March Madness roundup: Loyola Chicago, Sister Jean get past Illinois, into Sweet 16
Published 10:42 pm Sunday, March 21, 2021
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Loyola Chicago carried out 101-year-old superfan Sister Jean’s plans to a T on Sunday, moving to the Sweet 16 with a 71-58 win over Illinois, the first No. 1 seed bounced from this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Cameron Krutwig delivered a 19-point, 12-rebound masterpiece and the quick-handed, eighth-seeded Ramblers (26-4) led wire to wire. They befuddled a powerful Illinois offense to return to the second weekend three years after their last magical run to the Final Four.
The Ramblers will next play either Oklahoma State or Oregon State in a Midwest Regional semifinal.
Their 2018 trip to the Final Four was headlined by Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the venerable team chaplain, who received both COVID-19 vaccination shots and clearance to travel to Indianapolis to see what inspiration she could provide in 2021. Jean delivered a pregame prayer that could’ve been stripped straight from a John Wooden handbook.
Illinois (24-7) earned top seeding for the first time since its own Final Four run in 2005, but fell behind by double digits in the first half and never got within striking range. The Illini committed 16 turnovers and scored 23 points fewer than their season average.
Illinois’ 7-foot second-team All-American Kofi Cockburn finished with 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting, but worked hard for every shot.
And Loyola’s handsy guards, Lucas Williamson and Keith Clemons, kept first-team All-American Ayo Dosunmu from ever finding his comfort zone. He finished with nine points, 11 under his season average.
SYRACUSE 75, WEST VIRGINIA 72
Buddy Boeheim carried his father, Jim, to the Hall of Fame coach’s 20th Sweet 16 appearance, scoring 22 of his 25 points after halftime to lead 11th-seeded Syracuse past third-seeded West Virginia.
Jim Boeheim’s Orange got the better of another legend, Bob Huggins, in the second March Madness meeting between coaches with at least 900 Division I victories. Huggins won No. 900 when West Virginia beat Morehead State in the first round on Friday. Boeheim got his 982nd at Huggins’ expense.
Syracuse (18-9) advanced to face second-seeded Houston.
Buddy “Buckets” Boeheim erupted in the second half, when he made all but one of his six 3-pointers. He finished 6 of 13 from deep and 8 of 17 overall, and he helped put the game away with three late free throws.
Sean McNeil scored 23 points to lead the Mountaineers (19-10), who last made the Sweet 16 in 2018.
HOUSTON 63, RUTGERS 60
Quentin Grimes scored 22 points, Tramon Mark converted a soaring three-point play with 24 seconds left, and Houston beat Rutgers.
DaJon Jarreau overcame a series of bumps and bruises to score a key bucket down the stretch and finished with 17 points for second-seeded Houston (26-3).
The 10th-seeded Scarlet Knights (16-12) still had a chance after Mark’s free throws, but Geo Baker turned the ball over and Marcus Sasser made two more to extend the lead. Rutgers rushed back up the floor and Ron Harper Jr. let fly a potential tying 3 from the wing that clanked off the side of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
Baker finished with 14 points for Rutgers but was holding back tears following his late turnover. Montez Mathis also had 10 points for the Scarlet Knights, who failed to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1976.
BAYLOR 76, WISCONSIN 63
Davion Mitchell scored 16 points and spearheaded a dominant defensive first half, helping top-seeded Baylor avoid another NCAA Tournament upset with a 76-63 win over Wisconsin on Sunday.
Not long after Illinois became the first No. 1 seed to bow out, the Bears (24-2) looked every bit a Final Four favorite in the first half, smothering Wisconsin with the type of defensive pressure they played before a late-season COVID-19 pause.
The Badgers (18-13) showed a bit of fight after being backed into an 18-point corner, rallying to within seven midway through the second half behind D’Mitrik Trice (12 points).
The Bears answered the run with a dash of more D to reach the Sweet 16 for the fifth time under coach Scott Drew. They’ll get Villanova or North Texas next.
ARKANSAS 68, TEXAS TECH 66
Justin Smith had 20 points and played a key role in a final-play defensive stop, helping Arkansas beat Texas Tech and secure the program’s first trip to the Sweet 16 in a quarter-century.
In the final seconds of a tense finish, Smith found himself defending Kyler Edwards beyond the 3-point arc. Edwards drove into the paint with Smith on his hip and missed a layup, with Arkansas guard JD Notae snagging the rebound and sprinting up court to run the final seconds out.
The third-seeded Razorbacks are off to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1996 under famed former coach Nolan Richardson. Arkansas (24-6) next faces No. 15 seed Oral Roberts.
Star freshman Moses Moody had 11 of his 15 points after halftime for the Razorbacks, who led by 13 points only to have the sixth-seeded Red Raiders twice whittle that margin to a single point.
Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 20 points for Texas Tech (18-11).
ORAL ROBERTS 81, FLORIDA 78
Oral Roberts became just the second No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the round of 16, sending No. 7 seed Florida home.
Oral Roberts opened the tournament by stunning No. 2 seed Ohio State.
Kevin Obanor and Max Abams carried the Golden Eagles out of an 11-point deficit. Obanor scored 28 points and Abmas, the regular season national leading scorer, finished with 26 as the Golden Eagles (18-10) closed the game on a 25-11 run to overcome the 11-point lead Florida held with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Oral Roberts joins Florida Gulf Coast — those guys from Dunk City — as the only No. 15 seeds to reach the round of 16.
Tre Mann led the Gators (15-10) with 19 points, but went quiet late in the second half, failing to score over the final 17 minutes.