DAYTON, Ohio -- Florida Gulf Coast showed once again that it can rise to the occasion in the NCAA Tournament.
It wasn't the same "Dunk City" gang that captured the nation's attention during an improbable Sweet 16 run in 2013, but the Eagles controlled the boards and blew past overmatched Fairleigh Dickinson 96-65 in a First Four game Tuesday night.
Marc-Eddy Norelia opened the game with a dunk, two of his 20 points on the night to lead the Eagles (21-13). FGCU never relinquished the lead, going on a 23-6 run in the first 10 minutes and opening a 40-19 lead at the half.
Fairleigh Dickinson got some looks but couldn't get much to fall, shooting just 33 percent from the field while playing thoroughly lackluster defense. It was one of the team's worst shooting performances of the season.
Florida Gulf Coast relied on outmuscling its opponent's big men inside and controlling the boards, while making 60 percent of its shots from the field.
"That's what got us here," Norelia said of the inside game. "Coach made the game plan and said we're going to do what we've been doing, and it worked for us."
Julian Debose and Christian Terrell both added 14 for Florida Gulf Coast, and Demetris Morant chipped in 10. After Norelia's opening slam, Brian Greene Jr. closed the scoring with a dunk for FGCU (see full recap).
Wichita State pulls away late to beat Vandy
DAYTON, Ohio -- Wichita State's guards used their Final Four experience to pull out a defense-dominated First Four game on Tuesday night, leading the way to a 70-50 victory over Vanderbilt.
Fred VanVleeet -- the two-time Missouri Valley player of the year -- scored 14 points, and Ron Baker also had 14 as Wichita State (25-8) took control at the start of the second half and held on. The seniors were part of Wichita State's 2013 Final Four team.
The Shockers play Arizona on Thursday in Providence, Rhode Island.
Vanderbilt (19-14) couldn't take advantage of its pronounced size advantage on offense and never led in the second half. Joe Toye and Riley LaChance had 10 apiece.
The Shockers returned three starters from the team that knocked off Indiana and Kansas to reach the Sweet 16 last year, drawing a No. 10 ranking in the preseason poll. A lot of early injuries -- including VanVleet's pulled hamstring -- forced the Shockers to reinvent themselves.
They got yet another setback on Tuesday when VanVleet left to get treated for a cut on the right side of his forehead only a few minutes into the game. He gave the Shockers a pep talk during the next timeout but stayed on the bench.
VanVleet got back into the game with 13:13 left in the half and hit a baseline jumper for his first points. Asked after the game if he would need stitches, he said, "No, I'm not a stitches guy, I don't do needles. I'll just butterfly (bandage) it up" (see full recap).