Devonte Graham kept driving to the rim, using his deft crossover and blinding first step to get past Penn’s defenders, only to watch every shot he put up bounce out.
He turned to teammate Malik Newman and said, “Man, I’m just not finishing.”
Newman’s reply: “Keep being aggressive.”
Graham evidently listened.
The Big 12 player of the year finally started to get his shots to go, igniting sluggish Kansas midway through the first half and finishing with 29 points, lifting the top-seeded Jayhawks to a tough, grind-it-out 76-60 victory over the Quakers in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Lagerald Vick added 14 points for the Jayhawks (28-7), who trailed the Ivy League champs by 10 in the early stages Thursday before going on a 19-2 run late in the half to take control.
Graham, perhaps atoning for a dismal performance in last year’s tournament loss to Oregon, also had six rebounds and six assists as the Jayhawks cruised into a second-round matchup with eighth-seeded Seton Hall or No. 9 seed North Carolina State in the loaded Midwest Region.
Duke 89, Iona 67: Marvin Bagley III dominated in his NCAA Tournament debut, pouring in 22 points to go with seven rebounds as Duke rolled by Iona.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year made 10 of 14 shots in 32 minutes, grabbed seven rebounds and knocked down his lone 3-point attempt as the second-seeded Blue Devils overwhelmed the 15th-seeded Gaels.
Grayson Allen scored 16 points and added a game-high nine assists for Duke (27-7), Trevon Duval finished with 19 points and eight assists and Gary Trent Jr. had 16 points and six rebounds as the deeper, more talented Blue Devils withstood an early push from Iona (20-14) to win going away.
Duke will play seventh-seeded Rhode Island (26-7) on Saturday. The Rams outlasted Oklahoma 83-78 in overtime earlier Thursday.
Roland Griffin led the Gaels with 21 points off the bench.
TK Edogi chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds and Zach Lewis and Schadrac Casimir had 10 points each, but the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament champions simply couldn’t keep up to fall to 1-13 all-time in the NCAAs.
More Midwest:Romulus’ Matthews lifts Rhode Island over Oklahoma
Seton Hall 94, N.C. State 83: Khadeen Carrington scored 26 points, Desi Rodriguez added 20 and eighth-seeded Seton Hall beat North Carolina State 94-83 in a foul-filled first-round matchup.
Myles Powell added 19 points and Angel Delgado scored 13 for the Pirates (22-11), who led the entire way a year after a late meltdown cost them an early exit against Arkansas.
Seton Hall will play top-seeded Kansas on Saturday in the second round of the Midwest Regional.
Allerik Freeman hit six 3-pointers and had 36 points to lead the No. 9 seed Wolfpack (21-12), who returned to the tournament under first-year coach Kevin Keatts for the first time in three years. Torin Dorn added 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Lennard Freeman contributed 13 points.
Tennessee 73, Wright State 47: Rick Barnes is now winning NCAA Tournament games with “Rocky Top” in Texas.
With the Tennessee coach back in familiar territory, Admiral Schofield had 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Volunteers opened their first NCAA under Barnes with a win over Wright State.
“The biggest thing is we came out and did what we said we were going to do, try to run them out of their offense, and against a great team,” Schofield said.
The Volunteers (26-8) never had much trouble with the Horizon League tournament champ making its first NCAA appearance since 2007, even after missing their first six shots in the game.
The Vols led 3-2 when Schofield made a 3-pointer with 16:42 left , and Wright State (25-10) went back ahead on the next possession before Jordan Bowden’s layup put the Vols up for good.
“I was really impressed with our team,” Barnes said. “Because we looked at this team, and they play hard. They do a lot of good things. … Overall we’ve got a group of guys that have embraced that talent of working hard, and they’ve – we’ve tried to create our own standard, our own identity in terms of how hard we think we can play on defense and on offense when we stay together and execute.”
Kentucky 78, Davidson 73: Kentucky didn’t make a 3-point for the first time in a game since 1988, but still did enough to top Davidson.
Fifth-seeded Kentucky (25-10) went 0 for 6 from behind arc after hitting a 3 in a nation-best streak of 1,047 games.
Kevin Knox scored 25 for Kentucky, which next plays Buffalo.
Davidson (21-12) made 11 3-pointers, led by six from Jon Axel Gudmundsson, who finished with 21 points.
More South:Loyola-Chicago advances on buzzer-beater
Gonzaga 68, UNC Greensboro 64: Zach Norvell Jr. hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 20.8 seconds left to help Gonzaga escape a major scare in the West Region with a victory over UNC Greensboro.
The fourth-seeded Bulldogs (31-4) trailed 64-62 with 1:48 left after squandering a 12-point lead they took early in the second half.
Josh Perkins tied the game at 64, and after Greensboro’s Francis Alonso forced up a miss, Gonzaga got the rebound and worked the ball to Norvell, a redshirt freshman, who spotted up from the right elbow and made the 3 for the lead.
Ohio State 81, San Diego State 73: Kam Williams made a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:36 left, then added a trio of free throws after being fouled on another 3-point attempt, lifting Ohio State over South Dakota State in the West Region.
Fifth-seeded Ohio State (25-8) built a 13-point lead by reeling off 16 straight points midway through the second half of a game that featured 71 combined 3-pointers.
South Dakota State made a late run at the Buckeyes, scoring 10 straight points to tie it at 70-all.
Houston 67, San Diego State 65: Rob Gray scored 39 points, including a wind-milling layup that just trickled over the rim with 1.1 seconds left that lifted sixth-seeded Houston, which will face Michigan in he second round.
Trey Kell’s off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer was no good for 11th-seeded San Diego State (22-11).
Houston (27-7) posted its first tournament win since 1984.
Villanova 87, Radford 61: Jalen Brunson scored 16 points and No. 1 seed Villanova hit 14 3-pointers in a romp over Radford.
The Highlanders (23-13) posed no threat at becoming the first 16 seed to ever knock off a No. 1 in the tournament.
Villanova (31-4) played to near-perfection for the first 30 minutes and everyone played a role. Mikal Bridges had 13 points, Eric Paschall scored 11 and Omari Spellman had 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Wildcats play on Saturday against Alabama.
Alabama 86, Virgina Tech 83: Collin Sexton scored 21 of his team-high 24 points after halftime to lead Alabama over Virginia Tech for the Crimson Tide’s first NCAA Tournament win in a dozen years.
John Petty kept ninth-seeded Alabama (20-15) in it while Sexton struggled during a sluggish opening half and finished with 20 points while shooting 6 of 8 on 3-pointers. Sexton found a rhythm in the second half, including a handful of big shots over the final five minutes to give the Crimson Tide a bit of breathing room in a game that featured 10 lead changes, with no team ever being up by more than seven points.
Justin Robinson scored 19 points to lead the eighth-seeded Hokies (21-12).
Florida 77, St. Bonaventure 62: Egor Koulechov scored 20 points and Florida eased past St. Bonaventure, ending the Bonnies’ postseason run two days after their first NCAA Tournament victory in 48 years.
Jalen Hudson scored 16 points and Chris Chiozza had 11 assists for the sixth-seeded Gators (21-12), who have reached the Elite Eight the past five times they’ve been in the tournament.
A whirlwind week finally caught up with the Bonnies (26-8), who finished at 35 percent shooting but were in the 20s when the outcome was in doubt.
Courtney Stockard led St. Bonaventure with 14 points after scoring 26 in a win over UCLA in a First Four game in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday.
Texas Tech 70, Stephen F. Austin 60: Keenan Evans scored 19 of his 23 points after halftime and third-seeded Texas Tech ended the game on a 13-2 run.
Evans’ layup with 3:58 left put the Big 12 runner-up Red Raiders (25-9) ahead to stay. Texas Tech will next play the winner of the Florida-St. Bonaventure game.
SFA (28-7), the Southland Conference tournament champion, led by eight early in the second half.