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Career game lifts Texas-S.A.

Melvin Johnson III takes a shot over Alabama State’s Dwayne Harvey during a 29-point performance that helps Texas-San Antonio win an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in any sport.

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Melvin Johnson III takes a shot over Alabama State’s Dwayne Harvey during a 29-point performance that helps Texas-San Antonio win an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in any sport.

DAYTON, Ohio — Melvin Johnson III insists he's in a deep shooting slump.

Oh, really?

The smooth guard with "SWISH" scrawled on the side of each orange shoe had a career-high 29 points Wednesday night, leading Texas-San Antonio to a 70-61 win over Alabama State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

"It seems like the last four or five games, I can't make a shot," Johnson said. "I have 'SWISH' on the side of my shoes because I used to make shots. I might have to black it out for now."

No need to edit the footwear, not after that tournament debut.

The Roadrunners (20-13) head to Cleveland as the No. 16 seed in the East for a game Friday against top-seeded Ohio State, which likely won't allow all those open shots.

"No. 31, if he's on like he was tonight, it should be a pretty good game," Alabama State's Jeff Middlebrooks said.

Against the Hornets (17-18), Johnson seemed to capitalize on every opening. The sophomore had a career high in the first half alone, when he outscored Alabama State 25-21.

Middlebrooks and Tramayne Moorer had 12 points apiece for Alabama State, which had the worst record in the expanded 68-team tournament.

"We let a guy get 25 points in the first half," Moorer said. "He outscored us!"

The Roadrunners had never won an NCAA Tournament game of any sort. Now, they have reason to raise a banner in their 4,080-seat UTSA Convocation Center.

"Our first win in an NCAA Tournament game in any sport; we're very proud to be in this moment," coach Brooks Thompson said.

Might as well let Johnson pick the spot to place the banner.

The 6-foot-5 guard scored off drives to the hoop and made fall-away jumpers from all over the court. He was 8-of-14 from the field in the first half, making one fewer field goal than all the Hornets combined.

"Johnson got good look after good look, and he also made some tough shots," Hornets coach Lewis Jackson said. "He got on a roll and it trickled down to everybody else."

Johnson also got to shoot four free throws after two technicals on the Hornets. He made them all.

VCU 59, USC 46: Jamie Skeen had 16 points and the Rams more than held their own inside against the bigger and stronger Trojans in the finale of the inaugural "First Four" games.

The 11th-seeded teams traded elbows and punishing defense all night, with Virginia Commonwealth (24-11) pulling away down the stretch to earn the chance to face sixth-seeded Georgetown on Friday in Chicago. Joey Rodriguez had eight points and five assists for VCU.

USC (19-15) had just one field goal over the final nine minutes. Though the Trojans started two 6-foot-10 wide-bodies inside, the Rams held a 40-31 edge in rebounding.

Career game lifts Texas-S.A. 03/16/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 17, 2011 1:19am]

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