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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


NCAA tournament West Region Notes: Arizona in middle of wild, wild west

Rebecca Noble

Arizona guard TJ McConnell (4) snags a rebound during Arizona’s 93-72 win against Texas Southern in the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. on Thursday morning.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Thursday was truly a day of March Madness, especially in the West Region, for everyone except Arizona and Xavier that is.

Every NCAA tournament second round game in the West Region was played on Thursday, except for one pod in Omaha, Neb. No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 16 Coastal Carolina and eighth seeded Oregon and ninth seeded Oklahoma State get started on Friday.

All of the games were close except for two. Play began with the biggest upset of the whole tournament, No. 14 seed Georgia State beating third seeded Baylor 57-56.

Then No. 2 seed Arizona beat No. 15 seed Texas Southern 93-72, but after that it was more madness.

Following Arizona’s game, No. 10 seed Ohio State beat seventh seeded VCU 75-72 in over time.

“I watched this my whole life,” Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell said. “Just knowing that a lot of great teams go down, a lot of underdogs achieve, just with the mentality that anything can happen. Coach has been preaching it for weeks now, that anything can happen. I mean, there’s been games on today where it messed up everybody’s bracket. Just keep that mentality. It feels great to be here with success for the next round.”

Things weren’t much easier for the region’s four seed, North Carolina, which blew a 16-point lead and barely hung on to beat 13th-seeded Harvard.

Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said the madness was a reason to be concerned despite the Wildcats’ 21 point win.

“Defense wins championships, so we have to be focused on that, be ready to play defense, get stops, grind it out,” Hollis-Jefferson said.

In the west’s other blowout, sixth seeded Xavier beat eleventh seeded Ole Miss 76-57.

With Baylor out, Xavier would be the highest seed between the Wildcats and the Elite Eight. Arizona coach Sean Miller also used to be the Musketeers’ head coach.

The day wrapped up with No. 5 seed Arkansas escaping No. 12 seed Wofford 56-53.

Miller said the Wildcats must play like their season is on the line.

“Our team has always been better this season when we’ve been cornered,” Miller said. “That’s one reason why I think after each loss we seem to excel and go on a run. So, you know, obviously we don’t have a chance after the next loss to go on a run. I think the point is that we have to get back to being an excellent defensive team, which takes a lot of effort and concentration. We certainly can do it.”

Foul trouble

Arizona won by 21 points despite foul trouble for four of its players, but they weren’t alone.

UA forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, forward Brandon Ashley and guard Elliott Pitts each had four fouls. Center Kaleb Tarczewski had three fouls.

Texas Southern had it worse, though. Two Tigers fouled out: forward Malcolm Riley and forward Jason Carter.

The competing cats combined for 42 fouls, 23 by the Wildcats and 19 by the Tigers.

Three players fouled out of the VCU and Ohio State game, as guard Doug Brooks and forward Mo Allie-Cox fouled out for the Rams and forward Jae’Sean Tate fouled out for the Buckeyes.

Pac-12 pride

The conference of champions owned the best winning percentage on day one of the second round, as all of its teams won.

In addition to Arizona’s victory, 11th seeded UCLA upset No. 6 seed SMU 60-59 in the South Region and No. 5 seed Utah beat 12th seeded Stephen F. Austin 57-50, also in the South.

The other Pac-12 team in the Big Dance is eighth seeded Oregon in the West.


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