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NCAA Latest: Nova outlasts West Virginia to reach Elite 8

March 24, 2018

The Latest on the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern):

9:55 p.m.

Top-seeded Villanova beat the press of West Virginia and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jalen Brunson scored 27 points to lead the Wildcats to a 90-78 victory over fifth-seeded West Virginia. Villanova will play the winner of the regional semifinal later Friday night between No. 2 seed Purdue and third-seeded Texas Tech for a spot in the Final Four.

Villanova trailed by 6 before scoring 11 straight points to take a 65-60 lead with 9:03 remaining. The 2016 national champions led 68-64 before scoring 10 of the next 14 points to pull away.

Omari Spellman scored 18 with eight rebounds for Villanova, which overcame Press Virginia’s well-known defense by hitting 13 of 24 shots from 3-point range.

Daxter Miles Jr. scored 16 for the Mountaineers before fouling out with just over two minutes left. Sagaba Konate added 12 points with nine rebounds.

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9:29 p.m.

Kansas made it through the Sweet 16 for the third year in a row as a No. 1 seed after surviving a late scare and beating fifth-seeded Clemson 80-76 in a Midwest Region semifinal.

Now the Jayhawks will try to get through the Elite Eight for the first time since 2012, when they lost the national title to Kentucky. They’ll play Sunday against the winner of Friday night’s second semifinal between No. 2 seed Duke and 11-seed Syracuse.

Clemson, in a regional semifinal for the first time since 1997, had a six-minute field goal drought and shot 36 percent in the first half. The Tigers trailed by 20 early in the second half.

But a 26-12 run fueled by Gabe DeVoe got Clemson within 74-68. DeVoe’s two free throws pulled the Tigers to 78-74 with 14 seconds left, but the Jayhawks were able to hang on.

Malik Newman scored 17 points to lead Kansas, Devonte Graham added 16 and Udoka Azubuike had 14 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 2:30 left.

DeVoe finished with a career-high 31 points.

— Eric Olson reporting from Omaha, Nebraska.

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9:25 p.m.

Villanova has turned back a West Virginia run and retaken the lead midway through the second half.

The Mountaineers held the Wildcats without a basket for more than three minutes while opening up a six-point lead with 11 minutes to play. But top-seeded Villanova roared back will 11 straight points to make it 65-60.

After Mikal Bridges gave Villanova the lead with a 3-pointer, Omari Spellman produced an emphatic dunk on James Bolden. At the other end, Spellman slammed in a putback after Phil Booth’s miss to make it a five-point game.

West Virginia cut the lead to three before the under-eight minute timeout.

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9:15 p.m.

Down by 20 points at one point in the second half, Clemson has used a 26-12 surge to pull within 74-68 in its Midwest Region semifinal against Kansas.

Shelton Mitchell’s thunderous dunk forced the Jayhawks to call timeout with 2:27 left.

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9:10 p.m.

The lineups are out for the Purdue-Texas Tech game and Isaac Hass isn’t in it.

The Boilermakers center broke his elbow in their NCAA tournament opener and hasn’t played since. That hasn’t stopped him from trying, though.

He’s been out on the court practicing with his teammates, trying to prove to coach Matt Painter that he can contribute at least a few minutes. The Purdue engineering department was even on the job, working up a special brace that was approved by the NCAA.

But Painter said Haas can’t play unless he can rebound with two hands and shoot a free throw right-handed. Haas couldn’t do that, as of Thursday.

Redshirt freshman Matt Haarms was listed in the lineup instead.

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9:02 p.m.

The players are getting a bit of a history lesson at this year’s East regional in Boston.

The banners honoring the Celtics and Bruins championships and retired numbers were allowed to remain in the rafters at the TD Garden this year — a change from previous events here.

“Part of the allure of being in Boston is playing beneath our championship banners,” TD Garden president Amy Latimer said. “We are proud to have them on display and part of the student-athlete experience.”

When NCAA tournament last came to town in 2012, the banners were replaced by ones noting past college basketball champions. The 17 Celtics championship banners and six for the Bruins were brought to a Salvation Army facility, where fans lined up to take pictures with them.

The Celtics also have three banners to honor their 23 retired numbers. The Bruins have retired 10 numbers.

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9 p.m.

Clemson is trying to get back into its Midwest Region semifinal game against Kansas after falling behind by 20 points.

The lead was down to 13 with 5:57 left. Malik Newman led Kansas with 16 points. The Jayhawks were shooting 51 percent from the floor to 43 percent for Clemson.

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8:40 p.m.

Kansas’ perimeter shooting is starting to heat up, and the top-seeded Jayhawks have opened a 60-42 lead over fifth-seeded Clemson with about 13 minutes left in their Midwest Region semifinal.

Lagerald Vick, Malik Newman and Devonte Graham hit 3-pointers in the first 1:07 of the second half as the Jayhawks went ahead by 20 points. Kansas is 4 for 5 from distance the first five minutes of the half after going 4 of 13 in the opening 20 minutes.

Gabe Devoe has scored a game-high 20 points for the Tigers, who are shooting just 39.5 percent from the floor.

— Eric Olson reporting from Omaha, Nebraska

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8:37 p.m.

East Region top seed Villanova leads fifth-seeded West Virginia 44-42 following a fast-paced first half. Jalen Brunson leads all scorers with 16 points. West Virginia got 11 points from Daxter Miles. There were just four lead changes in the half.

The Wildcats came out firing, connecting on their first seven field goals. They handled the Mountaineers’ pressure early. But the Wildcats had three turnovers over a 1:05 stretch during an 8-0 Mountaineers run that briefly put them in front 33-30.

Villanova finished with 10 turnovers for the half. But the Wildcats were able to take a lead into the locker room thanks in part to 6 of 13 shooting from the 3-point line. West Virginia holds an 18-14 rebounding edge.

Both teams have key players with foul issues. Brunson and Mikal Bridges for Villanova and Jevon Carter for West Virginia have two apiece.

— Kyle Hightower, reporting from Boston

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8:15 p.m.

Press Virginia is causing all kinds of problems for Villanova.

The Mountaineers have applied full-court pressure after every basket, and it helped them open a 35-33 lead with 3:30 left in the first half of the regional semifinal. The press caused three Villanova turnovers in a stretch of 65 seconds that helped West Virginia run off eight points in a row.

In all, the Wildcats had nine turnovers and West Virginia had five steals late in the first half.

Bob Huggins said on Thursday he thinks his team would benefit from a fast-paced game.

This one’s on its way.

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8:10 p.m.

It’s a tight game so far in the East Region semifinal between Villanova and West Virginia.

The top-seeded Wildcats are being tested by the fifth-seeded Mountaineers’ pressure defense. Each team had six turnovers with about 5 minutes left.

The Mountaineers then went on an 8-0 run to take a 33-30 lead.

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8:05 p.m.

Top-seeded Kansas is capitalizing on its mismatch in the post with Udoka Azubuike and Silvio De Sousa and leads fifth-seeded Clemson 40-27 at halftime of their Midwest Region semifinal.

The two Jayhawks have combined for 16 points, with four dunks, on 7-of-9 shooting. They scored six points as the Jayhawks closed on a 15-5 run and held Clemson without a field goal for 6 minutes.

Clemson’s season scoring leader, Marcquise Reed, didn’t make his first basket until a minute was left in the half. A flagrant-1 foul was called on the play on Clemson’s Elijah Thomas, who pushed his left forearm into Silvio De Sousa’s head under the basket as Reed was shooting.

De Sousa made the free throws and Lagerald Vick followed with a 3-pointer to put the Jayhawks up 13 at the break.

The Clemson-Kansas winner plays in the regional final Sunday against the winner of Friday night’s other semifinal between second-seeded Duke and 11th-seeded Syracuse.

— Eric Olson reporting from Omaha, Nebraska

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7:50 p.m.

Clemson has gone cold in the Midwest Region semifinal against top-seeded Kansas.

Kansas leads 33-22 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first half after the Tigers have missed 8 of their last 9 shots.

The Jayhawks have hit 6 of 8 after opening the game 8 for 20.

The 7-foot, 280-pound Udoka Azubuike is controlling the inside against Clemson’s 6-9, 237-pound Elijah Thomas and 6-9, 232-pound Mark Donnal.

Azubuike and his backup, Silvio De Sousa, have combined for 14 points and four dunks on 7-of-9 shooting.

Clemson is shooting 36 percent and has committed eight turnovers.

— Eric Olson reporting from Omaha, Nebraska

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7:36 p.m.

Svi Mykhailiuk’s 3-pointer and Silvio De Sousa’s dunk off a lob from Devonte Graham has helped Kansas create some separation after Clemson pulled within a point of the Jayhawks in the Midwest Region semifinal.

Clemson erased most of an early 11-4 deficit to pull to 20-19. Mykhailiuk hit a 3 from the wing, and after Mark Donnal missed a jumper on the other end, Graham led De Sousa perfectly for the Jayhawks’ third dunk of the game. There’s about 7 minutes left in the first half.

Malik Newman leads the Jayhawks with seven points, and Donnal has seven for the Tigers.

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7:35 p.m.

Villanova is off to a fast start in the Sweet 16.

The top-seeded Wildcats opened their regional semifinal matchup against fifth-seeded West Virginia by hitting their first six field-goal attempts for a 14-11 lead with about 15 minutes left in the first half.

Purdue and Texas Tech face off in the other East Region semifinal in Boston.

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7:15 p.m.

The CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, looks like Allen Fieldhouse North as top-seeded Kansas faces fifth-seeded Clemson in the Midwest Region semifinals.

The upper and lower bowls of the 17,500-seat arena are mostly blue. One section of the lower bowl is filled with fans in the orange of Clemson.

Omaha is a 3 1/2-hour drive from the Jayhawks’ campus in Lawrence, Kansas.

The Clemson-Kansas winner will go to the Elite Eight and face the winner of Friday night’s second Midwest semifinal between No. 2 seed Duke and 11th-seeded Syracuse.

Kansas had an 11-6 lead with 14:45 left in the first half.

—Eric Olson reporting from Omaha, Nebraska.

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6:55 p.m.

The NCAA has tweaked its interpretation of a rule that allows padding to cover braces worn on the elbow, wrist or forearm.

The change could allow Purdue center Isaac Haas to play in Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Texas Tech, though it still remains a long shot. The star center has been sidelined since he fractured his right elbow in the Boilermakers’ first-round NCAA Tournament win.

An initial version of a protective brace for Haas was ruled ineligible for the NCAAs because of a rigid metal component that it felt was a safety hazard to other players. Graduate engineering students at Purdue constructed a softer version using carbon fiber and shipped it to Haas on Tuesday.

But one of Purdue coach Matt Painter’s markers for considering whether Haas would be able to play was if he could rebound using both hands and be able to shoot with it as well. Haas practiced Thursday, but displayed very limited mobility in the injured elbow, keeping it mostly at a 90-degree angle during the workout.

He performed a right-handed layup, but never attempted a jump shot during the 15-minute portion open to the media.

— Kyle Hightower, reporting from Boston

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