No. 15 Princeton advances to Sweet 16 with another upset over Missouri
It’s not yet midnight for the Princeton Tigers.
The No. 15 seed moved on to the Sweet 16 after taking down No. 7 Missouri in the second round Saturday, 78-63.
Tosan Evbuomwan (20) and Matt Allocco (14) of the Princeton Tigers react after a basket during the first half against the Missouri Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Golden 1 Center March 18, 2023, in Sacramento, Calif. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Princeton dominated the first half, building a 14-point lead. But Missouri got back-to-back buckets to cut it to a seven-point deficit. But the 15th-seeded Tigers got off to a hot start in the second half, and they never looked back, leading by as many as 21 points.
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Ryan Langborg led the way with 22 points, while Blake Peters netted 17 for Princeton.
Caden Pierce added 16 rebounds.
The Princeton Tigers’ bench during the second half against the Missouri Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Golden 1 Center March 18, 2023, in Sacramento, Calif. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Tigers are the fourth 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16, joining last year’s St. Peter’s Peacocks (also from New Jersey), Oral Roberts from 2021 and 2013’s Florida Gulf Coast squad.
“This is awesome for our school. Sweet 16 means a lot to our crew here. This is really special,” Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson said on the broadcast after the win.
“These guys come here to win. It’s the best school in the country. … We’re so thrilled to be here but not surprised.”
Henderson did not reach the Sweet 16 when he played for Princeton, so he’s savoring this ride.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing deep into the tournament. As a player, got to the second round a couple times. Never got beyond it,” he said after the game. “I feel like these guys, it’s unbelievable.”
“I told them at halftime, ‘We’re going to get on that flight.’ We were up seven at half,” he added. “We had coughed up seven points. I said, ‘You know we’re going to get on that flight [back to New Jersey], no matter what. When we get on that flight, we’re going to be us.’
“We felt like the best version of us could beat the best version of them. They did it. Yes, we’re going to the Sweet 16. But this is a really unique group. I think, in the tournament, each group has a special life. This one has a really special life. So I’m just, again, so proud of ’em.”
Princeton forward Zach Martini reacts after scoring on a 3-pointer during the first half of the team’s second-round game against Missouri in the NCAA Tournament in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Randall Benton)
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Princeton now awaits the winner of No. 3 Baylor and No. 6 Creighton. A win will make the Tigers the second 15 seed to make the Elite 8, joining last year’s Peacocks.