A courtside seat for the NCAA tourney in Milwaukee
After the first day of action at the Bradley Center, four teams -- Xavier, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and Ohio State -- have punched their ticket into the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.
Those games will take place Sunday, beginning with Ohio State and Georgia Tech at 1:20 p.m. with Pittsburgh and Xavier following approximately 30 minutes later.
Here's a recap of Friday's First Round action:
Game 1: (6) Xavier 65, (11) Minnesota 54 -- When it seemed as though nobody else on the court could make a shot, Xavier guard Jordan Crawford couldn't miss.
The Indiana transfer scored 17 of his 28 points in the second half to lead the sixth-seeded Musketeers to a 65-54 victory over Minnesota in the opening game of the West Regional Friday at the Bradley Center.
Xavier (25-8) moved to the round of 32 for the fourth straight year. First-year coach Chris Mack's team shot just 34.3 percent in the game (23 for 67), but that was enough to defeat the Gophers, who made just 19 of 62 shots (30.6 percent).
Crawford, a Detroit native who struggled in a game against Marquette earlier this year, made 11 of 21 shots, including 5 of 11 three-pointers and one of his two free throws. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished five assists.
"I just kept attacking. My mindset before the game was to attack, from start to finish. Coach made a point that doing go into the game just tiptoeing in, go in being aggressive. That's what I was trying to be.
"Once I got a couple easy layups, then the three-pointers started falling."
Jamel McLean grabbed 14 rebounds for Xavier, which surprised the Gophers with some tenacious defense will face the winner of the second game between Pittsburgh and Oakland.
Minnesota (21-14) got 19 points from Lawrence Westbrook, but the guard scored just four after intermission.
Game 2: (3) Pittsburgh 89, (14) Oakland 66 -- It took Pittsburgh a little time to get into a grove against Oakland Friday, but once the Panthers' got rolling ... they easily punched their ticket to the second round with an 89-66 victory Friday.
Using their size advantage, Pitt dominated the lane, outscoring Oakland, 48-26 and scored 26 points of 17 turnovers.
Jermaine Dixon reserve Gilbert Brown each scored 17 points to lead the Panthers(25-8), who shot 60 percent in the second half and 53 percent (30-56) for the game while holding Oakland to just to just 19-of-57 shooting.
Keith Benson led Oakland (28-6) with 28 points and Ledrick Eackles added 17.
Pittsburgh won a first-round game for the sixth consecutive season and moves on to Sunday, when it will face Xavier.
Game 3: (10) Georgia Tech 64, (7) Oklahoma State 59 -- The Yellow Jackets, who are 5-0 at the Bradley Center, went without a field goal for the final 8 minutes, but iced the game by scoring their last 13 points from the free throw line, where they were an uncharacteristically pristine 24 for 25 in the game.
Gani Lawal scored 14 points to lead Tech, which stifled Oklahoma State standout James Anderson. The third-leading scorer in the country made 3 of 12 shots and missed his 6 three-point attempts to finish with 11 points.
The Cowboys, who had a reputation as a great outside shooting team, made 6 of 22 shots from beyond the arc.
Game 4: (2) Ohio State 68, (15) UC Santa Barbara 51 -- Evan Turner is as close as one can get to being a lock for National Player of the Year.
On Friday, he wasn't even a factor.
Fortunately for his Ohio State team, Jon Diebler and William Buford stepped up, combining for 39 points in the Buckeye's 68-51 victory over UC Santa Barbara.
Turner finished with nine points and 10 rebounds as Ohio State advanced to face Georgia Tech Sunday in a Second Round game.
The Gauchos (20-10), who were paced by 20 points from Orlando Johnson, shot just 32 percent from the field.
- Ticket scalpers were seeking $100 per ticket outside the Bradley Center on Friday morning. A cursory check showed more scalpers were looking to buy than sell.
- Marquette is hosting the tournament here, which means that official scorer Bob Wanek and his experienced stats crew is running the action. Mike Jakubowski is handling the public address duties.
- The Pitt band was rocking AC/DC's "Back in Black" before the game. Wonder if they noticed that the team they're facing, Oakland, was wearing black.
- Xavier coach Chris Mack has to have heard this before, but he looks like figure skater/analyst Scott Hamilton.
- Pittsburgh forward Nasir Robinson is from Chester, Pa., which happens to be the hometown of Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan.
- One of the first things you learn when covering an NCAA tournament is the importance of drinking cups. Vitaminwater is the official sponsor of the tourney and any and all beverages must be consumed in Vitaminwater cups.
- Ron Hunter, the head coach at IUPUI (Indiana University--Purdue University Indianapolis) who began his career as an assistant under Steve Antrim at UW-Milwaukee, will receive the Good Guy Award from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Hunter has coached games barefoot in an attempt to bring attention to the plight of millions of children around the world who are in need of shoes. Other coaches followed suit and in two years nearly one million pairs of shoes were donated to children across the globe. Hunter and his players plan to deliver shoes to South Africa in May.
- Rumors linking Tubby Smith to the coaching job at Auburn began swirling during the game. "Obviously, that's just talk, because I'm very pleased wit what we've accomplished here," Smith said. "I'm looking forward to coming back to Minnesota."
- Between the afternoon and evening sessions, the Bradley Center is cleared and cleaned. It's a pretty impressive sight, watching the crews work their way around the building, one section at a time. While that was going on, concession workers took a seat in the upper bowl, gearing up for the final two games of the day.
- The Bradley Center was close to full for the first game of the day but fans started to pour out after halftime of the Pitt-Oakland contest. During the final minutes of that game, only a few sections of fans from the two schools remained. Many fans had retreated to the concourses to watch the final seconds of Wisconsin's 53-49 victory over Wofford.
- Thursday's clear skies and warm temeratures gave way to a gloomy and overcast Friday afternoon, but that didn't seem to dampen the mood around the Bradley Center where, in between sessions, area bars and beer gardens were packed full of thirsty fans.
- Two players in Friday's games have fathers who played in the National Basketball Association. Ralph Samson III had four points in 19 minutes for Minnesota. Glen Rice, Jr. started at guard for Georgia Tech.
- The Georgia Tech Band got a nice reception from Wisconsin fans in attendance when it played "The Bud Song." While a trademark of any UW Marching Band performance, the GT band plays it at every home game as well. The "Wisconsin" was much louder than the "Georgia Tech," though. Which is better? You be the judge.
- Speaking of bands, the Ohio State Band wore buttons with the phrase "CLUB TRIL," a reference to walk-on Mark Titus' popular blog, "Club Trilion." Titus, who rarely sees action, came up with the name after seeing his stat line when playing one minute, scoring no points, taking not shots, recording no rebounds, assists, blocks or steals.
- The Yellow Jackets won despite not scoring a field goal during the final 8:19. Their final 13 points came from the free throw line.
- Georgia Tech is 5-0 in NCAA Tournament games played at the Bradley Center. The Yellow Jackets beat Houston and Southern California in a Sweet 16 run in 1992, and defeated Northern Iowa and Boston College en route to the National Championship game in 2004.
- Word around press row was Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker A.J. Hawk were in the house for the Ohio State-UC Santa Barbara game. Hawk played for the Buckeyes.
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