NCAA Tournament: A sanity check as Duke, Kansas, Villanova win

NCAA Tournament: A sanity check as Duke, Kansas, Villanova win
NCAA Tournament: A sanity check as Duke, Kansas, Villanova win
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25 March, 2018

"Earlier in the year we lost a couple of games that we lost our poise and we made the wrong decisions in crunch time".

Malik Newman led the Jayhawks (30-7) with 17 points in a one-time runaway that got much closer and, quite frankly, won't mean much to KU fans if their team can't finish the job in the Midwest Region final Sunday.

Third seed Texas Tech is in the Elite Eight for the first time following a 78-65 win over No. 2 Purdue.

Carsen Edwards led Purdue with 30 points, including four 3-pointers. Not until Gary Trent Jr., made two free throws with 6.3 seconds left was this game sealed.

"Every stage in this tournament is a blessing", said sophomore center Udoka Azubuike, who returned to KU's starting lineup and delivered 14 points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes.

Tyus Battle scored 19 points to lead Syracuse and Oshae Brissett added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Orange (23-14). A last second three-point play would win the game and save their season. Both teams traded punches all game. Then Texas Tech beat the hell out of them in Lawrence and it looked like the streak was on its way to over. The Tigers not only won a pair of games in the tourney-including a thorough, 31-point beatdown of No. 4 seed Auburn-but they did it after earning their first at-large bid since 2011, shaking off rampant hot seat chatter surrounding head coach Brad Brownell as well as a season-ending injury to their best player (senior forward Donte Grantham), and drawing a 13th-place preseason projection in the ACC.

Perhaps feeling the heat, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski tore off his jacket and threw it to the floor in frustration after calling a timeout early in the second half to slow a Syracuse run. "And [we are] certainly very happy about getting a chance to play in the biggest game of our season thus far Sunday".

Graham sat out more than four minutes in the second half after picking up his third foul. "They're finding ways to win, and things happen this time of year, especially when you get a group that just believes and has made some really clutch shots down the stretch".

The two Jayhawks have combined for 16 points, with four dunks, on 7-of-9 shooting.

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Clemson attempted to put a dent in its deficit before the break but a five-point Jayhawk possession dashed those hopes. Luckily, the people who watch the Jayhawks intently are seasoned at such matters, a useful knack for those times when a lead reaches 20 with 18:16 left and again with 15:42 left and again with 12 minutes left, then winds up wobbling at a wee six with 90 seconds left with a Clemson coming up the court. In a game where Gonzaga should have dominated, the Seminoles did them in.

OMAHA, Neb. - Duke is back in the Elite Eight for the first time since its 2015 team won it all after holding off a late charge from rival Syracuse 69-65 on Friday night in the Midwest Region semifinals.

Marvin Bagley scored 22 points and Wendell Carter Jr. had 14 with 12 rebounds for Duke (29-7).

"This is why you come to Kansas, to experience the best of the best", Newman told SN.

The Jayhawks, one of only two 1 seeds to advance past the first weekend, did not get to this point easily. But it closed the period on a 10-0 run to take a 30-25 halftime advantage.

So much of Clemson's success this season came because of 3-point marksmanship, but the Tigers were just 6-of-20 from long range Friday.

"I think of all the teams that we've had here", Self said, "this would be the team that everyone would have thought would not be in this game".

The last game of the day between #2 Purdue Boilermakers and #3 Texas Tech Red Raiders proved to be just as good as the other three. even though the score proved otherwise.


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