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Sports

Duke, Texas Tech, Villanova, Kansas sweet to elite

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Duke found a way to crack Syracuse's zone defense, and now the Blue Devils are back in the Elite Eight for the first time since the 2015 team won it all.

Freshman Marvin Bagley III turned in a giant second-half effort, and second-seeded Duke held off the 11th-seeded Orange in a 69-65 chess match of a victory in the Midwest Region semifinals Friday night.
All that talk about busted brackets and the maddest March ever — not happening in the Midwest.
The win by Duke (29-7) set up a 1 vs. 2 showdown against Kansas, which also escaped with a four-point win earlier against Clemson.
Syracuse (23-14), the last at-large team invited to the tournament, saw its unlikely run to the Sweet 16 end — unable to overcome 16 turnovers against a Mike Krzyzewski-designed zone that was every bit as pesky as Jim Boeheim's vaunted 2-3.
Bagley scored 13 of his 22 points and had all eight of his rebounds in the second half. Seven of those boards were on the offensive end and led to second-chance baskets.
But Syracuse stayed in it until the end. Not until Gary Trent Jr., made two free throws with 6.3 seconds left was this game sealed.
Battle led the Orange with 19 points.
 
Texas Tech 78, Purdue 65
BOSTON (AP) — Texas Tech is headed to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.
Keenan Evans had 16 points and the third-seeded Red Raiders overcame an early first half hole and dominated second-seeded Purdue down the stretch to earn a 78-65 victory in the Sweet 16 on Friday night.
Texas Tech will play top seed Villanova in the East regional final Sunday.
Zach Smith added 14 points and five rebounds.
Texas Tech trailed by as many as 7 points in the first half. But it closed the period on a 10-0 run to take a 30-25 halftime advantage. Purdue got it down to 1 early in the second but the Red Raiders never surrendered the lead.
Carsen Edwards led Purdue with 30 points, including four 3-pointers.
The Boilermakers (30-7) were playing in their second straight regional semifinal. They were denied what would have been their first Elite Eight berth since 2000.
Purdue came in ranked second nationally in 3-point percentage and connected on 7 of 18 for the game. But the Boilermakers allowed the Red Raiders 17 second-chance points.
Texas Tech (27-9) also got 33 points from its bench, compared to just 6 for Purdue.
 
Villanova 90, W. Virginia 78
BOSTON (AP) — Villanova's 3-point party rolled past the intense pressure of West Virginia to bring the Wildcats to the doorstep of another Final Four two seasons after winning a national championship.
The top-seeded Wildcats continued their outside feast in the NCAA Tournament, downing the fifth-seeded Mountaineers 90-78 on Friday night to earn their second trip to the regional finals in three seasons.
Jalen Brunson led Villanova with 27 points and Omari Spellman had 18 with eight rebounds as Villanova overcame the West Virginia press by hitting 13 of 24 shots from 3-point range.
Daxter Miles had 16 points to lead West Virginia. Jevon Carter and Sagaba Konate added 12 each.
Villanova (33-4) has now made 44 3-pointers for the tournament. The outside barrage helped the Wildcats overcome 16 turnovers and played into their Sweet 16 plan for their opponents nicknamed "Press Virginia": Attack the stifling defense head-on.
"What a game, man. I hope that looked as good as it did from the bench, man," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "That was the most physically demanding, mentally draining 40 minutes we've played in a long time. They are so relentless."
The Wildcats struggled at times, especially in the first half, but dug out of a six-point hole in the second half with an 11-0 run.
The Mountaineers (26-11) stayed close throughout, ramping up the pressure and making Villanova play faster than it wanted to early. But foul trouble throughout the second half was too much for West Virginia to overcome after it gave up the lead.
 
Kansas 80, Clemson 76
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — For the third year in a row, Kansas made it through the Sweet 16 — although not before Clemson tried its hardest to add another wild chapter to an already unbelievable tournament.
The top-seeded Jayhawks brought at least a temporary halt to the insanity of this March, withstanding a ferocious rally by fifth-seeded Clemson on Friday for a too-close-for-comfort, 80-76 victory.
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.
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. In fact, this marks the sixth time Bill Self's team has been seeded first since KU won it all in 2008; the Jayhawks haven't made the Final Four one of those times.
"I think about it all the time. I just told the guys in the locker room...this year, we've got to get over the hump," said senior Devonte' Graham, who had 16 points.
Still, it could've ended on Friday — in horrifying fashion — after Clemson stormed back from a 20-point deficit that stunned a crowd filled mostly with fans from Lawrence and surrounding areas, which are only a few hours from Omaha.
"We just kind of played not to lose down the stretch," Self said.
Clemson trailed 62-42, but climbed to within six with 2:27 left. Graham's offensive rebound after a Svi Mykhailiuk miss at the 1:57 mark allowed the Jayhawks to run almost a minute off the clock.
Kansas didn't score after Graham's rebound, and the Tigers got the next board for a chance to cut it to a one-possession game. But Shelton Mitchell and Gabe DeVoe each missed from beyond the arc. From there, Kansas overcame a dogged Clemson press just long enough to ensure that the Tigers couldn't pull any closer until the tail end.
DeVoe had a career-high 31 for Clemson (25-10), which couldn't replicate the magic it showed in beating Auburn by 31 to reach its first Sweet 16 in 21 years.
"We didn't have our best game. Sometimes that's not easy to keep fighting like that," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said.

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