A March Madness warm-up turned into a great escape for Gonzaga.
The Zags got pushed to the limit by Southern, pulling out a 64-58 victory in the closing minutes in Salt Lake City to avoid becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
Kelly Olynyk led the Zags (32-2) with 21 points. But it was a pair of 3-pointers – one by Gary Bell Jr., the next by Kevin Pangos – that staked the Bulldogs to a 62-58 lead only moments after the game was tied at 56 with 3:45 left.
Derick Beltran had 21 points to lead Southern (23-10), and his 14-foot baseline jumper tied it at 56. But the Jaguars didn’t make another field goal.
No. 1 seeds are now 113-0 against 16s.
No. 9 Wichita St. 73, No. 8 Pittsburgh 55: Malcolm Armstead scored 22 points, Cleanthony Early added 21, and the Shockers outslasted the Panthers in Salt Lake City.
Carl Hall added 11 points for the Shockers (27-8), who forced Pitt into 15 turnovers and held the Panthers to 35 percent shooting, including 1-for-17 from 3-point range.
Freshman Steven Adams had 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead Pitt (24-9), which saw leading scorer Tray Woodall miss his first four shots and finish with two points and five turnovers.
No. 6 Arizona 81, No. 11 Belmont 64: Mark Lyons scored 23 points, and the Wildcats used their huge size advantage to shut down the Bruins in Salt Lake City.
Arizona (26-7) rolled past Belmont (26-7), which fell to 0-6 in tourney games. The Wildcats held a 44-18 edge on the boards, outscored Belmont 36-18 in the paint, and blocked five shots.
Kevin Parrom, Kaleb Tarczewski and Nick Johnson added 12 points each for Arizona, which shot 57 percent from the field and made 9 of 17 3-pointers, including a critical one from Solomon Hill with 4:40 remaining to stop an 11-2 Belmont run.
Kerron Johnson led the Bruins with 22 points, and Ian Clark finished with 21.
No. 14 Harvard 68, No. 3 New Mexico 62: Also in Salt Lake City, Wesley Saunders scored 18 points, and Laurent Rivard had 17 to help Harvard pull off Thursday’s biggest upset thus far.
The Ivy League advanced for the first time in the tournament since a very good Cornell team made the regional semifinals in 2010. It also was Harvard’s first NCAA Tournament win.
The Mountain West Conference, judged one of the top two leagues in college basketball all season, fell to 1-3 so far this week.
Harvard (20-9) will try to keep it going Saturday against sixth-seeded Arizona.
New Mexico closed the season at 29-6. Alex Kirk had 22 points for the Lobos, a popular pick to make the Final Four.
Instead, they still haven’t made it through the first weekend since 1974.