Now that the First Four games in Dayton, Ohio, are in the rearview mirror, it’s time to break out your bracket and follow along in the Round of 64.
Before we do that though, it is worth looking back at a group of entertaining first-round games that served as the appetizer for the main course.
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Here is a look at the final scores for the first-round games that took place in Dayton on Tuesday and Wednesday.
|Albany||Mount St. Mary's||71-64|
|North Carolina State||Xavier||74-59|
|Cal Poly||Texas Southern||81-69|
We already broke down the impressive performances from T.J. Warren of North Carolina State and DJ Evans of Albany from Tuesday’s games. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best performances from Wednesday’s two contests.
Cal Poly 81, Texas Southern 69
Impressive Performance: Aaric Murray 38 points, two rebounds, two steals and one block
That’s right, the most impressive performance in the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Texas Southern game came from the losing team.
Aaric Murray dominated the Mustangs to the tune of 38 points, two rebounds, two steals and a block. If we are going to nitpick, the fact that Murray finished with only two boards given his 6’10” frame is of some concern, but he was such a tremendous offensive force that the lack of rebounds is easy to overlook.
Murray finished 14-of-23 from the field and 7-of-7 from the line, demonstrating an impressive shooting touch as a big man in the process.
Looking forward, Murray may have impressed some NBA scouts in the process.
He proved he can score down low and from mid-range, his footwork was excellent and he outmuscled defenders in the paint. Reggie Miller discussed his professional prospects on air during the game, as Nick Mathews of the Houston Chronicle pointed out:
Reggie Miller talking about Aaric Murray making "next-level moves," thinking Murray is an NBA player. I wouldn't disagree with Reggie.— Nick Mathews (@Nick_Mathews) March 20, 2014
If nothing else, Murray’s dominance against Cal Poly probably has Cleanthony Early of Wichita State licking his lips in anticipation of the Shockers’ Round of 64 game against the Mustangs.
Tennessee 78, Iowa 65 (Overtime)
Impressive Performance: Jarnell Stokes 18 points and 13 rebounds
It looked like Iowa was going to run to victory against Tennessee when it jumped out to a 16-4 score, but Vols coach Cuonzo Martin made sure his team stayed focused, according to The Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
"I told our guys we've been through everything this season, keep your composure down the stretch. Find ways to win the ball game."
One reason Tennessee was able to come back and eventually dominate overtime was the play of Jarnell Stokes. Stokes scored what ultimately proved to be the game-winning basket in the extra period with an And-one finish. The Vols outscored the Hawkeyes 14-1 in overtime.
Stokes turned in a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds and was simply too much to handle down low for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes are typically a strong team on the interior, so Stokes’ performance is all the more impressive given the opponent.
The lead never stretched to more than three points in either direction during the final four minutes of regulation, so Tennessee needed every single one of Stokes points and rebounds down the stretch.
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