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NCAA Tournament Roundup: Final four all squared away

PHILADELPHIA -- North Carolina is in the Final Four for a record 19th time after beating Notre Dame 88-74 on Sunday evening in the NCAA East Regional Final at Wells Fargo Center.

PHILADELPHIA -- North Carolina is in the Final Four for a record 19th time after beating Notre Dame 88-74 on Sunday evening in the NCAA East Regional Final at Wells Fargo Center.

The Tar Heels (32-6), the top seed in the East regional, advance to their first national semifinal since 2009. There, they will take on another Atlantic Coast Conference squad, surprise Final Four participant Syracuse, a No. 10 seed out of the Midwest regional.

The North Carolina frontcourt has been too deep and too skilled for every team the Tar Heels have come across during their tournament run, and they showed why again.

First it was senior big man Brice Johnson, who had a dominant first half en route to a team-high 25 points. He was one of five Tar Heels with 10 points or more.

To start the second half, junior Kennedy Meeks poured in eight straight points to help UNC move out to an 11-point advantage with 16 minutes left.

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Then, after Notre Dame roared back with a dozen straight to regain the lead, it was a pair of reserves, sophomore Theo Pinson and junior Isaiah Hicks, who helped North Carolina responded with a 12-0 run of its own. The back-breaker was an alley-oop from the 6-6, 205-pound

Pinson to the 6-9, 235-pound Hicks with 9:19 left that re-established that 11-point lead.

Notre Dame (24-12) got no closer than eight points the rest of the way.

The Tar Heels dominated the rebounding battle (32-15) and points in the paint (42-30).

Senior guard Demetrius Jackson led Notre Dame with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Junior wing V.J. Beachem added 18 for the Fighting Irish.

North Carolina led 43-38 after an exciting first half that saw both teams shoot better than 58 percent from the floor and 60 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

Syracuse 68, Virginia 62

CHICAGO - Freshman forward Malachi Richardson scored 23 points, and Syracuse erased a 16-point, second-half deficit to beat Virginia 68-62 Sunday and reach the Final Four for the sixth time in school history.

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Guard Michael Gbinije and forward Tyler Lydon added 11 points apiece for 10th-seeded Syracuse, which stunned top-seeded Virginia in the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Regional final.

Guard Logan Perrantes scored 18 points to lead Virginia (29-8). Guard Malcolm Brogdon added 12 points despite shooting 2-of-14 from the field.

Syracuse finished the game on a 31-11 run.

Virginia guard Devon Hall missed a 3-pointer that would have evened the score at 65 in the final seconds. Lydon pulled down the rebound and made a pair of free throws with 9.2 seconds remaining to extend the lead.

Syracuse trailed 37-21 before clawing back for a 59-58 lead with 5:50 remaining. Richardson made a left-handed layup during a 27-7 run that put the Orange on top.

Richardson and Lydon hit back-to-back 3-pointers during the wild run in which Syracuse scored 15 consecutive points to transform a 58-49 deficit into a 64-58 lead. Richardson made a driving layup, buried a 3-pointer from the right wing and finished with another layup to give the Orange a six-point lead with 3:23 to go.

Virginia went nearly six minutes without a field goal before Anthony Gill scored on a layup with 1:49 remaining.

Syracuse’s comeback stunned Virginia, which led 51-37 with 10:02 to play. Reserve center Mike Tobey sparked a 12-5 run with a layup and a slam dunk that put the Cavaliers up by double digits.

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Perrantes drilled five 3-pointers in the first half to help Virginia establish a 35-21 lead at the break. The Cavaliers forced eight Syracuse turnovers and tallied 11 assists on 12 first-half baskets.

Virginia trailed for the first eight minutes before recovering. Perrantes hit back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 19-2 run that put the Cavaliers on top 21-10 with 6:33 remaining in the first half.

Syracuse jumped to an 8-2 lead thanks to two fastbreak layups by Gbinije and a pair of baskets off offensive rebounds by forward Tyler Roberson. The Orange defense caused problems early for Virginia, which missed its first six shots and did not make a field goal for nearly six minutes.

Villanova 64, Kansas 59

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Unable to carve up Kansas with its precise half-court offense, Villanova instead turned to its defense as the avenue to reach the Final Four.

Forcing 16 turnovers, the next-to-last one ruining the Jayhawks’ final chance to tie, the Wildcats knocked off the South Regional top seed 64-59 on Saturday night at KFC Yum! Center to attain their first national semifinal in seven years.

Up by three points after forward Kris Jenkins knocked down two free throws with just over 13 seconds left, No. 2 Villanova denied Kansas a last shot. Backup forward Mikal Bridges swiped the ball from guard Frank Mason and the Wildcats called timeout with 4.6 seconds left to save possession.

Guard Jalen Brunson iced the result with two free throws with 3.5 seconds remaining as Villanova (33-5) moved on to a matchup with West Regional champion Oklahoma next Saturday night in Houston.

Jenkins, guard Ryan Arcidiacono and guard Josh Hart each scored 13 points and forward Daniel Ochefu added 10 for the Wildcats.

Guard Devonte’ Graham had a game-high 17 points for the Jayhawks (33-5) and guards Wayne Selden and Frank Mason hit for 16 each. But forward Perry Ellis, who averaged 23 points per game in Kansas’ three previous NCAA Tournament games, managed only four points on 1-of-5 shooting from the field.

Playing at a cautious pace, Kansas inched out to a 16-12 lead with 10:41 left as Selden slalomed through the defense for a driving layup. But the Jayhawks wouldn’t score again for nearly seven minutes as Villanova’s zone defense forced a spate of turnovers and missed 3-pointers.

Oklahoma 80, Oregon 68

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Buddy Hield scored 37 points and tied a career high with eight 3-pointers as the Sooners advanced to the Final Four with an 80-68 victory over top-seeded Oregon in the NCAA West Regional at the Honda Center on Saturday.

Hield, the two-time Big 12 Player of the Year, had 17 points in the first half, when the Sooners (29-7) built an 18-point lead. Oregon never got within 12 until the final half-minute.

Hield has 117 points in four NCAA tournament games to help Oklahoma advance to its fifth Final Four.

Forward Dillon Brooks, Oregon’s leading scorer at 17.0 points a game, had seven points on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor before fouling out in the final two minutes.

Forward Elgin Cook had 24 points for Oregon (31-7), which had a 10-game winning streak broken. Forward Chris Boucher had 14 points.

Oklahoma, which was averaging 10.4 3-pointers a game, was 12-of-24 from 3-point range. The Sooners have made 42.8 percent of their 3-point shots this season, on pace for a school record.

The Sooners had a 38-32 rebounding advantage and turned 14 offensive rebounds into 16 second chance points.

Oregon played a 1-2-2 three-quarter court gentle zone press in the first half designed to slow Oklahoma, but the Sooners were not fazed.

Hield had 17 points and five 3-pointers in the first half, when the Sooners took a 48-30 lead on Hield’s 3-pointer with five seconds remaining, their largest lead of the opening 20 minutes.

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