Results, scores and recaps from the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
South Region: No. 3 Purdue 61, No. 14 Old Dominion 48
Carsen Edwards scored 26 points and third-seeded Purdue coasted to a 61-48 victory against Old Dominion on Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The third-seeded Boilermakers (24-9) will play reigning NCAA champion Villanova, the No. 6 seed in the South Region, on Saturday.
Purdue’s win was the fifth in as many games for the Big Ten on Thursday, which led all conferences with eight teams in the Big Dance.
Edwards, the Big Ten's leading scorer, has been slumping recently and dealing with a sore back that he insisted was fine on Wednesday. The junior guard had shot 32 percent in his last 11 games, and was 7 for 33 from 3-point range in his last three games.
Ahmad Caver scored 19 points and B.J. Stith had 14 for Old Dominion (26-9). The Monarchs shot 27 percent from the field in their first NCAA appearance since 2011.
The Boilermakers scored the last 11 points of the second half as ODU went stone cold. The Monarchs missed their last 11 shots of the half and went scoreless for 6:17 as Purdue took a control and led 32-19 at the break.
It got no better for the Monarchs in the second half. Matt Haarms, Purdue's 7-foot-3 center made a 3 from the corner to make it a 17-point game with 16:50 left in the second half. It was Haarms' seventh triple of the season. A minute late, Edwards pulled up for a long 3 that made it 43-23 and prompted ODU coach Jeff Jones to call a timeout.
The lead was 17 with 7:13 left when ODU went on a 12-4 run. Xavier Green's running hook over Haarms cut the lead to 55-46 with 4:23 remaining. But it never got any closer.
West Region: No. 2 Michigan 74, Montana 55
Charles Matthews had 22 points and 10 rebounds in his best performance since coming back from injury, and No. 2 seed Michigan put away Montana early in a 74-55 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
Ignas Brazdeikis added 14 points and seven rebounds, and Jon Teske had 11 points and nine boards for the Wolverines, who led by as many as 27 points in the second half.
The Wolverines (29-6) are in the round of 32 for the third straight year. They'll play Florida on Saturday.
Sayeed Pridgett led Montana (26-9) with 17 points.
Montana missed 13 of its first 16 shots and trailed by 13 points 10 minutes into the game. The start was in stark contrast to last year when these teams met in the first round. The Grizzlies scored the game's first 10 points before giving way and losing 61-47.
Matthews was 8 of 12 from the floor while posting his third double-double of the season. He had been a combined 6 of 21 for a total of 15 points in the three games since he came back from a right ankle injury that sidelined him three games.
Zavier Simpson had 10 assists and seven rebounds for Michigan.
The Big Ten-Big Sky matchup turned into the rout that would be expected when a 2 seed meets a 15. Michigan's physical dominance was never as evident as on a couple plays involving Brazdeikis. The Big Ten newcomer of the year threw down a huge dunk off Jordan Poole's lob, and he later swiped the ball away from Donaven Dorsey at halfcourt and took it in for another rim-rattling jam.
South Region: No. 6 Villanova 61, No. 11 St. Mary’s 57
Villanova got off to a slow start in defense of its NCAA championship against a determined, defensive-minded Saint Mary's team that came in confident after a season-defining win.
But the Wildcats, a No. 6 seed in this NCAA Tournament after an up-and-down season, have one thing no team in the field of 64 has: a pair of leaders who have won two national titles.
Phil Booth scored 20 points, fellow senior Eric Paschell added 14 and Villanova held off 11th-seeded Saint Mary's 61-57 on Thursday night.
"We're growing, our young guys are growing, but we have two seniors who do everything for us, on and off the court," coach Jay Wright said. "We're just so lucky to have them."
Sophomore Jermaine Sameuls added 12 points for the Wildcats (26-9), who led for almost 33 minutes, but never by more than eight points.
"The tempo was excruciating," Wright said. "We felt going in we were going to have to grind with them."
The Gaels used the same slow pace to upset Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament, and it gave them a chance against Villanova (26-9) in a tense opening-round matchup.
Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts each had 13 points for Saint Mary's (22-12). Ford's basket in the lane after a few nifty moves got the Gaels within six points at 61-55 with 34 seconds left.
After Paschell missed a foul shot on the other end, Fitts cut the deficit to four points with a leaner in the lane. The Gaels had two more chances in the final seconds, but Fitts hit the rim on a 3-point attempt and Villanova freshman Saddiq Bey stole the ball from Ford in the final seconds to seal the win.
"We had a few games this year where we put the press on and were able to get back in the game," said Ford. "And if we get a few of those loose balls, or maybe make a three when we were down four, I think it's a different game."
Saint Mary's led 30-28 at the half, but Booth scored the first five points after intermission during a 12-3 run that put the Wildcats up 40-33. He had 12 points and five of his six assists in the second half.
"We weren't doing that bad, actually," Booth said. "It was more that they were playing very well and we were trying to match how they were bringing it. I think we just had to take it to another level, because they were playing at a high level."
Midwest Region: No. 7 Wofford 84, No. 10 Seton Hall 68
Fletcher Magee set the Division I career record for 3-pointers, poured in 24 points and led seventh-seeded Wofford to an 84-68 victory over Seton Hall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
Magee hit seven 3s against the No. 10 seed Pirates to help the Terriers to their first tournament win in five tries. Wofford also won its 21st consecutive game overall.
Magee now has 509 3-pointers in four seasons, breaking the career mark set by Oakland's Travis Bader in 2014. Duke's J.J. Redick (457), Tennessee's Chris Lofton (431) and Davidson's Stephen Curry (414) also rank in the top 10.
Extending his record might not be easy against second-seeded Kentucky in the Midwest Region on Saturday. The long, lanky Wildcats tend to give opponents fits, especially from behind the arc.
Then again, Magee is no ordinary shooter.
The 6-foot-4 guard was 7 of 12 behind the arc, none bigger than his 3 from the corner in front of his bench in the second half. The first two were wide-open looks that caused Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard angst, and the third a contested shot that brought the Wofford faithful to their feet and put the Terriers up 76-66 with three minutes to play.
Nathan Hoover added 18 points for the Terriers (30-4), who finished 13 of 28 from 3-point range. Cameron Jackson chipped in 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Myles Powell led the Pirates (20-14) with 27 points on 10-of-25 shooting.
Powell helped Seton Hall overcome a 12-point deficit in the second half, and he even put his team ahead 54-53 with about 10 minutes to go. But it was all Wofford late, going on a 17-0 run in the closing minutes before Seton Hall managed a meaningless dunk at the end.
West Region: No. 9 Baylor 78, No. 8 Syracuse 69
Baylor solved Syracuse's vaunted zone with the long ball.
Makai Mason scored 22 points and Baylor set a school NCAA Tournament record with 16 3-pointers to beat Syracuse 78-69 Thursday night in the West Region.
The ninth-seeded Bears (20-13) found gaps in Syracuse's 2-3 zone, mostly by getting the ball into the high post or driving and kicking out. Baylor nearly matched the school tournament record of 11 3-pointers in the first half (10) and made 16 of 34 overall.
Baylor shot 54 percent and slowed Syracuse's 3-point barrage in the second half to earn a shot at top-seeded Gonzaga on Saturday.
Mason and Jared Butler (14 points) each hit four 3-pointers.
No. 8 seed Syracuse (20-14) matched the Bears nearly 3 for 3 in a stellar first half before bogging down in the second.
Elijah Hughes had 25 points and hit seven of the Orange's 12 3-pointers. Tyus Battle scored 16 points after missing both of Syracuse's ACC Tournament games with a bruised back.
The Orange have the nation's tallest team — topped by 7-foot-2 Pascal Chukwu — and use it to their advantage in a 2-3 zone that's already difficult to prepare for come March. The defensive scheme helped Syracuse reach at least the third round of the NCAA Tournament in its eight previous trips, and it made the Final Four as a 10 seed in 2016.
But the zone does have its flaws, as Virginia showed while hitting a school-record 18 3-pointers in the Orange's regular-season home finale.
The Bears took a similar tack, hitting six 3s in the first six minutes a variety of ways: drive and kicks, after offensive rebounds, extra deep, even a banked-in one by Mark Vital.
Not wanting to be left out of the 3-or-nothing party, Syracuse dotted the shot chart along the arc, hitting nine 3-pointers of its own — one for a four-point play by Battle.
Of the 25 made field goals in the first half, 19 were 3s.
Hughes had 18 points by halftime and looked at Baylor coach Scott Drew after dropping in his fifth 3-pointer of the half.
Mason made four and had 16 points, giving the Bears a 38-37 lead.
The trey spigot remained open in the second half — at least for Baylor.
The Bears opened 6 for 13 from the arc and Syracuse had a stretch of nearly five minutes without a field goal as the Bears stretched their lead to 68-59.
Midwest Region: No. 2 Kentucky 79, No. 15 Abilene Christian 44
Kentucky could afford to be down a man against NCAA Tournament newcomer Abilene Christian.
Going forward, the Wildcats are surely going to need that guy who was zipping around the arena on a scooter, most of his lower left leg covered by a hard cast.
The Wildcats shot 60 percent in the opening period, held No. 15 seed Abilene Christian to 5 of 26 from the field, and went to the locker room with a 39-13 lead. They led by as many as 36.
Washington, who sprained the foot in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, is Kentucky's leading scorer and rebounder. Still, the Wildcats had far too many weapons for the Southland Conference representative.
Keldon Johnson scored 25 points, Reid Travis added 18 and Tyler Herro chipped in with 14.
Kentucky outrebounded Abilene Christian by a whopping 44-17 margin.
"We got out of the gate really guarding and blocking shots and shot a high percentage," coach John Calipari said.
Kentucky advanced to the second round of the Midwest Regional on Saturday to face either Wofford or Seton Hall, who were playing in the final game of a long day in Jacksonville.
The big question: Will Washington be able to go?
"If they take (the cast) off tomorrow to check him, he might be able to play," Calipari said. "If they don't, he won't play Saturday. Then, they would probably take it off Tuesday or Wednesday," giving Washington a chance to play if the Wildcats advance to the second weekend.
Calipari isn't looking ahead that far.
Saturday's game will be enough of a challenge.
"If PJ doesn't play, we'll have work to do with either team," the coach said.
Calipari stressed that Washington's injury was only a sprain, not a fracture. But the 6-foot-8 sophomore certainly didn't look close to returning as he watched from the bench, only standing during timeouts and making sure not to move around too much. He had the scooter parked nearby, using it to get between the locker room and the court.
"He had the option of the boot or the cast," Calipari said. "They said a cast would spend up the healing, so I said put the cast on."
Kentucky could certainly afford to be cautious in its tournament opener. Abilene Christian is also known as the Wildcats, but that was about the only thing these teams have in common.
The striking disparity — one of the nation's most storied programs vs. a small Texas school not far removed from playing in Division II — was best epitomized by the point guards. Kentucky started Ashton Hagans, a 6-foot-3 freshman who was one of the nation's top recruits. Abilene Christian countered with 5-7 freshman Damien Daniels, who missed all five of his shots.
The biggest scare for Kentucky came with just under 2 minutes remaining when Nick Richards went down hard after getting his legs cut out from under him going for a rebound. After pounding the court several times in pain, he was able to get up, shoot a pair of free throws and finish the game.
"If we get another guy hurt, our staff is going to have to start playing." Calipari said.
West Region: No. 10 Florida 70, No. 7 Nevada 61
Florida nearly squandered a double-digit lead before finally stopping a Nevada comeback and pulling off a 70-61 upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Kevarrius Hayes scored 16 points, Jalen Hudson added 15 and the 10th-seeded Gators won their tournament opener for the third straight year.
Andrew Nembhard, whose last-second shot beat LSU in the Southeastern Conference Tournament last week, drove to the basket for a layup with 1½ minutes left and Florida scored the last seven points after the seventh-seeded Wolf Pack had rallied from down 18 to cut the deficit to just two points.
The Gators (20-15) were the third double-digit seed to win Thursday.
Cody Martin scored 23 points and twin brother Caleb Martin had 19 for the Wolf Pack (29-5). The two combined for 28 of their team's 33 points in the second half of the West Region matchup.
The Gators controlled the pace with their deliberate offense, often letting the shot clock run into single digits before shooting. The SEC's top-rated defense clogged passing and driving lanes and contested almost every shot.
KeVaughn Allen made back-to-back shots to start a 12-0 run early in the second half that swelled the lead to 51-33 with 14 minutes left.
That's when things started to turn.
The Wolf Pack began to bother Florida with their full-court press. After Caleb Martin stole the ball from Jalen Hudson in the backcourt and dunked, it was 58-51 with 6 minutes to play. Caleb Martin's two free throws made it 63-61 with 2:02 left, but Nevada could get no closer.
West Region: No. 1 Gonzaga 87, No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson 49
When it comes to a 16 seed beating a 1, it's still true — anything really can happen in the NCAA Tournament.
Just not on Thursday night. And not against Gonzaga.
One year after dreamers and underdog lovers rejoiced at top-seeded Virginia's first-of-its-kind, first-round loss, the Gonzaga Bulldogs crushed any thought of a repeat with a wire-to-wire 87-49 thumping of Fairleigh Dickinson in the West Region.
Rui Hachimura led the Zags (31-3) with 21 points and eight rebounds, and this game looked every bit as lopsided as most of the 1-vs.-16 contests since 1985, when the bracket was expanded to 64 teams.
Gonzaga led by 10 after the first 4:12, by 20 after 10:25 and by the score of 53-17 at halftime.
By the time Gonzaga turned it over when Josh Perkins tried flipping a no-look pass backward to Killian Tillie, coach Mark Few looked barely awake — sitting in his chair, cheek cupped in his hand. The Bulldogs led 70-34.
The game's key questions were answered early:
— Could the Knights (21-14) muster a repeat of their amazing shooting three nights earlier in a come-from-behind win over Prairie View A&M in the First Four? No. Fairleigh Dickinson shot 30 percent and went 6 for 21 from 3-point range. Its star from the win, Darnell Edge, had trouble getting any looks, let alone good ones. He went 2 for 11 for seven points.
— Would the Bulldogs feel any lingering aftershocks from their unexpectedly ugly loss to Saint Mary's last week in the West Coast Conference final? No. The nation's highest-scoring offense this season could've picked its number in this one. Few started emptying the bench at the 8:30 mark.
Gonzaga is the only team to beat Duke and Zion Williamson at full strength this season, helping explain why the Bulldogs are the second favorite, at 5-1 behind the Blue Devils, to win it all. They put to rest any questions about whether they belonged on the 1 line over, say, Michigan State — a debate that picked up a bit of steam after the Saint Mary's loss.
Things should get more difficult come Saturday, when Gonzaga faces Syracuse or Baylor.
Midwest Region: No. 4 Kansas 87, No. 13 Northeastern 53
Kansas, with all its ups and downs this season, was a popular pick to be one of the NCAA Tournament's first big upsets.
As higher seeds like Auburn and Michigan had tense moments in their openers, the Jayhawks soared into the next round.
Dedric Lawson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Kansas dominated inside for an 87-54 rout over Northeastern on Thursday in the Midwest Region.
"I thought our guys were as locked in as they've been all year," Kansas coach Bill Self said.
The fourth-seeded Jayhawks (26-9) had a notable size advantage inside and used it, outscoring the Huskies 50-16 in the paint while grabbing 17 more rebounds.
Devon Dotson controlled the offense and scored 18 points, while Dedric's brother, K.J., chipped in 13 points.
Kansas shot 56 percent and advanced to Saturday's second round against fifth-seeded Auburn.
"We were settling for 3s early in the game," K.J. Lawson said. "Once we settled in, everybody was in attack mode and had a great performance today."
The best shot for the 13th-seeded Huskies (23-11) was to make their 3-point tries.
The Colonial Athletic Association champions went 6 for 28 from the arc after finishing the regular season 17th in Division I at 38.6 percent. Sharpshooter Vasa Pusica had a hard time getting separation from the Jayhawks' athletic guards, finishing with seven points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Jordan Roland had 12 points to lead the Huskies, who shot 28 percent overall.
"They took us out of our own identity," Northeastern coach Bill Coen said. "If you were dialing up a blueprint for an upset, you have to have a great shooting night. Unfortunately, we didn't have that."
The Jayhawks had a regular season like few others in their storied history.
Kansas made the NCAA Tournament. That was no shock. This was its 30th straight year in the bracket.
But the Jayhawks were a No. 4 seed when they're usually a 1 or 2.
Kansas played all season without Silvio De Souza after he was connected to the federal probe into college basketball corruption. Center Udoke Azubukie was lost for the season in January to a wrist injury. Senior guard Lagerald Vick left the team for personal reasons in February.
Self navigated the attrition the best he could, piecing together a lineup with four freshmen and a lineup no one could have predicted at the season's start.
The result: Kansas had its 14-year reign as Big 12 champions come to an end and was a trendy upset pick against the 3-shooting Huskies in the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas gave them little chance.
Northeastern was no match for Lawson inside and had a hard time stopping the Kansas guards off the dribble from the get-go. Lawson had 16 points by halftime and the Jayhawks led 37-25.
The Huskies also needed to make 3-pointers to keep Kansas in reach and didn't, going 5 for 17 in the first half.
The trend continued to start the second half. Lawson hit a 3, scored inside and Kansas used a 16-2 run to go up 53-32.
"We missed our first few shots and I don't know if we got flustered," Northeastern's Bolden Brace, who had seven points and nine rebounds. "We kind of relied on the 3-point shot and when that kind of didn't work out, other parts of our game kind of fell apart a little bit."
West Region: No. 12 Murray State 83, No. 5 Marquette 64
Ja Morant logged the ninth triple-double in NCAA Tournament history as Murray State trounced fifth-seeded Marquette 83-64 in the first round of the West Region.
Murray State continued a trend of a No. 12 seed winning at least one game in all but three tournaments since 2001 — including last year's — but this looked nothing like an upset.
Morant had 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds as he sliced through Marquette on Thursday and showed the Racers (28-4) were better in every way than their opponent from the Big East. The Ohio Valley Conference champions face fourth-seeded Florida State on Saturday as the Racers next try to take down an Atlantic Coast Conference foe.
Murray State can always count on having the best player on the floor no matter who they play.
With 4:36 left in the second half and Murray State up 20, Morant grabbed his 10th rebound. The Racers fans began chanting "triple-double" to mark the first one since Draymond Green did it for Michigan State in 2012 against LIU-Brooklyn.
The lanky 6-foot-2 Morant this season has rocketed to stardom and into a sure-fire NBA lottery pick — maybe second only to Duke's Zion Williamson — and answered the hype against Marquette.
The game was billed as a showcase of two of the nation's best point guards and Morant and Markus Howard delivered plenty of highlights. Howard scored 16 in the first half on a mix of 3s off screens and hard drives to the hoop.
Marquette promised to make Morant see walls of defenders. The Golden Eagles collapsed on Morant every time he went to the basket and often double-teamed on the perimeter instead of switching on screens. Time and again, Morant found an open shooter while surrounded by defenders. He had eight assists in the first half, five that led to 3-pointers for the Racers, who led 42-35 at the break.
Howard finished with 26 points and Sam Hauser added 16.
As Murray State pulled away early in the second half, Morant had a two-handed slam off a nifty bounce pass from Darnell Cowart. Moments later, Morant fired a cross-court, no-look pass to Shaq Buchanan for a corner 3 that made it 57-40. Morant paused to glance toward the Murray State section and made finger goggles around his eyes. The sophomore seems to see it all on the court.
East Region: No. 6 Maryland 79, No. 11 Belmont 77
Maryland's Eric Ayala deflected a pass to set up a steal by Darryl Morsell that stopped Belmont's last-second attempt at an NCAA Tournament upset and the Terrapins escaped with a 79-77 victory Thursday in the East Region.
Playing their second tournament game in less than 48 hours, the 11th-seeded Bruins left no doubt they belonged after receiving one of the selection committee's final at-large bids.
But the midmajor powerhouse from Nashville, Tenn., couldn't knock off the No. 6-seeded Terrapins (23-10) from the Big Ten, despite a 35-point performance by Dylan Windler.
Maryland was clinging to a one-point lead and the shot clock was off as Belmont (26-6) had a chance to win it at the buzzer. The Bruins didn't bother calling a timeout to set up a play; they knew what they wanted to do — a backdoor pass to Windler that had been one of their bread-and-butter calls all afternoon.
But Ayala barely got a hand on the pass from freshman Grayson Murphy and Morsell stepped in front of Windler to pick off the ball while the Belmont star tumbled to the court. Morsell was fouled with 2.5 seconds to go, sending him to the other end of the court for a pair of free throws. He made the first and missed the second, and Windler heaved an unsuccessful desperation shot from midcourt.
The shot didn't come close to hitting the rim and set off a relieved celebration from the Maryland contingent. Windler sank to the court, thoroughly exhausted after playing all but 88 seconds after a victory over Temple in a play-in game Tuesday.
Maryland advanced to play No. 3 seed LSU in the second round Saturday.
Jalen Smith led four Maryland players in double figures with 19 points, including a huge three-point play with 1:41 remaining. Belmont appeared to get a crucial stop when Nick Muszynski swatted away a shot by Bruno Fernando, setting off a wild scamble that left four players — three from Belmont, one from Maryland — sprawled on the floor.
Morsell came up with the loose ball and fed it to Smith under the basket for a thunderous dunk that also drew a foul. Smith knocked down the free throw, giving the Terps a 77-73 lead.
It held up. Barely.
Belmont led by as many as 12 points in the first half and went to the break with a 40-34 lead.
Maryland returned from the locker room intent on putting its size advantage to good use. The Terrapins began pounding the ball inside for easy baskets, or popping it back outside for open jumpers when the Bruins attempted to double-team the Maryland big men — and it resulted in a 14-0 run to start the half.
The Terps seemed to be in control. But Belmont just wouldn't go away.
Backup center Seth Adelsperger, known as "Mountain Man," gave the Bruins some huge minutes when Muszynski went to the bench with foul trouble.
Not known as much of an offensive threat, Adelsberger rocked the rim with back-to-back dunks that sent the Belmont bench into a tizzy, prompting some of his teammates to mockingly fall over as if about to faint in disbelief.
East Region: No. 2 Michigan State 76, No. 15 Bradley 65
No. 2 seed Michigan State had a scare from Bradley but pulled away late to win 76-65 and advance to meet Minnesota in an All-Big Ten second-round game.
Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston scored 26 points to lead the Spartans, who haven't made it past the first weekend of the tournament since 2015.
The Missouri Valley Conference's Braves gave Michigan State all it could handle through the first 30 minutes. Bradley led 35-34 at the half and was still up by one point with 7 minutes to go. Then a 9-0 spurt put the Spartans ahead 63-55 with 2½ minutes to play.
The Spartans made 25 of 26 free throws.
Elijah Childs scored 19 points to lead the Braves, who were just 3 of 12 on 3-pointers in the second half after starting 6 for 9.
West Region: No. 4 Florida State, No. 13 Vermont 69
Mfiondu Kabengele had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Florida State held off a barrage of 3-pointers from 13th-seeded Vermont in a 76-69 victory Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA West Regional.
Terance Mann added 19 points for the fourth-seeded Seminoles (28-7), who were tied with the Catamounts at halftime but pulled away late.
Anthony Lamb had 16 points to lead a balanced, long-range attack for Vermont (27-7), which lost for the first time in seven games. Three Catamounts finished with 15 points.
The America East champions went small — no starter stood over 6-foot-6 — and stayed close by hitting 16 of 32 3-point attempts. The Seminoles countered by wearing out Vermont down low, outscoring the Catamounts 30-14 in the paint.
A dunk by Kabengele gave Florida State a 50-45 lead with nine minutes left, part of a 6-0 run that put the Seminoles ahead for good. Another by the 6-10 sophomore made it 61-53, and the cheers of Vermont fans, who made the four-hour drive south from Burlington, gave way to the tomahawk chop from behind Florida State's bench.
Florida State led by 12 with just over a minute left and withstood a late run by Vermont.
Midwest Region: No. 5 Auburn 78, No. 12 New Mexico State 77
After a teammate passed up an open layup that could have tied the game, New Mexico State's Terrell Brown was fouled behind the arc and missed two of three free throws as the Aggies dropped a 78-77 heartbreaker Thursday to fifth-seeded Auburn in the NCAA Tournament.
The Aggies were trailing 78-76 in the opening round of the Midwest Region when guard A.J. Harris had his defender beat and looked to be headed to the glass for the tying bucket. He instead lobbed out to Brown, who was spotted up at the elbow for a possible game-winner.
Brown missed but was fouled with 1.1 seconds left.
With Auburn's J'von McCormick grabbing his throat as Harris toed the line, Brown missed the first, made the second, then watched the third one rim out.
Auburn (27-9) knocked the ball out of bounds on the rebound and New Mexico State had one more good look, but Trevelin Queen's 3 at the buzzer was an air ball.
McCormick's three-point play gave the Tigers a 73-65 lead with 2:13 left, and this one looked like it was over.
But the Aggies (30-5), helped by their own good shooting and Auburn's sloppiness, kept chipping away and drew within 77-76 with 6.8 seconds left.
Auburn's Samir Doughty made one of two from the line to set up the last-second drama, and this one will be second-guessed down in Las Cruces for a long time. Harris clearly had a step on the defender and was heading to the glass. But he passed on the tie and gave Brown, who was 0 for 4 from 3, the chance for the win.
East Region: No. 3 LSU 79, No. 14 Yale 74
Skylar Mays hit four free throws in the final 15 seconds to help embattled LSU slip past 14th-seeded Yale 79-74 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
Mays scored 19 points but sealed the game from the charity stripe, and the Tigers (27-6) needed each one of his free throws.
Yale (22-8) hit four 3-pointers in the final minute and whittled an 18-point deficit to three in the closing seconds. Most of those on hand at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena started cheering for the underdog Bulldogs.
With the lead on the line, Mays calmly stepped to the line and sank all his free throws.
Mays was one of four Tigers in double figures. Tremont Waters finished with 15 points, but had just two after the break. He was 0 for 7 from the field in the final 20 minutes after dominating the first half with 13 points and six assists.
Naz Reid had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kavell Bigby-Williams also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
LSU moves on without coach Will Wade, who is suspended for his role in an alleged cheating scandal. University officials won't allow Wade to resume his duties unless he speaks with the school about an FBI wiretap that resulted in his suspension. Tony Benford continued in his role as interim coach.
Javonte Smart, whose name surfaced in reports of a wiretapped phone call that resulted in Wade's suspension, had nine points and six rebounds. School officials say Smart has fully cooperated in a "joint inquiry" with LSU and the NCAA.
Alex Copeland led Yale with 24 points. He had 16 points in the second half and hit two of the huge 3s in the final minute to make it close.
Jordan Bruner added 16, and Azar Swain finished with 12. Leading scorer Miye Oni was 2 of 16 shooting, including 1 of 10 from 3-point range, and had five points.
East Region: No. 10 Minnesota 86, No. 7 Louisville 76
Minnesota won its first NCAA Tournament game in six years behind 24 points from freshman Gale Kalscheur as the 10th-seeded Gophers rolled past Louisville 86-76 in the opening round of the East Region on Thursday.
It was the first tournament win in Richard Pitino's six seasons coaching the Gophers and came against the school that fired his father, Rick Pitino, in 2017.
Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey each had 18 points for Minnesota (22-13), which knocked down 11 3s despite entering play ranked 344th nationally in made 3s per game.
Kalscheur's layup early in the second half gave Minnesota its first double-digit lead, 43-33, and Murphy's layup made it a 50-38 game with 16:06 left.
The Cardinals went to a full-court press in an effort to slow down the surging Gophers. But that just left Kalscheur open from the same spot on back-to-back possessions, and he drilled two 3s to give Minnesota a 59-43 lead.
Louisville then fouled Kalscheur behind the 3-point line, where he pushed the Gophers' edge to 19 with 9:48 to go.
Murphy's 3 with 5:28 left — just his seventh all year — made it a 15-point game and typified just how well things were rolling for Minnesota,
The seventh-seeded Cardinals (20-14) did cut it to seven late, but Christen Cunningham missed an open 3 that could've made things interesting down the stretch.
Cunningham led Louisville (20-14) with 22 points, and Steven Enoch had 14.