Top Plays From First Round March Madness Games In Salt Lake City

Mar 21, 2024, 11:10 PM | Updated: Mar 22, 2024, 10:13 am

For the first time in five years, March Madness has returned to Salt Lake City!

SALT LAKE CITY – For the first time in five years, March Madness has returned to Salt Lake City!

Check out the best plays from the four first-round games in the Delta Center on Thursday.

March Madness In SLC Top Plays – Day One

No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 15 Long Beach State

The day started at noon with the Arizona Wildcats taking on the Long Beach State Beach.

Long Beach came out of the gates hot and took a five-point lead midway through the first half.

The Wildcats fought back to lead by six at the break.

Arizona opened the half on a 17-2 run and didn’t look back. Long Beach had some shooting struggles but ultimately couldn’t keep up with the offensive firepower of the Cats.

From deep threes to dunks, everything went in Arizona’s favor after halftime.

Kylan Boswell was the leading scorer for the Wildcats. He posted 20 points, eight assists and two steals.

The 6-foot-2 guard also had this fastbreak dunk late in the game.

Arizona forced Long Beach to shoot just 33.3 percent from the floor and 17.6 percent from deep and walked away with a convincing 85-65 win.

No. 7 Dayton vs. No. 10 Nevada

After the game one blowout, the Wolf Pack and Flyers gave the Delta Center fans a much more competitive game.

There was a solid turnout for Dayton, especially considering the school is over 1,600 miles from SLC.

But, location favored Nevada and it showed. Nevada fans came out in numbers and gave the Wolf Pack more or less of a home-court advantage.

Nevada went into the half with a nine-point lead after going on a 12-0 run.

The Wolf Pack built on its lead early in the second half. With seven minutes left, Nevada led by 17.

Dayton wasn’t going to go out that easy though.

The Flyers rattled off 17 unanswered points to tie the game at 56.

In the final minutes, Nevada and Dayton went back and forth. The Flyers held a three-point lead on the final possession and played great defense to secure the win.

DaRon Holmes II did it all for Dayton. He had a game-high 18 points with nine rebounds and three steals.

No. 5 Gonzaga vs. No. 12 McNeese

After the second game of the day went down to the wire, it was time for another blowout.

The Cowboys kept it close early on but once the Bulldogs took a double-digit lead with eight minutes until the half, it went downhill.

Gonzaga went into halftime up by 23.

Despite the big deficit, McNeese continued to fight and put up some highlights along the way.

With about seven minutes left in the game, Cowboys forward Christian Shumate threw down this powerful one-hand slam.

McNeese actually outscored Gonzaga in the second half, 40-38, but the Zag’s late first-half run was too much to overcome.

No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Samford

It was unclear which direction this game was heading based on the first half.

The Jayhawks led for all 20 minutes and even got up by as much as 16. However, the Bulldogs showed that they had no quit and cut the lead to under 10 multiple times.

Regardless of Samford’s effort level, it was a highlight show for Kansas.

The Jayhawks were able to do more or less what they wanted inside, outscoring Samford 26-10 in the paint.

Kansas’ height advantage showed as they connected on multiple alley-oops.

Samford trailed by 10 at halftime.

It got worse after the break as Kansas opened its lead to 20. But the Bulldogs came storming back again.

Samford closed the lead down to one with some suffocating defense.

Utah native Rylan Jones was all over the court for the Bulldogs and led the late charge.

RELATED: Samford’s Rylan Jones Had A Memorable End To His Collegiate Career

With a minute left, Kansas led by four, 88-84.

Achor Achor showed off his hops once again with a huge dunk to drop the lead to two with 38 seconds on the clock.

Kansas responded with an easy dunk of its own to go back up by four.

Once again, Samford came up clutch and nailed a three to make it a 1-point game.

The Bulldogs were forced to play the free throw game and it didn’t work in their favor.

The Jayhawks held strong and squeaked out a four-point win.

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports.Β 

Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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Top Plays From First Round March Madness Games In Salt Lake City