No. 15 seed Princeton emphatically took another magical step in the NCAA Tournament as Ryan Langborg scored 22 points to help the Tigers advance to their first Sweet 16 by smothering seventh-seeded Missouri 78-63 on Saturday in Sacramento, Calif.
Princeton (23-8) becomes the third 15th seed — and second in the past two years — to reach the Sweet 16. The others are Florida Gulf Coast (2013) and Saint Peter’s (2022). Saint Peter’s is the only No. 15 seed to make it all the way to a regional final.
The Ivy League tournament champions made this game a no-drama affair for the final 10 minutes, essentially using the same formula that led to a 59-55 first-round stunner of second-seeded Arizona.
On Saturday, the Tigers outrebounded Missouri 44-30, had a 19-2 edge in second-chance points, and effectively slowed down the game by limiting transition opportunities, allowing just seven fast-break points.
The difference Saturday was that Princeton also was hitting shots from distance. The Tigers were 4 of 25 from 3-point range on Thursday, but Blake Peters came off the bench and had more makes all by himself just in the second half. He was 5 of 8 from behind the arc and scored all 17 of his points after halftime.
Tosan Evbuomwan contributed nine points, nine rebounds and five assists for Princeton. Freshman Caden Pierce had a career-high 16 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. Matt Allocco had 10 points to go with seven assists.
DeAndre Gholston led Missouri (25-10) with 19 points. Noah Carter added 14, while Kobe Brown posted 12 points and seven boards. Missouri’s only lead was at 3-2.
Missouri was intent on getting the ball down low to Brown to start the second half, but Princeton blocked him twice in the lane, helping fuel a 7-0 run that expanded a seven-point halftime lead to 40-28.
When Missouri chipped away and got within 43-37, Peters was the answer. He drained three 3-pointers in a span of 2:40, the last capping a game-defining 10-0 run for a 56-39 lead at the 8:01 mark. The lead eventually grew to 21.
Langborg hit three 3-pointers in the first six minutes, and he had scored 11 by the time Princeton opened its first double-digit lead at 24-14 with 7:25 to go in the first half. Princeton extended the advantage to 14 points but Missouri closed the gap with a finishing 7-0 run that included Sean East II’s floater at the buzzer to make it 33-26.
Princeton, which will play the winner of Sunday’s game between No. 3 Baylor and No. 6 Creighton, is the second Ivy League team to make the Sweet 16 since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The other is Cornell in 2010.
–Field Level Media