Purdue stands tallest in OT
GAME RECAP: At Spokane, Wash., determined and undaunted, 6-foot-3-inch Chris Kramer bulled past one defender 4 inches taller than him. He flipped a layup over another 6 inches taller. Seconds later, he was getting pounded by his own teammates.
A fitting way for Purdue's most rugged player, its soul now that do-it-all leader Robbie Hummel is out for the season, to send the Boilermakers to the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Kramer's daring drive and layup over Texas A&M big man Bryan Davis with 4.2 seconds left in overtime sent fourth-seeded Purdue to a 63-61 victory over the fifth-seeded Aggies in a bruising, second-round game that just about left dents in the arena's floor.
Texas A&M's B.J. Holmes got a final, frantic chance to win the game with a rushed 3-point try from in front of his bench at the buzzer. But it hit short on the rim to ensure a sixth regional appearance in 12 NCAA Tournaments dating to 1994 for Purdue (29-5), which overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half.
This all seemed like a pipe dream a month ago, when the Big Ten regular-season co-champions lost Hummel to a knee injury. Kramer led Purdue with 17 points and seven rebounds -- and countless dives to the floor for loose balls.
The 6-9 Davis had 17 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Aggies (24-10).
QUOTE OF THE GAME: "I had the ball and went right and crossed over to the left, and (Texas A&M's defense) parted like the Red Sea." -- Kramer, describing his decisive drive
NEXT FOR PURDUE: Top-seeded Duke (31-5) at Houston, 6:55 p.m. Friday
Duke's depth thwarts Cal
GAME RECAP: At Jacksonville, Fla., exploiting a huge advantage in size and depth in the frontcourt, top-seeded Duke glided into the round of 16 for the 19th time under coach Mike Krzyzewski with a 68-53 victory over eighth-seeded California.
Nolan Smith led the Blue Devils (31-5) with 20 points and spearheaded Duke's man-to-man defense that made it difficult for Cal's high-scoring trio of Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson to get open looks.
Brian Zoubek, a 7-foot-1-inch center, had 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting and 13 rebounds while teaming with Lance Thomas and reserves Miles and Mason Plumlee to dominate a suspension-weakened Cal frontline featuring 6-8 Duke transfer Jamal Boykin -- and little else.
Kyle Singler scored 17 for Duke, which saw its leading scorer, Jon Scheyer, shoot 1 of 11 and score seven points.
With starting forward Omondi Amoke suspended for an unspecified team violation, Cal (24-11) again went with a three-guard lineup. Boykin, who transferred from Duke after spending a little more than a season with the Blue Devils, led Cal with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: "They got us back on our heels early. There really was no turning point; it was a steady diet." -- Robertson
NEXT FOR DUKE: Fourth-seeded Purdue (29-5) at Houston, 6:55 p.m. Friday
Buckeyes oust Georgia Tech
GAME RECAP: At Milwaukee, Evan Turner rebounded from one of the worst shooting nights of his career with 24 points as second-seeded Ohio State outlasted foul- and turnover-plagued Georgia Tech for a 75-66 victory.
Turner, a leading contender for national player of the year, came within an assist and rebound of his third triple-double of the season. Jon Diebler added 20 points and David Lighty 18 for the Buckeyes (29-7).
Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Derrick Favors, who played just five minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls, keyed an 11-0 run by Georgia Tech (23-13) that cut Ohio State's lead to 65-61 with 1:47 to play. Turner made two free throws, Lighty converted both of his after an intentional foul, and the Yellow Jackets never threatened again.
Favors, who finished with 10 points and four rebounds, fouled out in the last minute. Gani Lawal, who had three fouls before halftime, had 11 points for Georgia Tech.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: "Some of the fouls we committed in the first half were silly fouls -- ones we stayed away from the latter part of the season. That made us tentative in the second half." -- Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt
NEXT FOR OHIO STATE: Sixth-seeded Tennessee (27-8) at St. Louis, 4:05 p.m. Friday
No. 1 Syracuse bombs Zags
GAME RECAP: At Buffalo, N.Y., Wes Johnson wasn't so selfish for a change, and Gonzaga paid dearly.
The Big East player of the year, who often defers to his Syracuse teammates despite his considerable all-around talent, scored a career-high 31 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, and the top-seeded Orange hit a dozen 3-pointers to rout the Bulldogs, 87-65.
"My mindset was to be aggressive on defense, so I think that carried over to the offensive end," Johnson said. "My shot was falling."
Johnson was 11 of 16 from the field, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. Andy Rautins added 24 points and freshman Brandon Triche 13.
Syracuse (30-4), which made the round of 16 for the second straight year, again played without 6-foot-9-inch, 260-pound senior center Arinze Onuaku, who's recovering from a knee injury.
Gonzaga (27-7) made 3 of 21 from beyond the arc and shot 41.7 percent for the game, well below their season average of nearly 50 percent. Syracuse shot 60.7 percent in the first half and 54.7 percent for the game.
Elias Harris led Gonzaga with 24 points, and Robert Sacre had 17 points and eight rebounds. Matt Bouldin, the team's leading scorer at 16 points a game, was 3 of 13 from the field, missing all six shots he took from beyond the arc. He had eight points, all in the second half.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: "This team has come to play every game. I've never had a team that's come to play every game." -- Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, after his 829th win
NEXT FOR SYRACUSE: Fifth-seeded Butler (30-4) at Salt Lake City, 4:05 p.m. Thursday
Crawford, Xavier sink Pitt
GAME RECAP: At Milwaukee, Jordan Crawford again showed he is more than just the guy who dunked on LeBron James.
Crawford scored 27 points, including a breakaway dunk with just more than two minutes remaining, to help sixth-seeded Xavier beat third-seeded Pittsburgh, 71-68.
Center Jason Love had 14 points and a key block down the stretch for the Musketeers (26-8).
Ashton Gibbs had 19 points and Brad Wanamaker 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Panthers (25-9), who nearly rallied with two 3-pointers by Gilbert Brown in the final 28 seconds.
Gibbs missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with less than a second left. Pittsburgh had one last chance to inbound the ball with 0.4 seconds left, but Wanamaker left the shot short.
It was another strong performance for Crawford, who had 28 points Friday to bail the Musketeers out from a poor first-half shooting performance and beat Minnesota in the first round. Crawford, a transfer from Indiana, is best-known among basketball fans for dunking on James at an offseason basketball camp.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: "I don't feel like we're a midmajor at all. You look at our schedule, we played some of the best teams in the country." -- Love
NEXT FOR XAVIER: Second-seeded Kansas State (28-7) at Salt Lake City, 6:35 p.m. Thursday
West Virginia tops Missouri
GAME RECAP: At Buffalo, N.Y., Da'Sean Butler handled Missouri's pressure defense, accounting for 19 of West Virginia's 30 points in the first half, and finished with 28 to lead the second-seeded Mountaineers to a 68-59 victory over the 10th-seeded Tigers.
Kevin Jones had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Big East Conference champions.
Michael Dixon scored 15 points for Missouri (23-11), which went 20 of 61 from the field and were just as bad from the free-throw line, where they went 12 of 20.
With the win, West Virginia (29-6) matched a school record for victories set in 1958-59, the season the Mountaineers, led by Jerry West, went 29-5 and lost in the NCAA championship game.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: "He's the 'Magic Man.' He shows up when we need him. That's really the only thing that counts." -- West Virginia point guard Darryl Bryant, on teammate Da'Sean Butler
NEXT FOR WEST VIRGINIA: 11th-seeded Washington (26-9) at Syracuse, N.Y., 4:20 p.m. Thursday