Auburn rips Tar Heels, 97-80; Spartans breeze past LSU
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — 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.
MICHIGAN STATE 80, LSU 63
WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.
DUKE 75, VIRGINIA TECH 73
WASHINGTON (AP) — Duke has survived again in the NCAA Tournament.
The No. 1 overall seed held off Virginia Tech 75-73 in the East Region semifinals, earning a trip to the Elite Eight to face Michigan State. The Blue Devils had to survive a wild final possession for the Hokies, who missed two 3-pointers for the lead then had Ahmed Hill miss a short putaway on a perfectly executed inbounds lob to the lane to end it.
Duke had already survived UCF missing two attempts for the win in a one-point win in the second round last weekend. The Blue Devils also won games against Wake Forest and North Carolina this year by surviving final-play shots each time.
Zion Williamson scored a game-high 23 points, while fellow freshman Tre Jones scores a career-high 22 points with five 3-pointers to compensate for the absence of starter Cam Reddish due to a knee injury.
Kerry Blackshear had 18 points to lead the fourth-seeded Hokies.
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.