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NCAA tournament, West Regional: Florida State outlasts hot-shooting Vermont; Murray State routs Marquette

NCAA tournament, West Regional: Florida State outlasts hot-shooting Vermont; Murray State routs Marquette
Florida State's Mfiondu Kabengele is defended by Vermont's Samuel Dingba. (Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

Mfiondu Kabengele had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Florida State held off a barrage of three-pointers from 13th-seeded Vermont in a 76-69 victory Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA West Regional.

Terance Mann added 19 points for the fourth-seeded Seminoles (28-7), who were tied with the Catamounts at halftime but pulled away late.

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Anthony Lamb had 16 points to lead a balanced, long-range attack for Vermont (27-7), which lost for the first time in seven games. Three Catamounts finished with 15 points.

The America East champions went small — no starter stood over 6-foot-6 — and stayed close by hitting 16 of 32 three-point attempts. The Seminoles countered by wearing out Vermont down low, outscoring the Catamounts 30-14 in the paint.

A dunk by Kabengele gave Florida State a 50-45 lead with nine minutes left, part of a 6-0 run that put the Seminoles ahead for good. Another by the 6-10 sophomore made it 61-53, and the cheers of Vermont fans, who made the four-hour drive south from Burlington, gave way to the tomahawk chop from behind Florida State's bench.

Florida State led by 12 with just over a minute left and withstood a late run by Vermont.

Murray State 83, Marquette 64: Ja Morant logged the ninth triple-double in NCAA Tournament history as Murray State trounced fifth-seeded Marquette 83-64 in the first round of the West Region.

Murray State continued a trend of a No. 12 seed winning at least one game in all but three tournaments since 2001 — including last year's — but this looked nothing like an upset.

Morant had 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds as he sliced through Marquette on Thursday and showed the Racers (28-4) were better in every way than their opponent from the Big East. The Ohio Valley Conference champions face fourth-seeded Florida State on Saturday as the Racers next try to take down an Atlantic Coast Conference foe.

Murray State can always count on having the best player on the floor no matter who they play.

With 4:36 left in the second half and Murray State up 20, Morant grabbed his 10th rebound. The Racers fans began chanting “triple-double” to mark the first one since Draymond Green did it for Michigan State in 2012 against LIU-Brooklyn.

The lanky 6-foot-2 Morant this season has rocketed to stardom and into a sure-fire NBA lottery pick — maybe second only to Duke's Zion Williamson — and answered the hype against Marquette.

Florida 70, Nevada 61: Florida nearly squandered a double-digit lead before finally stopping a Nevada comeback and pulling off a 70-61 upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Kevarrius Hayes scored 16 points, Jalen Hudson added 15 and the 10th-seeded Gators won their tournament opener for the third straight year.

Andrew Nembhard, whose last-second shot beat LSU in the Southeastern Conference Tournament last week, drove to the basket for a layup with 1 { minutes left and Florida scored the last seven points after the seventh-seeded Wolf Pack had rallied from down 18 to cut the deficit to just two points.

The Gators (20-1) were the third double-digit seed to win on Thursday.

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Cody Martin scored 23 points and twin brother Caleb Martin had 19 for the Wolf Pack (29-5). The two combined for 28 of their team's 33 points in the second half of the West Region matchup.

The Gators controlled the pace with their deliberate offense, often letting the shot clock run into single digits before shooting. The SEC's top-rated defense clogged passing and driving lanes and contested almost every shot.

KeVaughn Allen made back-to-back shots to start a 12-0 run early in the second half that swelled the lead to 51-33 with 14 minutes left.

That's when things started to turn.

The Wolf Pack began to bother Florida with their full-court press. After Caleb Martin stole the ball from Jalen Hudson in the backcourt and dunked, it was 58-51 with 6 minutes to play. Caleb Martin's two free throws made it 63-61 with 2:02 left, but Nevada could get no closer.

Michigan 74, Montana 55: Charles Matthews had 22 points and 10 rebounds in his best performance since coming back from injury, and No. 2 seed Michigan put away Montana early in a 74-55 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.

Ignas Brazdeikis added 14 points and seven rebounds, and Jon Teske had 11 points and nine boards for the Wolverines, who led by as many as 27 points in the second half.

The Wolverines (29-6) are in the round of 32 for the third straight year. They'll play Florida on Saturday.

Sayeed Pridgett led Montana (26-9) with 17 points.

Montana missed 13 of its first 16 shots and trailed by 13 points 10 minutes into the game. The start was in stark contrast to last year when these teams met in the first round. The Grizzlies scored the game's first 10 points before giving way and losing 61-47.

Matthews was 8 of 12 from the floor while posting his third double-double of the season. He had been a combined 6 of 21 for a total of 15 points in the three games since he came back from a right ankle injury that sidelined him three games.

Zavier Simpson had 10 assists and seven rebounds for Michigan.

Baylor 78, Syracuse 69: Baylor solved Syracuse's vaunted zone with the long ball

Makai Mason scored 22 points and Baylor set a school NCAA Tournament record with 16 3-pointers to beat Syracuse 78-69 Thursday night in the West Region.

The ninth-seeded Bears (20-13) found gaps in Syracuse's 2-3 zone, mostly by getting the ball into the high post or driving and kicking out. Baylor nearly matched the school tournament record of 11 3-pointers in the first half (10) and made 16 of 34 overall.

Baylor shot 54 percent and slowed Syracuse's 3-point barrage in the second half to earn a shot at top-seeded Gonzaga on Saturday.

Mason and Jared Butler (14 points) each hit four 3-pointers.

No. 8 seed Syracuse (20-14) matched the Bears nearly 3 for 3 in a stellar first half before bogging down in the second.

Elijah Hughes had 25 points and hit seven of the Orange's 12 3-pointers. Tyus Battle scored 16 points after missing both of Syracuse's ACC Tournament games with a bruised back.

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

All times Pacific, with TV (*approximate time; game will start 30 minutes after the completion of the previous one):

at Tulsa, Okla.

3 Texas Tech (26-6) vs. 14 Northern Kentucky (26-8), TNT, 10:30 a.m.

6 Buffalo (31-3) vs. 11 Arizona State (23-10), TNT*, 1 p.m.

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