NCAA Latest: Coach K, Izzo go head to head for Final Four


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

7:35 p.m.

The Final Four is set. And after an opening weekend that went to plan based on the seeds, things look different heading into Minneapolis.

Virginia is the only No. 1 seed to make it through to the final weekend of the season, with No. 1 overall seed Duke in the East and Gonzaga in the West losing in the regional finals. Midwest Region top seed North Carolina lost in the Sweet 16.

That leaves a No. 2 seed in Michigan State, a No. 3 seed in Texas Tech and a No. 5 seed in Auburn. The Cavaliers and surging Tigers meet in Saturday’s first national semifinal, followed by the Spartans and the defensive-minded Red Raiders.

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That’s one team each from the Atlantic Coast, the Big Ten, the Big 12 and the Southeastern conferences.

As for the coaches, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is in the Final Four for the eighth time and first since 2015. He’s joined by a trio of first-timers in Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Texas Tech’s Chris Beard and Auburn’s Bruce Pearl.


7:10 p.m.

Michigan State upset Zion Williamson and No. 1 overall seed Duke 68-67 in the East Region final.

The victory sends the No. 2 seed Spartans coach Tom Izzo to his eighth Final Four. Michigan State’s most recent trip was in 2015, when it lost to Duke in the national semifinals.

Cassius Winston, the Big Ten Player of the Year, had 20 points and 10 assists.

Duke had escaped its previous two games, winning them by a total of three points, but couldn’t pull out this one.

Williamson, the superb freshman expected to be the top pick in this year’s NBA draft, had 24 points and 14 rebounds. RJ Barrett, Duke’s other star freshman, scored 21 points but also had seven turnovers and missed one of two free throws with 5.2 seconds left with a chance to tie it.

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Michigan State will face West Region champ Texas Tech for a berth in the national title game.


6:55 p.m.

Michigan State and Duke are headed for a tight finish just like every other regional final.

The Spartans lead 63-61 with 3:32 left on the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed. Duke has won two straight games that came down to the final play and could be headed there again.

Cassius Winston has 20 points for Michigan State, while Zion Williamson has 22 points and 13 rebounds for Duke.


6:20 p.m.

Auburn forward Chuma Okeke’s left knee was in so much pain that he planned to watch the regional final against Kentucky from his hotel and await the return flight to Alabama.

It was late in the first half that Okeke realized he needed to be at Sprint Center.

The sophomore told a member of the Auburn staff that he’d changed his mind, and Okeke was soon being wheeled into the building in downtown Kansas City. He finally made it to the floor at the under-16 media timeout, and watched the rest of the Tigers’ victory from behind the Auburn bench.

“I just think he had to be there,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.

Okeke is scheduled to have surgery on his torn ACL, which he hurt in the team’s Sweet 16 win, on Tuesday. It’s unclear whether he plans to accompany the Tigers to Minneapolis for the Final Four next weekend.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.


6:10 p.m.

Kentucky sophomore PJ Washington says he has not decided whether to declare for the NBA Draft after the second-seeded Wildcats lost to Auburn in the regional semifinals to end their season.

The same for freshman guards Keldon Johnson, Ashton Hagans and Tyler Herro, who said: “Take it one step at a time. Not too sure what I’m doing, obviously. Just not sure.”

All of them are projected to be first-round picks if they decide to leave early.

This is nothing new for coach John Calipari, of course. He routinely sends a handful of players into the draft. And he already has a strong recruiting class ready to step in, headlined by five-star prospects Khalil Whitney, Tyrese Maxey and Keion Brooks.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.


5:55 p.m.

Michigan State ended the first half with a 13-point run to take a 34-30 lead over Duke at the break in the East Region final.

Cassius Winston, the Big Ten Player of the Year, scored eight of his team-high 12 points in that spurt. That followed a 12-0 run by the Blue Devils that put them ahead 30-21.

But No. 1 overall seed Duke went scoreless over the final 5 minutes, 20 seconds of the half, repeatedly turning the ball over.

R.J. Barrett leads Duke with 12 points. Zion Williamson has seven points and six rebounds so far.

The winner will earn the last berth in next weekend’s Final Four and will face West Region champ Texas Tech in the national semifinals.


5:10 p.m.

Cam Reddish has checked into the game for Duke about two minutes into the East Region final.

Reddish missed the Sweet 16 victory over Virginia Tech with an injured left knee. That was the first game all season the freshman forward hadn’t started.

He didn’t start Sunday against Michigan State, either, but quickly was on the floor.


4:55 p.m.

Bruce Pearl and his Auburn Tigers are heading to the Final Four.

Two days after losing starting forward Chuma Okeke to a major knee injury, the fifth-seeded Tigers beat second-seeded Kentucky 77-71 in overtime in the NCAA Midwest Region final.

Auburn (30-9) overcame PJ Washington’s 28 points and 13 rebounds, foul trouble and a slow start to punch its ticket to Minneapolis for its first appearance in the Final Four. The Tigers play No. 1 seed Virginia in a national semifinal Saturday.

Jared Harper had 12 of his 26 points in overtime, and Bryce Brown scored 17 of his 24 points after halftime to lead the Tigers’ comeback.

Auburn had opened the game missing 8 of its first 9 3-pointers and trailed by 11 at the midway point of the half. Kentucky finished the season 30-7.

— Eric Olson reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.


4:30 p.m.

Kentucky and Auburn are headed to overtime tied at 60 in their Midwest Region finale.

One night after Virginia and Purdue played an extra session to decide the South Region champ, the Wildcats and Tigers played to a draw after 40 minutes. Kentucky had its chances, getting two shots blocked in the closing seconds, and the Tigers’ Horace Spencer missed an open 3 at the buzzer.

The Wildcats led by 10 early in the game. The Tigers led by as many as six down the stretch.

The winner gets the Cavaliers in the national semifinals.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.


4:15 p.m.

Kentucky and Auburn are headed for a nip-and-tuck finish for a spot in the Final Four.

Bryce Brown has poured in 24 points and Jared Harper has added 12 for the Tigers, who have rallied from a 10-point first-half hole to take a 58-56 lead on the No. 2 seed Wildcats with 3:28 to go.

PJ Washington has been answering every salvo for Kentucky. The star forward has 20 points and nine boards in just 28 minutes, entering the game off the bench but then rarely leaving it.

Auburn has already dispatched Kansas and North Carolina to reach the final of the Midwest Region, and is now trying to take down the winningest program of all.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.


4:10 p.m.

Cam Reddish is not listed in the starting lineup distributed by Duke before its East Region final against Michigan State.

Reddish sat out Duke’s regional semifinal victory over Virginia Tech on Friday night with a left knee injury.

That was the first game all season that the freshman forward didn’t start for the Blue Devils, who are the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Reddish is averaging 13.6 points this season, third on Duke behind fellow freshmen RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson.


3:45 p.m.

Here come Bryce Brown and the sharp-shooting Tigers.

Auburn trailed Kentucky 37-32 in the opening minutes of the second half when Brown, who was so cold early on, drained a 3-pointer. The Tigers forced a quick turnover and Brown was fouled, making the first two of three free throws. On the miss, the Wildcats’ PJ Washington tried to save the ball and it went right to Brown, who buried another 3-pointer from the corner.

The five-point trip down floor gave the Tigers their first lead at 40-37 with 17:51 to go.

Then at the under-16 media timeout, injured forward Chuma Okeke was brought to the bench in a wheelchair, causing the Auburn fans to roar a little bit louder.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.


3:15 p.m.

Kentucky is 20 minutes away from its 18th trip to the Final Four.

PJ Washington has come off the bench to score 15 points in just 14 minutes, and the second-seeded Wildcats are containing Auburn’s vast array of 3-point threats in building a 35-30 halftime lead.

The Tigers are fortunate to be that close.

They trailed by as many as 10 in the first half, and foul trouble along their depleted front line gave Kentucky an opportunity to put the game away early. But diminutive guard Jared Harper scored all of his eight first-half points in the final 3:33 to keep the SEC tourney champs in the game.

The winner gets a date with Virginia in the national semifinals in Minneapolis.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.


3 p.m.

Kentucky is pounding away at Auburn in the paint and the fouls are quickly piling up.

The forward trio of Malik Dunbar, Horace Spencer and Austin Wiley had picked up two fouls apiece by the 10-minute mark of the first half, forcing Tigers coach Bruce Pearl to begin shuffling lineups.

Dunbar checked back into the game and earned his third with 4:44 to go.

That foul trouble is particularly troublesome without Chuma Okeke, their 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, who tore the ACL in his left knee against North Carolina on Friday night.

PJ Washington came off the bench for Kentucky and already has 11 points, taking advantage of his size in the post. Keldon Johnson has pulled down six boards for the Wildcats.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.


2:40 p.m.

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said his team would need to shoot lights-out to beat Kentucky, and midway through the first half the Tigers were still searching for the switch.

The team that knocked down 17 3-pointers in a regional semifinal win over North Carolina was 3 of 13 from the field and 1 of 6 from beyond the arc. Top sharpshooter Bryce Brown missed two wide-open looks in the first minute, and the Tigers are suddenly facing a big hole against a much bigger team.

Tyler Herro is back at it for the Wildcats, with five points, helping them to a 17-7 lead.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.


2 p.m.

Auburn forward Chuma Okeke will be rooting on his teammates as they face Kentucky for a spot in the Final Four.

The sophomore from Atlanta tore the ACL in his left knee late in the Tigers’ regional semifinal victory over North Carolina, and he is scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday in Alabama. In the meantime, Okeke remains with the team and is serving as a source of inspiration.

The hashtag “DoItForChuma” has been blazing across social media the past 24 hours.

The Tigers’ starting five will be Jared Harper, Bryce Brown and Malik Dunbar in the backcourt and Horace Spencer and Anfernee McLemoree down low. Junior forward Danjel Purifoy also should get more minutes with Okeke out of the rotation.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.


1:45 p.m.

Kentucky star P.J. Washington is expected to come off the bench when the second-seeded Wildcats face fifth-seeded Auburn in the Midwest regional final with a spot in the Final Four on the line.

Washington was in a cast last week to protect his sprained left foot, missing the first two games of the NCAA Tournament. But came back to play well in a semifinal win over Houston, scoring 16 points and making a key block that led to Tyler Herro’s go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute.

Washington said Saturday that he came out of the game in good shape, and it would be up to Kentucky coach John Calipari whether he started. EJ Montgomery is getting the nod instead alongside forward Reid Travis, Herro and fellow guards Ashton Hagans and Keldon Johnson.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.


12:30 p.m.

Two of college basketball’s most famed coaches go head to head Sunday for a spot in the Final Four.

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo face off in the East regional final of the NCAA Tournament. Krzyzewski has 12 Final Four trips and five national titles. Izzo has seven Final Four appearances and a national championship since taking over at Michigan State in 1995.

Izzo says he hopes the game is as good as the billing.

The Blue Devils have won nine of the past 10 and seven straight in the series, including a victory in the 2015 Final Four. Krzyzewski downplays that.

He says his team is playing the Michigan State of today, which is capable of defeating Duke.



Auburn already has NCAA Tournament wins over Kansas and North Carolina. Kentucky might be the next blue blood to fall.

The Tigers’ most recent loss was an 80-53 defeat at Kentucky. Since then, the Tigers have won 11 straight overall, including the SEC Tournament, on their way to the Elite Eight.

Auburn guard Bryce Brown says some losses in the middle of the season woke up his team.

Auburn will be without Chuma Okeke, who tore his left ACL in the win over North Carolina on Friday night. He’s scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.


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