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NCAA Play Begins With Upsets Aplenty

Murray State forward Danero Thomas hits the game-winning shot as the clock winds down against Vanderbilt in San Jose, Calif. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP hide caption

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Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Murray State forward Danero Thomas hits the game-winning shot as the clock winds down against Vanderbilt in San Jose, Calif.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

If you had St. Mary's, Ohio University, Old Dominion and Murray State in your office pool, you're doing just fine.

First-round upsets once again put the madness into March as play began Thursday in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Firing early and often from behind the 3-point line, No. 14 seed Ohio University jumped out to as large as a 19-point lead on Big East power Georgetown and never faltered, overrunning the stunned Hoyas 97-83.

Shortly afterward, No. 11 seed Washington overcame No. 6 Marquette, 80-78, on a last-second drive to the hoop by Quincy Pondexter.

The biggest shocker in afternoon play came from No. 13 seed Murray State, which used a buzzer-beating basket from Danero Thomas to knock off No. 4 seed Vanderbilt, 66-65.

In other outcomes that tilted the field, No. 11 Old Dominion dropped No. 6 Notre Dame, 50-51 and No. 10 St Mary's dumped No. 7 Richmond, 80-71.

And both No. 9 seeds in action Thursday — Northern Iowa and Wake Forest — converted last-second baskets into victories (over UNLV and Texas, respectively).

Close play was the order of the day. Even No. 1 seed Kansas had to fend off a challenge from feisty Lehigh before pulling away to win 90-74.

No. 1 seed Kentucky was among the exceptions, drilling No. 16 seed East Tennessee State 100-71. And No. 2 seed Kansas State overcame a slow start to run away from No. 15 North Texas, 82-62.

The night could easily have produced two more big upsets. No. 6 seed Tennessee barely held off No. 11 San Diego State, 62-59, and No. 3 New Mexico survived a scare from No. 14 Montana, 62-57.

Also in afternoon play, second-seeded Villanova survived a scare from No. 15 Robert Morris, finally prevailing 73-70 in overtime.

And No. 7 BYU needed two overtimes to put away No. 10 Florida, 99-92. BYU's Jimmer Fredette had 37 points to help the Cougars break a streak of seven straight first-round tournament losses.

No. 3 seed Baylor struggled well into the second half before subduing No. 14 Sam Houston State, 68-59.

One more potential afternoon upset fizzled. No. 12 Texas El-Paso led No. 5 Butler at halftime, 33-27, but Butler roared out of the locker room and went on to a 77-59 win.

Some winners advanced in the tournament for the first time in a long time. Murray State had not won since 1988. Ohio University hadn't won in 27 years. St. Mary's last posted an NCAA victory in 1959. And Baylor — enjoying one of its best seasons in many years — won its first game in the tournament since 1950.

On Friday, 32 more teams take the floor to complete the first round of play.