GREENVILLE, S.C., March 16 (UPI) -- Trevor Huffman scored 20 points and Antonio Gates added 18 Saturday as No. 10 seed Kent State secured a berth in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 by routing second-seeded Alabama, 71-58, in the South Region.
Continuing the most successful season in school history, coach Stan Heath's club posted its 20th straight win and advanced to play the winner of Sunday's matchup between Pittsburgh and California.
Kent State (29-5) scored six of the first eight points and was never headed.
"It's a good feeling," Huffman said. "It's great for our league (Mid-American Conference). We are representing Ball State and Bowling Green, teams that we felt should have been in."
The Golden Flashes had an 18-8 midway lead through the first half and led by 12 at the break. Any thought of an Alabama comeback were quickly wiped out when Kent State opened the second half on a 17-9 run.
"They got off to a good start," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "We missed two one-and-ones, Mo (Maurice Williams) missed a three-pointer, Ernest Shelton missed a wide open three-pointer and they extended it to about eight or 10. At that point, with their veteran guards, it's a difficult night."
Andrew Mitchell added 11 points for Kent State, which committed just eight turnovers.
Rod Grizzard led Alabama with 17 points, but the Crimson Tide shot just 30 percent in the first half.
With Kent State owning a 36-24 lead at intermission, Gates opened the second half with a layup. After Erwin Dudley had a jumper for Alabama, Huffman made a three-pointer and a jumper around a layup by the Tide's Kenny Walker.
Grizzard's three-point play got Alabama within 43-31, but Gates and Nate Gerwig had baskets 32 seconds apart to push the lead to 16.
The Golden Flashes' lead was 53-33 with 13:12 left. They pushed the advantage to 24 with just over 10 minutes left before Alabama used a 14-4 burst to get within 14.
The Tide came no closer.
"We wanted to play our game, that is play with a lot of intensity and effort," Huffman said.