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losangelesnewstoday.com April 22, 2018


Duke, Texas Tech, Villanova, Kansas sweet to elite

25 March 2018, 12:39 | Stacy Ballard

Ronald Martinez Getty Images

Ronald Martinez  Getty Images

Clemson probably needed to play its best game to beat Kansas on Friday night.

Self's Kansas team looked like a masterpiece of spacing and ball movement with its four perimeter players and its interior giant, the 7-foot Nigerian Udoka Azubuike, who would stuff the box score with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Six minutes of play later, a Kansas inbounds pass went amok, and Clemson's Shelton Mitchell grabbed it near midcourt and began storming toward the basket.

Gary Trent Jr. then made two free throws with 6.3 seconds to go to seal a closer-than-expected win that was similar to the Jayhawks' 80-76 win over Clemson - a game Kansas led by 20 at one point.

In the game's final minutes, after Azubuike had fouled out, his value became even clearer as Clemson threatened a stunning comeback that ultimately fell short.

Sophomore guard Carsen Edwards led Purdue (30-7) with a game-high 30 points. DeVoe is the first Clemson guard with at least 30 points and nine rebounds in the same game since Will Solomon had 43 and nine vs. Virginia on January 15, 2000 ... "What a college basketball game", said Villanova head coach Jay Wright.

For the first time during this NCAA Tournament the Jayhawks achieved something they so often made look easy during the regular season, draining double-digit 3-pointers.

HOT SHOOTING: Loyola shot 75 percent from the field in the second half against Nevada, making 18 of 24 shots.

"We should play free and loose on Sunday, there's no reason why we shouldn't".

"This was a year where it just seems weird because we haven't played great yet".

The teams went back and forth, trading alley-oop dunks and three-pointers until the end-game played out with 21 seconds left.

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Courtois added that they should focus on the FA Cup now with that being the only chance at silverware. Willian, who has been Chelsea's brightest performer of late, said: "Now we have to look forward".

Kansas moves on to Sunday's Midwest Region final, looking to avenge consecutive Elite Eight losses the past two years.

After trailing by 15 points with less than five minutes left, Clemson got to within 4 points with 14 seconds remaining.

But in Kansas, Brownell's team was facing a supremely talented group that was dialed in for all of the first half and much of the second half.

Clemson battled back and forth in the early going with Kansas, but towards the end of the first half, the Tigers (25-10) let the Jayhawks (30-7) finish the opening stanza on a 15-5 run to lead by 13 at the break. In a game where Gonzaga should have dominated, the Seminoles did them in.

Shortly after his Blue Devils survived Syracuse 69-65 late Friday night, a relieved Mike Krzyzewski was nowhere near ready to talk Kansas or what that first national championship meant for him and the Duke program after several close misses.

Zach Smith added 14 points and five rebounds.

KU (30-7), which has fallen short the past two seasons, losing to Villanova and OR as the No. 1 seed in consecutive Elite Eight contests, got 14 points and 11 rebounds in 25 foul-plagued minutes from a seemingly healthy Udoka Azubuike. But it closed the period on a 10-0 run to take a 30-25 halftime advantage. But Duke, which made just two 3s in that victory, has already knocked down a few from beyond the arc - a key in defeating Syracuse's headache-inducing 2-3 zone.

Keenan Evans had 16 points for the Red Raiders, who also received 33 points from their bench as opposed to just six for the Boilermakers reserves.

As a top seed the last two seasons, Kansas made it through the regional semifinals, only to flop a game shy of the Final Four both times. "We started out playing as well offensively as we have in a long time".

So far this tournament has shown that Kansas has the ability to overcome all these issues and answer any doubts.



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