NCAA Tournament: Upsets continue as Liberty dumps Mississippi State

SAN JOSE – Liberty’s version of the Pack Line defense came through in time to give the Flames their first-ever NCAA Tournament win and continue an incredible run of upsets Friday at the SAP Center.

Junior Caleb Homesley had 22 of his career-high 30 points in the second half and No. 12 Liberty held No. 5 Mississippi State without a field goal for six minutes late in an 80-76 win.

Liberty (29-6) was the second team to have a breakthrough win at San Jose on Friday — No. 13 UC Irvine had won its first NCAA Tournament game in the early session over No. 4 Kansas State. That was followed by No. 12 Oregon’s blowout win over No. 5 Wisconsin.

Homesley, whose previous career high was 23 earlier this season against Alabama, hit a 3-pointer to put Liberty ahead 69-67 with 2:34 remaining as part of a 10-0 run.

The Bulldogs (23-11) missed nine straight shots in crunch time until a tip-in with three seconds left made it 78-76, but Myo Baxter-Bell made two free throws to seal the win.

Flames coach Ritchie McKay brought the Pack Line defense from Virginia, where he spent six years as the associate head coach under Tony Bennett. The Flames were sixth in scoring defense (60.8), and their four-guard lineup did just enough to bother Mississippi State, which had a definite size advantage.

All-SEC first-team guard Quinndary Weatherspoon had 27 points, giving him 2,012 for his career.

Liberty had won at UCLA in December and was playing in its fourth NCAA Tournament. This was its first appearance as a non-No. 16 seed

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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


Two nights after beating OKC in OT, Raptors drop decision to Thunder

TORONTO — Paul George scored 28 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder exacted some revenge on Toronto Raptors with a 116-109 win on Friday.

Kawhi Leonard topped Toronto with 37 points, while Pascal Siakam had 25. Danny Green had six three-pointers to finish with 19 points, while Serge Ibaka scored 11 points, and Norm Powell grabbed 11 rebound for the Raptors (51-22), who were missing all-star guard Kyle Lowry.

Dennis Schroder added 26 points for the Thunder (43-30), who snapped a four-game losing streak.

The Raptors had beaten the Thunder 123-114 two nights earlier at Oklahoma City, but not before blowing a 20-point second-half lead to force overtime.

Playing the second game of the back-to-back series, and their final game of the regular season against a team with a winning record, the Raptors led for most of the night. But Toronto saw its 13-point third-quarter advantage evaporate with 20-3 Thunder run.

Oklahoma City went into the fourth up 83-80.

The Raptors regained the lead briefly in the fourth, but consecutive three-pointers from George and Schroder put the Thunder up by 10 points in front of a capacity Scotiabank Arena crowd of 20,014.

The Raptors pulled to within four points twice down the stretch, including with 1:40 to play on a dunk by Marc Gasol — his only two points of the game. A pair of Russell Westbrook free throws and a layup by Schroder iced the game for OKC with under a minute to play, sending fans pouring toward …read more



Duke’s Zion Show has successful NCAA Tournament debut

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Zion Williamson had an explosive NCAA Tournament debut with 25 points and a can’t-miss second-half showcase to lead top-seeded Duke to an 85-62 win over North Dakota State on Friday night.

RJ Barrett led Duke with 26 points and 14 rebounds and combined with Williamson for a prolific showing for the freshmen stars. But it was Williamson who could not be contained in the second half and he turned a tight early contest into a Duke runaway in the first round of the East Region.

Duke led just 31-27 at halftime but Williamson took over after the break. He opened the half by driving on two defenders for a layup that drew a foul. He missed the free throw but Williamson answered with a monster slam.

The highlight, though, came moments later on Williamsson’s breathtaking dribble-behind-his-back-after-chasing-down-his-own-steal layup.

The 6-foot-7, 285-pound freshman outran 5-foot-11 190-pound Vinnie Shahid of North Dakota State for the ball after he tipped it for a steal. Williamson then dribbled behind his back, briefly losing and regaining his balance with a hand on the floor. That cleared room for Williamson to get to the lane and go up and under for a layup.

Just like that, the Blue Devils were up 40-27 and cruising.

The Bison (19-16) never recovered.

Barrett and Williamson gave Duke two players with 20 or more points in their NCAA Tournament debut for the first time since Mark Alarie and Johnny Dawkins did it in 1984.

The Blue Devils (31-5) will face either eighth-seeded VCU or No. 9 seed UCF on Sunday for a spot in the Sweet 16.

Shahid led the Bison …read more



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