Jarrett Culver had 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to help No. 3 seed Texas Tech shake off a slow start and beat No. 14 seed Northern Kentucky 72-57 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday.
Tariq Owens scored 12 points and Davide Moretti had 10 for Texas Tech (27-6), which had won nine straight games to share the Big 12 regular-season title before losing to lowly West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals. That left them with an eight-day layoff.
It showed early on against Northern Kentucky (26-9), which got 23 points from Tyler Sharpe and 11 from Dantez Walton while giving the Red Raiders everything they could handle in the West Regional.
The Norse were still within 34-31 on Sharpe’s three foul shots with 18:06 left, despite leading scorer and Horizon League player of the year Drew McDonald being unable to get on track.
But the Red Raiders, one of the best defensive teams in the nation, finally responded with a 13-3 run to take control. They opened their first double-digit lead during a stretch in which they connected on eight of 10 shots from the floor, and they never led by fewer than 10 the rest of the way.
No. 6 Buffalo 91, No. 11 Arizona State 74: Looking like a No. 6 seed no one wants to play, high-scoring Buffalo breezed into the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.
Jeremy Harris and Nick Perkins each had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Buffalo was hardly bothered by 11th-seeded Arizona State in a 91-74 victory Friday in the West Region.
Coach Nate Oats has pushed the Buffalo program to new heights since he took over for Bobby Hurley, who now coaches the Sun Devils and got thoroughly schooled by his former assistant. The Bulls (32-3) have won 13 straight and will face No. 3 seed Texas Tech on Sunday.
It was a bounce-back performance for Perkins, who had just five points in 22 minutes in the MAC Tournament final, an 87-73 over Bowling Green. CJ Massinburg, Buffalo’s leading scorer, had 18 points.
Zylan Cheatham had 22 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 2:06 remaining for Arizona State (23-11), which defeated St. John’s 74-65 on Wednesday in the First Four. Romello White and Luguentz Dort each scored 12.
The Sun Devils led 14-10 early, but then Buffalo reeled off a 14-2 run over a three-minute span. The Bulls outscored Arizona State 10-5 over another three-minute stretch to push their advantage into double digits.
Arizona State trailed 44-31 at halftime and pulled within 46-37 early in the second half before Buffalo’s 7-0 run pushed its lead to 16 with 16:13 remaining. The Bulls’ advantage never fell below 14 the rest of the way.
SATURDAY’S REGIONAL GAMES
All times Pacific, with TV (*approximate time; game will start 30 minutes after the completion of the previous one):
at Hartford, Conn.
4 Florida State (28-7) vs. 12 Murray State (28-4), TNT, 3 p.m.
at Des Moines, Iowa
2 Michigan (29-6) vs. 10 Florida (20-15), Channel 2, 2:15 p.m.
at Salt Lake City
1 Gonzaga (31-3) vs. 9 Baylor (20-13), TBS, 4 p.m.