had eight points and 16 rebounds for Oregon. The Iranian-born player added to the rout by finishing a late alley-oop from Loyd. Kazemi has 33 rebounds in the two tournament games.

While the selection committee turned some heads for seeding Oregon so low, there is no doubting this team anymore. All the Ducks have done is tie for second place in the Pac-12 in the regular season, win the conference tournament and beat No. 5 seed Oklahoma State 68-55 before sending Saint Louis home.

The Billikens lost in the round of 32 year to No. 1 seed Michigan State last year after snapping a 12-year NCAA tournament drought. The deepest run the school ever made was to the quarterfinals in 1952, when there were only 16 teams in the tournament.

No. 10 Michigan 78, VCU 53

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Michigan made Havoc look helpless.

Now Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and the rest of the cool-headed Wolverines are part of the school's longest NCAA tournament run in nearly two decades.

Mitch McGary had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and fourth-seeded Michigan breezed through VCU's vaunted pressure with a clinical performance Saturday, beating the fifth-seeded Rams 78-53 to advance to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1994. VCU couldn't create many easy baskets with its press, even though the Wolverines didn't have much time to prepare for it.

"This is a very high-IQ team that can pick up things very quickly," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Everybody that played in the game, even the guys that did not play, just responded beautifully in the way we want Michigan to respond in these situations."

McGary, a 6-foot-10 freshman, set season highs in scoring and rebounding. VCU had no answer for him around the basket, and that pressure defense - the Rams call it "Havoc" - wasn't much of a factor.

VCU was relentless in a 46-point rout of Akron on Thursday night, but the Rams met their match against Michigan's backcourt. Burke and Hardaway rarely looked rattled, and Michigan (28-7) committed only 12 turnovers.

The 71-point swing by VCU - from a 46-point win to a 25-point loss - was the largest in NCAA tournament history, according to STATS. In 1968, Houston beat Texas Christian 103-68 to reach the Final Four, then lost to UCLA 101-69 for a 67-point swing.

VCU (27-9) went 0-8 this season when forcing under 15 turnovers.

"Certainly in retrospect it wasn't a very good matchup," Rams coach Shaka Smart said. "The credit for that goes to Michigan. I don't think that we, for whatever reason, had great bounce today and energy. Our guys tried. They always do, but I think what Michigan was able to do to us early on and us missing some easy shots around the basket and maybe some outside looks we'd normally make, that may have contributed to our spirit not being quite where it needed to be."

McGary made his first seven shots from the field. Burke scored 18 points, and Hardaway and Glenn Robinson III added 14 each.

Juvonte Reddic scored 16 points for VCU.

Michigan heads to Arlington, Texas, to play either Kansas or North Carolina on Friday.

The Wolverines are now advancing farther in the NCAA tournament than they have since Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard were still on the team. Michigan reached the quarterfinals in 1994.

"It's great for the program," Beilein said. "At the University of Michigan, we want to be champions, and we're trying for Big Ten championships. And when you get in the NCAA tournament, you're trying to do the exact same thing."

Burke drove toward the basket and lobbed to Robinson for an alley-oop dunk that made it 38-21, and the crowd in Auburn Hills - which is about 50 miles from Michigan's Ann Arbor campus - didn't have to sweat too much in the second half.

Michigan led 38-23 at the break. Burke turned the ball over five times in the first 5:51 of the second half, but even then the Rams couldn't rally.

A dunk and a layup by McGary had VCU calling timeout with the score 49-33 - and then Michigan found a bit of a groove from beyond the arc.

Spike Albrecht made a 3-pointer and found Robinson with a slick pass for a dunk in transition. A 3-pointer by Burke made it 57-35.

Hardaway made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 23 and added an acrobatic reverse dunk to make it 64-38.

"Coach Beilein always said if you're going to do something flashy, it better work," Hardaway said. "I just tried to do the easiest dunk that I knew how to do, so it ended up being that."

The Rams entered the day forcing an average of 19.9 turnovers per game, the most in the nation. Michigan was only committing 9.2 per game, the fewest in the nation.

In a matchup of strength against strength, the Wolverines won easily. They started by letting Hardaway bring the ball up while VCU denied Burke. Occasionally, Burke would have enough space to dribble up the court himself, and Michigan also picked the press apart at times with smart passing.

"There wasn't this scientific game plan to get things done. They reacted and played against pressure like they've worked so hard to be able to do," Beilein said. "Every day we are practicing ball possession. Don't turn the ball over, throw it to the outside hand - boring stuff that would put you all to sleep. Catch it on two feet, pivot strong."

The Rams didn't help themselves by shooting 30 percent from the field in the first half. It's harder for VCU to set up its press when the Rams aren't scoring.

Michigan was only 3 of 12 from 3-point range before halftime, but the Wolverines still opened a sizeable margin. A 3-pointer by Hardaway put Michigan ahead 30-19, and Burke made it a 15-point game when he hit from the perimeter after McGary flattened Briante Weber with a pick.

"I guess I kind of have a football mentality," McGary said. "I played it growing up, but that's just my mentality, just hard-nosed, blue-collar guy who likes to do the nitty-gritty stuff."