Austin, Texas • Illinois has been doing it the hard way all season. Why change just because it's the NCAA Tournament?
After letting a big first-half lead slip away Friday, senior guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson bailed out the Illini with consecutive 3-pointers with 6 minutes to play and No. 7 seed Illinois pulled out a tough 57-49 win over No. 10 Colorado in the second round of East Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
"It's March Madness," Paul said. "That stuff happens all the time."
Madness indeed. How else to explain how a team that gave up a 16-point halftime lead, allowed an opponent to go on a 21-0 run and shot just 13 percent in the second half would still win by almost double-digits?
"It was a strange game," first-year Illinois coach John Groce said. "This team has been a fun team to coach, an interesting team."
Groce didn't see anything quite like that last year when he was leading No. 13 seed Ohio to the round of 16. This time, his team survived its first game despite making three field goals in the second half.
It just so happened that two of those would prove to be the baskets that would win the game.
Indiana 83, James Madison 62 • Freshman Yogi Ferrell scored 14 points in the first six minutes as top-seeded Indiana slam dunked its way to a win.
Not taking any chances with a No. 16 seed, the Hoosiers (28-6) started fast and built a 33-point lead in the second half over the Dukes (21-15) and opened the tourney with a statement they intend to be around for a while.
Ferrell finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Cody Zeller had four dunks for Indiana.
Temple 76, North Carolina State 72 • Khalif Wyatt scored 31 points, finishing the game with an injured left thumb that had him grimacing before his clinching free throws, and Temple broke with its one-and-done NCAA Tournament trend Friday in Dayton, Ohio.
The ninth-seeded Owls (24-9) opened a 17-point lead before Wyatt hurt his left thumb and left the game briefly, returning with black tape on the non-shooting hand.
Miami 78, Pacific 49 • Durand Scott had 21 points and Miami had a triumphant return to the NCAA Tournament in Austin, Texas.
The Hurricanes (28-6), who may be even better than their No. 2 seed in the East Regional would indicate, put the game out of reach with a 14-0 run midway through the first half of their first NCAA tourney game in five years.