The Latest on the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern):
RaiQuan Gray will get his third straight start for Florida State in place of Phil Cofer, who is not with the team for its West regional semifinal game against Gonzaga following the death of his father on March 21.
The 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman scored 8 points in the Seminoles’ first-round victory over Vermont and then had 11 points, including three 3-pointers, in the second round against Murray State. Gray is averaging 4.0 points on the season but is known more for his defense. He is tied for second on the team with 27 steals.
Senior guard David Nichols remains doubtful after sustaining an ankle injury during the first round against Vermont.
– Joe Reedy reporting from Anaheim, California.
Oregon is the closest thing to a long shot left in the NCAA Tournament. And the 12th-seeded Ducks have made the Sweet 16 three out of the last four years.
Next up for Oregon is No. 1 seed Virginia. The teams will match up in Thursday night’s last game.
No. 2 seed Tennessee faces third-seeded Purdue in the other matchup in Louisville, Kentucky, while Gonzaga-Florida State and Texas Tech-Michigan decide the finalists in the West Region in Anaheim, California.
Dana Altman’s squad from Eugene, Oregon, is one of only two teams left in the tournament seeded outside the top four. The other, No. 5 seed Auburn, was a small favorite when it beat No. 4 seed Kansas in the second round.
Florida State (29-7) will be without senior Phil Cofer when it faces Gonzaga (32-3) at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Cofer learned after Florida State’s first-round win over Vermont that his father, former NFL player Mike Cofer, had died after a long illness. The funeral is Saturday in Georgia.
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton says: “Life sometimes gives you those types of curve balls that you’ve just got to learn how to adjust and deal with the best you can.”
North Carolina forward Garrison Brooks will wear an accessory for Friday’s Midwest Region semifinal against Auburn: a mouth guard.
“Hindsight,” he said, laughing, “I would have worn one since Day One.”
Brooks caught an elbow to the mouth from Washington’s Noah Dickerson in Sunday’s 81-59 second-round win in Columbus, Ohio. One tooth was knocked out, another was chipped and his lip was cut. He missed the last 12 minutes of the first half to get stitched up and returned for the second half.
A thin wire brace stretched across Brooks’ front six teeth Thursday.
Brooks has started every game for the Tar Heels and averages 8 points and 5.7 rebounds. He’s a big communicator on defense, but he said the injury didn’t keep him from talking when he got back on the court.
“It wasn’t very painful,” he said. “As long as my mouth stop bleeding, I was OK.”
How’s it been to eat?
“It’s been bothering me to eat, I’m not going to lie,” said Brooks, adding that he has no food restrictions as his mouth heals.
– Eric Olson reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.
Tennessee (31-5) and Purdue (25-9) have some familiarity with one another ahead of their Sweet 16 matchup.
The teams met in the Battle 4 Atlantis in November 2017, and Tennessee returned most of the team that beat Purdue 78-75 in overtime.
The Boilermakers have a bunch of new faces.
Tennessee’s Grant Williams says that win was important for his team’s season, but the Volunteers have to be prepared for the changed team playing Thursday night.
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