Princeton continues NCAA surprise with walk to Round of 16

SACRAMENTO — Blake Peters, a second-year Princeton guard, plays classical Spanish guitar, is fluent in Mandarin and, it turns out, is tough as nails when his Tigers have a chance to advance to the knockout stages .

After playing just two minutes of the first half, Peters came off the bench to set Missouri ablaze on Saturday, sweeping five 3-pointers to stem any momentum Missouri seemed to muster in the NCAA Men’s Tournament.

Peters finished with a season-high 17 points, teammate Ryan Langborg had a season-high 22, and the Tigers didn’t have to work until the game’s final horn, unlike their stunning upset of Arizona. , seeded second, Thursday.

Instead, as Princeton put the final flourishes on his commanding performance, the chant coming from the Tigers’ cheer section at the Golden 1 Center was loud and clear: “Sweet 16!” Sweet 16!”

From 15th-seeded underdogs to bullies on the block in two days, Princeton dominated No. 7-seeded Missouri for most of the 40 minutes played in their second-round game. The school advanced to the knockout stages for the first time since 1967.

The rare opportunity was made real by a dazzling shot, especially compared to the struggles Princeton overcame against Arizona. The Tigers tripled their 3-point yield from that game — 12 total against Missouri, to four against Arizona — and played with poise and presence throughout the game.

Princeton outshot (44-30) and passed (44% to 41%) Missouri. Princeton tied their 3-point total from the game against Arizona well within the bounds of the first half.

Princeton players, wearing bow ties on their uniforms to honor the late Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril, whose spirit is still carried by the Tigers, opened up a 14-point lead at one point in the first half -time and continually blunted Missouri’s pressure all over the court. .

Then, in the second half, just as Missouri was threatening, Peters took over. His first four 3-pointers of the second half helped Princeton extend their lead to 62-45.

At the perfect moment, Peters went wild. Peters, in his second season at Princeton, hasn’t seen much court time as a rookie. As a result, looking to improve and hoping for more playing time, he traveled to Israel last summer and helped Team USA win a gold medal at the Maccabiah Games.

By the time he was done with Missouri, the other Tigers looked crestfallen and Princeton’s cheer squad began to feel the arrival.

Even the giant scoreboard that showed the end of Arkansas’ upset against Kansas in a timeout provided Missouri with a very brief respite. Although Missouri’s cheer squad gave a standing ovation to Kansas’ loss, it snapped back to reality as soon as timeout ended in Golden 1 Arena, and soon enough, Missouri’s cheer squad was seated again with a bit more to celebrate.

nytimes sport

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