Low seeds knock out Gonzaga, USC

Friday, March 15, 2002

The AssociatedPress

Sure didn't take long for low-seeded teams to pick up right where they left off last year in the NCAA tournament.

And -- surprise! -- Gonzaga was among the teams learning how it feels to be on the losing end of an upset.

Five schools with double-digit seedings advanced to the second round Thursday: North Carolina Wilmington is seeded 13th, Tulsa and Missouri are both No. 12, Wyoming is No. 11 and Kent State No. 10.

In 2001, 13 of the tournament's 32 first-round games were won by underdogs, the most opening victories by teams seeded ninth or worse since the event expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

The upset total was nearly higher Thursday, but Kansas (seeded first in the Midwest), Alabama (No. 2 in the South), and Ohio State (No. 4 in the West) narrowly avoided being bounced.

In the West Regional in Albuquerque, N.M., Josh Davis scored 11 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, including one that he slammed in with 1:07 left to punctuate Wyoming's 73-66 victory over sixth-seeded Gonzaga.

The Bulldogs are accustomed to being on the other end of such shockers.

Gonzaga fell just a game short of the Final Four as a No. 10 seed in 1999, reached the regional semifinals from the same slot in 2000, and again made the round of 16 as a 12th seed last year.

The Bulldogs were one of just three teams -- along with Michigan State and Duke, the last two national champions -- to make the round of 16 each of the past three seasons.

Also in the West, Missouri scored the first 12 points and knocked off No. 5-seeded Miami 93-80. The Tigers will try to register another shocker against Ohio State, which barely got by Davidson 69-64.

In the South Regional in Sacramento, Calif., UNC Wilmington knocked off fourth-seeded Southern California 93-89 in overtime for its first NCAA tournament victory.

Also in the South, Kent State started the streak of surprises by topping No. 7 Oklahoma State 69-61 in the tournament's very first game. Kent State now plays Alabama, which was tied with 15th-seeded Florida Atlantic with about 7 minutes left but won 86-78. Notre Dame defeated Charlotte 82-63.

In the East Regional in St. Louis, Greg Harrington's runner in the lane with 14.6 seconds left pushed Tulsa past No. 5 Marquette 71-69 in the tightest early game.

Tulsa now takes a crack at pulling off another surprise -- and it would come against its former coach.

The Golden Hurricane next face fourth-seeded Kentucky, which beat Valparaiso 83-68. Kentucky coach Tubby Smith guided Tulsa to the round of 16 in 1994 and '95.

And in Midwest Regional action in St. Louis, Kansas barely avoided becoming the first top seed to make a first-round exit, holding off 16th-seeded Holy Cross 70-59. Kansas trailed at halftime for only the fifth time all year and was behind by five in the second half before recovering.

Also in the Midwest, No. 2-seeded Oregon beat Montana 81-62, and seventh-seeded Wake Forest defeated Pepperdine 83-79.

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