MSU to Elite Eight
NEW YORK (AP) – Branden Dawson had 24 points and 10 rebounds and Michigan State beat top-seeded Virginia 61-59 on Friday night to advance to East Regional final.
The fourth-seeded Spartans (29-8) will play Connecticut (29-8) on Sunday with a Final Four berth at stake. The seventh-seeded Huskies beat third-seeded Iowa State 81-76 earlier Friday.
Michigan State overcame a horrible start to the second half and then withstood a late run by the Cavaliers (30-7) to advance to the regional finals for the eighth time since 1985 – all under coach Tom Izzo.
Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogden both had 17 points for Virginia, which became the second No. 1 seed to be eliminated, joining Wichita State.
Adreian Payne had 16 points for Michigan State and his 3-pointer with 1:29 left gave the Spartans the lead for good at 54-51. After a miss by Brogdon, the 6-foot-10 Payne turned point guard, finding Dawson with a line drive lob pass for a dunk with 52 seconds to go.
Harris hit a 3 with 39 seconds left to bring the Cavaliers within 56-54.
Payne found another way to help the Spartans, making two free throws with 32 seconds left for a 58-54 lead.
Brogdon hit a 3 with 1.1 seconds left to bring Virginia within 60-59. Gary Harris made one of two free throws to make it 61-59 and Virginia’s last attempt was well off the mark.
Michigan State came up with a defensive effort that Virginia is known for. The Spartans held the Cavaliers to 35.1 percent shooting (20 of 57), well off the 45.7 percent they shot during the season and nowhere near the 54.3 percent they shot in the two NCAA tournament games.
Dawson, who averages 11.0 points per game, has scored in double figures in six straight games and he had a career-high 26 points in the third-round win over Harvard.
Michigan State started the second half by missing seven of its first eight shots and committing five turnovers. Virginia took advantage to turn a 31-27 halftime deficit into a 38-34 lead. The Spartans went on a 13-2 run to go up 49-42 with 6:10 to go.
UConn 81, Iowa State 76 – DeAndre Daniels’ UConn teammates were going to keep passing him the ball until he cooled off.
By the time that happened, it was too late for Iowa State.
Daniels scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half, and the Huskies hung on for an 81-76 victory Friday to reach the East Regional final a year after UConn was barred from the NCAA tournament.
“DeAndre’s a scorer, and once you feel that you have that confidence, the next shot’s going to go in,” said senior Shabazz Napier.
Daniels hit his first six shots after halftime, the only Husky to make a field goal for over 8 1/2 minutes. His 3-pointer gave seventh-seeded UConn a 49-32 lead.
The third-seeded Cyclones rallied late, pulling within 67-63 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining.
Kentucky 74, Louisville 69 – Aaron Harrison hit a 3-pointer for the go-ahead score with 39 seconds left and Julius Randle made a pair of clutch free throws to lift the fantastic freshmen of Kentucky to a 74-69 victory over in-state rival Louisville.
The eighth-seeded Wildcats (27-10) led for a grand total of 65 seconds in this Midwest Regional semifinal. They’ll play Michigan on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four.
Few expected a run this deep as this season played out and Kentucky’s five freshman starters struggled to play a team game. But they’ve been learning slowly. Trailing by seven with 4 1/2 minutes left, things kicked in again.