Iowa State, Baylor push Big 12 into Sweet 16
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Baylor and Iowa State left Texas bound for the Sweet 16. Both are hoping to return for the Final Four.
The Big 12 powers emerged from the NCAA tournament’s first weekend displaying dominance and doggedness: No. 6 seed Baylor advanced after crushing Creighton, and third-seeded Iowa State is alive after winning without star Georges Niang in a thriller against North Carolina.
The Cyclones (28-7) head to New York City to play No. 7 seed Connecticut in the East Regional semifinals. The Bears (26-11) get No. 2 seed Wisconsin in Anaheim, Calif., in the West Regional.
”I think we’re going to stay in San Antonio instead of going to Anaheim,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
Drew was laughing – but Baylor’s potential to return to Texas in two weeks for the Final Four near Dallas is no joke. The Bears have won 12 of 14 and looked fearsome in beating Creighton 85-55 Sunday night.
Baylor is in the Sweet 16 for third time since 2010. In their previous two trips, the Bears reached the Elite Eight.
Isaiah Austin and Brady Heslip each scored 17 points and Baylor shut down Creighton’s Doug McDermott with suffocating defense, ending the career of one of college basketball’s most prolific scorers.
The Bears flexed their muscles early and often with a lineup built for the rigors of the Big 12. Austin is 7-foot-1 and he teamed with 6-10 forward Cory Jefferson in the frontcourt. When Creighton (27-8) missed a shot, the typical result was three Bears under the basket with no Bluejays around.
McDermott, who averaged 27 points this season, finished with 15 but had just three in the first half as Baylor built a 20-point lead. McDermott leaves Creighton fifth on the NCAA career scoring list with 3,150 points.
”This is the worst we’ve played all season, and it just stinks that it’s the last one,” McDermott said. ”But that doesn’t take away from all my memories here. It’s tough to go out this way.”
The Tar Heels can relate to a tough finish.
Iowa State’s DeAndre Kane drove for the game-winning layup with 1.6 seconds left for an 85-83 win, sending the Cyclones to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2000. Kane finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds in just the kind of big game the Cyclones needed without Niang, who broke his foot in Friday’s win against North Carolina Central.
”He’s been our Mariano Rivera. He’s been our closer all throughout this season,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said of Kane.
North Carolina never got a shot off an attempt to tie or win the game after Kane’s basket. With coach Roy Williams jumping and gesticulating for a timeout after Kane’s layup, the Tar Heels inbounded the ball to Nate Britt, who dribbled past midcourt as time expired.
Officials huddled for several minutes reviewing the clock on replays before confirming that the game was over. Williams – who had collapsed his hands on his knees as Britt surged toward him – then shook Hoiberg’s hand as North Carolina began absorbing the heartbreaker.
”We made some mistakes. We practice all the time that situation for five guys to be calling timeout, and I’m supposed to be calling timeout, and I was calling timeout,” Williams said. ”Referees didn’t recognize it. We practice those scenarios, so we made mistakes. ”
The No. 6 seed Tar Heels (24-10) are gone in the NCAA tournament’s opening weekend for the first time in consecutive seasons under Williams, who choked back tears following the end of his 10th year in Chapel Hill.
”Let’s not anybody lay it on the officials or anything like that. We didn’t call the timeout with 1.6 seconds to play,” Williams said.
AP Sports Writer Jim Vertuno contributed to this report.
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