Star big man Chris Boucher carefully stood with his bulky knee brace to pump his arms and cheer his teammates at every chance. He shimmied his shoulders in delight to celebrate the Oregon Ducks and what they were doing on the big stage without him.
Not quite the shot-blocking menace on the sidelines that he is on the floor for Oregon. He's doing his part.
The Ducks advanced in the NCAA tournament in large part because each player committed to do all the little things that Boucher brings on both ends.
Elijah Stewart has had a streaky season, on then off again, but his heat was rising when he camped out in the corner next to USC’s bench with 36 seconds left, the Trojans down by two points, in an NCAA tournament first-round game against Southern Methodist on Friday.
Jordan McLaughlin penetrated the lane, then found Stewart, who caught the ball with the laces straight. He eyed the rim. The ball hit only net on the way through the rim.
The Trojans trailed for almost all of Friday’s game, until it mattered. The 11th-seeded Trojans used a familiar formula — early deficit, furious comeback — to shock No. 6-seeded SMU, 66-65.
Southern Methodist took a commanding double-digit lead about 12 minutes into USC’s NCAA tournament first round on Friday. For the Trojans, the game could unofficially begin.
USC’s slow starts and furious rallies have become a trademark. Friday was no different. SMU had hardly had an empty possession. The Mustangs were scoring 1.5 points per possession. In other words, USC would’ve been better off fouling each time SMU touched the ball.
Once again, USC tightened up. At halftime, USC had eaten into the deficit slightly, 38-30.
Arkansas did just enough in the final minute to push its way through the NCAA tournament's first round — aided by a couple of eye-catching calls and noncalls by the officiating crew, too.
Jaylen Barford hit the go-ahead layup with 57.8 seconds left to help Arkansas hold off Seton Hall, 77-71, on Friday in the first round of the South Region.
Barford had 12 of his 20 points after halftime for the eighth-seeded Razorbacks (26-9), who erased an eight-point second-half hole and scored the final seven points of the game to earn the program's third straight opening-game NCAA win.