DETROIT – With what happened in the first sixteen games on Thursday with Loyola Chicago taking down Miami (Florida) at the buzzer and then Buffalo from the Mid-American totally dominating Arizona, the focus of the tournament shifted to the second set of game and especially in Little Caesars Arena before a sellout crowd of 20,163
Here is a look at the first session of games on Friday
PURDUE 74 – CAL STATE FULLERTON 48
The first game of the day session was a first rounder in the Midwest Region as the number two seeded Boilermakers took control of the game midway through the first half then cruised in the second half to defeat the fifteenth seeded Titans 74-48 to advance to the second round on Sunday.
We had a tough time settling into the game.” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “we had a good run at the start of the second half and our guys did a good job of finding each other and we got into a good rhythm offensively.”
Purdue (29-8) who finished second to Michigan State in the regular season Big Ten standings were led by Carsten Edwards and Vincent Edwards each with 15 points with V. Edwards having seven rebounds and P.J. Thompson had 11.
The loss ended a surprising run for Cal State Fullerton (20-12) they finished fourth in the Big West regular season and then ran through the tournament defeating Long Beach State, top seeded UC-Davis, and UC-Irvine to garner their first NCAA tournament bid since 1998.
“I thought our guys came out and fought especially in the first half.” Titans head coach Dedrique Taylor said. We just hit a little bust there in the second half.
The Titans were led by Kyle Allman who led all scorers in the contest with 21 points with five rebounds and two assists. Jackson Rowe added 10 the only two scorers in double figures for Fullerton.
The Titans had their only lead of the game at 12-11 on a jumper by Khalil Ahmad at the 10:20 mark. The Boilers responded with a 9-0 run to take a nine-point lead 20-12 at the 6:09 mark on two Carsen Edwards free throws.
The Titans rebounded and on a pair of threes the first from the left arc by Ahmad and then from the same area by Allman to close to within two 20-18 at the 4:35 mark.
That would be the closest the visitors from Southern California would get for the rest of the game as Purdue finished the half with a 10-3 spurt taking a nine-point lead going into halftime.
The men from West Lafayette then took complete control of the game in the second half as they went on an 11-2 run to take a 41-23 lead just four minutes into the period again on a pair of free throws by Carsen Edwards.
From that point on, the Boilers lead never fell below double digits. They opened a 31-point lead 74:39 remaining on a layup by Grady Eifert. In the final media timeout, Taylor emptied his bench letting his entire squad the opportunity of playing in an NCAA Tournament game.
When asked about the start of the second half, Carsen Edwards said “We came down, we just focused on getting stops. It had been a while since we had played (over a week since the Boilers were eliminated in the Big Ten Tournament in New York to Michigan) We just needed to get our legs under us.”
The victory was tempered as Issac Haas who scored nine points in the game, was injured his right elbow midway through the second half. He was on the floor writhing in pain. It was announced later that he was out for Sunday’s second round game
When asked about the season as a whole Taylor said “I am extremely proud of the team’s sacrifice, what they have made and what theyr have done. These guys have made a heck of an impact on the community (in Fullerton & Orange County). I am excited for what is to come in the future.”
BUTLER 79 – ARKANSAS 62
The Bulldogs from the Big East Conference used an 18-5 spurt spanning both halves take a lead they would not relinquish in defeating the Razorbacks 79-62 in their first meeting since the 1930-31 season.
Butler (21-13) the tenth seed in the Midwest Regional rebounded from their loss to Villanova in the semi-final of the Big East Tournament in New York and gets a meeting with in-state rival Purdue in the second round on Sunday.
“We knew it was going to be a fight.” Butler head coach LaVall Jordan said. “We knew it was going to be a 40-minute game and our guys responded. It was all about response (in handling the Arkansas pressure defense) and how they pressure the ball.”
Senior Kelan Martin led all scorers in the contest with 27 points with nine rebounds and an assists. Sophomore Kamar Baldwin added 24 with nine biards, five assists, and a steal
Arkansas (23-12) seventh seed in the East Regional were led by senior Jaylen Barford, in his final game for the Razorbacks scoring 15 points and fellow senior Daryl Macon added 12. The pair had been the Hogs leading scorer throughout the season.
“We fell off behind early in the game” Arkansas head man Mike Anderson said. “We had our opportunities to close the margin a bit further (than six points). I thought they (Butler) was the better physical team.”
The Bulldogs opened strongly with an 21-2 lead at the 13:42 mark on a three from the right arc by Martin.
Arkansas weathered the storm and fashioned a run of their own taking a 29-27 lead, their first lead since the opening basket of a three from the left arc by Jones.
That would be the Hogs last lead of the game. As Butler used a 9-2 spurt to take a 36-31 lead at halftime.
The men from Indianapolis then put their stamp on the contest early in the second half as they outscored Arkansas 10-5 to take a 46-36 lead on a three from the top of the key by sophomore McDermott.
To the Razorbacks credit they stayed within striking distance however the closest they would get would be six points 53-47 on a foul line extended jumper by senior Trey Thompson.
Butler then pulled away opening as much as a seventeen point lead in the closing moments which proved to be the margin of victory.
The Bulldogs and Boilermakers did meet during the regular season in the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis a game won by the Boilers 82-67. The winner of the matchup on Sunday heads to Boston and a date in the sweet 16.