No. 11 Dayton defeats No. 10 Stanford, 82-72
Despite being the lowest seed remaining and undersized against Stanford, the Dayton Flyers controlled the game from nearly start to finish, building a lead and withstanding every run Stanford threw at them. Leading scorer Jordan Sibert once again led the way with 18 points, but he wasn't alone in the attack. Archie Miller subbed liberally and 11 players scored for the Flyers.
Dayton took a 10-point lead into halftime, but Stanford didn't roll over. The Cardinal pumped the ball inside to open the second half, dominating the paint and cutting the lead to four. It appeared the Cardinal's size advantage was about to take over the game. Dayton, however, rallied right back with a response of its own, just as it did all game. An 8-0 run put the Flyers up 12 and Stanford was unable to mount a legitimate threat the rest of the way.
The Flyers upset Ohio State in the second round and Syracuse in the round of 32 thanks largely to their defense. On Thursday, it was the offense leading the way. In addition to Sibert, freshman Kendall Pollard chipped in a career-high 12 points off the bench. The Flyers advance to the Elite 8 where they will face No. 1 Florida.
No. 2 Wisconsin defeats No. 6 Baylor, 69-52
After charging into the Sweet 16 with a pair of impressive victories, Baylor appeared to be playing as well as anyone left in the tournament. Their zone defense was stifling teams while hot shooting from the outside paced a potent offensive attack. Then the Bears ran into Wisconsin.
Bo Ryan's Badgers sliced and diced the the Baylor zone defense. They also slowed the tempo and locked down Baylor's outside shooting, leading to an easy 69-52 Badger win. Wisconsin's superiority was evident early. The Badgers built a 10-point lead 10 minutes into the game and never looked back. Frank Kaminsky dominated in the paint while Ben Brust provided some timely outside shooting. The combination helped Wisconsin jump out to a 25-11 lead. The Badgers limited Baylor to 16 points in the first half, leading 29-16 at halftime.
The second half was more of the same as Wisconsin extended the lead to 21 points. The Bears found more offensive success in the second half, but never posed a serious threat. The Bears made just 2-of-15 three-point attempts and shot 31.6 percent overall. Kaminsky finished with 19 points and six blocks while Brust scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
No. 1 Florida defeats No. 4 UCLA, 79-68
Florida and UCLA have now met in the NCAA Tournament four times since 2006 and with their win on Thursday, the Gators won all four games. UCLA matched the Gators shot-for-shot for large portions of the contest, but Florida was able to make a late run to seal the victory.
With Patric Young scoring just four points, the backcourt led the way for the Gators. Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II combined to score 32 points. Frazier got things going in the first half with three early three-pointers. Wilbekin came up with a pair of huge shots late in the game, connecting on seemingly impossible layups. The second of those two layups came as Florida was attempting to hold off UCLA's final rally.
Kyle Anderson finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Bruins. UCLA was much better with him on the floor, but struggled when he sat. Anderson landed on the bench with early foul trouble and Florida extended its lead. When Anderson went to the bench midway through the second half, the Gators went on another run which ultimately proved to be enough. The Gators have now won 29 straight games.
No. 1 Arizona defeats No. 4 San Diego State, 70-64
Nick Johnson couldn't buy a bucket for nearly the entire game, but the Pac-12 Player of the Year hit the biggest shot of the contest for Arizona. Johnson missed his first 10 shots and didn't score his first points until there was 2:46 to play. That layup, gave The Wildcats a 56-51 lead. Johnson made his second basket less than a minute later, drilling a deep three-pointer to put Arizona up 59-53.
The Aztecs didn't quit attacking, but again Johnson came through when needed. He was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line during the final 1:30 of the game. Despite not scoring for more than the first 37 minutes, Johnson scored 15 points in the final 2:46. While he was struggling, freshman Aaron Gordon helped pick up the slack. Gordon finished with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting. That also included one of his signature highlight dunks.
San Diego State played up to the task against the No. 1 seed, looking like the better team early on. The Aztecs led by four at halftime and remained in the lead until Arizona took a 50-49 lead with 7:21 to play. Johnson's late-game heroics proved to be the difference, but not despite San Diego State's best efforts. The Wildcats didn't put the game away until Xavier Thames missed a three-pointer with less than 10 seconds to play and Dwayne Polee II missed the follow. Arizona grabbed the rebound with two seconds to play to secure the win. Thames finished with 25 points to lead all scorers.