Friday, March 16, 2018

Top-seeded Xavier easily handles Texas Southern 102-83

The Xavier Musketeers survived a choppy game with more stops than starts thanks to too many fouls and free throws.
At the end, the Musketeers looked every bit like a No. 1 seed their first time around in the role at an NCAA Tournament.
J.P. Macura scored 18 of his career-high 29 points in the first half, and Xavier beat 16th-seeded Texas Southern 102-83 Friday night in their tournament opener in the West Region.
"It wasn't aesthetically pleasing by any means, but we will play on Sunday," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.
The Musketeers (29-5) will play either No. 9 seed Florida State or eighth-seeded Missouri on Sunday for a berth in the Sweet 16.
Trevon Bluiett added 26 points, and Kerem Kanter tied his career-high with 24 for the Big East's regular season champs.
With celebrity fan Bill Murray watching , Macura helped Xavier respond when falling behind 20-13 within the first five minutes. Macura scored 15 points to key a 21-2 run that put the Musketeers ahead for good. Macura's fourth 3 capped the run with 7:12 left and Xavier securely ahead 34-22.
Texas Southern (16-20) came in having won the first NCAA Tournament game in program history, a First Four win over North Carolina Central in Dayton on Wednesday night. The Tigers and confident sophomore guard Damontrae Jefferson wanted much more history with a win in the first round that would have made them the first 16 seed to knock off a No. 1.
"They made some shots," Texas Southern coach Mike Davis said of Xavier. "My team fought all the way through. The effort they gave tonight in that game against this team was one that I'm proud of."
Jefferson and the Tigers simply couldn't match Xavier's shooting. Jefferson did steal the ball and score on a layup just before the first-half buzzer, adding a free throw for good measure. That was as close as Texas Southern would get as Xavier led 49-37 at halftime.
Xavier never pushed its lead past 24 as the Tigers, especially Jefferson - who played every minute of the game - kept fighting. The pesky guard kept scrapping for balls with four steals, even picking up a technical with 12:45 left. It just wasn't enough against Xavier, with its four starters back from last year's Elite Eight team.
"This is a real big win especially because we're a No. 1 seed and people are doubting us, thinking we're going to be the first No. 1 seed out," freshman forward Naji Marshall said. "So this is kind of a statement game."
Jefferson scored 20 points to lead five Tigers in double figures. Derrick Bruce added 18, Robert Lewis had 14, Donte Clark scored 12 and Trayvon Reed had 10.
Texas Southern: The Tigers snapped an eight-game winning streak that got them into the tournament and past NC Central. ... The Tigers had 10 steals in forcing Xavier into 13 turnovers and outscored the Musketeers 19-17 off those mistakes.
Xavier: The Musketeers couldn't have shot much better, especially in the first half when they knocked down 9 of 15 outside the arc behind Macura and Bluiett. They finished 11 of 24, with five different Musketeers knocking down at least one 3.
Marshall was limited to 16 minutes and seen icing his back in the locker room. The starter finished with three points and six rebounds and three blocks. Mack said he doesn't know whether Marshall, who dealt with a muscular issue in his back earlier in the season, will be available for the second round.
Texas Southern: Luckily for Davis, Jefferson is just a sophomore. Davis also has his Tigers travel like they're in a Power Five league, not the Southwestern Athletic Conference, making them a draw for talent. Davis called this tournament run something to build on.
"We're going to put together a team that is going to beat whatever seed it is we have to play," Davis said.
Xavier: The Musketeers now are a win away from a spot in the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in the past 11 tournaments.

Harper's 3 helps cold-shooting Tigers beat Charleston 62-58

Nothing about Auburn's performance was pretty until Jared Harper drained a long 3-pointer with 1:17 to go against College of Charleston.
It was a huge shot, all right, and it allowed the Tigers to stick around San Diego for two more days.
Harper's tiebreaking 3 - his only basket of the game - helped Auburn beat No. 13 seed College of Charleston 62-58 in a Midwest Region thriller to avoid becoming the second No. 4 seed upset at Viejas Arena on Friday.
Playing under the cloud of a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball, Auburn overcame a horrible shooting performance to win in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003. But the Tigers survived only in part because they forced Charleston into 21 turnovers.
"This is special and I think our guys appreciate it," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
Mustapha Heron scored 16 points for Auburn (26-7), which shot only 35.6 percent overall (21 of 59) and just 20.8 percent from 3-point range (5 of 24).
The biggest shot to go down for the Tigers was Harper's deep 3 that gave them a 59-56 lead. He finished 1 of 7, including 1 for 4 from behind the arc.
"We put him in a ball screen to try to get him the advantage and they went under the ball screen," Pearl said. "I want those guys to be able to have the freedom to take and make those shots.
"Look, we don't have a dominating post player," the coach added. "We get inside off of drives, off of slips and ball screens. We don't post up. So we better knock down some 3s. That's our game. We've done it all year long and we made enough tonight to win the game."
The Cougars (26-8) pulled to 61-58 when Grant Riller made one of two free throws with 20.4 seconds left.
Auburn's Davion Mitchell missed two free throws with 14 seconds to go, giving Charleston a chance. Riller launched a 3 with four seconds left that fell short. He appeared to get fouled but nothing was called.
"I think I got touched, but it's not my job to worry about foul calls or not, so pretty good defense by him, too," Riller said.
Said Charleston coach Earl Grant: "I don't know what happened. I just know we had the right guy with the ball in his hand. Came up a little bit short."
Harper then made one of two free throws with 3.2 seconds left to seal it.
Earlier on Friday in the East Region bracket at Viejas, No. 4 seed Wichita State was beaten 81-75 by No. 13 seed Marshall. And on Thursday night, No. 4 seed Arizona was routed 89-68 by 13th-seeded Buffalo in a South Region game at Boise, Idaho.
Desean Murray had 11 points for Auburn, and Bryce Brown added 10.
Jarrell Brantley scored a game-high 24 points for Charleston, and Riller added 16.
Charleston scored the last seven points of the first half, including a 3-pointer by Joe Chealey, to pull into a 25-all tie.
Auburn shot 9 of 32 from the field in the first half for 28.1 percent, and missed all 13 of its 3-pointers.
College of Charleston: Champions of the Colonial Athletic Association, the Cougars were making their fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 1999.
Auburn: Assistant coach Chuck Person was indicted as part of a federal investigation that cost two of Auburn's best players their eligibility. Person allegedly accepted bribes to steer players to a financial adviser once they turned pro and allegedly funneled money to the families of Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy. Neither played this season.
Pearl has yet to submit to a formal interview with a law firm conducting an internal review of his program. That will presumably come after the season. At that time, President Steven Leath and new athletic director Allen Greene could possibly determine his fate.
"We turned them over 21 times," Pearl said. "What does that tell you about the effort and the energy by our kids? Because we were struggling offensively and just finding a way."
Auburn advances to the round of 32 on Sunday and will play the winner of No. 12 seed New Mexico State vs. No. 5 seed Clemson.

Bridges leads Michigan State past Thomas, Bucknell 82-78

Miles Bridges outlasted Zach Thomas.
Michigan State's sophomore star also soared over everyone on a pivotal play, scoring two of his 29 points on a tip-in dunk to help the third-seeded Spartans beat Bucknell 82-78 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night.
"He was a tough matchup for us," Thomas acknowledged.
Thomas was, too, for the Big Ten regular season champions. He fouled out on a technical with 6:06 left and finished with 27 points. The 6-foot-7 senior forward put on a show in the first half, scoring 20 points and making all three of his shots beyond the 3-point arc to keep the Bison close.
"He's a great player, but it was good for us that he fouled out," Bridges said.
The Spartans (30-4) made the most of playing about 75 miles from campus in a packed arena with green-and-white clad fans in the stands. They roared when Bridges dunked, as he did once on a spectacular slam off an offensive rebound midway through the second half, and jeered when replays showed a foul called against their team.
"It's tough because we were hoping for a higher seed, but we ended up playing a team that's arguably Top 5 in the country on what's almost their home floor," Bucknell guard Kimbal Mackenzie said.
With a similar advantage, Michigan State will play Syracuse (22-13) on Sunday in the second round.
Leading by 15 points with 2 minutes left, Michigan State won by a slim margin after Bucknell (25-10) made a late flurry of long-range shots.
"I thought our guys came out, competed," Bison coach Nathan Davis said. "Never backed down. Never stopped playing."
The Spartans didn't start rusty, like some Big Ten teams after a long layoff, but found out quickly Thomas was as good if not better than they thought.
Thomas made a 3-pointer to put the Patriot League champions ahead 28-27 with 5:24 left in the first half. Joshua Langford, who scored 15 of his 22 points in the first half, gave Michigan State the lead on the ensuing possession and it never lost it.
The Spartans, though, did have to make enough free throws in the final seconds to hold off a charge from the 3-point making Bison.
Michigan State's Cassius Winston scored 11 points and Nick Ward had eight points, surviving a scare after tumbling onto his head after trying to corral an alley-oop pass.
"My head is fine," Ward said. "I was teary-eyed because my nose hit the ground."
Nana Foulland scored 20 and Makenzie added 10 points for the Bison.
Bucknell: Thomas showed NBA scouts he can create his own shot against major college players and perhaps gave recruits a glimpse of how they can be featured by the Bison.
"He can shoot the 3s. You saw the range," Davis said. "He can put the ball on the floor and finish. He draws fouls."
Michigan State: The Spartans simply wanted to survive after a long layoff and they did, but they will need to play a more complete game to continue playing beyond Sunday.
"This team still has a ways to go," Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo said.
Langford nearly doubled his scoring average, coming off three straight games in which he scored five or fewer points. He was held to single digits in six of the previous seven games. As Langford showed by matching his career high with 23 points in a win over North Carolina in November, the sophomore shooting guard is capable of more.
"He was due for this type of game," Winston said. "The amount of time he puts in the gym, his shot is going to fall. We knew it was coming."
Thomas fouled out for complaining after a call wasn't made when he thought Foulland was fouled.
"I was just backpedaling and I said, 'What are you watching?' from about like half court," Thomas said. "He was still on the baseline. I didn't think he was looking at me, but apparently he heard me and didn't like it. I shouldn't have said it, but I mean, I didn't agree with the call. At least warn me or something."
A technical was called less than 30 seconds later on Langford.
"I can't believe Josh Langford got a technical," Izzo said. "He hasn't said a word since he's been on campus."
Michigan State is trying to advance from the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years and will have to get past Syracuse and coach Jim Boeheim, whose most Final Four appearance came two years ago.

Brown, Kansas State stymie Creighton offense 69-59 in South

Two years ago, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber asked his players who was going to be his stopper on defense.
A scrawny freshman named Barry Brown immediately raised his hand. Weber blew it off at the time, but over the past three years Brown has turned into one of the best on-ball defenders in college basketball.
He proved that again on Friday night, scoring 18 points and helping ninth-seeded Kansas State's defense stymie Marcus Foster and No. 8 Creighton's high-powered offense in a 69-59 wire-to-wire victory.
"He has been in the office every day since Monday watching film on (Foster) because we knew how good he was and what he did," Weber said. "... Obviously Barry did a great job on Marcus, who is a really good player. But all our guys, it was a team defense. When you hold them to 59 it's pretty impressive."
Creighton came into the game ranked 10th in scoring in Division I at 84.3 points per game, but its 59 points tied a season low.
"We have been good on defense this year and we played some of the best teams in the country," Weber said.
Kansas State (23-11) advanced to the round of 32 for the first time since 2012 despite playing without leading scorer Dean Wade, who is still recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot. Wade had been expected to play after suffering a stress fracture in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, but never got on the floor.
His teammates picked him up, particularly on defense.
The Bluejays (21-12) were limited to 33.8 percent shooting from the field, including 26 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
"I thought they played a heck of a game, and defensively they were very disruptive, especially early in the game and I think forced us into some uncharacteristic decisions," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.
Foster was held scoreless in the first 29 1/2 minutes and finished with five points on 2-of-11 shooting against his former team.
Foster was thrown off the Kansas State team after the 2015 season for multiple violations of team rules, but said earlier this week this game was more about advancing than any type of revenge. He took responsibility for his mistakes, saying it was something that he needed to go through to grow up.
After reigniting his career at Creighton, Foster was averaging 20.3 points coming into the game. But never found his mojo on Friday night.
"They were collapsing the paint hard when I drove, and they were attaching to me as soon as I crossed half court so I couldn't get the ball," Foster said. "(They) were just giving me hard looks all night, and I really just couldn't find a rhythm."
Brown said the film study sessions helped.
"I was just trying to see where he picks his spots, what he likes to do on offense, and kind of memorizing their plays a little bit," Brown said. "So I kind of knew the play before they ran it through and so I was just jumping a lot of stuff and kind of denying him a little bit and it worked out."
Mike McGuirl added 17 points and Kamau Stokes had 11 for the Wildcats.
Kansas State: The Wildcats showed great tenacity on defense. They also shot well from long distance, making 9 of 19 3-pointers which would bode well if they can repeat that in the second round.
Creighton: It was another disappointing NCAA Tournament appearance for the Bluejays, who simply couldn't make any shots when the needed to. Along with Foster, Khyri Thomas only managed nine points. Mitch Ballock had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead Creighton.
CATCHING UP: Weber stopped briefly to talk to Foster after the game.
"I have nothing against him," Weber said. "... I want guys to be successful. I said congratulations. I'm happy (for him). I hope you got your head on straight. He had a heck of a career. ... I'm proud that I helped him get on the right path."
WADE'S STATUS: Weber said Wade was just too sore to play, but wouldn't rule out him playing limited minutes on Sunday.
"We'll see if it improves and he wants to go and give it a shot," Weber said. "He wants to be part of it. If it helps us have success and move on, I'm sure Dean will be there giving his all."
FAST START: The Wildcats jumped out to 10-2 lead behind Stokes, who scored the game's first seven points. They never trailed.
Creighton cut the lead to two after Mitch Ballock scored seven straight points for the Bluejays to open the second half. But Kansas State stayed ahead and McGuirl completed a huge four-point play after being fouled on a baseline jumper to give the Wildcats an 11-point lead with 7:13 remaining in the game.
Kansas State: Will face the winner of No. 1 Virginia and No. 16 UMBC on Sunday.

Seventh-seeded Nevada rallies, tops Texas 87-83 in overtime

Nevada's Caleb Martin had just missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer and didn't feel all that disappointed. The junior forward just knew his team would finish the job in overtime.
And then he helped make it happen.
Martin shot 3 of 3 from 3-point range in overtime and finished with 18 points Friday as Nevada rallied to beat Texas 87-83 for its first NCAA Tournament victory since 2007.
"We were comfortable," Martin said. "It's one of those things where you could tell the other team didn't want to go into overtime with us. You could kind of feel the energy on the floor when we walked back out there. You kind of knew it was kind of in our favor."
The Wolf Pack, seeded seventh in the South Region, advanced to a Sunday matchup with No. 2 seed Cincinnati (31-4). The Bearcats beat Georgia State 68-53.
Nevada (28-7) erased a 14-point, second-half deficit and rallied again after trailing Texas by four early in an overtime session that featured combined 34 points. Nevada made all six of its field-goal attempts in overtime after Texas forward Mohamed Bamba fouled out with 3.8 seconds left in regulation.
These two teams with contrasting styles provided the kind of thriller that had excitable Nevada coach Bill Musselman particularly amped up. Musselman opened his postgame press conference with an apology after television cameras caught him shouting obscenities during a locker-room celebration.
"What an unbelievable game," Musselman said.
Martin's 3-pointer with 2:26 left in overtime gave Nevada its first lead since opening the game on a 5-0 run. Texas' Matt Coleman took a jumper that went around and out, and Martin hit another 3 that extended Nevada's lead to 81-77 with 1:36 left.
After Coleman cut Nevada's margin to 81-79, Martin passed to twin brother Cody for a layup that made it 83-79 with 53 seconds remaining. Tenth-seeded Texas later got within two on a 3-pointer by Kerwin Roach II with 15.5 seconds left, but that's as close as the Longhorns got.
Roach had a career-high 26 points for Texas (19-15) and shot 6 of 10 from 3-point range. Coleman had a career-best 25 points.
Caleb Martin also had 10 rebounds and five assists. Cody Martin had 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Nevada's Kendall Stephens had a team-high 22 points.
This was the kind of moment that brought the Martins to Nevada after the 6-foot-7 twins decided to transfer from North Carolina State.
"This is what we came here to do," Cody Martin said. "This is what we wanted to do all year. When we got here, I knew we had something special with this team."
They sure produced a special comeback.
Nevada rallied after Texas grabbed a 77-73 lead in overtime on a four-point play from Roach, who sank a 3-pointer while getting fouled.
"I actually felt like we'd weathered the storm," Roach said.
Texas led 40-26 early in the second half before Nevada clawed back and finally tied it when Jordan Caroline hit one of two free throws with 3.8 seconds left in regulation.
Texas' Dylan Osetkowski then threw an inbounds pass half the length of the court to Jericho Sims, who knocked the ball out of bounds. That turnover gave Nevada the ball about 20 feet from Texas' basket with 1.6 seconds left.
Martin missed the potential game-winner at the buzzer. He wouldn't miss again the rest of the day.
Texas: A tough loss ended a remarkable season for Texas, which relied on three freshman starters to bounce back after going 11-22 in 2016-17. Texas earned an NCAA bid even after losing Andrew Jones, who was the Longhorns' second-leading scorer when he was diagnosed with leukemia in January.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack's dynamic offense awakened after a dormant first-half performance. Nevada shot 39.3 percent (11 of 28) and scored 26 points in the first half. The Wolf Pack shot 60 percent (21 of 35) and scored 61 points in the second half and overtime.
Texas' next step is finding out what the future holds for Bamba, a potential NBA lottery pick. Bamba said after the game that he hasn't set a timetable for deciding whether to return for his sophomore year.
"I'm not really worrying about that right now," Bamba said. "I'm still processing what just happened."
"In a game like today, we need to add one or two more winning plays," Texas coach Shaka Smart said. "That's the difference. One more stop. One more rebound. It's a cruel, hard assessment But in games like that, that go in overtime - and we've been in as many as anyone in the country - one play does make the difference."
Texas: The Longhorns wait on Bamba's decision.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack face Cincinnati on Sunday.

Jevon Carter leads West Virginia past Murray State 85-68

This long into their time together at West Virginia, Bob Huggins is only surprised when Jevon Carter has a bad game.
What Carter did on Friday in the first-round of the East Region against Murray State is simply what Huggins expects.
"I would be shocked if he didn't play that way," Huggins said. "He plays that way all the time. He plays that way in open gym. But he's always done that."
Carter scored 21 points, had eight assists and six steals, and played suffocating defense on Murray State star Jonathan Stark, and the fifth-seeded Mountaineers overwhelmed the 12th-seeded Racers 85-68.
Teddy Allen added 16 points and the Mountaineers (25-10) pulled away in the second half to advance to the round of 32 for the third time in the past four seasons.
West Virginia had four players finish in double figures. Next up: A Mountain State showdown with 13th-seeded Marshall far away from home.
"They're going to be ready, ready to see a battle," Carter said. "Two very good teams going up against each other, in-state rivalry. We'll see what happens."
Terrell Miller led Murray State (26-6) with 27 points, but he was the only Racers player to shoot well. Miller made 8 of 11 shots, but his team hit just 41 percent. Murray State had won 13 straight games entering the NCAAs, the second-longest active win streak in the country.
"I thought we would be able to attack the press, but their half-court defense is just so good," Murray State coach Matt McMahon said. "You and sit around and try and run different offense, it's not happening."
Carter had 13 points in the second half and was the trigger of a second-half surge by the Mountaineers. But more important than what Carter did offensively was the job he and his teammates did on the defensive end shutting down Stark.
"It wasn't just me. We've got a lot of different guys that can guard," Carter said. "Our main focus was to stop him and make other guys beat us and we just did an unbelievable job of team defense."
Stark carried the offensive load all season for the Racers, scoring in double figures in 30 of 31 games entering the NCAAs, including three games of 30 or more points late in the season.
But Stark never found his shot from the outside and anytime he beat his defender there were Mountaineers waiting. Stark, who was averaging 21.8 points per game, was 1 of 12 shooting and finished with nine points.
"They're a solid defensive team, but I got a lot of wide-open looks. I just didn't knock the shots down, " Stark said. "Credit to them. They did a great job of contesting some of my shots."
Murray State lingered long enough to at least make the Mountaineers work. Down by 14 early in the second half the Racers rallied, pulling within 49-44 on Shaq Buchanan's basket. It capped a surge the Racers needed to avoid getting blown out. But the surge by Murray State was fleeting.
The Mountaineers scored nine of the next 10 points. Carter was the catalyst with a three-point play, and a steal where he found Logan Routt for a breakaway dunk and a 58-45 lead.
Murray State never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.
Murray State: The Racers will lament a first half where they were trailing from nearly the outset. The Racers had 11 turnovers in the first half as they struggled handling West Virginia's pressure defense. Those wasted possessions allowed the Mountaineers to build a comfortable lead.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers were smart in not settling for jump shots against the undersized Racers. West Virginia outscored Murray State 48-24 in the paint and the Mountaineers shot 58 percent in the second half.
Murray State: The Racers should again be in the mix in the Ohio Valley Conference. Murray State will return its entire roster with the exception of Stark and Miller. It's a lot of points to replace, but 11 players back is a good place to start.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers will face Marshall for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

Martin, Baldwin lead Butler past Arkansas 79-62

Butler coach LaVall Jordan watched his team race out to a huge early lead, then give it all away before the first half was even over.

That could have been a huge emotional swing, but the Bulldogs kept their cool.
"We got up big and I didn't expect to beat them by 20," Jordan said. "They've got firepower and some offensive weapons that can get you back in the game. I thought our guys just had a really good response when they came back to the huddle. ... It was all about the next play."
When the 10th-seeded Bulldogs pulled away again at the start of the second half, they stayed out in front, dispatching seventh-seeded Arkansas 79-62 in the NCAA Tournament's East Region on Friday. Kelan Martin scored 27 points and Kamar Baldwin added 24 for Butler, which advanced to face second-seeded Purdue on Sunday.
The Bulldogs (21-13) raced to a 21-2 lead in the opening minutes, only for Arkansas to answer with a 27-6 tear. Butler took control again early in the second.
Jaylen Barford scored 15 points for Arkansas, but the Razorbacks (23-12) struggled in the paint — 6-foot-11 freshman Daniel Gafford managed only two field goals.
The Arkansas pregame notes noted that Gafford had 27 more dunks this season than Butler's whole team, but it was the Bulldogs who threw down the first one of this game when Tyler Wideman slammed in an offensive rebound to make it 7-2. Another Butler dunk — this one by Baldwin — made it 18-2, and after a 3-pointer by Martin, the Razorbacks used their second timeout of the half.
Arkansas answered with a quick 10-0 run, and although Gafford was contributing little offensively, the Razorbacks came all the way back and took a 29-27 lead on a 3-pointer by C.J. Jones.
That advantage was brief, though. Butler was up 36-31 at halftime.
The Bulldogs quickly pushed the lead back to double digits in the second. Martin, who surpassed 2,000 points for his career during the game, made two 3-pointers in a 9-2 run that made it 49-38 .
"Butler did good tonight by making tough shots, getting rebounds, getting key stops," Barford said. "They just made plays down the stretch that hurt us a lot."
Butler has won at least one game in each of the last four NCAA Tournaments, this one in the team's first season under Jordan. The Bulldogs opened commanding leads over Arkansas in both halves and won on the strength of 11-of-26 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Razorbacks came in shooting 40 percent from 3-point range, but they went just 4 of 18 in this game and didn't have enough success inside to make up for that.
Martin and Baldwin scored 32 points in the second half. For the game, those two outscored the Arkansas tandem of Barford and Macon 51-27.
"It was a team effort. It took all of us out there to shrink the court, and that's what we did," Baldwin said. "We just made them take tough 2s and limited their touches. So it was a team effort tonight."
Arkansas managed only 22 points in the paint and was outrebounded 45-25. Although the Razorbacks made a nice comeback in the first half, they'd have been in better shape at halftime if they hadn't allowed 10 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
Gafford finished with seven points, five rebounds and three blocks in 21 minutes.
"I didn't think Daniel played one of his better games," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "I thought his intentions were there. I just didn't think he — didn't finish well around the basket. But I thought he played with his heart. That's all you can ask."
It was the first loss in the tournament for the Southeastern Conference, which had been 5-0.
Butler takes on Purdue in an all-Indiana matchup. The Boilermakers beat the Bulldogs 82-67 on Dec. 16, but Purdue won't have Isaac Haas this weekend after he injured his elbow in Friday's win over Cal State Fullerton.
Arkansas heads into the offseason and will have some changes on the horizon. This team had three senior starters.

Defending champ North Carolina opens up, tops Lipscomb 84-66

Kenny Williams was a bit player in North Carolina's run to the national title game in 2016, then watched last season from the sideline due to a knee injury as the Tar Heels won a sixth NCAA championship without him.
They need him to be every bit as good as he was Friday to reach a third straight Final Four.
Williams scored 18 points to help UNC beat Lipscomb 84-66 in the first round of the NCAA tourney, a strong start for a guy carrying a heavier load this time in a small-ball lineup.
"I was excited all week about coming to play my first game with heavy minutes in the NCAA Tournament," Williams said. "This is what you look forward to growing up, so I was a little bit more excited about that."
UNC (26-10), the No. 2 seed in the West Region, won its 12th NCAA game in 13 tries going back to the 2016 tournament that ended with a title-game loss to Villanova. Williams was a freshman that year, buried on the bench behind veteran talent and playing just 8 minutes with four appearances in those six games.
He was set for a bigger role last year before suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee in February 2017. Williams needed surgery and didn't play again, though the Tar Heels went on to beat Gonzaga in Glendale, Arizona, for the title.
On Friday, in his first major NCAA Tournament minutes, he looked right at home. He made 6 of 8 shots and 4 of 5 3-pointers in 28 minutes, helping the Tar Heels gradually take control on the way to shooting 52 percent with nine made 3s.
"When we execute our offense, we're getting guys open and we're setting solid screens, and guys are able to come off in a rhythm and knock it down," senior point guard Joel Berry said. "Today Kenny didn't force any shots. Any time somebody drove he was ready to shoot."
The Tar Heels next play seventh-seeded Texas A&M.
Playing in their first NCAA tourney, the 15th-seeded Bisons (23-10) shot well at the start and held an early six-point edge. They led 33-31 with fewer than 4 minutes left in the first half before North Carolina went on a 12-1 run to lead 43-34 by the break.
UNC increased that margin to 18 by midway through the second half.
"It was going to take a magical performance from someone like us to beat someone like them," Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said. "We didn't get that, so we were fighting uphill all afternoon, it felt like. I thought our guys really competed."
Lipscomb: The Bisons beat Florida Gulf Coast in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. Alexander - roaming the sideline as a head coach in the tournament for the first time - said he wanted his players to savor the experience even as they faced a daunting challenge. They hit from outside early to stay in it, but missed their last nine 3s before halftime as UNC took control.
UNC: The Tar Heels were taking their first step toward becoming only the third repeat champion since UCLA's record run of seven straight ended in 1973. It certainly helps that they had again earned themselves a friendly opening site; UNC improved to 34-1 in NCAA games played in its home state with the last loss coming in 1979.
"We have good players who have really played well, the fans do help us," coach Roy Williams said. "And I'm willing to see if we can pass a law that says we play all NCAA games here. I'd be willing to go for that."
UNC senior Theo Pinson flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes. He also had a block and a steal.
Bisons top scorer Garrison Matthews (22.1 points) struggled to just eight points on 3-for-14 shooting. Sophomore Kenny Cooper scored 14 points to lead Lipscomb, including a 3-for-4 showing from behind the arc after making 11 of 55 (20 percent) on the season.
The Tar Heels play Sunday against Texas A&M, which beat 10-seed Providence earlier Friday.

Cumberland leads Cincinnati over pesky Georgia State 68-53

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin likes using boxing references to describe his team's hard-nosed style.
The Bearcats waited until the final few rounds to deliver a knockout punch Friday.
Jarron Cumberland set career highs with 27 points and 11 rebounds as Cincinnati recovered after blowing a 10-point lead in the second half to beat pesky Georgia State 68-53 in the NCAA Tournament.
"The key to our defense has been it's almost like a 15-round fight," Cronin said. "We feel the other team out. We make adjustments, and the kids do a great job with it. They step up their defensive intensity."
Cincinnati, the No. 2 seed in the South Region, won its eighth game in a row and advanced to a Sunday matchup against seventh-seeded Nevada (28-7). Nevada beat Texas 87-83 in overtime.
After trailing 42-32 early in the second half, 15th-seeded Georgia State (24-11) rallied to take a pair of one-point leads, its last one coming on a driving bank shot from D'Marcus Simonds with 9:30 remaining.
Cincinnati (31-4) answered by reeling off 10 straight points as part of a 17-2 run.
"We just played Cincinnati basketball," said Cumberland, who had his first career double-double. "We're known for defense, and we just focused on our game plan."
Gary Clark, the American Athletic Conference player of the year, put Cincinnati back in front by sinking a 3-pointer with 9:02 left. Kyle Washington added two straights baskets before Jacob Evans III provided the exclamation point by sinking a baseline 3-pointer that gave the Bearcats a 56-47 edge with 6:19 remaining.
Cincinnati's lead didn't drop below seven the rest of the way.
"You could really just feel the experience they had, honestly," Simonds said. "You could tell they had been in the NCAA Tournament before. They were awesome specimens, honestly. They were strong. They were athletic."
Simonds, the Sun Belt Conference player of the year, scored 24 points. He had Georgia State's first 16 points - all in the first seven minutes - to help Georgia State lead for most of the first half.
"Simonds can play for anybody," Cronin said. "They should have been about a 13 seed in all reality. When you get a draw and have got a guy like Simonds on the other team, he could be the MVP of our league. .. We talked about last night we have to wear him down, (that) hopefully he has to do too much, so he gets tired."
Washington scored 13 points for Cincinnati, while Clark had 11 points and 13 rebounds Simonds, the Sun Belt Conference player of the year scored 24 for Georgia State.
Georgia State was trying to repeat its 2015 NCAA run, when it produced a first-round upset of Baylor as a No. 14 seed. This time, Georgia State simply didn't have quite enough at the end.
Georgia State: The Panthers have a negative rebound margin this season, and their inability to compete on the glass proved costly Friday. Cincinnati outrebounded Georgia State 46-26 and had a 24-7 edge in second-chance points.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats passed a big test by overcoming some adversity Friday. Now they'll continue trying to end their recent March frustration. Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin has built a perennial NCAA Tournament team, but the Bearcats haven't reached the regional semifinals since 2012.
During Georgia State's last NCAA Tournament appearance, Panthers coach Ron Hunter worked from a stool after tearing his Achilles while celebrating his team's Sun Belt Conference title. When his son made the game-winning shot against Baylor, Hunter fell off his stool and became one of the feel-good stories of that tournament's opening weekend.
The Panthers brought the stool from that 2014 tournament to Nashville as a good-luck charm, though a healthy Hunter was standing throughout this game.
"They man-ate us on the glass," Hunter said. "That's about the best I can say. Maneater, they man-ate us on the glass, buddy. We knew that was going to be a problem. That's what they do."
Cincinnati plays No. 7 seed Nevada in a second-round game Sunday.
Georgia State gets ready for the 2018-19 season. The only senior starter departing from this season's team is forward Jordan Session.