“Anything is possible,” Princeton guard Blake Peters ’25 told CBS Sports Saturday night after his Tigers finished a stunning 78-63 dismantling of Missouri in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Sacramento, California. With the win, Princeton will make its first appearance in the Sweet 16 since 1967 and see what else is possible at the South Regional in Louisville, Kentucky.
Princeton, the No. 15 seed in the region, defeated No. 2 seed Arizona 59-55 on Thursday, setting up Saturday’s game with Missouri, the No. 7 seed.
“The world looks at it as two upsets, but you know, I keep feeling like we’re supposed to be here,” forward Tosan Evbuomwan ’23 said after the game. “We have a lot of confidence in one another and what we’re doing, so there’s definitely no let up with this group.”
Princeton lived up to its T-shirt credo (and social-media hashtag) “Make Shots,” drilling 12 3-pointers in a marked contrast to its first-round win over Arizona, when the Tigers made just 4 of 25 3-point attempts. In the first half, Ryan Langborg ’23 was the catalyst, slicing to the basket for layups and making 3-pointers — some from well beyond the arc — to help the Tigers build a 14-point lead. Missouri trimmed the margin to seven just before the halftime buzzer, but in the second half, Princeton heated up again.
Langborg was “the best player on the floor tonight,” head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 said in the postgame press conference. “He was awesome, and he’s been awesome for five straight games.”
Peters was comparably awesome in the second half. Each time Missouri cut into the lead, it seemed, he would make a 3-pointer to stretch it back to a more comfortable margin. He scored 15 of his 17 points on second-half threes.
Langborg finished the game with a game-high 22 points. Matt Allocco ’24 scored 10 points and led the Tigers with seven assists.
Princeton also scored inside the paint, setting the tone midway through the first have with dunks by Keshawn Kellman ’23 on back-to-back possessions. The Tigers outrebounded Missouri, 44 to 30, and held their opponents to 27.3% shooting on 3-pointers.
Princeton will play either Baylor or Creighton on Friday in Louisville. The program’s earlier Sweet 16 appearances came in 1965 and 1967, when the tournament field included 23 schools. The Ivy League last sent a team to the Sweet 16 in 2010, when Cornell won tournament games against Temple and Wisconsin.
The Tigers’ tournament run offers a measure of redemption for Princeton after it fell a game short of reaching the field in 2022, losing to Yale in the Ivy League Tournament final.
“We had a terrific team a year ago, we lost in the championship game, didn’t go to the NCAAs,” Henderson said. “We could barely watch the tournament.”
But with new players in place and returning players in expanded roles, Princeton has hit its stride at the best possible time.
“This is a very, very confident group,” Henderson said. “We are so thrilled to be going to the Sweet 16. It is an absolute pleasure being around these guys — they just grit their teeth and they do it.”