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Princeton dances into the Sweet 16 with win over Missouri

The Ivy League champs dominated the battle of the Tigers to become the fourth No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Princeton vs Missouri
Ryan Langborg scored 22 points in the Tigers’ win over Missouri.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

For the second consecutive year, there will be a 15 seed from New Jersey that didn’t win their league’s outright regular-season championship playing in the Sweet 16. The Tigers of Princeton continued their upset streak with a near wire-to-wire victory over seventh-seeded Missouri in Sacramento Saturday.

For Princeton, it was all about being composed under the immense pressure and athleticism from Missouri en route to a 78-63 victory. Ryan Langborg led Princeton with 22 points, including four of the Tigers’ 12 3-pointers. The 3-point shooting success for Princeton comes on the back of their upset of Arizona, where it won despite shooting 4-for-25 from behind the arc.

Tosan Evbuomwan only scored nine points, but his influence was felt on the court all game long, as an incredibly important ball handler and distributor, with nine rebounds, five assists and just one turnover.

Mizzou is one of the most aggressive defenses in the country, forcing the fifth-most turnovers out of anybody in the country, but today, it only turned tallied nine takeaways with many of them coming in garbage time. Missouri tried to jump out at Princeton and win with their superior athleticism. It pressed. It jumped passes. It played fast. But it wasn’t expecting Princeton to be as poised as it was.

The Ivy League champions played their half-court offense to perfection, had 16 assists and dominated the glass as it has all year. Caden Pierce, who Mitch Henderson last week called “the best rebounder I’ve ever coached,” picked up a career-best 16 rebounds.

Princeton jumped out to a fast start thanks to Langborg, and led 33-19, but a 7-0 Missouri run ended the half on a sour note for Princeton. The 15-seed went back to old reliable, drive and kick, to start the second half.

After that triple by Matt Allocco, Missouri never had it within five again, and Princeton led by as much as 21 points late in the second half.

Deandre Gholston led Mizzou with 19 points, but the All-SEC first-teamer Kobe Brown was held to just 12 points, with just two in the first half.

Princeton gives the Ivy League its first Sweet 16 participant since Cornell in 2010, and just the fourth since 1975. They’re also the fourth 15 seed to make the second weekend and the third in three years as Oral Roberts did it in 2021 and Saint Peter’s last year. Florida Gulf Coast was the first 15 to make the Sweet 16 back in 2013.

Princeton will play against the winner of Creighton-Baylor in Louisville on Friday.