March Madness Round of 32 analysis: Creighton wins double-OT thriller over Oregon

Day 3 of the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was filled with drama from start to finish. 

College basketball fans were treated to eight games on Saturday, which concluded with No. 3-seeded Creighton’s thrilling 86-73 win over No. 11-seeded Oregon in double-overtime.

FOX Sports’ college basketball experts, John Fanta and Michael Cohen, are here to provide instant analysis of Saturday’s games.

Catch up on all the action from Day 3 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament here:

(3) Creighton 86, (11) Oregon 73

The finale of second-round Saturday in the NCAA Tournament brought America the best game of the weekend thus far. 

Greg McDermott and Dana Altman were shaking their heads at each other and laughing. Oregon star Jermaine Couisnard buried a cold-blooded, game-tying triple with 16 seconds left and Creighton’s Trey Alexander missed a baseline jumper, sending the Ducks and Jays into double-overtime. 

Oregon, a bid stealer that won four games in as many days to reach the Big Dance, had found a way to take a 3-seed Creighton team that many believe is a Final Four dark horse to another five minutes with a Sweet 16 ticket hanging in the balance. But in that second overtime period, Steven Ashworth drilled his fifth triple. After a stop by the Jays, 7-foot-1 senior Ryan Kalkbrenner made the decision to do something he doesn’t convert on very often – but this is March, isn’t it? Kalkbrenner hoisted a triple and drilled it, leading Creighton to an 86-73 victory and a spot in the Sweet 16.

“It was a great win and that’s what this team is about, to have every man step up in a different situation,” Alexander said following the game. “We were ready for the second OT because we practice all of these situations.”

This game featured a ton of things that can only be described as the madness delivering the goods. First and foremost, all of Oregon’s points in the second half were scored by Couisnard and 6-foot-11 senior N’Faly Dante, who combined for 28 in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 60 of the team’s 73 in the game. 

Then, there was the fact that Oregon led 58-52 with 5:20 on the clock. Ashworth canned a triple, then three straight free throws made it six unanswered from Creighton to pull even. But even then, Dante was commanding the game in the pick-and-roll, throwing down two dunks to make it 62-58 in favor of the Ducks with just 75 ticks left in regulation. After Baylor Scheierman missed a jumper with 59 seconds left, it looked all but over for Creighton. 

However, the Bluejays got a stop, and then Scheierman was fouled and hit a pair of free throws to make it 62-60. That is when the game’s biggest moment occurred. With a timeout in their back pocket, the Ducks did not take it, instead having a freshman take the ball out and throw it in to Dante, a 60% free throw shooter. He missed the front end of the 1-on-1, giving Scheierman the opportunity to keep the season alive. A floater in the lane off one foot swished home, Couisnard missed a runner and the game was sent to OT. 

The Couisnard triple to force double-OT kept the Ducks alive, but they simply ran out of gas with Jackson Shelstad exiting late in regulation with an injury and McDermott making a really key defensive adjustment after regulation. He blitzed the ball screens to double Couisnard, who set a Pac-12 record for points in a player’s first two NCAA Tournament games with 72. By doing that, McDermott frazzled Oregon’s offense en route to his 325th win at Creighton, two shy of Altman (1994-2010 at Creighton) for the program’s all-time record.

“That was an epic game,” McDermott said. “I’m not sure I’ve been a part of one quite like it in 35 years of coaching.”

For McDermott, who lost his mom Mary at the age of 89 in June, seeing his season going from the jaws of defeat to staying alive for 40 extra minutes is emotional. 

“I’m pretty sure she helped with a couple of bounces of the ball tonight,” McDermott said. “This team has been such a joy to coach, and it’s a thrill to keep going.” 

Creighton will do just that on Friday in Detroit against Tennessee in the Midwest Regional semifinal.

– John Fanta

(3) Illinois 89, (11) Duquesne 63

Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 30 points, Marcus Domask added 22 and No. 3 seed Illinois made fast work of 11th-seeded Duquesne in an 89-63 victory Saturday night to reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005.

Illinois (28-8) hadn’t made it through the first weekend of the tournament in eight previous appearances, a maddening run of frustration the Illini ended in resounding fashion.

The Illini will play No. 2 seed Iowa State in an East Region semifinal in Boston on Thursday night. The Cyclones advanced with a 67-56 victory over seventh-seeded Washington State.

Duquesne (25-12), which came in on a nine-game win streak, had its first tournament appearance since 1977 end with its worst loss of the season that sent 65-year-old coach Keith Dambrot into retirement.

Jimmy Clark III scored 14 points and Fousseyni Drame had 13 for Duquesne.

– The Associated Press

(2) Tennessee 62, (7) Texas 58

Dalton Knecht scored 18 points and made four free throws in the final 8.8 seconds as Tennessee topped Texas 62-58 on Saturday to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

Second-seeded Tennessee will play the winner of the game between No. 11 Oregon and No. 3 Creighton.

Jonas Aidoo had 11 points and Tobe Awaka added 10 for the Volunteers (26-8), helping coach Rick Barnes beat the team he coached for 17 seasons. The Vols have reached the Sweet 16 three times in nine seasons under Barnes, but have yet to advance out of that round in that stretch.

Tyrese Hunter and Chendall Weaver each had 13 points for seventh-seeded Texas (21-13).

The Vols shot just 29% from the field in the first half, but managed to take a 38-29 lead into the locker room.

Knecht struggled early on, missing his first four shots, including an air ball on a fadeaway jumper. The AP All-American converted his first field goal with 90 seconds remaining in the first half, putting Tennessee up by 11.

Knecht began to flex his muscles with a pair of second-half dunks, one of which came after he grabbed a missed transition 3 in the air and jammed it home with two hands.

But the Longhorns cut the lead to 45-42 with seven minutes left after Max Abmas buried a 3, forcing Barnes to call a timeout.

Disu then came up with the defensive play of the game, blocking Aidoo on a drive to give Texas a chance to tie it up. But Disu missed a layup and Hunter couldn’t convert on a putback, and the Longhorns could never get the big shot they needed.

After Knecht hit two free throws with 8.8 seconds left, Hunter splashed a 3 from 28 feet to cut the lead to 60-58. But Texas sent Knecht back to the line with 3 seconds left and he knocked down two more free throws.

– The Associated Press

(11) NC State 79, (14) Oakland 73

DJ Burns Jr. scored 24 points, including a go-ahead putback that ignited a 9-0 run in overtime, and 11th-seeded North Carolina State beat 14th-seeded Oakland 79-73 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night.

Powered by their versatile 6-foot-9, 275-pound forward, the Wolfpack (24-14) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2015 by finally pulling away from 3-point specialist Jack Gohlke and the Golden Grizzlies (24-12) in the extra period.

N.C. State will face either second-seeded Marquette or 10th-seeded Colorado in Dallas on Friday in the South Region semifinals.

Michael O’Connell had 12 points for the Wolfpack. DJ Horne and Casey Morsell added 11 apiece. Jayden Taylor came off the bench in overtime to hit a 3-pointer that put N.C. State ahead by five.

Oakland, which ousted third-seeded Kentucky on Thursday, just missed becoming the first 14-seed to reach the Sweet 16 since Chattanooga in 1997.

Trey Townsend, the Horizon League Player of the Year, had 30 points and 13 rebounds for the Golden Grizzlies. Gohlke, who made 10 3-pointers against Kentucky, poured in six more 3s and finished with 22 points.

– The Associated Press

(2) Iowa State 67, Washington State 56

Tamin Lipsey scored 15 points, Iowa State cranked up the second-half pressure against Washington State, and the No. 2 seed Cyclones marched into their seventh Sweet 16 with a 67-56 victory over the seventh-seeded Cougars in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night.

Curtis Jones added 14 points and Keshon Gilbert and Milan Momcilovic had 10 apiece for the Cyclones (29-7), who made it to the second weekend of the tourney for the second time in three years. They will play third-seeded Illinois or No. 11 seed Duquesne in the East Region semifinals on Thursday night at TD Garden in Boston.

Jaylen Wells scored 20 points and Myles Rice had 13 for the Cougars (25-10), who were sent back to the Palouse still searching for their first Sweet 16 appearance since Tony Bennett was on the sideline in 2008.

Iowa State spent most of the first half in shambles thanks to what current Cougars coach Kyle Smith calls “the shawmbles,” a suffocating style of defense named for associated head coach and defensive whiz Jim Shaw. The Cougars aggressively jumped passing lanes, harried the Cyclones’ shooters on the perimeter and crashed the boards with abandon.

While Iowa State was busy missing 14 of its first 17 shots, Wells was going 7-of-12 in the first half for 16 points, proving the March Madness stage was not too big for a kid playing Division II ball at Sonoma State a year ago.

The Cyclones finally got going by going downhill. Lipsey and Gilbert attacked the rim, getting layups or drawing fouls, and slowly they crawled back into the game. By the time Hason Ward scored on an alley-oop lay-in in the closing seconds of the half, the Big 12 tourney champs had forged a 27-all tie with the regular-season Pac-12 runner-ups.

Washington State had handled Iowa State’s defense in the first half, turning the ball over just five times. But as the game pressed on, and the Cyclones pulled ahead, the Cougars suddenly began throwing the ball into the first row of seats.

Iowa State led 51-46 with 7 1/2 minutes left when Lipsey drilled a contested 3-pointer. Isaac Jones turned it over at the other end, and Tre King added another basket to make it a 10-point game. And a few minutes later, Rice sent a pass skipping into the backcourt, and a bucket by Jones pushed the Cyclones’ lead to 59-48 with 3 1/2 minutes to go.

By that point, desperation had set in for the Cougars, and Iowa State was coasting toward the Sweet 16.

The Associated Press

(1) North Carolina 85, (9) Michigan State 69

Even in his wildest dreams, it would have been difficult for Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo to envision a better start than what his ninth-seeded Spartans put together against No. 1 North Carolina with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line. The defense was tenacious. The pace was electric. The scoring was supplied by Tyson Walker, Malik Hall and even Mady Sissoko in what could only be described as an added bonus for a team that rarely gets points from its centers.

By the 12:50 mark of the first half, an overwhelmingly pro-North Carolina crowd was hushed because the Spartans were ahead by 10. It sure felt like Michigan State was poised to earn the program’s first NCAA Tournament win over the Tar Heels after falling short on five previous occasions, including in the 2009 national championship game.

Then the avalanche hit: a blistering and breathtaking 23-3 run from North Carolina that zapped the Spartans’ momentum, enlivened an expectant crowd and put enough distance between the Tar Heels and Michigan State to where head coach Hubert Davis’ team never ceded control of the game. The lead swelled to 17 in the waning moments of the second half as the Tar Heels, who missed the NCAA Tournament a season ago, polished off a 85-69 win by showcasing their efficiency on both ends of the floor. They shot 46.7% from the field, including 10-for-26 from beyond the arc, and limited the Spartans to just six 3-pointers.

Four players reached double-figure scoring for North Carolina, which finished plus-12 from beyond the arc and plus-8 from the free-throw line. Center Armando Bacot anchored the interior with 18 points and seven rebounds, while the perimeter pairing of RJ Davis and Harrison Ingram combined for 37 points on 13-for-26 shooting.

The Tar Heels will face the winner of No. 4 Alabama and No. 12 Grand Canyon in Los Angeles next week.

– Michael Cohen

(5) Gonzaga 89, (4) Kansas 68

Gonzaga played a near-perfect second half, busting open a back-and-forth game with a 15-0 run Saturday to pull away from Kansas for an 89-68 win and extend its nation-best streak of trips to the Sweet 16 to nine.

Anton Watson shot 8-for-11 for 21 points on an afternoon when basically everyone in a navy jersey was a star, especially after halftime.

The fifth-seeded Zags (27-7) made their first five 3-pointers of the second half, not missing from long range until 1:30 remained and the game had long entered extended garbage time.

Mark Few’s team will make its regular trip to the second weekend to play the winner of Sunday’s game between Purdue and Utah State.

Nolan Hickman finished with 17 points for the Zags, and big man Graham Ike had 15 points and nine rebounds, going toe to toe with KU’s Hunter Dickinson, who finished with a quiet 15 points. Making all the Bulldogs look good was Ryan Nembhard, who blew off a rough shooting night (1 for 6) and finished with 12 assists.

While Gonzaga was cruising, parts of this looked painfully familiar to fans of the fourth-seeded Jayhawks (23-11), who have struggled with depth, shooting, consistency and injuries — leading scorer Kevin McCullar Jr. (knee) was out for the tournament. During Gonzaga’s 15-0 run, the Jayhawks missed 10 straight shots and never got within single digits again.

– The Associated Press

(2) Arizona 78, (7) Dayton 68

With 11:42 left on the clock in Salt Lake City, Dayton had cut Arizona’s lead to 52-49. In a second half where Caleb Love and Kylan Boswell only combined for one field goal, would the Wildcats be able to find that gear to win this game? 

They did just that, proceeding to go on a 14-2 run to put away the seventh-seeded Flyers, 78-68, and advance to their second Sweet 16 appearance in three years. 

Love knocked down his only basket of the second half on the surge, with San Diego State transfer Keshad Johnson continuing to show the invaluable presence and experience he brings. Senior Pelle Larsson buried a triple during the run as well, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the victory.  But it was a reserve who rose to the occasion for Arizona, helping with Wildcats make just their second trip to the second weekend of March Madness since 2017.

After going 0-for-3 in the opening 20 minutes, Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley drilled a triple to extend the lead to 15 and virtually put the game out of Dayton’s reach. Bradley’s floor game made up for Boswell being quiet, as the sophomore delivered 12 points, four rebounds, three steals, three blocks and two assists in the win. 

This was the type of game that the Wildcats might have lost previously in the Tommy Lloyd era, but the way they loaded up their roster with guard depth was the difference, as KJ Lewis added seven points as well. In total, the Cats outscored UD 23-2 in bench points.

Lloyd’s team is heading to Los Angeles for the Sweet 16, where they will meet either Baylor or Clemson for a trip to the Elite Eight. I like ‘Zona to make the Elite Eight. The $1 million dollar question: Will North Carolina beat Michigan State and set up a matchup of Caleb Love vs. his old team? We’ll find out later today when the Tar Heels meet the upset-minded Spartans.

– John Fanta

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John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

Michael Cohen covers college football and basketball for FOX Sports with an emphasis on the Big Ten. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Cohen13.

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