No. 15 seed Princeton stuns Missouri to reach Sweet 16

Blake Peters made five 3-pointers in the second half and No. 15 seed Princeton beat No. 7 seed Missouri 78-63 on Saturday to advance to the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 56 years against another power conference team. Shocked.

As the clock ticked down to the final minute, Princeton fans chanted “Sweet 16! Sweet 16!” started shouting slogans. And coach Mitch Henderson cleared the bench with an easy victory.

This upset was no small school fluke against a more heralded team. It was a completely dominating performance that sent Princeton to a place it hadn’t been in more than half a century.

Princeton vs. Missouri
Tosan Evbuomwan #20, Ryan Langborg #3, and Caden Pierce #12, and Keeshawn Kellman #32 of the Princeton Tigers react against the Missouri Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on March 18, 2023 at Golden 1 Center. Expressed. Sacramento, California.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

“The world sees us as two upsets,” forward Tusan Ayubomwan said. “But I think we should have been here. We have a lot of confidence in each other, what we’re doing. There’s definitely no shortage with this group.”

Princeton (23-8) swept defending PAC-12 tournament champion Arizona from the opening round over Missouri (25-10) of the Southeastern Conference in the first round.

The Ivy League school known a generation ago for intimidating powerhouses and pulling off the occasional upset has reached the Round of 16 for the first time since 1967, when only 23 teams made the tournament.

“I have no words for you,” Peters said. “We have such an incredible group (of fans) here. I have the best teammates in the world. I love every single one of them. When we go out and believe in each other, anything is possible. . I know it’s cliché, but anything is possible.”

Princeton will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Baylor and Creighton in the Sweet 16 on Friday night in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Tigers will be the second Ivy League school to make the Sweet 16 in the past 43 tournaments, joining Cornell in 2010. Since Penn reached the Final Four in 1979, no team in the academically prestigious league that does not offer an athletic scholarship has advanced further. .

“I’ve always dreamed of playing deep in the tournament,” said Henderson, a player on Princeton teams that won first-round games in 1996 and ’98. “As a player, got to the second round a couple of times. Never got past that.”

It marks the third straight year a 15th-seeded team has advanced to the Sweet 16, following Oral Roberts in 2021 and fellow New Jersey school St. Peter’s last year. It was only the second time a 15 seed made it when Florida Gulf Coast did it in 2013.

Ryan Langberg led Princeton with 22 points and Peters added 17 points.

DeAndre Gholston scored 19 points and Noah Carter added 14 for Missouri, which was seeking its first Sweet 16 berth since 2009.

“We were able to take the lead once,” coach Dennis Gates said. “We held the lead for 30 seconds the whole game. Every time we got a lead or when they had a lead, we cut it to six, they came back down and did what a good team would do: make a shot. Or make up a play.”

Princeton showed no signs of being outclassed against another power conference team, controlling the game from the start. Keyshawn Kellman had two dunks and a blocked shot in a 16-second span midway through the half.

Princeton took a 10-point lead on a corner 3 by Zach Martini and went up 33-19 on a drive by Ayubumwan.

Missouri responded by scoring the final seven points of the half to go down seven.

Every time Missouri threatened early in the second half, Princeton had an answer with Peters hitting five 3-pointers. The fourth gave Princeton a 62-43 lead, and Missouri never threatened after that.

“The Black Peters have been making shots off the bench for us for weeks,” Henderson said. “It’s a very, very confident group. We are very excited to be in the Suite 16. These guys are such a joy to be around. They just gnash their teeth and they do it.”

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