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MIDWEST REGIONAL / AT OKLAHOMA CITY : North Carolina A&T Makes Arkansas Work


OKLAHOMA CITY — What was North Carolina A&T's chance of winning the NCAA title?

A trillion to one, according to handicappers, who were probably choking on their odds for a while Friday night before No. 2-ranked Arkansas pulled away, 94-79, in the first round of the Midwest Regional.

The Aggies (16-14), winners of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament, went on a 13-0 run, led 18-17 and trailed by only four points at the half.

Arkansas (26-3) got 24 points from Corliss Williamson and moved into a second-round matchup with Georgetown, but it wasn't easy despite the Razorbacks' 12-point lead at the start.

"It did look like they were going to blow us out from the start, but I looked at our kids and they played their way out of it," said Aggie Coach Jeff Capel.

Joe Bunn, a 6-6 freshman, scored 20 points and had 12 rebounds for the Aggies, who failed to become the first No. 16-seeded team to win a first-round game.

Georgetown 84, Illinois 77

Who beat the Fighting Illini? The Butler did it.

In a game of eight ties and 23 lead changes, George Butler scored his season high of 27 points and the Hoyas (19-11) moved on to a second-round game against Arkansas.

While Georgetown's Othella Harrington struggled with 11 points, five rebounds and six turnovers, Butler carried the offensive load. A junior college transfer, Butler made nine of 17 shots.

"I knew I had to step up and hit a couple of big shots," Butler said. "I just came through."

Illinois (17-11) committed 23 turnovers and failed to come through, although Deon Thomas did his best. Thomas finished his college career with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Oklahoma State 65, New Mexico State 55

It was supposed to be Bryant Reeves' show, but 185-pound guard Randy Rutherford overshadowed his seven-foot, 290-pound teammate with 28 points in the Cowboys' victory over the Aggies (23-8).

Oklahoma State (24-9) will play Tulsa in the second-round Sunday.

Working against a matchup zone, Reeves took only five shots, two in the second half, but it didn't matter because the Aggie offense produced one basket--a three-pointer--in the last 7:58.

Oklahoma State led, 53-52, at that point, but outscored New Mexico State, 12-3, afterward.

"It got frustrating at times, but yet we won the game, so I've got to be happy with that," said Reeves, who had 11 points.

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