Sunday's NCAA Tournament: Villanova faces Michigan in Sweet 16 after win over Ohio State

Associated Press

Pittsburgh — Collin Gillespie scored 20 points, Eric Dixon hit a big 3-pointer late and second-seeded Villanova fended off seventh-seeded Ohio State 71-61 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

The Wildcats (28-7) earned their eighth trip to the Sweet 16 under Jay Wright after surviving a second-half push from the Buckeyes (20-12), who trimmed a 15-point deficit to two before Villanova regained its footing.

Villanova's Collin Gillespie (2) tries to get the ball past Ohio State's Jamari Wheeler (55).

The Wildcats will continue their quest for a third national title in seven seasons when they face 11th-seeded Michigan (19-14) in the South Region semifinals on Thursday night in San Antonio.

Malachi Branham scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half. E.J. Liddell added 17 in likely his final game with the Buckeyes before heading to the NBA.

Villanova led wire-to-wire but there were some tense moments down the stretch. A 3-pointer by Ohio State's Jamari Wheeler drew the Buckeyes within 60-58 with 5:39 to play. The Buckeyes got no closer.

Samuels hit a layup and Gillespie knocked down a pull-up jumper while Ohio State went cold.

When the Buckeyes tried to trap Gillespie in the post late, he found Dixon open at the 3-point line and the sophomore knocked down the shot to make it 67-59 with 1:38 left to end any chance the Buckeyes had of reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013.

Ohio State missed six of its last seven shots after Wheeler's 3 brought a portion of the scarlet-clad crowd that made the three-hour drive from Columbus to its feet.

The second weekend of the tournament has become a familiar destination for the Wildcats since Wright took over in 2004. After a so-so — by the program's high standards — regular season, Villanova looks dangerous once again.

A week after rolling to the Big East Tournament title, the Wildcats won their first two tournament games in Pittsburgh by double digits, just as they did in 2018 on their way to a national title.

The Buckeyes overwhelmed Loyola Chicago in the first round, smothering the Ramblers for 40 minutes while holding the NCAA Tournament darlings to just 41 points.

If Gillespie and Caleb Daniels weren't doing whatever they wanted off the dribble Sunday, Dixon was getting easy looks in the lane. The defensive swagger Ohio State had on Friday vanished against the more polished and poised Wildcats.

Gillespie scored 10 consecutive points on a pair of free throws, two 3-pointers and a steal and layup as Villanova needed less than eight minutes to build a double-digit lead on its way to a 39-28 halftime lead.

A layup by Jermaine Samuels made it 46-31 early in the second half before Branham and Liddell almost single-handedly brought the Buckeyes back.

Ohio State forward Kyle Young left with 8:55 to play after getting hit in the head. He did not return. He had missed the Big Ten Tournament while being in the concussion protocol.

More South Region

Houston 68, Illinois 53: Taze Moore scored 21 points, Jamal Shead added 18 and Houston, a Final Four team last season, advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament with a 68-53 win Sunday over Illinois, ousted in the opening weekend for the second straight year.

The fifth-seeded Cougars (31-5), who lost their two best players to season-ending injuries, are headed home to Texas for the South Region semifinals, which will be in San Antonio, about a three-hour drive from Houston. They will face Arizona or TCU.

Houston's Kyler Edwards (11) celebrates with teammate Fabian White Jr., center as Illinois' Trent Frazier (1) leaves the court after the game in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Houston won 68- 53 to advance to the Sweet 16.

Kyler Edwards added 15 points for Houston.

For Illinois, it’s another year of deep disappointment. The fourth-seeded Fighting Illini (23-10) were determined to go farther after being bumped by Loyola Chicago last year. All-American center Kofi Cockburn did his part, scoring 19 points in 38 minutes.

Midwest Region

Iowa State 54, Wisconsin 49: Gabe Kalscheur scored 22 points and 11th-seeded Iowa State surprised Wisconsin in the Badgers’ backyard to advance to the Sweet 16.

Izaiah Brockington added 10 points as the gritty Cyclones used their tough defense to hold off Johnny Davis and company in front of a raucous pro-Wisconsin crowd about 80 miles away from the school’s Madison campus.

After winning just two games last season, Iowa State (22-12) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2016 and the sixth time in school history. It will play the Miami-Auburn winner on Friday in Chicago.

Kalscheur went 10 for 19 from the field. The rest of the Cyclones combined for 10 field goals.

Davis, the Big Ten Player of the Year, led third-seeded Wisconsin (25-8) with 17 points, but the Badgers shot a season-low 29.8% from the field and turned it over a season-high 17 times.

Miami 79, Auburn 61: Isaiah Wong scored 21 points, Kameron McGusty had 20 and No. 10 seed Miami neutralized second-seeded Auburn’s Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler to reach its first Sweet 16 in six years.

Charlie Moore added 15 points and eight assists as Miami (25-10) advanced to the round of 16 for the fourth time overall and third time in coach Jim Larranaga’s 10 seasons. And the Hurricanes did it against Auburn’s frontcourt of future NBA big men.

The 6-foot-10 Smith and 7-1 Kessler are projected NBA first-round draft picks should they leave the Tigers (28-6), yet they were largely ineffective against Miami’s experienced lineup. Smith scored 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting and had 15 rebounds. Kessler didn't make a field goal and had two points.

Jaylin Williams and K.D. Johnson scored 12 points apiece for Auburn, which lost in the second round for the second time in three tournament appearances under coach Bruce Pearl.

West Region

Texas Tech 59, Notre Dame 53: Kevin McCullar made an emphatic dunk with 15 seconds left to cap a 10-1 closing run for No. 3 seed Texas Tech, which beat Notre Dame to advance to the Sweet 16.

Kevin Obanor had 15 points and 15 rebounds, and McCullar and Bryson Williams each scored 14 for Texas Tech (27-9), which made its third round of 16 in the past four tournaments and fifth in school history.

Dane Goodwin scored 14 points for 11th-seeded Notre Dame (24-11), which led 52-49 with just over two minutes left. But the Fighting Irish didn’t make a field goal in the last three minutes and Texas Tech made eight straight free throws in the last 1:56, including two by Obanor that put the Red Raiders ahead 53-52 with 1:10 left.