Just A 'Sweet 16' Remain
FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2011 file photo, singer and actress Jennifer Hudson speaks in Chicago. On Tuesday, May 8, 2012, attorneys for William Balfour, who is on trial in Chicago and charged in the 2008 murders of the Hudson's mother, brother and nephew, are expected to put on a brief defense after the prosecution rests its weeklong case. Closing arguments are expected Wednesday. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File) / M. Spencer Green
"When we come to play, we can beat anybody in the country," forward Matt Barnes said.
UCLA, finally playing up to its potential after an inconsistent regular season, upset top-seeded Cincinnati 105-101 in double overtime Sunday behind Dan Gadzuric's career-high 26 points to move into the West Regional semifinals.
The Bruins (21-11) will take on Missouri on Thursday in the regional semifinals, and they have their sights set on a record 12th national championship.
"We've been up and down all season, especially with the high expectations we've had," said Barnes, who scored all 17 of his points after halftime and added 11 assists. "But we usually get hot at tourney time."
Southern Illinois is another team that has turned it on in the tournament.
The Salukis chipped away at an early 19-point deficit and came back to stun No. 3 Georgia 77-75 in the East Regional. The only other time the Salukis made the round of 16 was 1977 - when just 32 teams participated. That was also the only other time SIU won an NCAA tournament game.
The 11th-seeded Salukis (28-7) got 25 points from Jermaine Dearman and advanced to play No. 2 Connecticut, which got past North Carolina State 77-74 behind Caron Butler's 34 points and nine rebounds.
"They were the aggressor early. We became the aggressor, and then Jermaine got us back into to it," SIU coach Bruce Weber said. "We set a goal - it sounded crazy back in the spring - to make the Sweet Sixteen."
Trailing 30-11 with 8? minutes left in the first half, the Salukis went to work on defense, while Dearman provided the offense. The 6-foot-8 forward scored the last 10 points of a 24-8 run, punctuating it with a dunk.
Jarvis Hayes led Georgia (22-10) with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Southern Illinois joins Missouri (12th in the West) and Kent State (10th in the South) to put three teams with double-digit seedings in the final 16.
The Big 12 leads all conferences with four teams (Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri) - up from one last year - while the Pac-10 has three still in it (Oregon, Arizona, UCLA). The ACC, Big Ten and Big East each have two.
WestUCLA 105, Cincinnati 101, 2OT
UCLA (21-11) trailed by 13 in the first half, rallied from an 11-point hole in the second, and then outscored Cincinnati (31-3) 15-11 in the second overtime. It's the first time since 1986 that one NCAA tournament had two games go to two OTs.
Leonard Stokes had a career-high 39 points, but All-American Steve Logan was held to 18 on 6-of-18 shooting for the Bearcats, who have lost in the second round five times in six years.
Oklahoma 78, Xavier 65
Had Aaron McGhee stayed at Cincinnati, he'd be out of the NCAA Tournament - and Oklahoma might not be playing next weekend, either.
McGhee left the Bearcats after one season fearing he wouldn't get enough playing time. He latched on with the Sooners two years ago and his career has been on the rise ever since.
The bulky forward with the soft outside touch scored 25 points Sunday, leading Oklahoma past Xavier and sending the Sooners to the West Regional semifinals.
OU (29-4) won its 10th straight, and 14th of 15, proving again why it felt it deserved a No. 1 seed, instead of a 2. The one they likely lost out on went to McGhee's old team, which was eliminated Sunday by UCLA.
"I just wanted to go out and have one of my best games," said McGhee said. "It was because this is the farthest I've advanced in the NCAA Tournament."
MidwestTexas 68, Mississippi State 64
Texas (22-11) was up 34-11 about 7 minutes before halftime, but the Longhorns didn't put away the Bulldogs (27-7) until Deginald Erskin's three-point play with 1:52 to go.
Erskin made his first seven shots and finished with 17 points, while Royal Ivey made four free throws in the final 26 seconds.
Texas heads to the final 16 for the first time since 1997.
Illinois 72, Creighton 60
Williams, 7-of-10 in the second half, also had five assists and five rebounds, while Brian Cook added 16 points for the Illini (26-8), who took advantage of their "home game." Illinois is 16-6 at the United Center since it opened in 1994.
Creighton (23-9) — which shocked Florida in double overtime in the first round — outrebounded Illinois 34-27, but still never has won a second-round NCAA game.
EastConnecticut 77, North Carolina St. 74
Butler, a sophomore forward, was 10-for-13 from the field and 12-for-12 on free throws for Connecticut (26-6), the 1999 national champion. Anthony Grundy had 17 points on 5-for-17 shooting for the seventh-seeded Wolfpack (23-11), who were making their first NCAA appearance since 1991.
Southern Illinois 77, Georgia 75
Staring at a 19-point deficit, Southern Illinois could see the season slipping away, its NCAA Tournament plans and season-long goals about to disappear in a lopsided loss.
"Things weren't going our way and they were just kind of staring out in space and I just said, 'Hey, we've worked so hard why would you quit now?'" coach Bruce Weber said.
The Salukis never panicked. They knew there was still plenty of basketball yet to play. And after rallying Sunday to stun third-seeded Georgia in the East Regional, there's even more.
Maryland 87, Wisconsin 57
Once deemed too frail to play major college basketball, Juan Dixon proved strong enough to carry top-seeded Maryland back to the NCAA Tournament's final 16.
Dixon scored 29 points to break two school scoring records, lifting Maryland past eighth-seeded Wisconsin Sunday in the second round of the East Regional.
Chris Wilcox had 18 points for Maryland (28-4), which will next face fourth-seeded Kentucky on Friday in Syracuse, N.Y. In reaching the final 16 for the sixth time in nine years, the Terrapins matched the 1998-99 team for most wins in a season and set a school mark for margin of victory in an NCAA Tournament game.
SouthPittsburgh 63, California 50
Pitt (29-5) held California (23-9) without a point for 9? minutes during a decisive 16-0 run. Julius Page scored seven of his 17 points during that spurt, which began with Cal leading 32-28 with 16:40 remaining and ended with Pitt up 44-32 with 7:08 left.
Pitt third-team All-American Brandin Knight had 11 points and seven assists.
Sixth-seeded Cal was only 9-of-31 (29 percent) in the second half and 18-of-58 (31 percent) overall.
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