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St. Louis’ upset of Memphis headlines NCAA Tournament action at Nationwide Arena

Courtesy of MCT

Day one of the NCAA Tournament in Columbus Friday did not disappoint.

Midwest No.11-seed North Carolina State, Midwest No. 3-seed Georgetown, West No.9-seed Saint Louis and West No.1-seed Michigan State all won, advancing to the third round.

Georgetown and N.C. State is scheduled to meet in the first game at Nationwide Arena at 12:15 p.m. Sunday, with MSU and SLU 30 minutes following, with berths to the Sweet 16 on the line.

Midwest Region’s No. 11-seed North Carolina State upsets No. 6 Seed San Diego State, 79-65

Playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, the No. 11-seeded North Carolina State Wolfpack (23-12) upended No. 6-seed San Diego State (26-8), taking advantage of its superior play in the paint on the way to a 79-65 victory.

N.C. State got a team-high 22 points from junior forward Richard Howell, and sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown added 17 while grabbing nine rebounds.

“I thought today inside around the basket we were able to get a lot done,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “And I thought Richard (Powell) in the first half was just sensational. And it wasn’t just him. But Richard really set the tone for us offensively.”

It was a two-man show for SDSU, as sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin (23) and junior guard Chase Tapley (19), combined for 42 of the Aztecs’ 65 points.

SDSU coach Steve Fisher attributed the loss to N.C. State’s size.

“It’s one thing to be big. It’s another thing to be big and good. And they’re big and good. And we had a hard time with their size,” he said.

N.C. State outscored the Aztecs’ 38-18 in the paint.

During the first half, neither team was able to pull away, with the lead changing six times and N.C. State on top, 33-29, after twenty minutes.

The beginning of the second half was more of the same, but towards the midway point, SDSU started to miss shots, and NCST didn’t.

The Wolfpack shot 65 percent from the field in the final twenty minutes, with the Aztecs only managing to hit 37 percent of their second-half shots.

Midwest Region’s No. 3-seed Georgetown defeats No. 14-seed Belmont, 74-59

Georgetown and senior guard Jason Clark weren’t going to be denied this time.

After being one-and-done in their previous two NCAA Tournament trips, the No.3-seeded Hoyas, propelled by Clark, played with insistence Friday, cruising past No.14-seed Belmont, 74-59, in the second round.

Clark led the way for Georgetown (24-8), pouring in a game-high 21 points, while Hoyas’ freshman forward Otto Porter scored 16 and senior center Henry Sims added 15.

Sophomore forward Blake Jenkins dropped a team-high 17 points for Belmont (27-8).

“I think it was definitely a sense of urgency, not just for me but the whole team,” Clark said. “We know what we’ve done in the past. So it was a big thing for us to get this win today.”

The urgency showed early, as Clark scored 10 of Georgetown’s first 14 points. Along with Clark’s play, the Hoyas’ used a major size advantage inside to take a 36-27 lead into half time.

The lead remained around the 10-point mark for the majority of the second half.

Belmont coach Rick Byrd said his team was not able to make any runs against the Hoyas’ zone defense.

“I just didn’t predict that we’d face zone or that we’d do as poorly as we did,” he said. “But (Georgetown’s zone is) a great one. They’re well taught, and they’ve got great athletes.”

Georgetown’s efficiency on the offensive end allowed it to stave off any Belmont runs as well. The Hoyas shot 61 percent from the field, including nearly 70 percent in the final 20 minutes.

West Region’s No. 9-seed Saint Louis beats No.8-seed Memphis, 61-54

In the most competitive game of the day, No.9-seed Saint Louis (26-7) held all but one No. 8-seed Memphis (26-9) player to single-digit points in a 61-54 victory.

Billikens junior guard Kwamain Mitchell led all scorers with 22, and SLU senior forward Brian Conklin played tough inside against bigger Memphis defenders, adding 16 points.

Conference USA Player of the Year Will Barton was the only Tiger in double-digits with 16 points.

Memphis sophomore forward Tarik Black, who Barton said Thursday was the Tigers’ biggest advantage heading into the game, was held to four points and only played 19 minutes due to foul trouble.

SLU frustrated the Tigers by preventing them from getting out and running.

“Honestly, they didn’t even – they didn’t have nobody on offensive boards, just one guy, and the rest of their players got back on defense,” Memphis sophomore guard Joe Jackson said. “So they basically took away the fast break, and we played into their hands, just settling for bad shots.”

The first half saw back-and-forth play with the teams tied, 23-23, after 20 minutes. SLU held Memphis to 33 percent shooting, 1-of-8 from 3-point range in the first half.

“To keep (Memphis) to 23 points in a half is really good, but look, that’s what we pride ourselves on is our defense,” SLU junior forward Cody Ellis said.

Memphis used a 7-2 run early in the second half to get up 37-29, thanks in part to a few steals by Barton and sophomore guard Chris Crawford.

The Billikens followed with a 14-5 run of their own. After a long, shot-clock beating three pointer by Mitchell, SLU led, 48-44, with fewer than five minutes to play, and held on for the victory.

“We could have given up and went down, 10, 15 points, but the guys kept fighting back, making big shots and knocking down key free throws,” SLU sophomore forward Dwayne Evans said, who scored six points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

West Region’s No.1-seed Michigan State beats West No.16-seed LIU Brooklyn, 89-67

It was closer than expected for the first 25 minutes, but eventually, No.1-seed Michigan State (28-7) proved why it is a top-seed, as the Spartans topped the No.16-seeded LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (25-9), 89-67.

MSU senior forward Draymond Green led the way with a triple-double, pouring in 24 points while adding 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

Spartans’ centers sophomore Adrien Payne (16 points and seven rebounds) and junior Derrick Nix (18 points and eight rebounds)-combined for 34 points and 15 rebounds.

“Those guys are monsters. They’re really good players and they’re really skilled. That’s why they’re a No.1 seed,” LIU Brooklyn coach Jim Ferry said,

LIU Brooklyn jumped out to a five-point lead early, but it didn’t last long, as the Spartans started to feed their bigs, exploiting the Blackbirds lack of size inside.

Greeen, Payne and Nix combined for 24 points and 16 rebounds in the first half, as the Spartans scored 34 of their 42 first-half points in the paint.

A balanced attack kept LIU Brooklyn in the game, with eight different players scoring in the first twenty minutes.

MSU led, 42-37, at the end of the first half.

The Blackbirds held strong early in the second half, but a 28-12 run by MSU allowed the Spartans to cruise for the majority of the game’s final minutes.

“It was a big win for us, on a team that I think is a very solid, good team. I was concerned (early), but I thought we took control in the second half,” MSU coach Tom Izzo said. 

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