Rob Dauster

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) drives to the basket around Cal State Bakersfield guard Dedrick Basile (5) in the second half during a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 18, 2016. Oklahoma won 82-68. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
(AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

No. 2 Oklahoma gets 27 from Hield to advance past No. 15 Bakersfield

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Buddy Hield went for 27 points, including a pair of critical threes in the second half, and Jordan Woodard and Isaiah Cousins combined for 31 points and six assists on 6-for-8 shooting from three as the No. 2 seed Sooners knocked off No. 15 Cal State Bakersfield, 82-68, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Oklahoma was never really in danger of getting Michigan State’d, but the Roadrunners were tied early in the second half and within single digits under the final minutes. The final score says 14 points, but the Sooners didn’t really get enough separation ever feel comfortable.

The Sooners will advance to face No. 10 seed VCU in the second round. The Rams dispatched No. 7 Oregon State in the first round. On paper, the Sooners look like they should be able to handle VCU fairly easily. The Rams no longer are full ‘Havoc’, as they don’t really play that over-gambling, full-court pressure defense any more, but they are still a team that relies pretty heavily on forcing turnovers and will gamble enough that opponents do get some open looks from three.

Oklahoma has one of the nation’s best back courts and is also one of the nation’s best three-point shooting teams.

Josh Pastner to stay at Memphis despite missing NCAAs again

FILE - In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Memphis head coach Josh Pastner, left, watches from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tulane in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference men's tournament in Orlando, Fla. Memphis is sticking with coach Pastner even though the school missed the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season, the school announced Friday, March 18, 2016.. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Memphis is sticking with coach Josh Pastner even though the school missed the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season.

University President David Rudd and athletic director Tom Bowen said in a statement Friday the school will “make the necessary investments and changes” so it can “compete at the highest level” with Pastner as coach. If Memphis fired Pastner, he would have been owed $10.6 million.

Pastner has a 167-73 record, with four NCAA Tournament bids in seven years. But the Tigers have gone a combined 37-29 without any NCAA invitations the last two seasons.

Rudd and Bowen said the men’s basketball program “operates in a manner consistent with the core values of our university and community but has fallen short in our on-court performance the last two years.”

Memphis went 19-15 this season and lost 72-58 to Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

Hired by Memphis after he had packed his car to join former Tigers coach John Calipari at Kentucky in the spring of 2009, Pastner received a pay hike from $1.7 million to $2.65 million after Memphis went 31-5 in 2013 and won a game in the NCAA Tournament.

Pastner averaged more than 24 wins over his first six seasons. His 148 victories at that point made him the ninth-winningest coach in Division I history for his first six seasons. He joined Calipari as the only Memphis coaches to win 18 or more games each of his first six seasons.

Pastner also coached the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament four straight years (2011-14), something only Dana Kirk (1982-85) and Calipari (2006-09) managed at Memphis.

Memphis hasn’t been back to the tournament since. The Tigers’ home attendance dropped from more than 16,000 during Memphis’ last NCAA Tournament season of 2013-14 to 11,812 this season.

Middle Tennessee St upsets No. 2 seed Michigan State, 90-81


ST. LOUIS (AP) No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee State sent the biggest shock yet through the NCAA Tournament on Friday, knocking off second-seeded Michigan State 90-81 in the first round.

Reggie Upshaw scored 21 points to lead the balanced Blue Raiders (25-9), who shut down player of the year candidate Denzel Valentine. Middle Tennessee never trailed the Spartans (29-6) in one of the biggest upsets since the tournament began seeding teams in 1985.

It was the eighth time a No. 2 seed lost to a No. 15, and first since Florida Gulf Coast beat Georgetown in 2013. The Eagles went on to reach the Sweet 16.

The Blue Raiders will try to do the same against No. 10 seed Syracuse on Sunday.

Michigan State won the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, and was ranked No. 2 in the country. Even as a second-seed, many picked them as favorites to win the East, in part because of coach Tom Izzo’s postseason history.

Matt Costello matched a career-best with 22 points for the Spartans, but it wasn’t enough to offset Valentine’s miserable afternoon. The senior had 13 points and 12 assists, but he also had six turnovers – one of them coming with the Spartans trailing 79-76 and less than three minutes to go.

Michigan State twice had chances to tie the game after that, but Valentine missed an open 3 from the top of the key, and Bryn Forbes missed another. The Blue Raiders eventually scored on back-to-back runouts to establish some breathing room, then coaxed the final few seconds off the clock.

Giddy Potts added 19 points, and Darnell Harris and Perrin Buford scored 15 apiece, as the Conference USA champion Blue Raiders won their first NCAA Tournament game since 1989.

Not that they haven’t made a statement before: They beat Kentucky in the first round in 1982.

They never seemed intimidated by the Spartans. They roared to a 15-2 leading in the opening minutes to silence what Michigan State fans were in the building, then slowly got Syracuse and Dayton fans on their side.

Michigan State never managed to draw even throughout the first half. Valentine was saddled with two fouls and rendered ineffective, and the backcourt of Forbes and Eron Harris combined for four turnovers while managing a single point.

Valentine’s frustration reached its apex after he committed back-to-back turnovers in the second half. During a stoppage in play and with the Blue Raiders leading 51-43, Valentine stalked back to his team’s huddle and proceeded to slam his hand into the floor.

Michigan State slowly trimmed the lead to 65-64 on a basket by Costello with eight minutes to play, but the Blue Raiders scored on their next six trips down floor to hold their lead.

They held onto it the rest of the way, too. It was the first time the Spartans, heavily favored to reach the Final Four, were bounced from the tournament in the first round since 2011.


Middle Tennessee State: The Blue Raiders have won seven straight. … Potts, who led the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage, was 3 for 5 from beyond the arc. … Upshaw was 8 of 14 from the field.

Michigan State: Forbes finished with 14 points. Harris had nine points and five turnovers. … The Spartans reached the national title game the last time they were No. 2 seeds, winning the championship in 1979 and finishing second in 2009. … The Spartans had won 13 of their last 14.


Middle Tennessee State plays the Orange on Sunday.

You Make The Call: Did Adam Woodbury get away with a push-off? (VIDEO)


No. 7 Iowa just beat No. 10 Temple in an overtime thriller at the Barclays Center thanks to a buzzer-beating tip-in by Iowa center Adam Woodbury.

But …

Woodbury may have (well, pretty clearly did) get away with a push off to create the space to get the offensive rebound. Watch:

And here’s the real kicker for Temple: If the referees don’t swallow their whistles and actually do the job they are paid to do, the Owls would be going to the other end of the floor to shoot a pair of free throws with less than a second left on the clock.

That horrid no-call turned what should have been a last-second win into a buzzer-beating loss.

No. 15 Middle Tennessee State upsets No. 2 Michigan State


Tom Izzo’s March Magic wasn’t enough to save the Spartans on Friday.

No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee State landed the first shocker of the NCAA tournament on Friday, as the Blue Raiders knocked off No. 2 Michigan State, 90-81.

And here’s the incredible part: MTSU not only never trailed, they beat Michigan State at their own game. They got the big offensive rebounds. They came up with every key loose ball. They shot 11-for-19 from three and answered every Michigan State surge with a three or an and-one. They were the tougher team, both physically and mentally, and as a result, Kermit Davis is headed to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in his career.

That’s exactly the formula that Tom Izzo has used for years.

Reggie Upshaw led five MTSU players in double-figures with 21 points in what may arguably be the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA tournament.

I don’t think that’s crazy to say. There has never been a No. 16 seed to win an NCAA tournament game and Middle Tennessee is just the eighth No. 15 seed to win a game, but the Spartans were considered by many to not only be the favorite to make it out of the Midwest region but the favorite to win the National Title.

I had them winning in my bracket. Every one of my colleagues had the Spartans winning. The consensus was that the favorite to win this season was either Michigan State or Kansas.

Has there ever been a tournament favorite to lose in the first round of the Big Dance?

The answer is no. A No. 1 seed has never lost in the first round, and these are the seven No. 2 seeds to get upset in their first game of the Big Dance:

  • In 2013, Georgetown lost to FGCU in the first round as the Eagles made a run to the Sweet 16. Louisville was the favorite to win that season, and they did.
  • In 2012, both Duke and Missouri lost in the first round, to Lehigh and Norfolk State, respectively. That was the year that Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kentucky went 38-2 and won the national title.
  • Iowa State lost to Hampton in 2001, a year that Duke had Jay Williams, Shane Battier and Mike Dunleavy and Stanford entered the NCAA tournament with just two losses.
  • In 1997, when South Carolina lost to Coppin State, Roy Williams had a 32-1 Kansas team, Rick Majerus was 26-3 with Andre Miller and Keith Van Horn at Utah and Rick Pitino was 30-4 with the reigning national champs, a roster that Tubby Smith would lead to a national title the next season.
  • Arizona lost to Santa Clara in 1993, but that was the same season that the Fab Five were sophomores and a No. 1 seed one year after they went to the national title game as a No. 6 seed. Dean Smith won the title that year with a UNC team that was a No. 1 seed and an ACC champion as well.
  • When Syracuse lost to Richmond in 1991, UNLV was still undefeated and completely unaware that they were going to get beaten by Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley in the Final Four.

So yes, this is the first time that a tournament favorite has lost in the first round.

But there’s more to it than that.

Tom Izzo is Mr. March. He wins in March. He lands the upsets, he doesn’t get upset. And that’s before you consider the fact that he has the National Player of the Year on his roster in Denzel Valentine.

“The better team won today,” Izzo said after the game, which should tell you just how impressive this win is.

Because this was the best team that Tom Izzo has had since he won the 2000 national title.

No. 10 VCU is in the second round for the first time since ’13 with win over Oregon State

Virginia Commonwealth head coach Will Wade gestures during the second half of the an NCAA college basketball game during the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 men's tournament, Saturday, March 12, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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Gary Payton II entered with the hype, but on Friday afternoon in Oklahoma City, it was JeQuan Lewis that was the best point guard on the floor.

The 6-foot Lewis finished the afternoon with 21 points, eight assists and seven boards as No. 10 VCU knocked off No. 7 Oregon State, 75-67.

Mo Alie-Cox added 20 points and eight boards for the Rams, who won their first NCAA tournament game since 2013, coincidentally the last time that head coach Will Wade was a member of the VCU basketball program. The Rams will take on the winner of No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 15 Cal State Bakersfield in the second round.

The job that Wade has done with this VCU team cannot be overstated. Remember, not only did the Rams lose head coach Shaka Smart to Texas over the summer, but their two best players graduated, their best freshman transferred out of the program and their two best recruits decommitted. That’s a lot of talent that matriculated out of Richmond, so don’t be surprised to hear the 33-year old Wade in the mix for a number of higher profile jobs in the coming years.

[  RELATED: Half Court Havoc: The tweak that changed VCU’s season  ]

Oregon State ended a streak of their own with this trip to the tournament, as it was the first time since Gary Payton Sr. was in school that the Beavers went dancing. But playing without Tres Tinkle, Oregon State just didn’t have the horses to compete with the Rams. GPII had 19 points, four boards and four assists, but it wasn’t enough to advance.

It begs the question: just how good was the Pac-12 this season, or were they this season’s biggest beneficiaries of the RPI’s flawed formula?

As of Oregon State’s loss, the Pac-12 was 1-4 in the NCAA tournament, No. 3 Utah the only conference member to win their first round game, and as of this writing, No. 4 Cal is on the ropes against No. 13 Hawai’i. It’s tough to make too much of a league’s performance in the tournament — especially when the only real upset was No. 6 Arizona losing to a Wichita State team that was far better than their No. 11 seed and the league’s No. 1 seed, Oregon, has yet to take the court — but there is no questioning that the early returns are disheartening.