• And how about those Tigers? They became the first team of this tournament to knock out a No. 1 seed with a masterful 97-80 takedown of flu-ridden North Carolina. But the Tigers will likely be without star forward Chuma Okeke, who suffered a knee injury that Coach Bruce Pearl said, “could be serious.”
• No. 1 seed Duke survived against No. 4 seed Virginia Tech, 75-73, when Ahmed Hill missed on a beautiful lob play just before the buzzer. Zion Williamson continued his dominant streak since returning from injury, but the Blue Devils were without point guard Cam Reddish, who sat out with a knee injury.
• Michigan State’s freshmen stepped up and the Spartans bashed LSU, 80-63, in the East Region. Aaron Henry, the player Coach Tom Izzo hollered at earlier in the tournament, had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists. The second-seeded Spartans will play Duke for the regional title on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. Eastern.
• The rest of the Elite Eight was decided Thursday night. (Catch up here.) Those teams will play for the first two spots in the Final Four on Saturday: Texas Tech vs. Gonzaga at 6:09 p.m. and Purdue vs. Virginia scheduled for 8:49.
Schedule and results
Game times and TV information. All times Eastern.
Anaheim (West Region)
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 3 Texas Tech, 6:09 p.m., TBS
Louisville (South Region)
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 3 Purdue, 8:49 p.m., TBS
Kansas City (Midwest Region)
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 5 Auburn, 2:20 p.m., CBS
Washington (East Region)
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 2 Michigan State, 5:05 p.m., CBS
Washington, D.C. (East Region)
Kansas City, Mo. (Midwest Region)
Anaheim, Calif. (West Region)
Louisville (South Region)
Friday’s in-game highlights
Another blue blood in Elite Eight as Kentucky holds on
Houston made it interesting late, but another blue blood is headed to the Elite Eight. Kentucky withstood a final Cougar push, but held on for a 62-58 win to advance to face Auburn in the Midwest regional final.
Star center P.J. Washington did not start with a left foot injury, but scored 16 points and had a crucial block that set up Tyler Herro’s go-ahead three-pointer with 25 seconds left. Kentucky’s stellar defense down the stretch sealed the win. Houston’s Armoni Brooks led all scorers with 20 points.
Duke survives last-second attempt by Hokies
Duke survived a hectic and dramatic finish to advance past Virginia Tech, 75-73, and earn a spot in the East regional final against Michigan State.
Hokie forward Ty Outlaw tried a desperation three-pointer with five seconds to go, but it bricked off the backboard, hit a Duke player and bounced out of bounds with 1.1 seconds left. Virginia Tech ran its inbounds play to perfection — Ahmed Hill curled around a screen in the lane and had an open alley-oop layup that would have sent the game to overtime — but the attempt bounced off the rim.
The Blue Devils played without starting point guard Cam Reddish, who sustained a knee injury earlier in the day, but was expected to see at least a few minutes of action against the Hokies. Instead, he was held out, and it showed. Virginia Tech’s ball pressure bothered Tre Jones and R.J. Barrett who shouldered the ballhandling responsibilities instead, and still posted impressive stat lines. Barrett had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Jones had 22 points and 6 assists.
But the Devils turned to — whom else? — Zion Williamson down the stretch. His powerful finishes in the lane and a crucial block in transition preserved the Duke lead. He finished with a game-high 23 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
Wildcats holding on in ugly game
Kentucky and Houston remain offensively challenged, and the Wildcats still can’t quite pull away. Ahead, 47-42, Kentucky is shooting 47.5 percent from the floor, but is still dominating Houston on the glass, 30-16. Tyler Herro leads all scorers with 14 points with just over seven minutes to play.
Blue Devils surge ahead
Duke has made a mini-run to put some distance between itself and Virginia Tech. Tre Jones knocked down a corner three-pointer to give the Blue Devils a five-point lead, then Zion Williamson threw down a dunk to make it a seven-point game with 2:30 to play. Duke leads, 73-69 with under two minutes left.
Reddish done for Duke
After sitting out the first half, Duke point guard Cam Reddish won’t play the second half either, according to CBS’s Tracy Wolfson. Reddish didn’t start the game because of a recent knee injury, but was expected to be able to see some action. Sophomore Alex O’Connell started in his place, and has scored four points on 2 of 5 shooting, including missing three three-point attempts. With Reddish out, R.J. Barrett and Tre Jones have taken charge of the ballhandling duties.
Cats up at the break
Kentucky edged away from Houston late in the first half to take a 37-26 lead at the break. Finally, some three-pointers started to fall for the Wildcats, which complemented their superior inside game. Kentucky headed to the locker room beating the Cougars on the glass, 18-7. Kentucky’s Tyler Herro and Houston’s Galen Robinson Jr., each have eight points to lead all scorers.
Wildcats have the first half edge
Kentucky has squeaked ahead of Houston, 23-18, with under six minutes to play in the first half. The Midwest regional semifinal’s plodding pace hasn’t yielded much offense between two usually high-flying teams. Kentucky’s P.J. Washington leads all scorers with six points. Neither team is shooting from distance well. Both are 1 of 5 from three-point range.
Blue Devils down at the half
Could Duke be the second No. 1 seed to fall? Through the first half of the East regional semifinal, Virginia Tech has a 38-34 lead on the Blue Devils. The Hokies have forced Duke into seven turnovers and Blue Devils’ star guard R.J. Barrett is in foul trouble with three points and seven assists.
Ahmed Hill and Wabissa Bede are leading Virginia Tech with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
The Hokies won the teams’ only previous meeting, a 77-72 grind in Blacksburg, Va., when the Blue Devils were without Williamson. The winner of Friday’s game will face Michigan State in the East regional final.
Blue Devils, Hokies neck-and-neck
Duke and Virginia Tech are neck-and-neck midway through the first half. The Hokies have edged ahead to 32-30 lead, but Duke is outshooting Virginia Tech, 52.6 percent to 50 percent. Zion Williamson already has nine points and three rebounds, including on thunderous put-back dunk, for the Blue Devils, but Ahmed Hill and Wabissa Bede each have eight points for the Hokies.
Okeke’s injury “could be serious”
Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl cautioned reporters in a postgame news conference that the injury to star forward Chuma Okeke could be severe.
“It’s a knee injury. We don’t know the extent, but we think it could be serious,” he said.
“It’s a bittersweet accomplishment because of Chuma getting hurt late in the game,” Pearl added regarding the Tigers’ victory over North Carolina. “Nobody works harder, nobody gives us more courage when it gets tough and you gotta go to a matchup, we got 5 [Okeke’s number] and you don’t. That’s how we felt. In a game full of guys who have a chance to play at the next level, I thought he was the best of them, and that’s happened a lot this year. We’re disappointed that he may be lost, but we’re very, very grateful to be moving on.”
The entire Auburn team was visibly shaken immediately after Okeke’s injury, a scary fall as his left knee buckled with 8 minutes to play. Players linked arms in prayer in front of their bench and medical professionals tended to Okeke. Pearl in postgame comments on the TBS broadcast shed tears while thinking about the injury.
Auburn moving on after stunning UNC
The NCAA tournament’s first No. 1 seed has fallen. Behind clutch three-point shooting and timely defense, No. 5 seed Auburn rolled over North Carolina, 97-80, in the Midwest regional semifinal.
The Tigers took an 11-point lead early in the second half after a 19-4 run that spanned both periods, and only pushed the pedal down harder as time wore on. Even as the Tar Heels ripped the ball down court with their trademark racecar speed, the Tigers were equal to the task.
Point guard Jared Harper, playing through foul trouble, had 11 assists and kept Auburn’s offense on schedule. J’Von McCormick had 10 crucial points off the bench. Danjel Purifoy had 14 points, a dozen of them of four second-half three-pointers.
Chuma Okeke led the Southeastern Conference tournament champions with 20 points and 11 rebounds, but left the game with eight minutes to play after a scary knee injury.
Coby White and Cameron Johnson each had 15 points to pace the Tar Heels.
Auburn will face the winner of Houston and Kentucky in the Midwest regional final. It’s the Tigers’ first trip to the Elite Eight since 1986 and second ever.
Spartans moving on
Michigan State surged past LSU, 80-63, Friday night to advance to the Elite 8. The Spartans launched an 11-0 run that countered an LSU surge to start the second half, and the Tigers were unable to catch up.
Freshman forward Aaron Henry led Michigan State with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Point guard Cassius Winston added 17 points and eight assists.
The Spartans will face the winner of Duke and Virginia Tech for the East regional championship and a berth in the Final Four.
Injury scare for Auburn
Auburn’s Chuma Okeke fell down with a frightening injury with eight minutes to play against North Carolina. With the Tigers leading, 76-62, Okeke drove the basket and went to plant on his left foot to attempt a layup. But Okeke’s leg buckled and his left knee turned inward in an unnatural fashion and Okeke immediately collapsed to the floor in pain. Athletic trainers helped him off the floor to a standing ovation at Kansas City’s Sprint Center. At the time of the injury, he was leading the Tigers with a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Tigers not letting up
Auburn has a 17-point lead on North Carolina with under nine minutes to play and is turning up the heat on defense against the Tar Heels. Watch the Tigers take two sure buckets away with acrobatic blocks.
Auburn hanging with North Carolina
If the swamping of Kansas wasn’t enough to prove it, Auburn can score against pretty much anyone, and the Tigers took a 41-39 lead to the half against North Carolina. Auburn is keeping up with the Tar Heels scorching pace and its guard play, behind Malik Dunbar and J’Von McCormick off the bench, has answered North Carolina’s Coby White and Kenny Williams.
Auburn’s Chuma Okeke leads all scorers with 12 points. White leads the Tar Heels with nine.
Henry taking care of business for Michigan State
Michigan State is in control after the first half against LSU. If not for a late three-pointer from Tremont Waters, things would look really ugly for the Tigers. As it stands, they trail 40-28 after getting rolled on the glass and stifled defensively. At one point, LSU went more than six minutes without a field goal while the Spartans went on a 12-1 run.
Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo was especially happy with freshman forward Aaron Henry, he told CBS reporter Tracy Wolfson during a halftime interview. Izzo’s relationship with the talented underclassman grabbed headlines during the tournament’s first weekend after the coach was seen hollering at Henry during a timeout in what some considered an unsporting manner.
But Friday night, Izzo had nothing but praise for Henry, who has a game-high 13 points and 7 rebounds.
“Right now, he’s playing as good as anybody,” Izzo said.
Man, Aaron Henry (@MSU_Basketball) has been the most impressive player in the first half. Between hitting shots, creating off the dribble and rebounding the ball, he’s stood out. Sound play here to use ball fake and then use gather dribble to find floater in the paint. pic.twitter.com/vOcodWOiDk— Luka (@preptopros) March 30, 2019
Fast-paced action in Midwest
Auburn and North Carolina are playing at a vicious pace, tied at 26 with seven minutes to play in the first half. Chuma Okeke has 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting for the Tigers. Malik Dunbar has eight points. Coby White has been pushing the ball up the floor for the Tar Heels, but center Luke May has three assists already to go with five points. Seven Tar Heels are on the score sheet, with White leading the way with six points.
Spartans in control
Michigan State’s experience is having an early shining moment against LSU. The Spartans are up 15 as the first half begins to wind down and are mopping up the Tigers on the glass while locking down on defense. Michigan State has 15 rebounds to LSU’s 5, and is outshooting LSU from three-point range, 50 percent to 16.7 percent. The Tigers are in foul trouble, too. Big man Naz Reid already has two fouls, and so does Darius Days off the bench.