Live from the Wells Fargo Center for NCAA March Madness

NewsWorks is down at the Wells Fargo Center for Friday’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament games.

Four games will be played in South Philadelphia starting with the Duke Blue Devils vs. the University of Albany Great Danes at 12:15 p.m.

After that, it’s Creighton vs. Cincinnati sometime around 2:45 p.m., Georgetown vs. Florida Gulf Coast at 6:50 p.m. and, finally, San Diego State vs. Oklahoma starting around 9:20 p.m.

Fans wearing Duke gear have already arrived outside the arena.

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Big Five teams playing elsewhere

While they’re not playing at the Wells Fargo Center, three local teams will also take the court Friday.

The Temple Owls face N.C. State in Dayton, Ohio at 1:40 p.m.

The LaSalle Explorers play Kansas State in Kansas City, Mo. at 3:10 p.m.

And, the Villanova Wildcats face the North Carolina Tarheels at 7:20 p.m., also in Kansas City.

We’ll be posting updates, with photos from Kim Paynter, throughout the day, so check back in here and via Twitter.

12:20 p.m.

And we’re underway here at Wells Fargo. A smattering of cheers and boos when Duke players were introduced. This was to be expected, of course.

The Great Danes win the tip, but fail to score a basket. Duke brings the ball upcourt and Seth Curry hits a three pointer. Could be a long day for Albany.

With 12:33 remaining in the first half, the No. 2 seeded Blue Devils have an 18-9 lead over the Great Danes.

While the arena is not packed, there’s a good turnout for this first of four games today.

1 p.m.

Well, there is 1:38 remaining in the first half. Duke leads by 5. The loudest cheers have come when something breaks Albany’s way. They have crawled back into contention over the past few minutes.

However, Duke drives their lead back up to nine. The halftime score: Duke Blue Devils 35, Albany Great Danes 26.

1:30 p.m.

Second half of Duke/Albany is underway here at Wells Fargo. Albany cuts Duke lead to seven, but Duke’s Mason Plumlee quickly answers. Kim Paynter’s getting some good photos, but you probably know that already since the gallery is atop this post.

2 p.m.

Duke has taken a 14-point lead on Albany.

A cheer goes up when Temple’s lead on N.C. State (early in game) is shown.

They showed a brief tribute to the late Hank Gathers on the screen during a timeout. Gathers, a Dobbins Tech grad, collapsed and died of a heart condition during a game for Loyola Marymount in 1990.

2:15 p.m.

Albany has twice cut Duke’s lead to 10 in the second half, getting rousing cheers from the crowd each time.

When Albany’s Jacob Iati goes to the line with 4:40 left, he hits the first free throw to cut the deficit to nine. He hits the second to cut it to eight. The crowd gets awfully loud, with “defense” chants. Duke’s Seth Curry misses a shot, gathers the rebound, lays it in and gets the lead back to 10 points with 3:59 remaining.

Duke doesn’t seem able to close Albany out, but the Great Danes can’t really seem to get within striking distance, either.

2:30 p.m.

And Duke closes out the opening game with a 12-point win over the outmatched Great Danes.

Next up: the Creighton Bluejays (27-7) vs. the Cincinnati Bearcats (22-11) sometime around 2:45 p.m.

Local ties: Creighton beat Saint Joe’s 80-51 in December. Cincinnati beat Villanova 68-50 last month.

3 p.m.

Game two at Wells Fargo Center is underway.

From the fashion files: the Cincinnati Bearcats are wearing Zubaz-style shorts for their game vs. Creighton. They stand out.

From the mascot files: The Creighton Bluejay looks like the University of Delaware’s YouDee.

From the score files: It’s tied at 12 during the timeout break with 11:14 left in the first half.

3:30 p.m.

This is a more-tightly contested game than Duke/Albany, which is to be expected when a seven- and nine-seed face off. Lead changes. Close scores throughout.

With 3:37 left in the first half, Cincinnati leads 27-26.

They’ve been flashing the Temple/N.C. State score up on the board to keep local fans apprised of Big Five action. An audible groan went up when it became known that N.C. State had mounted a comeback of sorts. I suspect there would be substantially more energy at the Wells Fargo Center if the Temple game was being played here.

3:45 p.m.

In the local game, Creighton leads Cincinnati 32-27 at halftime.

In the local-team’s game that just finished, Temple advances to the Round of 32 with a nail-biter of a win over N.C. State.

Game note: Duke’s win was Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 80th tournament win all-time.

4:30 p.m.

It’s rather calm at the Wells Fargo Center for a March Madness game. Creighton has a solid-blue cheering section; Cincy fans scattered throughout.

Granted, there’s still 10 minutes left, and Cincy’s Shaquille Thomas got a rise out of the crowd with a nice dunk, followed by a Bluejays push to drive their lead to 50-44.

Maybe it’s just that Philly sports events seem a bit more amped up in comparision to two non-local teams playing.

Announced attendance: More than 18,000.

5 p.m.

Creighton’s band is playing “The Final Countdown.” Which is kind of is for one of the teams, considering there’s just 1:42 left in the game. Score: Creighton 58, Cincinnati 54.

5:15 p.m.

As is often the case with basketball games, about 15 minutes has passed, but only one minute of gametime has elapsed. With 32.1 seconds left, Creighton leads 64-61.

Cincy has the ball with 24.5 seconds now, still trailing by three. A layup by guard Sean Kilpatrick cuts the deficit to one point. Less than 15 seconds remaining. Creighton’s Austin Chatman, a sophomore from Texas, is at the free-throw line, where he’s hit two shots (the second of which sat atop the rim for a second).

Cincy gets called for traveling. Creighton’s ball: 3.6 seconds left. Inbounded to Chatman, who will return to the line to essentially finish Cincinnati’s game, tournament and season.

He missed the first. A lot riding on this second foul shot, which he hits to give Creighton the victory.

Final score: Creighton 67, Cincinnati 63. Their fans are whistling and cheering as the players leave the court.

The stands are emptying out as a new batch of folks will be here for the night games. (Those who are staying for all four have to leave and then come back in).

Word has also just reached the arena that La Salle has advanced. Philly’s 2-for-2 on the day, with Villanova coming up just after 7 p.m.

Coming up locally at 6:50 p.m.: Georgetown vs. Florida Gulf Coast.

We’ll move over to a new post and gallery for that one.

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