“Anything is possible,” sophomore guard Blake Peters screamed in his post-game interview, after pouring in 17 second-half points to help keep the Tiger’s Cinderella run alive.
On Saturday night, the 15-seeded Princeton men’s basketball team trampled the seventh-seed Missouri Tigers 78–63 to advance to the program’s first Sweet 16 in the modern tournament era. The 15-point win is the largest margin of victory recorded by a 15-seed in NCAA Tournament history.
From the tip-off, the lower-seeded Princeton seemed determined to win physical battles in the paint.
The Princeton forward trio of seniors Tosan Evbuomwan and Keeshawn Kellman and first-year Caden Pierce dominated down low. The three of them alone out-rebounded the entire Missouri squad, 31–30. Pierce, who stands at 6’6”, posted a career-high in rebounds with 16. It was the second-most rebounds by any player in an NCAA Tournament game this season.
Defensively, Princeton was a step ahead, as demonstrated by their quick rotations and disciplined interior play, which prevented Missouri from ever getting into a rhythm. Missouri’s final total of 63 was just over 16 points lower than their season average of 79.4 points per game.
Offensively, Princeton was firing on all cylinders. The starting lineup, who failed to record a single three-pointer against the Arizona Wildcats in their first-round win, netted six tonight. The team’s other six threes in the game came from junior forward Zach Martini and Peters, the latter of whom now has eight total threes in the tournament.
Princeton was led by senior guard Ryan Langborg, who finished with 22 points, six rebounds, and four assists. The 22-point total is the second highest in his career for Langborg, and it couldn’t have come at a better time, as this Princeton team has now solidified itself as a historic one, becoming the fourth-ever 15-seed to advance to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
The squad will head to Louisville, Ky. on March 24 to face the winner of sixth-seed Creighton versus third-seed Baylor, hoping to continue representing the Ivy League and shocking the world in the process.
“I can’t really put the feeling into words right now, to be honest,” Evbuomwan told media after the win. “It’s just an unreal feeling to do this with my guys.”
Diego Uribe is an assistant editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’
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