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First teams punch tickets to March Madness' Sweet 16

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Angel Rodriguez took over after Miami blew a 21-point lead midway through the second half, hitting a big 3-pointer with 72 seconds remaining and scoring 28 points to lead the third-seeded Hurricanes over Wichita State 65-57 on Saturday to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Miami (27-7) made it that far three years ago under Jim Larranaga, in his fifth season as head coach. Sheldon McClellan finished with 18 points and Davon Reed had 10 for the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes will play either Iowa or Villanova next weekend in Louisville in the South Region semifinals.

Fred VanVleet and Shaquille Morris each had 12 points and Ron Baker 11 for the 11th-seeded Wichita State (26-9), which put on a furious rally in the second half of a bruising game, taking a 43-42 lead with 10:24 to go.

After Baker's 3-pointer gave Wichita State its first lead, Ja'Quan Newton had a slam dunk to put Miami back on top and McClellan scored eight straight points for some separation.

McClellan nearly gave it away, though, when he failed to convert a lob from Rodriguez with 2:59 left and Miami clinging to a 55-51 lead.

Rodriguez came back with a stunning hook off the glass for a 57-53 lead with 2:05 left and followed with his clutch 3 from the wing.

With their fans cheering "We shock! We shock!" the Shockers erased the daunting deficit with another gutsy performance in the second.

Zach Brown hit a 3 and VanVleet followed with a steal and another 3, both baskets in a span of 11 seconds, and Morris' hook in the lane off a steal by Baker closed the gap to nine with nearly 16 minutes left, plenty of time for a comeback for the team that won a play-in game then upset sixth-seeded Arizona.

Baker then set up Markis McDuffie for a 3 and Morris set a perfect screen on Rodriguez at the top of the key to free VanVleet for a driving layup through the paint.

Larranaga was whistled for a technical after protesting a call as the Hurricanes struggled to hold their edge. That margin finally disappeared when Baker drained a 3 for a shocking 43-42 lead.

Much of the focus figured to center on the performance of the backcourts featuring four seniors -- VanVleet and Baker against Rodriguez and McClellan. The Miami duo is a tad older, but the Shockers had more tournament experience.

Age took over at the start and came through at the end.

Rodriguez was 7 for 7 for 16 points in the opening half, scoring 11 points in the first eight minutes as Wichita State struggled to find any room to shoot, missing its first five 3-pointers and hitting only 1 of 12 shots.

It got much worse as the Hurricanes gave the Shockers a big taste of their own medicine. The top defensive team in the nation was torched for 12-of-15 shooting in the first 12 minutes as Miami outscored the Shockers 18-0 in the paint and forced seven turnovers, gaining a 21-point lead on a scoop by McClellan at 8:27.

VanVleet set up Baker for a 3 from the wing to start an 11-0 Wichita State run and the Shockers clamped down defensively, forcing five turnovers while holding the Hurricanes scoreless for more than five minutes.

Yale keeps it close but falls to Duke 71-64

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Grayson Allen had 29 points, including five 3-pointers, to help Duke fend off a furious rally by Yale and advance to the Sweet 16 with a 71-64 victory on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament.

Brandon Ingram added 25 points and five rebounds for the defending champions, who will play the winner of top-seeded Oregon and St. Joseph's.

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Yale Bulldogs guard Anthony Dallier drives against Duke Blue Devils guard Derryck Thornton during the second half of a second round game of the 2016 NCAA Tournament March 19, 2016, in Providence, RI. USA Today Sports

The West Region's No. 4 seed, Duke led by as many as 27 points in the battle of the brainy schools before seeing that dwindle to just three points with less than a minute to play.

Yale came close to forcing a needed turnover, but eventually had to foul. Duke connected on four of its final five free-throws to close out the game.

Brandon Sherrod led the 12th-seeded Bulldogs with 22 points. Justin Sears added 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Yale used a 15-0 run to cut what had been a 23-point halftime deficit to 54-47 with 11:38 left. Duke, which sizzled early offensively, missed eight consecutive shots during the spurt.

Duke then lost some of its rebounding presence when big man Marshall Plumlee had to go to the bench after being called for his fourth foul with just under 9 minutes to play.

Yale got the lead all the way down to 60-53 on a dunk by Sherrod before Plumlee was re-inserted into the game.

Allen scored on a layup, and then after a Bulldogs' turnover, Ingram got free and drilled a 3-pointer from the wing that got the lead back up to 65-53.

Yale kept chipping away and a tip-in by Justin Sears off a missed free throw by Sherrod made it 67-64 with just 39 seconds to play.

Leading 69-64, Duke missed on a one-and-one opportunity, but Yale couldn't capitalize on its next possession.

Allen was fouled and he calmly knocked in a pair of free throws.

Yale came out energized and briefly took a 13-12 lead.

That momentum was short-lived.

The Blue Devils hit seven of their first 10 shots and went 9 for 15 from the 3-point line in the half as it opened up as much as a 27-point lead.

Duke spread out the Bulldogs on defense and took care of the ball with only two turnovers.

Yale did get some open looks on its end, but couldn't match Duke's accuracy. The Bulldogs were just 1 for 11 from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes.

Indiana tops Kentucky 73-67

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Kentucky had the stars. But Indiana had more toughness -- and that's why the Hoosiers are headed back to the Sweet 16.

Thomas Bryant scored 15 of his 19 points in the final eight minutes, Yogi Ferrell had 18 and fifth-seeded Indiana beat Kentucky 73-67 Saturday to earn a spot in the Sweet 16.

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Indiana Hoosiers center Thomas Bryant dunks the ball against Kentucky Wildcats forward Alex Poythress in the second half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament March 19, 2016 in Des Moines, IA. USA Today Sports

The Hoosiers (27-7) will return to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2013 despite losing starting guard Robert Johnson to an apparent left ankle injury late in the first half.

Indiana took control with a 17-4 run to go up 10 with four minutes left. Tyler Ulis and Alex Poythress pulled Kentucky within 69-67 on free throws, but Bryant hit two from the line with 10 seconds to go to seal the win.

Ulis scored 27 points for Kentucky (27-9), which suffered its earliest NCAA Tournament exit since 2008 -- when it lost to a Marquette team then led by current Indiana coach Tom Crean.

Jamal Murray added 16 for the Wildcats, but he was just 1 of 9 on 3s.

The Hoosiers won this one with resilience more than anything else.

Indiana went on a 9-2 run with Ferrell on the bench after he picked up his third foul. Ferrell quickly went back in, and the Hoosiers pushed their lead to 62-52 on a Bryant dunk.

An O.G. Anunoby block and another Bryant dunk proved huge for the Hoosiers -- especially after Troy Williams fouled Ulis from 3-point range to give Kentucky life.

It had been four years since these once-longtime rivals had faced each other; a Sweet 16 game that Kentucky won 102-90 on its way to a national title.

This one had the feel of an Elite Eight-type matchup from the opening basket.

Still, Indiana was lucky to go into halftime ahead 33-32.

Johnson went to the locker room with five minutes left after hitting a pair of early 3s, and Ferrell took 12 minutes to knock down a bucket.

Kentucky looked set to run away with it too, especially after Murray followed a Ulis 3 from the "March Madness" logo with a dunk. But the Wildcats went nearly five minutes without a basket to close the first, allowing the Hoosiers to inch out in front.

Indiana pushed it to six before Murray and Ulis 3s pulled Kentucky even at 38-all. But that would prove to be Murray's last made 3, and an Anunoby 3 with 6:53 left put the Hoosiers back on top, 56-50.

Williams had 13 for Indiana.

Niang leads Iowa State past Little Rock 78-61

DENVER -- Georges Niang scored 28 points and Iowa State watched Josh Hagins closely in the second half of a 78-61 win over Little Rock in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

The No. 4 seed Cyclones (23-11) advanced to their second Sweet 16 in three years. They will play the Virginia-Butler winner in Chicago next weekend.

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Iowa State Cyclones forward Georges Niang looks for an outlet pass against Arkansas Little Rock Trojans forward Mareik Isom in second half action during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Pepsi Center on March 19, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. USA Today Sports

Niang, the winningest player (97) in Cyclones history and Iowa State's only two-time All-American, was simply too much for the 12th-seeded Trojans (30-5) of the Sun Belt.

For the second straight game, Hagins had just two points at halftime.

Unlike last time, when he went off for 29 more in a double-overtime win against Purdue, Hagins added just six after the break.

Led by Roger Woods' 19 points, the Trojans kept things close for much of the first half, and Kemy Osse's 3-pointer pulled Little Rock to 26-24.

Niang responded by doing all of the heavy work in a 10-0 spurt that helped the Cyclones grab control for good.

He sank a 3-pointer from the top of the circle, marking his 43rd consecutive game in double figures. Then he drove through the lane for a layup followed by another 3-pointer that barely fluttered the net.

Matt Thomas chipped in 16 points for Iowa State, which led 40-28 at halftime.

The Cyclones opened the second half on a 13-5 run that included a nifty drive and two free throws by Niang, who honed his hardwood skills going up against future 76ers big man Nerlens Noel during two years of high school and countless summer AAU practices.

Those skills have helped him turn around Iowa State's basketball program.

And his presence prevented the Trojans from completing another big comeback like they did 48 hours earlier when they erased a 13-point deficit in the final 3 1/2 minutes to force overtime against Purdue, the fifth seed in the Midwest bracket.

This time, Little Rock trailed 65-52 with 3:49 left - and Hagins had just hit his first 3-pointers sandwiched around a finger-roll bucket by Niang.

Once again, there was a buzz in the Pepsi Center during the timeout.

The Boilermakers made the mistake of matching up with Little Rock's quick guards down the stretch, which was a strategy the Trojans welcomed. It's something the Cyclones didn't do. For one thing, they don't have a deep enough bench.

So, they stayed "big."

And Little Rock soon wilted.

Brogdon leads Virginia past Butler 77-69

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Malcolm Brogdon scored 22 points and Virginia used some hot second-half shooting to beat Butler 77-69 on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Anthony Gill added 17 points and Marial Shayok finished with 12 for the top-seeded Cavaliers (28-7).

Virginia shot 73 percent after halftime, hitting 14 of its first 16 shots of the second half, and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years. It will face Iowa State (23-11) on Friday in the Midwest Regional semifinals in Chicago.

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Virginia Cavaliers guards Devon Hall, left, and Malcolm Brogdon celebrate in the final minute against the Butler Bulldogs in the second half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament on March 19, 2016 in Raleigh, N.C. USA Today Sports

Andrew Chrabascz scored a season-high 25 points for ninth-seeded Butler (22-11). Roosevelt Jones pulled the Bulldogs within 72-69 by hitting the first of two free throws with 36.2 seconds left.

He missed the second, Shayok pushed Virginia's lead back out to four with a free throw with 28.3 seconds left and Kellen Dunham's 3-pointer with 12 seconds to go bounced off the iron.

Jones finished with 18 points, but Dunham, the Bulldogs' leading scorer at 16.5 points, was held to eight -- his lowest-scoring game since he also had that many in a loss to Providence on Dec. 31.

Mike Tobey added 10 points for the Cavaliers, who took over a tight game and seemed to hit everything in the second half. They repeatedly found ways to get the ball into the paint and convert during a 28-12 burst midway through the half that gave them the lead for good.

Shayok started the run with six straight points, and Virginia hit seven layups or dunks before Gill came through with the shot of the night with just under 6 minutes to play.

He hit a falling-down jumper in the lane through contact from Chrabascz, and then knocked down the free throw that followed to give the Cavaliers their largest lead at 64-55.

That offensive surge stood as a stark contrast to a first half that bore several signs of trouble for the Cavaliers, who trailed 25-23 at the break.

It was their lowest-scoring opening half since they were held to 21 points in the first 20 minutes of a loss at Virginia Tech on Jan. 4, and their first halftime deficit since a loss at Miami on Feb. 22.

Selden, Ellis send Kansas past UConn 73-61

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Wayne Selden Jr. and Perry Ellis carried Kansas on a sweet romp to the round of 16, combining for 43 points in a 73-61 victory by the Jayhawks over Connecticut in the second round on Saturday to hand Kevin Ollie's his first NCAA Tournament loss as head coach of the Huskies.

Selden had 22 points and seven rebounds, Ellis scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds and the No. 1 overall seed Jayhawks (32-4) advanced to the South Region semifinals on Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky, to play the winner of the Hawaii-Maryland game on Sunday.

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Kansas Jayhawks guard Wayne Selden Jr. dunks the ball in the second half against the Connecticut Huskies during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament Mar 19, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. USA Today Sports

Selden and Ellis combined to shoot 17 for 27 from the floor, shooing away the disappointment of second-round defeats in each of the last two years.

Sterling Gibbs had 20 points for the No. 9 seed Huskies (25-11), who fell into an irreparable deficit that reached 24 points in the first half.

After winning the 2014 national championship in Ollie's second season as a No. 7 seed, the Huskies returned two years later with the hope of repeating that run. They simply couldn't stop Kansas on this night, though. The Jayhawks did everything better, well enough to endure an ugly second-half stretch of their own.

With 1:38 left, the time for tricks arrived. Devonte' Graham dribbled furiously into the UConn end and lobbed a pass over Jalen Adams. Selden caught it with one hand and slammed the ball through the net in the same motion for a 67-52 lead, sending the Jayhawks into a frenzy.

Selden has been a beast in his junior-year NCAA Tournament, after averaging 2.5 points on 4-for-21 shooting over his first four games on the big stage. He had 14 points in 19 minutes against Austin Peay in the first round.

Ellis, the smooth senior power forward still aiming for an appearance beyond the round of 16 since being eliminated there by Michigan his freshman year when the Jayhawks were a No. 1 seed, hit 20-plus points for the sixth time in seven games. The Jayhawks were a No. 2 seed for their second-round losses the last two years.

The first NCAA Tournament meeting between these traditional powers with 89 appearances and seven titles between them was a one-sided show.

Thousands of Jayhawks fans made the easy drive up Interstate 35 from Kansas, packing Wells Fargo Arena with their blue jerseys, T-shirts and jackets for the chance to cheer in person the team chasing its first national championship since 2008. One of the few, true favorites entering this wide-open field, the Jayhawks have more experience and depth than their last two squads that suffered early eliminations.

The Huskies fell behind by as many as 11 points in the first half of their first-round victory over Colorado, but the Jayhawks are just a different caliber team than the No. 8 seed Buffaloes. Kansas had scoring surges of 16-0 early and 19-0 late to cruise into the intermission in full control.

The third-best 3-point shooting team in the country entering the game at 42.5 percent, Kansas made six of its first nine tries from behind the arc. When the jumpers didn't fall the long arms of Landen Lucas, Ellis and Selden were there to snag most of the rebounds for a 25-11 advantage in the first half.

Ellis spent a few minutes on the bench early in the game for treatment on his left knee, but the joint didn't appear to bother him at all after that. Jamari Traylor had a couple of commanding blocks in the paint to fire up the Kansas bench and crowd during the 19-0 spurt. The Huskies missed 12 straight shots during that stretch that lasted 7:08 and pushed the lead to 40-16.

The Huskies were all out of sorts in their half-court offense. Daniel Hamilton was hounded anytime he was inside the arc, forcing multiple off-kilter shots and finishing 4 for 14 for 11 points with eight rebounds and six assists. Rodney Purvis had 17 points but went just 2 for 7 from 3-point range.

March Mismatch: Gonzaga tops Utah 82-59

DENVER -- Leave the buzzer-beaters and heart-stoppers to the other guys.

For Gonzaga, these are the March Mismatches.

The Bulldogs, looking like something much different than an 11 seed, rolled over No. 3 Utah on Saturday, 82-59 behind 22 points from Eric McClellan and a 19-point, 10-rebound effort from Domantas Sabonis.

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Eric McClellan, Kyle Wiltjer, Domantas Sabonis, Kyle Dranginis, Silas Melson and Josh Perkins of the Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrate from the bench late in the second half against the Utah Utes during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Pepsi Center on March 19, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. Sean M. Haffey, Getty Images

This was a wire-to-wire effort even more impressive than their 16-point win over Seton Hall in the first round.

Next up for the Zags (28-7), a game against Syracuse or Middle Tennessee in the Midwest Regional.

Kyle Wiltjer had 17 for Gonzaga, and went 3 for 4 from 3-point range.

This game was billed as a battle of big guys, between the 6-foot-11 Sabonis and Utah's 7-footer, Jakob Poeltl. That fizzled. Poeltl finished with five points and four rebounds. He got in foul trouble early -- drawing his first when Sabonis spun to the baseline and left Poeltl grabbing to prevent the dunk.

On Utah's first possession of the second half, Poeltl posted up and tried the hook. Sabonis, who had a block and two steals to go with his 22nd double-double of the season, redirected it and the ball never got to the glass.

A few minutes later, McClellan converted a steal by Kyle Dranginis into a layup and a three-point play to push Gonzaga's lead to 20.

From there, this was a pick-your-score runaway -- the only drama involving when Mark Few would give his eight-man rotation a break and let some of the walk-ons and others get a piece of the action. For the record, that came with 1:39 left, and by then, Gonzaga fans were booking their tickets to Chicago for next Friday's game.

This has not been an easy season for Few's team, and the trials and tribulations have been spelled out in detail on a behind-the-scenes documentary airing on HBO: "The March to Madness," that chronicled Gonzaga's seven-loss regular season, the season-ending injury to star center Przemek Karnowski and the struggle simply to make the tournament for the 18th straight year.

The documentary is over. The march goes on. It's Gonzaga's second straight Sweet 16 appearance and, at this rate, it's not impossible to think even bigger. For all its success over the past two decades, Gonzaga has never made the Final Four.

No. 1 seed UNC pulls away to beat Providence 85-66

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Brice Johnson had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 1 seed North Carolina pulled away from foul-hit Providence 85-66 on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Joel Berry II added 15 points for the East Region's top seed, which found itself in a fight well into the second half against the Friars' high-scoring duo of Ben Bentil and Big East player of the year Kris Dunn. But the Tar Heels (30-6) stepped up their offensive efficiency, attacked the paint and started cashing in at the line as the fouls piled up for Providence (24-11).

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North Carolina Tar Heels forward Brice Johnson shoots the ball over Providence Friars forward Ben Bentil in the first half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at PNC Arena Mar 19, 2016 in Raleigh, N.C. USA Today Sports

Justin Jackson scored on a drive to start an 8-0 run that broke a 41-all tie, and then Johnson scored six straight points in the 10-0 burst that put the Tar Heels up 17 with 6 1/2 minutes left.

North Carolina shot 61 percent after halftime and 53 percent for the game, and made 19 of 21 free throws -- 15 of 16 after halftime. And that was enough to help the Tar Heels advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year after two straight opening-weekend exits.

Dunn had 29 points for the ninth-seeded Friars, though he sat much of the first half with two fouls and picked up his fourth while trying to strip Johnson in the lane with 8:44 left. Bentil fouled out on a rebound attempt with 7:23 left, finishing with 21 points.

No other Providence player reached double figures.

Providence shot 40 percent, but made 6 of 23 3-pointers and missed nine free throws -- costly missed chances for a Friars team relying largely on two scorers to try to keep pace with the Tar Heels' deep attack.

While Johnson and Berry led UNC's offense, the Tar Heels also got 15 points from Jackson, 13 from Isaiah Hicks and 12 from Marcus Paige in the kind of wear-you-down-and-pull-away formula that pushed them to a No. 1 seed.

Providence came to North Carolina searching for its first NCAA Tournament win since 1997. It got one on Rodney Bullock's last-second basket to beat Southern California, and then stayed right with the Tar Heels through the first half to trail just 34-30 at halftime.

Dunn's steal and dunk even gave the Friars a 36-34 lead early in the second half, but the Tar Heels eventually settled in and started pulling away.

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