UCLA was not winning in style points or on the scoreboard at halftime Sunday evening.
The gritty, grind-it-out way the game was going favored sixth-seeded Cincinnati, which held a 33-30 lead over the third-seeded Bruins at the midpoint of their NCAA tournament second-round game at the Golden 1 Center.
UCLA struggled to make shots or play the frenzied style it liked. The Bruins made only 37.5% of their shots and 28.6% of their three-pointers, with power forward TJ Leaf going scoreless while missing all five shots.
Manu Lecomte of Baylor hadn’t scored a single point during game against USC in the NCAA tournament’s second round on Sunday.
Instead, the game was going according to USC’s NCAA tournament schedule: Early deficit, a halftime awakening and, at least until Sunday, a win.
It held until Lecomte launched a three-pointer with four minutes and 39 seconds left from the top of the key. USC was leading. It would not lead again. The three-pointer went in. He was fouled, and he made the free throw too. Then he ripped away a steal from Jordan McLaughlin, made another pair of free throws and a layup on the next possession.
Once the game ended and Oregon had narrowly advanced with a hard-fought NCAA tournament win, Tyler Dorsey considered his two missed free throws with 3:36 left and how there might have been no celebrations at all.
Instead, Dorsey delivered two clutch three-pointers to send the Ducks back to the Sweet Sixteen for a second straight year and third in five years.
Dorsey hit a contested go-ahead three-pointer from the top of the arc with 38.4 seconds left, then E.C. Matthews airballed a long three-pointer in the waning moments trying to force overtime, and third-seeded Oregon rallied in the second half to beat upstart No. 11 Rhode Island 75-72 on Sunday and reach the Midwest Regional.
For USC fans keeping score at home, they can make a note of two minutes and eight seconds. That was the time USC reached a familiar milestone: down double-digits in the first half of an NCAA tournament game.
If anything, USC can be happy it is making progress. Baylor’s 36-31 lead over USC in Sunday’s Eastern Regional second-round game was USC’s smallest halftime deficit yet.
On Friday, trailing by eight against SMU, Coach Andy Enfield said his halftime message was simple: “This is awesome!”
North Carolina's players talked all year about their run to last year's NCAA championship game — that, as painful as the loss was, it prepared them for another Final Four push.
On Sunday, down to a handful of possessions with their season suddenly in peril, the Tar Heels' experience saved them from a stunningly early exit.
Kennedy Meeks had 16 points and a huge tip-in with 44.2 seconds left, helping top-seeded UNC barely avoid a huge upset by rallying late to beat Arkansas, 72-65, in the second round of the NCAA tournament's South Region.
Everything about Josh Jackson's demeanor screamed this game was personal, from the back-and-forth chirping with childhood friend Miles Bridges to his emphatic late-game dunk and celebration.
Playing against the school he grew up cheering for, Jackson channeled that emotion into a dominating performance to help top-seeded Kansas advance to the Sweet 16 for a second straight year with a 90-70 victory over Michigan State on Sunday in a Midwest Regional game.
The standout freshman scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half, finishing nine of 16 from the field and ousting a Spartans team from the NCAA tournament that he very nearly joined before signing with the Jayhawks.
Bam Adebayo timed it perfectly, slapping the shot away with his right hand less than a second before the buzzer sounded. For the 13th game in a row, Kentucky's fabulous freshmen had their hands all over another win.
Wham, bam, move on Wildcats, right into the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16.
The youngest team in March Madness grew up in the closing minutes on Sunday and sent Wichita State to yet another second-round heartbreak, 65-62 in a South Regional game.
Michigan's amazing March tournament run is headed to the Sweet 16.
Moe Wagner scored a career-high 26 points and spurred a furious second-half rally to send Michigan past second-seeded Louisville 73-69 on Sunday and into the Sweet 16.
The seventh-seeded Wolverines (26-11) have won seven straight — six since a frightening plane accident before the Big Ten Conference tournament. They also earned a ticket to the Midwest Regional in Kansas City, Mo, their first since 2014.
When Purdue needed him the most, when the Boilermakers were on the brink of a heartbreaking loss, Caleb “Biggie” Swanigan lived up to his nickname — over and over again.
Swanigan had 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, and Purdue reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in seven years with a wild 80-76 victory over Iowa State in a Midwest Regional game on Saturday night.
The Cyclones erased a 19-point deficit in the second half, taking their first lead of the game on Deonte Burton's two free throws with 3:11 left. But P.J. Thompson responded with a critical 3-pointer for the Boilermakers, and Swanigan made several huge plays in the final minutes.