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Michigan State powers past Delaware, 93-78

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SPOKANE, Wash. — There was the barrage of 3-pointers, the left-handed spin move, the steady work in the post, the can’t-miss free throw shooting.

Pick a skill and Adreian Payne has it. The 6-foot-10 senior put everything on display Thursday in a career-high, 41-point performance that helped Michigan State look every bit a March Madness favorite as the fourth-seeded Spartans beat Delaware, 93-78.

Payne’s overall line: 10 for 15 from the field, 4 for 5 from 3-point range, a tournament-record 17 for 17 from the free throw line. He chipped in eight rebounds, too.

He scored 12 straight points over a 105-second stretch in the first half to help the Spartans (27-8) open an 18-point lead over the 13th-seeded Blue Hens (25-10).

Those points came three at a time — a trio of spot-up 3s and one ridiculous, spinning left-hander from the paint while he was being mugged by Carl Baptiste. Payne stepped to the line to make the free throw with his right hand — the hand he shoots most of his shots with — and by then, he had pretty much proven his point.

But there was more. With the game out of reach, he played almost to the end and the Spartans fed him. He dunked with 4:26 left to reach his career high and break Greg Kelser’s record, set in the title year of 1979, for most points in an NCAA tournament game by a Spartan.

A few minutes later, Payne became the first player to crack 40 in a March Madness game since Stephen Curry hit the number for Davidson in a 2008 game against Gonzaga.

Branden Dawson, the Big Ten tournament’s most valuable player, finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists — modest on this day. He’ll have another chance Saturday, when the Spartans play 12th-seeded Harvard.

Devon Saddler had 21 points and Davon Usher added 20 for Delaware, which made its first NCAA appearance since 1999.

Harvard 61, Cincinnati 57

Those kids from Harvard are getting a passing grade when it comes to the first game of the NCAA Tournament.

“I’ve heard this before where there really aren’t upsets anymore,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “I just think when you’re looking at seeds you’re probably a pretty good basketball team.”

Siyani Chambers scored 11 points, including five straight in the final 2 minutes, and 12th-seeded Harvard won its second NCAA tournament game in history, upsetting Cincinnati at Spokane, Wash.

Wesley Saunders led the Crimson (27-4) with 12 points as Harvard proved last year’s upset of New Mexico as a 14 seed was no fluke. The Crimson became the first Ivy League school with NCAA tournament wins in consecutive years since Princeton in 1983-84.

UConn 89, Saint Joseph’s 81 (OT)

Shabazz Napier shook off a miss at the second-half buzzer to score nine of his 24 points in overtime and lead seventh-seeded Connecticut to a win over Saint Joseph’s in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

DeAndre Daniels scored 18 while freshman center Amida Brimah forced overtime by completing a three-point play in the final minute for UConn (27-8). The Huskies won their first tournament game under coach Kevin Ollie.

Villanova 73, Milwaukee 53

Darrun Hilliard scored 16 points, JayVaughn Pinkston added 13 and Villanova beat Milwaukee at Buffalo in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats (29-4), the No. 2 seed in the East Region, will play seventh-seeded Connecticut (27-8) in the third round Saturday. The Huskies held off Saint Joseph’s 89-81 in overtime.

No. 15 seed Milwaukee (21-14), the surprise champion of the Horizon League, made it a game all the way, leading much of the first half before fading late.

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