The first four games of the 2021 NCAA Tournament featured four teams rallying from double-digit deficits with three of them closing the deal for impressive victories to advance on to first round games on Saturday. The most high-profile game of the night belonged to Michigan State and UCLA as the Bruins roared back from an 11-point halftime deficit to win 86-80 in overtime.
Appalachian State staged the biggest rally of the night to take a second half lead after trailing by 19 in the first half. But the Mountaineers ultimately fell short in the end, losing 54-53 to Norfolk State. The Mountaineers made just 6-of-36 attempts from 3-point range in the loss as Norfolk State advanced to play No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga in a first-round game on Saturday.
No. 16 seed Texas Southern and No. 11 seed Drake each advanced out of the First Four by holding on after their own big comebacks. Drake’s 53-52 win over Wichita State was particularly dramatic as the Bulldogs survived to win when Alterique Gilbert’s last-second 3-point attempt fell short at the buzzer for Wichita State.
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In the night’s first game, Texas Southern advanced to play No. 1 seed Michigan on Saturday by virtue of a 60-52 win over Mount St. Mary’s after the Tigers trailed 30-20 at halftime. The win is the first-ever NCAA Tournament coaching victory for third-year Texas Southern coach Johnny Jones, an industry veteran who was previously in the Big Dance as coach of North Texas and LSU.