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Monday, March 19, 2012

Heslip heats up from long distance as Baylor advances


ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — With his 3-point goggles on, the bucket never looked quite so big for Brady Heslip. Because of that, the future's looking as bright as those uniforms for the Baylor Bears.

News photo
Close encounters: Marquette forward Jae Crowder (front) vies for the ball against Murray State's Ivan Aska during the NCAA tournament on Saturday. Marquette won 62-53. AP

Heslip, the kid who grew up playing H-O-R-S-E with his dad in Canada, made a big splash in America on Saturday, going 9 for 12 from 3-point range and lifting the third-seeded Bears to a pullaway 80-63 victory over No. 11 Colorado in the NCAA tournament.

"When they set great screens and they make passes that are on target and on time, it just makes it easy for me," Heslip said. "Especially if I'm in rhythm and feeling good shooting."

He was, and because of it, Baylor (29-7) will bring the highlighter-yellow uniforms down to Atlanta for a South Regional semifinal against Xavier or Lehigh next Friday.

Heslip, in the meantime, will enjoy his status as Baylor's newest star.

He celebrated a few of his makes by pinching together his thumb and forefinger on each hand, putting the circle over his eye and lifting the other three digits in the air. The 3-point goggles.

While all this was going on, he began trending on Twitter — and in the postgame Q&A, we learned that he chews Doublemint gum, has been a gym-and-driveway rat in his hometown of Burlington, Ontario, since he was 3 and is the nephew of one-time Canadian hoops star and Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano.

"Ever since I was growing up, they never forced it on me," Heslip said of his hoop-loving family. "It was just something that I fell in love with."

The nine 3s and 27 points were his career highs — and in this game, Baylor needed every one of them.

He made six from behind the arc in the first half to keep his cold-shooting teammates close. Then, he helped break open a tight game late. His 3-pointer with 6:56 was on the front side of Baylor's 19-3 run to close the game. And it was contagious. Shortly after that make, Pierre Jackson (15 points, 10 assists) jacked one up from three feet behind the arc. Swish. Anthony Jones also made one.

But Heslip, not to be outdone, sandwiched No. 9 in between those — leaving him only two short of the NCAA tournament record set by Jeff Fryer of Loyola Marymount in 1990. Those nine also matched the number put up by Purdue's Courtney Moses in the women's tournament a few hours earlier.

Kentucky 87, Iowa St. 71

In Louisville, Kentucky, freshman Marquis Teague scored a career-high 24 points and the top-seeded Wildcats put together another complete performance with a dominating second-half run.

Indiana 63, VCU 61

In Portland, Oregon, Indiana's Will Sheehey made a jumper from the baseline with 12.7 seconds left after a shot was blocked right to him.


Marquette 62, Murray St. 53

In Louisville, Kentucky, Jae Crowder scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half, and Marquette used a late run to overcome Murray State.

Louisville 59, New Mexico 56

In Portland, Oregon, Russ Smith had 17 points as Louisville advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2009.


Syracuse 75, Kansas St. 59

In Pittsburgh, Scoop Jardine had 16 points and eight assists to lead top-seeded Syracuse to a victory over eighth-seeded Kansas State.

Ohio St. 73, Gonzaga 66

In Pittsburgh, Jared Sullinger scored 18 points, including two big baskets in the final 3 minutes to lead Ohio State past Gonzaga and into the round of 16 for the third straight year.

Wisconsin 60, Vanderbilt 57

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Ryan Evans scored 11 points and grabbed a crucial rebound in the closing seconds.

John Jenkins took a 3-pointer that would have given the Commodores the lead, but it bounced high off the rim and Evans pulled down the rebound and was fouled with 2.1 seconds left.

He made the first free throw to make it a three-point game. After a Vanderbilt timeout, he missed the second and the Commodores called time with 1.3 seconds remaining.

Jared Berggren contested the inbounds pass and got his right hand on Lance Goulbourne's overhand heave and started celebrating Wisconsin's fifth trip to the round of 16 under coach Bo Ryan as the horn sounded.

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