It took overtime in order to decide the Midwest Regional Final at Century Link Arena in Omaha last Sunday between No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Duke.
After five minutes, the Jayhawks emerged with an 85-81 victory as sophomore shooting guard Malik Newman scored 13 points and finished with a game-high and career-best 32 points.
Kansas will face Villanova, the top-seeded team in the East Regional and a 71-59 winner over No. 3 Texas Tech at Boston’s TD Garden in one national semifinal.
‘We were confident the whole game.’
-Kansas Head Coach Bill Self
“We were confident the whole game,’’ said Kansas Head Coach Bill Self, who is seeking his second national banner. “Senior point guard DeVonte’ Graham (11 points and six assists) played well and Malik took over in overtime.’’
In the other national semifinal, No. 3 seed Michigan in the West Regional at Los Angeles’ Staples Center and a 58-54 winner over No. 9 Florida State will battle No. 11 Loyola Chicago, a 78-62 victor over No. 9 Kansas State on Saturday in the South Regional at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
When senior shooting guard Grayson Allen (12 points) missed an eight-footer in the waning seconds that would have clinched it for Duke, overtime awaited.
With 26 seconds remaining, a three-pointer by senior shooting guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (11 points and 10 rebounds) leveled it at 72-72.
Duke dashed in front 36-33 at halftime as freshman point guard Trevon Duval had 13 points and freshman shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. nine points en route to 17.
Duval (20 points) had a slam dunk with 45.4 seconds left that made it 34-31 and added another basket.
The Jayhawks’ lead was shaved to 48-47 when freshman power forward Marvin Bagley III (16 points with 10 caroms) canned a trey with 13:28 on the clock.
Kansas (31-7) outscored Duke 14-10 and led 62-57 when Mykhailiuk tossed in a layup with 7:45 left.
Allen’s three-pointer with 7:25 showing in the initial half supplied the Blue Devils (29-8) with a 22-19 edge.
Villanova (34-4) dominated Texas Tech (27-10) in the opening half and led 36-23.
“That’s a good Texas Tech team and they scouted us really well,’’ said Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright, whose team won the title in 2016. “They played good defense, but we also played good defense against them.’’
The Wildcats were paced by junior point guard Jalen Brunson’s 15 points while junior shooting guard Mikal Bridges contributed 12 points.
Junior power forward Eric Paschall dropped in 12 points with a game-best 14 rebounds and sophomore shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo added 12 points with eight caroms.
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.