• Michigan State got a scare from Bradley in the first round, but made it look easy in a conference matchup against No. 10 Minnesota. The Golden Gophers upset Louisville to open the tournament on Thursday, but were no match for the Spartans.
• Gonzaga looked as advertised in the first half against Baylor in the West Region, then finished off the Bears in the second, winning 83-71 to reach its fifth consecutive Sweet 16.
• LSU is moving on to the Sweet 16 after holding off a late-surging Maryland team that overcame a 15-point first-half deficit. The Tigers made the game-winning layup with under two seconds remaining and the Terps couldn’t connect on a full-court heave.
The most recent news and highlights from the 2019 men’s NCAA tournament.
Auburn shoots Kansas out of the tournament
At one point Saturday night, Auburn shot the ball so well against Kansas, TBS broadcaster Steve Lappas joked that if the Tigers were alone in the gym, they still might not be so successful. Seemingly everything dropped for Auburn against the Jayhawks in a dominant, 89-75 win. For the bulk of the second half, the Southeastern Conference tournament champs led by more than 20. They hit 13 three-pointers, shooting 43.3 percent from behind the arc. Fifty-two percent of all their field goal attempts found the bottom of the net. Guard Bryce Brown connected on nine of his 13 field goal attempts, seven of his 11 from deep, for 25 points.
The Tigers forced Kansas, the blue blood of blue bloods, into 16 turnovers and boat-raced the Jayhawks up and down the floor. Nine Tigers found their way on the score sheet. Brown led the way, while Jared Harper added 18 more in what was one of the tournament’s most impressive outings.
Auburn will face the winner of North Carolina and Washington in the Sweet 16, their first trip three rounds deep in the tournament in 16 years and fifth overall
Edwards, Purdue roll into Sweet 16
The defending national champions are defending no longer. Purdue, the South Region’s No. 3 seed, walloped No. 6 seed and 2018 national champion Villanova, 87-61. Boilermakers guard Carsen Edwards exploded for a career-high 42 points, including 9 of 16 on three-pointers. Purdue shot 53.7 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from beyond the arc. Villanova shot 35.1 percent overall.
The game was never close. Purdue opened up a double-digit lead within 10 minutes of the opening tip and Villanova could never bring the margin within seven. At the half, the Boilermakers seemingly had the game won, up 19.
Purdue is headed to its third-straight Sweet 16 and will face the winner of Iowa and Tennessee.
Not even 10 minutes into its game against Kansas, Auburn is pouring it on from deep. The Tigers, the Southeastern Conference tournament champions who average 11 makes per game from three-point range, started 6 of 8 from deep. Bryce Brown has four of them already for 12 points.
Spartans cruise to regional semis
Tom Izzo won’t have to yell at anyone after Michigan State’s big win over Big Ten foe Minnesota. Six Spartans scored at least nine points in the 70-50 blowout. Aaron Henry, who Izzo lit up during Thursday’s close win against Bradley, came close to a double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds.
For Minnesota, which beat Louisville for the tournament’s first upset Thursday afternoon, Amir Coffey led the way with 27 points. The Golden Gophers never overcame their cold shooting from the first half, finishing the night at a rough 30.5 percent from the floor.
There’s one final feel-good act in the Ja Morant show. After another impressive performance in Murray State’s loss to Florida State -- 28 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists – Morant came back to the floor after the game to give a young fan the shoes he wore in the game.
Baylor just wouldn’t go away. But Brandon Clarke and company were too much to overcome and with that, Gonzaga is headed back to the Sweet 16 for the fifth straight year. Led by Clarke’s 36 points (on 15 of 18 shooting), the Zags kept the Bears at bay despite a couple of spirited second half runs.
But Clarke and Corey Kispert made sure that Baylor couldn’t get any closer than six, combining for 51 points in the 83-71 win. The Zags, No. 1 out West, will meet red-hot Florida State in a regional semifinal Thursday night in Anaheim, Calif.
Edwards shooting the lights out for Purdue
Carsen Edwards is one of college basketball’s biggest stars and he’s showing why in the early stages of Purdue’s second round game against Villanova. The junior made four three-pointers in the first 5:23 of the game, helping the South Region’s No. 3 seed to a double-digit advantage over the defending champs.
Edwards averaged 23.1 points per game for the Boilermakers during the regular season, although he went for 26 in their opening round win over Old Dominion, he did it on a paltry 7 of 23 shooting. He looks far more on target against the Wildcats.
Spartans rolling over Big Ten brethren
Minnesota turned some heads with its upset of Louisville on Thursday, but Michigan State is not Louisville. The Spartans opened up a 20-point lead over the Golden Gophers in their second round matchup in the East Region Saturday, with Minnesota missing 23 of its first 30 field goal attempts. Michigan State, meanwhile, shot a blistering 61 percent from the floor in the first half, though the Spartans cooled off some as halftime closed in. At the break, Michigan State leads its fellow Big Ten team, 33-19.
Baylor awake, back in it against Gonzaga
The Bears have been poked. Baylor opened the second half with a 15-4 run to get the Zags’ attention, and got within two possessions after looking lost in the first half. Mark Vital had nine points for Baylor on the run, but is in foul trouble and out of the game just before the 16-minute TV timeout.
Seminoles send Racers home, Morant to NBA draft?
Ja Morant might be fun to watch, but his No. 12 seed Murray State Racers were thoroughly overmatched by No. 4 seed Florida State in a 90-62 wipeout. Morant made his impact -- 28 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists -- but the Seminoles dominated every other position on the floor. Five Florida State players scored at least nine points, including a team-high 22 points from Mfiondu Kabengele, who also had 7 rebounds and 3 blocks off the bench.
While Morant sprung out to 18 points in the first half, including some sharp three-point shooting, Florida State flooded the Murray State defense with 50 points in the half. On the game, the Seminoles shot 50.7 percent from the floor and 40.7 percent from three-point range.
1-seed Gonzaga having its way early
No. 1 seed Gonzaga is already up big in the early going against No. 9 seed Baylor out west, where officials issued a flagrant foul to the Bears’ Flo Thamba. Going for a rebound, his elbow caught the jaw of Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins. Perkins hit one of the free throws, then Brandon Clarke hit a jump-hook from the block the very next possession. Clarke has 12 points on 6 of 7 shooting and the Zags went on a big run after Thamba’s flagrant.
Michigan advances to Sweet 16
It’s over in Des Moines, where Michigan ended Florida’s NCAA tournament and advanced to its third consecutive Sweet 16 with a 64-49 win. The Wolverines kept Florida at arm’s distance through the second half. Even with star freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis off his game, Michigan has mostly held on to a double-digit lead. Point guard Zavier Simpson has done well to keep the offense in rhythm with eight assists, including this half-court bounce pass for Isaiah Livers’s powerful dunk.
The Wolverines will meet the winner of Sunday’s Texas Tech-Buffalo matchup in next weekend’s West regional semifinals in Anaheim, Calif.
Seminoles look like too much for Morant, Racers
Ja Morant’s heroics don’t look like they’ll be enough for Murray State. The soon-to-be lottery pick is carrying his team, but Florida State’s size and athleticism are proving too much for the Racers to the tune of a 50-34 Seminoles lead at halftime. Florida State made 57 percent of its three-point attempts in the first half and have three players in double figures, while Morant has more than half of Murray State’s points by himself.
Wolverines looking to run away
After Michigan jumped on upset-minded Florida with a quick 11-0 run to start the second half, Florida answered with a 11-3 run of its own, cutting the Wolverines’ lead down to seven points, 46-39 with just over 12:30 to go in the second half.
The Wolverines led by as many as 15 points in the second half.
Fueling Michigan’s run was the Wolverines’ smooth-shooting guard Jordan Poole, who is known for his three-point shooting abilities. Poole’s had both a strong drive to the hoop to convert an and-1 layup and a pretty step-back three-pointer. He also had a tough four-point play early in the game.
Ja Morant facing stiffer test from Florida State
The Ja Morant show is back. The Murray State phenom already has 16 points and 3 assists in the first half against Florida State. Even the Seminoles incredible length and athleticism can’t contain Morant, who, in case you forgot, jumped over a human being while dunking a basketball during the Racers’ first-round win over Marquette.
His dunks haven’t brought the house down (yet) on Saturday, but his shooting stroke is keeping Murray State in the game. He’s 5 for 5 from three-point range, including three straight swishes from the right wing.
Michigan in control at half, but Florida’s shooting keeps it close
Michigan leads upset-minded Florida 32-28 at the half. Both teams have plenty of tournament experience and freshman playmakers, but the Wolverines are showing their dominance on the boards, outrebounding Florida 20-14 and 6-2 on the offensive glass. Freshman guard Noah Locke leads the way for Florida with eight points. Michigan’s trio of Jordan Poole, Zavier Simpson and Charles Matthews with seven points.
Florida has remained within striking distance of the Wolverines thanks to 6-for-12 shooting from three. Locke has two of those, as does starting guard Jalen Hudson.
Entering the game, Michigan had led by 10 or more points in 42.2 percent of minutes played this season, which is good for second in the NCAA. Michigan is trying to reach its third straight Sweet 16. Florida is trying to make its first round of 16 since 2017, when it beat No. 8 Wisconsin 84-83 in overtime, then lost 77-70 to No. 7 South Carolina in the Elite Eight.
With Florida’s 70-61 win over No. 7 Nevada in the first round, Coach Mike White became the sixth coach in SEC history to win 20 or more games in each of his first four seasons. Michigan flexed its muscles in a 74-55 win over No. 15 Montana.
The last time the two teams played in the tournament was 2013, when Florida lost to the Wolverines in the Elite Eight. The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to play the winner of Buffalo-Texas Tech.
Kentucky is heading back to the Sweet 16; Wofford’s streak ends
Kentucky advanced to its third straight Sweet 16 after squeaking out a 62-56 win over a Wofford team who just wouldn’t go away. Wofford cut Kentucky’s lead down to a two points, 58-56, with 37.9 seconds remaining on a tip in from Keve Aluma, but the Terriers were unable to finish the comeback.
After Kentucky’s Reid Travis made two free throws to extend the lead to four points, a wild three-point attempt by Fletcher Magee at the top of the arc hit the rim and bounced off, ensuring the Kentucky win. Travis scored a team-high 14 points. Magee has made the most three-pointers all-time in Division I history, but his 0 for 12 performance was the most three-point attempts without a make in a game in NCAA tournament history, according to ESPN. He finished with eight points.
Both teams struggled from behind the arc Saturda: Wofford went 8 of 27 (29.6 percent) from the three-point line, while Kentucky finished 3 of 13 (23.1 percent).
Kentucky’s Tyler Herro, who has only missed one free throw since Christmas, knocked down the game’s final two points from the charity stripe to seal the win.
With Kentucky moving forward to face the winner of Houston-Ohio State on Friday, John Calipari has taken the Wildcats to the tournament’s second weekend eight times in 10 seasons as head coach.
It’s no surprise Wofford proved resilient in a fight with a college basketball blue-blood. Wofford entered Saturday’s game on a 21-game winning streak. But the Terriers hadn’t faced a team like Kentucky, and so the would-be Cinderella story ended earlier than many hoped.
FSU’s Phil Cofer launches GoFundMe after father’s death
On his GoFundMe page, Cofer wrote: “Moments after my team’s win in the first round of the 2019 NCAA tournament, celebration turned into devastation as I received a phone call that would change my life forever. My dad, Michael Cofer, had passed due to a battle with a long-term illness. My dad has always supported me on and off the court and I will miss him dearly.”
Cofer noted that the GoFundMe was created after consultation with the NCAA and the FSU Athletics Compliance Department.
FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton said that Cofer would remain with the team through the weekend but is not expected to play Saturday. Cofer did not play against Vermont in the first round with a right foot injury.
“It was tough,” FSU guard PJ Savoy said of Cofer on Friday. “Just to hear him cry like that. You never see Phil cry. We didn’t think it would come this fast. We at least thought Phil would be able to go home and see him.”
Florida State’s second-round matchup is against No. 12 Murray State Saturday at 6:10 p.m.
“We lost a brother, but we understand that he is always with us,” Waters said. “Our score was 44 at one point and we all stopped in the huddle, looked up at the scoreboard and just said ‘44’ in the huddle — we just knew we needed to get this one for him.”
With the Tigers’ score at 44, LSU’s Emmitt Williams held up “44” with his hands on the bench as fans in the crowd started chanting “44” in honor of Sims.
LSU is headed to the Sweet 16 after a 69-67 win over Maryland on Saturday in Jacksonville. The Tigers will face the winner of Michigan State-Minnesota in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
LSU had the final possession of the game after Maryland guard Jalen Smith hit a game-tying three-pointer from the corner with 25.8 seconds left. LSU sophomore Tremont Waters made the game-winning layup with less than two seconds left in the game on a drive down the right side.
Prior to Smith’s three, with the game tied at 64, LSU guard Skylar Mays hit a deep three with 36.8 seconds left in the second half to give LSU a three-point advantage after Maryland’s Eric Ayala missed from behind the arc on the other end of the floor.
The Terrapins trailed by as many as 15 points during the second half, but were unable to complete back-to-back comebacks to start the NCAA tournament.
Skylar Mays led the Tigers with 16 points, while Darius Days had 10 off the bench. Freshman Jalen Smith led the Terps with 15 points, eight rebounds and five blocks.
Schedule and results
Game times and TV information. All times Eastern.
Tournament news and notes
“I’ll tell you what: It does blow my mind,” Ricky Taylor, 50, says. “I feel very, very fortunate to have coached them. I feel like the luckiest guy in basketball right now.”
The absence of LSU Coach Will Wade is a central story line in the Maryland-LSU matchup. He was suspended March 8. He has refused to sit down with LSU and NCAA officials on the advice of his attorney, because he’s the subject of a criminal investigation. Yet he’s also pleaded for his job back. Here’s Post columnist Barry Svrluga: “It all sounds so sordid. But you know what? It doesn’t have to be. This argument is so old, it’s almost trite. And yet here it comes again: Pay the players.” (Read more)
To avoid a repeat NCAA tournament apocalypse, to avoid deja boo, to avoid eternal damnation as a fraudulent No. 1 seed and reclaim some dignity with a 71-56 victory over Gardner-Webb on Friday, Virginia’s Tony Bennett wanted composure, extraordinary composure, as The Post’s Jerry Brewer writes. He found it in a thoroughly dominant second half. (Read more)
The former star at Maret in the District was key to Iowa’s comeback win over Cincinnati. (Read more)
As the annual Sad Locker Room Month in America began again in earnest Thursday, the first sad locker room of the final 64 of the NCAA tournament turned out to be Louisville’s. If the truest fabric of March is its tears, its recurring finality as team after team completes months of collaboration and locker room after locker room goes hushed, Louisville provided a modest example. (Read more)
A North Carolina-Duke tournament matchup? Three No. 1 seeds ousted before the Sweet 16? A team lower than a No. 11 seed in the Final Four? Here are the odds. (Read more)