Auburn earned its second trip to the Elite Eight by coasting to a to a 97-80 victory over the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region. The trigger-happy Tigers overcame an early deficit with a hot-shooting second to return to the region final for the first time in 33 years.
North Carolina (29-7) was the first top seed eliminated from this year’s NCAA Tournament. Auburn (29-9) tied its 1998-99 mark for most wins in a season.
The Tar Heels’ bevy of athletes could do nothing to slow down Auburn, which got 20 points and 11 boards from Chuma Okeke before he left with a gruesome knee injury late in the game. The big forward certainly didn’t do it alone as the Tigers had six in double-figures scoring, and they knocked down 17 of 37 3-pointers in a virtuoso shooting performance.
Malik Dunbar finished with 13 points, Bryce Brown and Danjel Purifoy scored 12 apiece, and Jared Harper scored nine while dishing out 11 assists in Auburn’s latest takedown of college hoops royalty.
DUKE 75, VIRGINIA TECH 73
Zion Williamson scored 23 points, RJ Barrett had 18 and a career-high 11 assists, and Tre Jones added 22 points and eight assists, helping No. 1 overall seed Duke avoid an NCAA Tournament upset and edge No. 4-seeded Virginia Tech 75-73.
The Hokies had their chances in the closing seconds, the final one coming on an inbounds play with 1.1 seconds left. The ball went to Ahmed Hill as he jumped to the basket wide open, but his attempt to tie it fell short. Hill dropped to the court on his back as Zion Williamson — fittingly — grabbed the basketball and smiled broadly. It was similar to the way two last-gasp shots went off the rim for Duke’s second-round opponent, UCF.
Before that final miss, both Hill and Ty Outlaw airballed 3-point attempts that would have put Virginia Tech ahead.
But Duke got through, even though it trailed much of the evening, including 38-34 at halftime.
KENTUCKY 62, HOUSTON 58
Tyler Herro hit a 3-pointer with 25.8 seconds left to give Kentucky the lead after Houston had erased a double-digit lead, and the Wildcats escaped their NCAA Midwest regional semifinal with a 62-58 win over Houston.
Herro’s huge basket gave the Wildcats a 60-58 lead and came after Houston’s Corey Davis Jr. had his driving shot swatted away by PJ Washington, who was making his return after missing the first two tournament games with a left foot injury.
Davis missed what would have been a tying layup before Herro hit two more free throws to secure the win and send the second-seeded Wildcats to the Elite Eight for the seventh time in 10 years, Kentucky will face Southeastern Conference rival Auburn for a trip to the Final Four.
Herro led the Wildcats (30-6) with 19 points and Washington added 16.
MICHIGAN STATE 80, LSU 63
Aaron Henry scored a career-best 20 and fellow frosh Gabe Brown had 15 as second-seeded Michigan State beat third-seeded LSU 80-63 on Friday night to move on to the NCAA Tournament’s East Region final.
Coach Tom Izzo’s upperclassmen-heavy team is one victory away from its first Final Four appearance since 2015.
Michigan State took it to LSU on the glass, outrebounding the Tigers 34-20. At halftime, Michigan State had as many offensive rebounds as LSU had total boards, at times making it look like 5-on-4 when the ball came off the rim.
Michigan State had five 3s in the first 10 minutes alone, and LSU never adjusted defensively.
Tremont Waters scored 10 points during a 13-0 LSU run spanning the first half into the second to cut the deficit to four. Then Michigan State blew the game wide open with 3-pointers. The Spartans hit four of their first five 3-point attempts out of halftime.
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