WASHINGTON - Mighty, mighty Duke let teeny, tiny Belmont play with the big boys. And, for stretches, get the better of them.
No. 2-seeded Duke actually trailed in the final 15 seconds before barely avoiding the monumental upset, using every last one of Gerald Henderson's 21 points to edge No. 15 Belmont 71-70 in the first round of the West Regional on Thursday night.
While Belmont couldn't quite pull off the stunner, it was surprising enough how close this game was. In a matchup between a school with three NCAA titles - that would be Duke, of course - and another that never has won a game in the tournament, it was Henderson's driving basket with 11.9 seconds left that erased Belmont's final lead.
After ACC defensive player of the year DeMarcus Nelson stole the ensuing inbounds pass, he was fouled, but he missed at the line. Belmont got the rebound, and one final chance to make history, with 2.2 seconds left. The Bruins' leading scorer, Justin Hare, got a good look at the basket from about 35 feet away, but his shot clanged off the iron. He winced, and Duke celebrated as though it had won far more than an opening-round game - something it actually failed to do a year ago.
Duke (28-5) advanced this time to face Arizona or West Virginia on Saturday.
Marquette 74, Kentucky 66
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Jerel McNeal scored 20 points and Wesley Matthews hit eight free throws in the final 31 seconds to help Marquette beat Kentucky in the first round of the South Regional.
The Golden Eagles overcame 35 points by Kentucky senior Joe Crawford, who matched a career high before fouling out. Ramel Bradley added 19 for the Wildcats (18-13).
Sixth-seeded Marquette (25-9) earned its first NCAA tournament victory since 2003, when it beat Kentucky in the regional final to go to the Final Four. Marquette gets third-seeded Stanford next.
Stanford 77, Cornell 53
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Kenny Brown scored 18 points and third-seeded Stanford earned its first NCAA tournament win since 2004, routing Cornell in a matchup of players as good with the books as they are with a basketball.
Oral Roberts 63
DENVER - Levance Fields scored 23 points, Sam Young finished with 14 and Pittsburgh won its sixth straight game.
Next up, an intriguing matchup Saturday against fifth-seeded Michigan State.
Michigan State 72, Temple 61
DENVER - Raymar Morgan led a balanced attack with 15 points and Michigan State advanced despite a sudden shooting slump from spark plug Drew Neitzel.
Kansas 85, Portland State 61
OMAHA, Neb. - Brandon Rush scored 18 points and everyone wearing blue had a blast, as top-seeded Kansas began its NCAA tournament with a rout of overmatched Portland.
UNLV 71, Kent St. 58
OMAHA, Neb. - Joe Darger scored 18 points and UNLV tied an NCAA tournament record by holding Kent State to just 10 points in the first half.
Kansas State 80, USC 67
OMAHA, Neb. - Turns out, Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo weren't the only freshmen on the court.
Redshirt freshman Bill Walker scored 22 points, true freshmen Jacob Pullen and Ron Anderson also reached double figures, and Kansas State's Kiddie Corps moved on in the NCAA tournament, beating Mayo-led USC.
Purdue 90, Baylor 79
WASHINGTON - Keaton Grant scored 17 points and Purdue built a 19-point halftime lead, then cruised to its 10th straight in the first round since 1993.
Texas A&M 67, BYU 62
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Josh Carter scored 26 points, matching his career high, as Texas A&M defeated Brigham Young, handing the Cougars their sixth straight opening-round loss.
Joseph Jones added 10 points and 12 rebounds