Kansas vs Auburn

We’re on to Day 2 of the NCAA tournament. Find Friday’s coverage of the tournament’s scores, schedules, highlights and best moments here.

• Only four lower-seeded teams won on the tournament’s first day: No. 9 seed Baylor, No. 10 seeds Minnesota and Florida, and No. 12 seed Murray State, which dominated Marquette.

• Murray State sophomore guard Ja Morant was the day’s star, with 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds. It was the tournament’s first triple-double since Draymond Green for Michigan State in 2012.

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• There were no buzzer-beaters, and the day’s best endings came on missed shots. Maryland survived against Belmont, 79-77, and Auburn held off New Mexico State, 78-77.

The beloved NCAA tournament captivates millions year after year, but it’s the bracket that really gets people talking. (Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

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Ja Morant is your breakout performer, and then some

On an opening day of the NCAA tournament that mostly lacked the kind of last-second shots or bracket-destroying upsets that have come to define the event, it was left to Temetrius Jamel “Ja” Morant to do much of the heavy lifting. Murray State’s sophomore guard gave Thursday both its most unlikely result, at least in terms of seeding, and by far its greatest individual performance, with a triple-double of historic proportions.

By racking up 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds, Morant not only led the way for his No. 12 Racers to oust No. 5 Marquette — the only other double-digit teams to win on Thursday were a pair of major-conference 10 seeds in Florida and Minnesota — but notched just the eighth NCAA tournament triple-double since assists became an official statistic in 1983-84, and the first since Draymond Green had one for Michigan State in 2012.

Among Morant’s other noteworthy accomplishments Thursday were (via ESPN):

First player with 15 points and 15 assists in a tournament game since 2000 (UCLA’s Earl Watson).
Most points created (55) in a tournament game in the past 10 years.
Second-most assists in a tournament game (UNLV’s Mark Wade had 18 in 1987).
Second 15-point, 15-assist, 10-rebound performance in a regular or postseason game in the past years.
In other words: Your move, Zion Williamson. Duke’s superstar freshman, the talk of college basketball all season, makes his NCAA tournament debut Friday and has some catching up to do in the well-that-was-crazy department. Oh, and at this point, Williamson may be the only player we can still be sure will be selected ahead of Morant in June’s NBA draft.

Of course, Williamson’s Blue Devils teammate, RJ Barrett and others, including Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, will also have some say in who makes the biggest early impression (and who goes where in the draft). But on Thursday, the stage belonged to Morant, and he took full advantage.

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Another look at Ja Morant’s crazy finish 😳#MarchMadness

4:16 AM – Mar 22, 2019
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No. 9 Baylor 78, No. 8 Syracuse 69

Syracuse’s zone normally gives opponents all sorts of problems, but you’d never know that from Baylor’s performance Thursday. The Bears strafed the Orange by making 53.8 percent of their shots from the field, including 16 of 34 from three-point range, and they’ll have every reason to bring confidence into an otherwise rough-looking matchup with the West Region’s top seed, Gonzaga.

Syracuse matched Baylor bomb-for-bomb in a first half that featured 19 combined threes and left the Orange trailing by just a point. Syracuse did what it could to hang around in the second frame, and it was only down by three with as many minutes left, but Baylor’s leading scorer, Makai Mason, had six of his 22 points down the stretch to help seal the win.

Syracuse’s Elijah Hughes scored a game-high 25 points for Syracuse, which was playing without senior point guard Frank Howard, who was suspended the day before. Baylor, which also benefited from a combined 27 points from Jared Butler and Mario Kegler, easily topped the previous school record of 11 three-pointers in a tournament game.

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Makai Mason fueled the HUGE win for @BaylorMBB with 22 points!#MarchMadness | #SicEm

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No. 7 Wofford 84, No. 10 Seton Hall 68

A game that was nip-and-tuck took a turn with just over four minutes left, when Wofford went on a 17-0 run to leave Seton Hall behind. The Pirates scored on a dunk to halt the bleeding with 27 seconds left, but that did little to stop the celebration on the Terriers’ sideline of the first NCAA tournament win in program history.

Not surprisingly, senior sharpshooter Fletcher Magee, the Southern Conference player of the year, led the way with 24 points. He hit 7 of 12 three-point attempts and broke the Division 1 career record for makes from long range, while Seton Hall star Myles Powell was outstanding in the loss, scoring 27 points with no teammate joining him in double figures.

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