Willie Burton stayed up late the night before, cutting down to size the mask that protects his broken nose. Then he cut up Kansas State with his shooting.
Burton scored 18 of his 29 points in the first half Thursday, and Minnesota downed the Wildcats, 86-75, in the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. East Regional at Greensboro, N.C.
“The first mask I wore (in practice), I couldn’t see at all,” Burton said. “This one wasn’t much better. That’s why I had to work on it. I filed away some of the plastic so I could see better and I cut out some of the padding so it would fit closer to my face.”
Burton hit eight of 15 shots, made 11 free throws without a miss and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Minnesota (18-11), which made only 77 three-point shots in 28 regular-season games, came out firing. The Gophers sank six of nine three-pointers in the first half, including four straight to take a 28-14 lead in the first 11:18.
“Minnesota shot the ball very well in the first half, especially from three-point range,” Kansas State Coach Lon Kruger said. “It was critical that they got on top of us early.”
The Gophers made eight of 12 three-pointers in the game, the last one by Melvin Newbern with 3:50 left after the Wildcats (19-11) used a full-court press to make a 14-4 run and slice the lead to 67-62. Newbern added two free throws to restore Minnesota’s lead to 72-62.
Just before Newbern’s basket, Minnesota got a critical break after it appeared Kansas State’s pressure had forced the Gophers into another turnover. However, the officials conferred and gave the ball back to Minnesota.
“That was a tough stretch,” Kansas State Coach Lon Kruger said. “You think you’ve got possession, five (points) down with four (minutes) to go. Now it’s our possession and we’re eight down.”
Kevin Lynch scored 18 points and Newbern added 12 for Minnesota. Steve Henson scored 24 points and LaKeith Humphrey added 16 for Kansas State.
This was the second time Minnesota had beaten Kansas State this season. The Gophers won, 72-67, on Jan. 7 at Minneapolis.
Duke 90, South Carolina State 69--Phil Henderson scored a career-high 22 points, and Danny Ferry added 18 as the ninth-ranked Blue Devils overpowered the Bulldogs.
Scoring 12 of its 20 first-half baskets on layups or dunks, Duke (25-4) led, 49-34, by halftime.
Arthur Caldwell scored 20 points for South Carolina State (25-5), which was in the game at 25-22 when the Blue Devils blew away with 10 straight points.
Duke had a 55-37 lead when the Bulldogs, in their first NCAA appearance, scored 11 straight points and closed to 55-46.
South Carolina State closed to 58-50 on Steven Mazyck’s three-pointer, but Duke ran off a 15-2 spurt for a 73-52 lead on Ferry’s three-pointer with 8:52 left.
West Virginia 84, Tennessee 68--Herbie Brooks scored 22 points, and Ray Forster added 19 as the No. 17 Mountaineers overwhelmed the Volunteers.
Dyron Nix vainly tried to keep Tennessee (19-11) in it, scoring 15 of his 22 points in the first half, when West Virginia (26-4) built a 35-23 lead. Nix made seven of 14 shots in the half, but the rest of the Volunteers were two for 17.
West Virginia scored the first six points of the second half to push the lead to 47-27 on Steve Berger’s jumper with 16:53 remaining. The closest Tennessee got the rest of the way was 57-45 on Doug Roth’s three-pointer with 10:28 left.