The USC Trojans had their March Madness begin early with a First four matchup with Providence, and took the momentum into their Round of 64 contest with SMU on Friday. Elijah Stewart hit the game-winning three with 37 seconds left, as SMU missed a shot at the buzzer to secure the 66-65 upset win for the 11th-seeded Trojans. USC has now made a habit of rallying early on in this tournament, coming back from a 10-point halftime deficit on Friday. This comes after they trailed by 17 in the second half of their First Four victory over Providence. Stewart finished with 22 points, while Bennie Boatright and Chimezie Metu had 14 points apiece in the win. The Mustangs were led by Semi Ojeleye's 24 points and 10 rebounds in the loss, which snapped a 16-game win streak. Their last loss came on January 12th. Shake Milton missed the potential game-winning floater to end SMU's chances, as the Trojans advance to face Baylor on Sunday.
Kansas, UNC Record Blowout Wins in First Round
The Kansas Jayhawks and North Carolina Tar Heels followed along the other top seeds by recording blowout victories in the Round of 64 on Friday. First, the Jayhawks blew past UC Davis, 100-62, to extend their tournament opener win streak to 11 games. Frank Mason III led the way there with 22 points and eight assists, while Josh Jackson returned from suspension to score 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Chima Moneke had 20 points in the loss for UC Davis, who was in their first NCAA Tournament, after defeating NC Central in the First Four. The Jayhawks will take on Michigan State on Sunday in the Round of 32. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels improved to 13-0 as a top seed in the first round with a 103-64 rout of Texas Southern. Justin Jackson finished with 21 points to break out of a recent slump, as the Heels shot 50% from the field on the night. Jackson had shot just 33 percent in the previous four games, by had 19 of his points in the first 20 minutes of the game. Isaiah Hicks added 17 points, while Kennedy Meeks had 13 in the win, as they advance to take on Arkansas in the second round. Kevin Scott had 19 points to lead the 16th-seeded Tigers in the loss.
Rockets' Loss Wastes Harden's 40-Point Triple-Double
James Harden went off for his 18th triple-double of the season on Friday night, but it was not enough, as his Houston Rockets fell to the New Orleans Pelicans, 128-112, on the road. Solomon Hill had a career-high 30 points on the night for New Orleans, overcoming Harden's 41 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists. Hill was very efficient on the night, hitting 6-of-8 three-pointers, and 8-of-9 free throws in the win. Anthony Davis chipped in a double-double of 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans, who have now won three of their past four contests. Harden was the only Rocket starter to finish in double figures, as Houston fell for the first time in four games. Lou Williams had 14 points and Montrezl Harrell added 13 off the bench in the Rockets' 22nd loss of the season.