SAN DIEGO — Arizona opened the NCAA tournament with a victory, exactly what a No. 1 seed is supposed to do.
The way it happened, with that jittery start and ease-off-the-gas-pedal finish, the Wildcats will likely hear those upset picks even more now.
Anxious early and a bit too comfortable late, top-seeded Arizona pulled out a 69-59 win over Weber State in the West Regional on Friday, a victory that’s unlikely to change predictions that the Wildcats will lose in the next round against Gonzaga.
“We are fortunate to advance and I know the next game will be a terrific game,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “One of my hopes is, (having) one of these under our belts, we will be more ourselves and better on Sunday.”
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Arizona (31-4) fell into an eight-point hole in the opening six minutes.
But Arizona closed in around Weber State (19-12), shutting down the less touted Wildcats during two big first-half runs, seemingly putting the fairy tale to bed.
Instead of running away, Arizona backed off, allowing Weber State to trim a 21-point deficit to nine in the closing minutes.
Nick Johnson had 18 points , Aaron Gordon added 16, and Arizona blocked 11 shots.
Davion Berry scored 24 for Weber State.
“We came in expecting to win, trying to win,” Weber State coach Randy Rahe said.
Creighton 76, Lousiana-Lafayette 66
SAN ANTONIO — Doug McDermott scored in bunches and Ethan Wragge delivered the critical three-pointers. Together they kept the Blue Jays (27-7) marching on, turning back the Ragin’ Cajuns (23-12) in a game that was close until the last minute.
McDermott scored 30 and Wragge made three momentum-changing shots in the second half, sending No. 3 seed Creighton into the third round, the spot it has lost in the past two years.
“This is what I came back for,” McDermott said.
Baylor 74, Nebraska 60
SAN ANTONIO — Cory Jefferson scored 16 points and the sixth-seeded Bears (25-11) beat the 11th-seeded Cornhuskers (19-13), who are 0-7 in tournament history.
Baylor has won 11 of 13 after a dismal start in the Big 12 and faces Creighton on Sunday.