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New year, new upset for VCU

VCU’s Darius Theus makes a shot in the final seconds of the game against Garrett Stutz of Wichita State. The 12th-seeded Rams are used to pulling off upsets, having reached the Final Four last season.

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VCU’s Darius Theus makes a shot in the final seconds of the game against Garrett Stutz of Wichita State. The 12th-seeded Rams are used to pulling off upsets, having reached the Final Four last season.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Bradford Burgess hit a 3-pointer with 1:33 left and Shaka Smart coached VCU to another tournament surprise, holding off Wichita State 62-59 Thursday night.

The 12th-seeded Rams (29-6) led by 13 in the second half. The Shockers closed to 54-53 on Garrett Stutz's layup with 5:39 left. Troy Daniels hit a 3-pointer for the Rams, and Joe Ragland answered with a 3 for Wichita State.

Toure Murry made a 3 that gave Wichita State the lead, but Burgess came back with his big shot to give the Rams a 60-59 edge. Darius Theus' runner from about 6 feet provided the final margin. Stutz missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer for fifth-seeded Wichita State (26-6).

Burgess scored 16 for the Rams, who last year beat Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas in becoming the third No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four.

"This team has shown that in its own right, it's a terrific team," Smart said. "People are going to want to compare. In a lot of ways, we've done better than what last year's team did."

Defending champion ousted

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Chris Allen led four players in double figures with 20 points as eighth-seeded Iowa State beat ninth-seeded Connecticut 77-64.

It's only the second time the Huskies have lost their opening tournament game.

"I'm surprised as anybody, clearly," coach Jim Calhoun said. "I imagine our players are, too."

Iowa State (23-10) led by as many as 22 in the first half. Ryan Boatright made three consecutive baskets to pull Connecticut (20-14) within 58-52 with 8:24 to play. But the Huskies got no closer, going scoreless for about 51/2 minutes.

As the game wound down, the Cyclones' Royce White, who had 15 points and 13 rebounds, pointed at Iowa State's radio crew and said, "I told you, didn't I?"

Kentucky 81, W. Kentucky 66: Terrence Jones had 22 points and 10 rebounds and fellow sophomore Doron Lamb scored 16 as the top-seeded Wildcats (33-2) routed the 16th-seeded Hilltoppers (16-19) in Louisville, Ky.

"For this to be the first NCAA game for us, freshmen are usually — well I know I was last year — just a little nervous about all the pressure put on us. And it wasn't even as much pressure last year as it is this year," Jones said. "I just wanted to tell everybody to have fun and run. We just got going from there."

Baylor 68, South Dakota St. 60: The third-seeded Bears (28-7) rallied against the 14th-seeded Jackrabbits (27-8) in Albuquerque, N.M. South Dakota State took a 12-point lead early then fought back from a double-digit deficit in the closing minutes.

"In the beginning of the game, we showed our jitters a little bit," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "Then after that, I was very pleased with how we calmed down and got back to playing basketball."

Indiana 79, New Mexico St. 66: The fourth-seeded Hoosiers, who missed the tournament the past four seasons, earned their first win since 2007 in Portland, Ore. Jordan Hulls made 8 of 12 shots to score 22 for Indiana (26-8). He scored 11 straight during one stretch, including three 3-pointers. The last gave Indiana a 62-41 lead with 11:14 left, and the 13th-seeded Aggies (26-10) didn't get closer than 12 from there.

Champs to out

Defending champions who failed to win their opening games the following season since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985:

Team Year Result
UConn 2012 Lost 77-64 to Iowa St.
Florida 2009 Did not make tourney
UCLA 1996 Lost 43-41 to Princeton
Kansas 1989 Banned from tourney
Indiana 1988 Lost 72-69 to Richmond
Louisville 1987 Did not make tourney
Villanova 1986 Did not make tourney

New year, new upset for VCU 03/15/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 16, 2012 6:45am]
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