|No. 3 seed Houston confident for Ohio State|
No. 3 seed Houston (32-3) did what it was supposed to do -- dominate.
No. 11 seed Ohio State (20-14) did what some thought it could not -- persevere down the stretch.
Now the two will get to prove things all over again when they square off Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Midwest Regional in Tulsa, Okla.
"We've won 32 games," Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said Friday night after his Cougars routed No. 14 seed Georgia State 84-55 to advance to the second round. "We know how to win a game. That's apparent."
Houston had no trouble dispatching Georgia State. Guard Corey Davis Jr. led the way, hitting 7 of 17 3-pointers for a game-high 26 points. Houston led by as many as 32 points over Georgia State, although Sampson warned one game in the NCAA Tournament has little relevance to the next.
"We just want to advance," Sampson said. "We've got another game Sunday. But we know what we're accomplishing. We're moving toward our goal. Everybody wants to play as long as they can in this tournament. So our focus is: Just live to fight another day. And Sunday will be a big game, and if we play well, we'll have a chance. That's all I care about."
Davis was on fire from the perimeter against Georgia State and figures to be a focus of Ohio State's defensive efforts on Sunday. Seventeen of Davis' first 20 shots came from long range.
"That's the standards I set for myself," Davis said. "I just want to be that guy that's a consistent person, just to give my team an uplift when they need him."
Ohio State led by seven points in the second half Friday night against No. 6 Iowa State, surrendered the lead inside the final four minutes but then rallied behind Keyshawn Woods' seven points over the final 3:13 to nip the Cyclones, 62-59, and advance.
Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann said the gut-check victory validated his team's selection despite having an 8-12 Big Ten record and going 3-7 in its final 10 games.
"You could say it validates the committee's decision, but we really felt like we had put together a really strong body of work and that our guys had earned it," Holtmann said. "You're always concerned when you're in a situation where you're on potentially that cut line, but we really did feel like our guys earned it."
Holtmann called the Big Ten "the best league I've ever been a part of from top to bottom."
"I can't explain how difficult it is to a given night," Holtmann said. "And when you're playing, now, 20 of those games, you're going to have losses. In some cases, it is apples and oranges compared to some other leagues. I think the league has genuinely prepared us for this moment, as it has all the other teams."
In the victory over Iowa State, forward Kaleb Wesson scored 15 of his team-high 21 points in the second half, including eight straight in an important stretch early in the second half.
"I imposed myself because of my preparation," Wesson said. "My coaches and my teammates, they prepare me every day in practice, push me to finish shots that sometimes it's hard to finish. And you have that -- it just makes for easy basketball."
--Field Level Media