Two pretty tightly-contested early games set the stage tonight as the Connecticut Huskies and Florida Gators hung on to advance to the Elite Eight on Saturday. Tonight's games will be the Duke Blue Devils against the Arizona Wildcats, and then the Butler Bulldogs against the Wisconsin Badgers.
Connecticut 74, San Diego State 67 -- Kemba Walker went off, scoring 36 points on 12-25 shooting, as the Huskies were able to knock off No. 2 seed San Diego State. Connecticut went on a 14-0 run down the stretch to pull away from the Aztecs. It was a game of prolonged momentum shifts as San Diego State had roared back out of the break after trailing by nine at halftime to take a comfortable lead early in the second half. Star forward Kawhi Leonard battled foul trouble, hurting the Aztecs' chances. Missed free throws were what ultimately did San Diego State in, as they hit just six of 13 attempts. Jeremy Lamb's three-pointer off an offensive rebound with under two minutes remaining was the real dagger for the Huskies, and the Aztecs never were able to come back from that deficit. Lamb was a real difference maker in the game with 24 points on 9-11 shooting.
Florida 83, BYU 74 - Florida pushed BYU around in overtime, leading to a very comfortable win after what was a tight game through the first 40 minutes. A very questionable over the back call on a rebound let Kyle Collinsworth knock down a big free throw to give BYU a tie game with under a minute remaining. Florida missed two chances to win the game after grabbing an offensive rebound. After Florida had taken a convincing early lead, Jimmer Fredette and BYU adjusted to their defensive schemes and came roaring back to tie the game at halftime. It wasn't pretty for Fredette, but he managed to score 32 points on 11-29 shooting down the stretch. 15 turnovers by Florida hurt the cause, but they were able to lock down BYU from the field--the Cougars shot just 36% for the game. The Gators also did themselves no favors with their poor free throw shooting, hitting just 10 of 22 from the line. Alex Tyus led a balanced scoring attack for the Gators with 19 points.
The updated Southeast and West brackets look like this:
1) Duke / 5) Arizona
4) Wisconsin / 8) Butler