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Michigan State and Duke Advance to Final Four
By Mike Jasko

After an action packed Sunday the Final Four is now set after two exciting games that saw Michigan State and Duke join Wisconsin and Kentucky in next weekend's Final Four in Indianapolis.

(7) Michigan State 76 (4) Louisville 70 – OT

Louisville controlled the first half and looked well positioned to lock of their place in the Final Four after taking an eight-point lead into the locker room at halftime. Junior forward Montrezl Harrell looked strong early for the Cardinals, controlling the paint on both ends and scoring 12 of Louisville's 40 first half points.

Michigan State battled back in the second half, chipping away at the lead until finally tying the game at 51 with 9 minutes left on a Matt Costello lay-up. Three-pointers by Bryn Forbes and Travis Trice on the next two Michigan State possessions gave the Spartans a 57-51 lead. Now it was Louisville's turn to battle back; led by Wayne Blackshear, who scored 7 points in the final 3:38, the Cardinals cut the lead to 1 with a clutch three from Blackshear with 1:46 remaining in regulation. After a Michigan State miss, Blackshear drew a foul a made both free throws to give the Cardinals a 64-63 lead with 1:13 left.

Michigan State promptly responded with a jump-shot from Marvin Clark Jr. to give them back the lead; making the score 65-64 with41 seconds left in regulation. On the other end, Terry Rozier missed a jump-shot, and Michigan State came up with the rebound forcing Louisville to foul with 22 seconds left. The Spartans were unable to extend their lead, as Clark missed both free throws, giving Louisville back the ball with a chance to win the game and the shot clock turned off.

Rozier missed another jumper, but Mangok Manthaing grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled, sending him to the line with 5 seconds left. Manthaing's first free throw caromed off the back of the rim and straight up into the air, and somehow fell into the basket on the way down, tying the game at 65. He was unable to make the second one, and as Michigan State failed on a half-court heave, the game went into overtime.

Louisville's offense, which was strong in the first half, faltered in the second half and continued to be anemic in the extra frame. Louisville made just one field goal in the overtime, and Michigan State was able to grab the lead and not look back, coming away with a 76-70 victory. Travis Trice led the Spartans with 17 points, while Denzel Valentine added 15.

Louisville's Montrezl Harrell was all but absent in the second half, unable to hit a field goal after halftime. He finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds, while Wayne Blackshear led the Cardinals with 28 points in the loss.

(1) Duke 66 (2) Gonzaga 52

The talented freshman trio for Duke ended up being too much for Gonzaga to hang with, as the Blue Devils are once again headed to the Final Four. Duke led by as many as nine points in first half but went into the locker room with a 31-26 lead.

Gonzaga held tough to begin the second half; Kyle Wiltjer's tip-in briefly tied the game at 31 just 81 seconds into the half, before Duke's Matt Jones' 2nd of 4 three-pointers gave Duke back the lead.

A three-point play by Gonzaga's Byron Wesley put the Zags up 38-34 before a Quinn Cook jumper cut the lead back to 2. Following a TV timeout, a 3-shot Duke possession finally ends with a lay-up by Justise Winslow last tied up the game at 38. Moments later, another Matt Jones 3-pointer up Duke back up by 3 points with 12:57 left in the second half.

Duke had four players in double-figures, led by Matt Jones and Justise Winslow with 16 apiece. It was Winslow who closed out the game for Duke. With 4:33 remaining and Gonzaga trailing by just two points, Winslow got to the free throw line to double Duke's lead. After a Gonzaga miss, freshman Tyus Jones missed a three-pointer for Duke, but Winslow came up with the offensive rebound, drew a foul, and hit two-more free throws.

Kyle Wiltjer missed a three-pointer on Gonzaga's next possession, and Winslow grabbed the rebound, then on the ensuing Duke possession, made a three-pointer to put Duke up 60-51 with 2:52 left. From that point on, Gonzaga managed just one point on a free throw, and Duke ended up with a winning score of 66-52. Tyus Jones added 15 points for Duke while Quinn Cook added 10 points.

Kyle Wiltjer led Gonzaga with 16 points and Byron Wesley was the only other Gonzaga player in double-figures with 10 points. Duke advances to the Final Four where they will take on Michigan State next Saturday.

 

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