INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Marcus Zegarowski scored 20 points to help Creighton beat Ohio 72-58 on Monday in the NCAA Tournament, securing the program’s first trip to the round of 16 in 47 years.
Damien Jefferson added 15 points for the Bluejays (22-8), the fifth seed in the West Region. They had a cold opening few minutes before the offense — and Zegarowski in particular — got rolling with a strong performance that built a double-digit lead by halftime against an upstart trying to spring a second straight tournament upset.
That lead grew to 21 points in the opening minutes of the second half, and the Bluejays never let the 13th-seeded Bobcats (17-8) get closer than nine from there.
The last time Creighton made it to the regional semifinals, it was 1974 and the tournament field had 25 teams. Now the Bluejays — who survived a close call against UC Santa Barbara in the first round — are advancing to the second weekend, where No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga awaits.
Creighton’s breakthrough comes after a tumultuous few weeks. Coach Greg McDermott received a one-game suspension for making a racially insensitive remark in the locker room to his players after a late-February loss. He apologized multiple times and was reinstated.
Zegarowski finished 7 for 16 from the field with four 3-pointers. He also came up with some key late plays to keep Creighton in control after Ohio clawed back within 65-56. His floater at the 2:04 mark followed by two free throws at 1:03 pushed the margin back up to 13.
Dwight Wilson III scored 12 points to lead Ohio, the Mid-American Conference champion that opened the tournament by bouncing 2019 champion Virginia on Saturday night. But Ohio struggled to knock down shots nearly the entire way, shooting just 32% and 7 for 30 from 3-point range.
And point guard Jason Preston — whose improbable ascent from overlooked prospect was an inspirational story coming out of the Virginia upset — struggled offensively to four points on 1-for-10 shooting, though he had nine rebounds and seven assists.
MICHIGAN 86, LSU 79
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Top-seeded Michigan salvaged the Big Ten’s best hope for NCAA Tournament glory Monday, getting 21 points each from Chaundee Brown and Eli Brooks in a a roller-coaster 86-78 victory over talent-rich LSU.
In a game full of big runs, the Wolverines (22-4) used the biggest — 14-1 over the decisive stretch midway through the second half — to pull away and preserve a glimmer of hope for a conference that has mostly tanked these four days in Indianapolis.
After the win, Michigan and Maryland — which played later Monday — were the only teams left for the Big Ten after it placed a nation-leading nine in the bracket.
Michigan moved on to its fourth straight Sweet 16, where it will play Colorado or Florida State next weekend. The Wolverines will be the best hope for a conference that has already seen another 1 seed (Illinois), a 2 (Ohio State) and a 4 (Purdue) hit the highway.
After Michigan took a one-point lead into halftime, this game had massive momentum swings: an 8-0 run early for LSU; a 10-0 streak for Michigan; another 5-0 run for the Tigers.
But during the stretch that opened things up, Michigan did what typical Big Ten teams are supposed to do — wore down smaller, less-deep opponents with height and shooting.
Brown, the 6-foot-5 guard, did the most-lasting damage, making six free throws and a 3-pointer during the decisive stretch that gave the Wolverines a 72-64 lead with 5:55 left.
Then it was 7-1 freshman Hunter Dickenson (12 points, 11 rebounds) and 6-9 projected first-round NBA pick Franz Wagner (15 and seven) who shut down LSU with defense.
LSU’s Cameron Thomas went from lighting up Michigan to barely being able to get a shot off. He finished with 30 points but it took 23 shots, and he went 3 for 10 in the second half.
One of the misses came on a rejection underneath by Dickenson, and moments later, Javonte Smart suffered the same fate. His 27 points kept LSU in range in the second half, but Wagner rejected him underneath at the end of that stretch. The Tigers (19-10) finished shooting 39 percent from the floor.
GONZAGA 87, OKLAHOMA 81
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gonzaga continued to roll behind a career-high 30 points and 13 rebounds from Drew Timme as the top-seeded Bulldogs beat No. 8 seed Oklahoma 87-71 on Monday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Gonzaga (28-0) won its 32nd straight game dating to last season, passing its first real test of the NCAAs in the Bulldogs’ quest to be the first undefeated champion since Indiana 45 years ago.
The Bulldogs easily dispatched Norfolk State in the first round, but the Sooners were the first power conference opponent for Gonzaga since it embarrassed Virginia in late December.
It didn’t matter all that much. Oklahoma became the 25th straight team the Bulldogs beat by double digits — although the Sooners fought valiantly to keep it from becoming a blowout.
The Zags advanced to their sixth straight Sweet 16 and will next face either Creighton or Ohio in the West Region.
Austin Reaves scored 27 points for Oklahoma (16-11).
Timme, sporting a handlebar mustache, was 9 of 12 shooting and 12 of 14 at the free-throw line. Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs added 16 points each for Gonzaga.
OREGON 95, IOWA 80
Chris Duarte scored 23 points and Oregon showed no signs of rust after a long layoff, beating No. 2 seed Iowa to reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in the past five NCAA Tournaments.
The seventh-seeded Ducks (21-6) were put in an unprecedented spot, advancing to the West Region’s second round without playing a game. Virginia Commonwealth’s multiple positive COVID-19 tests took care of that, leaving Oregon with a nine-day break since losing in the Pac-12 Tournament title game.
Oregon’s offense hummed like it was fresh off the line once the ball went up.
The Ducks shot 56% and hit 11 3-pointers. LJ Figueroa made five 3s while scoring 21 points and Will Richardson added 19 points.
The Hawkeyes (22-9) fell one game short of the Sweet 16 for the fourth time under Fran McCaffrey. Luka Garza played like a two-time All-American, capping his stellar college career with 36 points and nine rebounds. Joe Wieskamp added 17 points.
UCLA 67, ABILENE CHRISTIAN 47
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Johnny Juzang scored 17 points and 11th-seeded UCLA carefully brushed off pesky Abilene Christian 67-47 Monday to become the fifth team to go from First Four to Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bruins (20-9) meet the winner of Maryland-Alabama in their first regional semifinal appearance since 2017 — and their first with second-year coach Mick Cronin.
UCLA started its tournament Thursday by rallying to beat Michigan State in overtime and is the first team to rise from First Four to the round of 16 since Syracuse in 2018. VCU in 2011 is the only First Four team to advanced past the regional semifinals, when the Rams went to the Final Four.
The Bruins were far from spectacular, but their size and athleticism combined with solid execution were more than enough to keep the 14th-seeded Wildcats from springing another upset.
Abilene Christian (24-5) pulled off one of the most surprising victories in a tournament filled with them, beating third-seeded Texas for the school’s first Division I NCAA victory Saturday.