PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Omar Samhan was an unstoppable Gael force.
His career isn't over yet - and neither is Saint Mary's NCAA tournament run as the Gaels are improbably headed to the round of 16.
Samhan played the game of his career on basketball's biggest stage, finishing with 32 points and seven rebounds to lead 10th-seeded Saint Mary's past Villanova 75-68 yesterday and on to Houston for the South Regional's Sweet 16.
Mickey McConnell stopped and fired an arcing 25-footer that banked high off the glass to give Saint Mary's a 68-65 lead with
Samhan used a two-handed block to turn back Reggie Redding and McConnell made both ends of a 1-and-1 to make it 70-65.
The soldout crowd was well behind the Gaels (28-5).
The Wildcats (25-8) made an early exit a year after they played in the Final Four. They started 20-1 and collapsed at the end.
Scottie Reynolds, who put Villanova in the Final Four last season with a last-second basket against Pittsburgh, was a big reason why the Wildcats are heading home early. He missed 9 of 11 shots and scored eight points after a dud game in the tournament opener.
No. 1 Kentucky 90,
No. 9 Wake Forest 60
NEW ORLEANS - Darius Miller scored a career-high 20 points and Kentucky made easy work of Wake Forest during a rout.
It was the second blowout in two games for the Wildcats (34-2), who crushed East Tennessee State 100-71 in their opener.
Miller scored 16 points in the first half to help the Wildcats build an early double-digit lead that ballooned beyond 30 in the second half.
No. 11 Washington 82,
No. 3 New Mexico
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Quincy Pondexter scored 18 points, Isaiah Thomas added 15, and Washington extended its incredible late-season roll all the way to the NCAA tournament's regional semifinals with a victory over New Mexico.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Huskies (26-9), who have won nine straight, including the Pac-10 tournament and wins over two higher-seeded opponents in the East Regional at the Shark Tank.
Washington ran right past the Lobos (30-5), who simply couldn't keep up with the breakneck offensive pace in their second loss in three games.
No. 3 Baylor 76,
No. 11 Old Dominion 68
NEW ORLEANS - LaceDarius Dunn scored 26 points and Baylor beat Old Dominion.
The Bears squandered a 14-point first-half lead but went on a late 8-1 run to pull away..
Baylor (27-7) struggled to beat Sam Houston State in the first round for its first NCAA tournament win since 1950, but the Bears arrived loose and confident against Old Dominion (27-9), using a barrage of early 3-pointers and alley-oops to take a double-digit lead.
No. 2 Kansasa State 84,
No. 7 BYU 72
OKLAHOMA CITY - Jacob Pullen scored 20 of his career-high 34 points in the first half to help dig Kansas State out of an early 10-point hole, and the Wildcats turned away Jimmer Fredette and BYU.
Pullen came alive with a scoring flurry shortly after he and Fredette got tangled up in transition in the first half, and K-State (28-7) wouldn't trail again in earning its first round of 16 appearance since 1988.
Pullen surpassed 30 points for the third time in his career and helped seal the victory with a 3-pointer and six free throws down the stretch. Equally as important as his scoring was his physical defense against Fredette.
No. 5 Butler 54,
No. 13 Murray State 52
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Murray State got awfully close to a second straight bracket-busting upset before Butler reminded the Racers which small school almost always plays big in March.
Ronald Nored's three-point play snapped a tie with 25.4 seconds left, and Butler narrowly evaded a second stunner by the Racers in three days.
Nored scored 15 points and Gordon Hayward had 12 before making the decisive defensive play for the Bulldogs (30-4), who extended the nation's longest winning streak to 22 games and advanced to the regional semifinals.
Butler reached to the round of 16 for the second time in four years - but only after surviving a thriller against the undersized but big-hearted Racers.37.33847 -121.8858