N.C. State tosses UConn out of dance

Monday, March 21, 2005

Julius Hodge shouted to his fans at the buzzer, saying he knew this would happen all along: North Carolina State was heading to the round of 16, and the defending champion was knocked out -- again.

Hodge scored on a slashing drive through the lane with 4.3 seconds left to break a 62-all tie and send the Wolfpack past second-seeded Connecticut 65-62 Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Worcester, Mass.

North Carolina State (21-13), the 10th seed in the Syracuse Regional, advances to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1989 and will play the winner of Bucknell-Wisconsin.

No team has repeated since Duke in 1991-92, but the defending national champion Huskies (23-8) seemed almost a lock to at least move past the second round.They went into the game 27-0 against teams seeded sixth or lower in the tournament. And in 19 years under coach Jim Calhoun, they were 23-2 in the first two rounds of the tournament, reaching the regional semifinals 13 times.

The loss also was a setback for the Big East conference, which has lost four teams so far, including a No. 2 seed and two No. 4 seeds.

Hodge, who yelled, "I told you! I told you!" to Wolfpack fans after the buzzer sounded, was fouled by Ed Nelson on his drive and completed the three-point play. Marcus Williams' desperation 3 at the buzzer fell short.

Hodge finished with 17 points and six assists. Williams led the Huskies with a career-high 22 points, and Charlie Villanueva had 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Villanova 76, Florida 65

Backup center Jason Fraser scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to help fifth-seeded Villanova (24-7) make the round of 16 for the first time since 1988 at Nashville, Tenn. It will play North Carolina.

With leading scorer Allan Ray struggling and Curtis Sumpter sitting out much of the game with an injury, Fraser and guard Randy Foye took over. Foye had 18 points to help pick up the slack.

The fourth-seeded Gators (24-8) were held to 38.5 shooting and got little offensive support for David Lee, who had 20 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and three steals before fouling out. Matt Walsh finished with 12 points, but was 4-for-13. Anthony Roberson went 1-for-8 and finished with five points.

North Carolina 92, Iowa State 65

Sean May had 24 points and 17 rebounds, and sixth man Marvin Williams finished with a career-high 15 rebounds and the top-seeded Tar Heels advanced past the first weekend for the first time in five seasons at Charlotte, N.C.

Williams scored 20 points -- tying his season high for the second consecutive game -- and Rashad McCants added 17 for North Carolina (29-4), which went to the Final Four in 2000 before the tournament drought. Now, coach Roy Williams has the Tar Heels back in the regional semifinals in his second season, the 10th time he's made it that far in 17 NCAA tournament appearances.

The Tar Heels will face fifth-seeded Villanova next weekend in the Syracuse Regional. Jared Homan, playing in his final game, finished with 19 points and 20 rebounds for Iowa State (19-12).

Wisconsin 71, Bucknell 62

Maybe Bucknell could have found a scheme to stop Wisconsin's Mike Wilkinson or Zach Morley. Handling both, however, was too much for the upstart Bison at Oklahoma City.

The 6-foot-8 forwards consistently put themselves in all the right places, especially when things were tight in the second half, carrying the Badgers to victory in the second round of the Syracuse Regional and sending 14th-seeded Bucknell back to its Pennsylvania campus with plenty to be proud of nonetheless.

Morley, who was shut out in 28 minutes of a first-round win over Northern Iowa, was 6-of-7 from the field with three 3-pointers and 15 points. His tap-in with 8:41 left put the Badgers (24-8) ahead for good, then he protected the lead with rebounds on the next two defensive stands.

The Bison (24-9) were still within four points when Wilkinson showed why he's won more games than any player in school history. He personally went on a 7-2 run, capped by a three-point play to push the lead back to nine, virtually ending Bucknell's bid to become just the third No. 14 to reach the NCAA's round of 16. He finished with 23 points and nine rebounds.

Austin Regional

Michigan State 72, Vermont 61

Maurice Ager scored 19 points and Paul Davis had 11 points and 14 rebounds to send Michigan State to the regional semifinals.

Largely ignored during the Big Ten season while Illinois took over the top of the national rankings, Michigan State (24-6) found itself the sentimental second choice again in Worcester when the 13th-seeded Catamounts (25-7) beat Syracuse -- the first NCAA win in Vermont history.

The crowd at Worcester, Mass., was heavily tilted toward Vermont, and outgoing coach Tom Brennan's sense of humor won over many of the rest. But star Taylor Coppenrath went into a shooting slump -- making 5-of-23 shots for 16 points. T.J. Sorrentine scored 26 points but made just 6 of 15 shots from 3-point range.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo moved to 21-6 in the tournament -- a winning percentage second among active coaches to Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.

Duke 63, Mississippi State 55

With one of his most unlikely Duke teams, Mike Krzyzewski moved himself into the NCAA tournament record books and the Blue Devils into the round of 16.

Daniel Ewing handled the offense and Shelden Williams took care of defense to lead the top-seeded Blue Devils to the win in the second round of the Austin Regional at Charlotte, N.C. The win was a record 66th tournament victory for Coach K, moving him ahead of Dean Smith at the top of the list.

It also sent Duke (27-5) into the regional semifinals for the eighth consecutive year, the longest current streak in the nation. The Blue Devils will play fifth-seeded Michigan State.

Lawrence Roberts had 17 points and 11 rebounds for ninth-seeded Mississippi State (23-11).

Albuquerque Regional

Louisville 76, Georgia Tech 54

Francisco Garcia scored 18 of his 21 points in the first half and Taquan Dean stopped any hope Georgia Tech had for a rally with back-to-back 3-pointers, sealing a victory in Nashville, Tenn., that sent Louisville to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1997.

Dean finished with 14 points, all but two on 3-pointers, and also had six rebounds and two assists. Larry O'Bannon added 16 for the fourth-seeded Cardinals (31-4), who have won 20 of their last 21.

Luke Schenscher led the Yellow Jackets with 13, but the rest of Georgia Tech's offense was largely ineffective. Jarrett Jack had 11 points, Will Bynum had eight and B.J. Elder was held to just three for Georgia Tech (20-12), which made a thrilling run to the title game last year.

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