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NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTEBOOK

2nd round closer

Now this is March Madness.

After a first round in which the games were decided by an average of 16.1 points and only four games with a final margin of less than nine points, the NCAA tournament lived up to its nickname with the start of the second round Saturday.

The first six second-round games were decided by an average of 4.6 points, and there was an extra 20 minutes of hoops thrown in with two games going overtime and another double overtime.

Top-seeded Ohio State beat Xavier 78-71 in overtime, while Pittsburgh needed an extra five minutes to beat Virginia Commonwealth 84-79.

Vanderbilt beat Washington State 78-74 in double overtime, the first tournament game to go that long since West Virginia beat Wake Forest 111-105 in double overtime in the second round in 2005.

There were six overtime games in last year’s tournament, including two in the regional finals.

Sweet streak

How impressive was Duke’s run of nine straight appearances in the round of 16 that was snapped this season?

Georgetown’s 62-55 victory over Boston College moved the Hoyas into the third round for the second straight season. That is now the longest current streak.

UCLA, Texas, Memphis and Florida could all match Georgetown with a second-round win.

Small rebounder

You don’t always have to look to the big men for the biggest rebounds.

Mike Green, a 6-foot-1 guard, led Butler in rebounding this season and he came up with the biggest one of the Bulldogs’ season Saturday in their 62-59 victory over Maryland in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Butler led 61-59 with about 40 seconds to play and Maryland coach Gary Williams decided to have his team play defense rather than foul. Butler’s Julian Betko missed a 3-point attempt as the shot clock ran out, and Green, who averaged 5.9 rebounds this season, grabbed his eighth of the game and was fouled.

He made one free throw and Maryland didn’t even get off a possible tying shot.

Four for all

Ohio State proved a team can win without getting much from its bench, or even all of its starters.

Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Jamar Butler and Ron Lewis scored all but three of the Buckeyes’ points in their 78-71 overtime victory over Xavier. Butler and Conley both played 43 minutes and Oden and Lewis both played 35.

Freshman reserve Daequan Cook had Ohio State’s other points — a 3 in overtime. Ivan Harris, the fifth starter, went 0-for-2 from the field and didn’t score.

Bad ending

Louisville freshman guard Edgar Sosa had the best game of his brief career in the second round — until the final 30 seconds.

The New York native finished with a career-best 31 points, 20 over his season average, but he missed his last four shots — two free throws and two 3-pointers — as the Cardinals lost 72-69 to Texas A&M.

Sosa, who came in shooting 68 percent from the free throw line, made his first 15 foul shots before missing two with the Cardinals down 70-69 and 30 seconds to play. After Joseph Jones of the Aggies missed two free throws, and following a Louisville timeout, Sosa, who made his first seven shots from the field, missed a 25-footer. Acie Law IV of Texas A&M made two free throws for a three-point lead with 1.7 seconds left, and Sosa then missed a halfcourt heave.

A perfect 391/2 minutes came apart in 30 seconds.

“We would have lost by 20 if he didn’t step up,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said of Sosa.

The Associated Press

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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