Boston College and Houston, neither of which was expected to even gain the Midwest Regional semifinals, advanced to the final tonight with upset victories in the Checkerdome.
Reserves Michael Adams and John Garris scored, respectively, 20 and 18 points tonight, helping Boston College rally from a five-point halftime deficit to defeat Kansas State, 69-65, in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinals.
Houston defeated Missouri, 79-78, in the second game. The score was close only because the Big Eight champions pressed desparately in the final 4 1/2 minutes. The Cougars had led by 12 points in the second half, and the Tigers never had the opportunity to tie at the end.
Lynden Rose led six Houston players in double figures with 16 points. The Cougars, runnerup in the Southwest Conference, are 24-7. Ricky Frazier, the Big Eight player of the year, scored 29 points, 25 after intermission, for Missouri (27-4). Frazier's total included two baskets in the game's final six seconds.
Tonight's winners play at 2:25 p.m. EST Sunday for the regional title and a berth against the East Regional champion in the national semifinals March 27 at New Orleans.
"Who would venture to give the odds?" said Houston Coach Guy Lewis about the chances for this regional final matchup. "The odds were astronomical."
In tonight's first game, Adams, a freshman forward, scored 11 points in the second half and executed a daring steal in the final minute that helped the Eagles, the fourth-place team in the Big East Conference, preserve a two-point lead.
Garris, a 6-foot-8 junior who averaged fewer than eight points during the season, had 16 in the first half to keep Kansas State from assuming an overwhelming lead.
The Eagles took their first lead, 48-47, on Jay Murphy's basket with 14:52 remaining.
Then, with 1:45 left and Boston College trying to protect a 61-59 lead, Martin Clark fumbled the ball out of bounds. But Adams darted behind the Wildcats' Ed Galvao as he drove to the basket and stole the ball.
"We had the press on. They had the press broken and were in a two-on-one (break)," said Adams. "He (Galvao) didn't see me coming. I got my hand on the ball and took it away."
John Bagley made two free throws a few seconds later to make it 63-59.
The Eagles (22-9) now have defeated San Francisco, De Paul and Kansas State to become the third Big East team in the final eight.