Villanova players danced and celebrated after pulling off what many thought would be the NCAA tournament's most difficult task.
Beating Kansas, the No. 1 overall seed, required taking the Jayhawks out of their comfort zone while seizing the opportunities that resulted. The Wildcats did both effectively, and their reward is a berth in the Final Four.
Kris Jenkins made two free throws with 13.3 seconds remaining, Jalen Brunson added two more with 3.5 seconds left, and second-seeded Villanova upset the top-seeded Jayhawks 64-59 on Saturday night in the South Regional final in Louisville, Kentucky. The Wildcats will play Oklahoma next weekend in Houston.
Mikal Bridges and Josh Hart each made big steals in the final minute to help the Wildcats (33-5) end the Jayhawks' 17-game winning streak. The Wildcats are back in the Final Four for the first time since 2009, and they can credit balanced scoring and ferocious defense.
Jenkins, Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono each scored 13 points for the Wildcats. They used a 10-0 run to take a 50-45 lead and get key baskets and plays down the stretch in beating the Jayhawks (33-5).
"Every guy on this team is willing to do whatever it takes to win, man," said Jenkins, who made all six free throws to offset 3-for-10 shooting. "Everybody on this team sacrifices. But we're not satisfied. We're looking forward to our next game in Houston. This definitely is a special feeling but like I said before, we're not satisfied."
Devonte' Graham had 17 points, and Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden Jr. added 16 each for Kansas, which got just four points from leading scorer Perry Ellis. The Jayhawks shot 46 percent from the field and won the rebounding battle 32-28 but played from behind most of the night.
Graham made 5 of 9 from long range but fouled out late, and everyone else was a combined 1 for 13 from behind the arc. Kansas also committed 16 turnovers, including several in the final minutes when it was within a possession of tying or leading.
"I think the basket shrunk a little bit for us, and certainly, they probably got some confidence the way they were defending us," Kansas coach Bill Self said about Villanova. "But it came down them making free throws, and it came down to a couple of loose balls, and that was the difference in the outcome."
The Wildcats were given the ball with 34 seconds left when officials determined that Graham undercut Hart on a scramble after Graham's turnover. It was Graham's fifth foul.
Oklahoma 80, Oregon 68: Buddy Hield was brilliant from start to finish for Oklahoma, scoring 37 points with a fluid jumper and an answer for everything Oregon tried against him defensively.
In fact, there was only one remaining question after Hield climbed a stepladder to cut down the net that he had just set on fire in the West Regional final in Anaheim.
Can Buddyball take the Sooners all the way to their first national title?
Hield hit eight 3-pointers in another utterly dominant performance, and No. 2 seed Oklahoma advanced to its first Final Four since 2002 with the victory over No. 1 seed Oregon.
"It's special," Hield said afterward, a piece of the net tied to his Final Four hat. "As a kid, you dream of having games like this. ... I'm just happy that we all made it, and we've just got to finish it out."
Jordan Woodard added 13 points for the Sooners (29-7), who streaked to an 18-point lead in the first half and never let the Ducks back in it. Oklahoma is in the Final Four for the fifth time in school history, and coach Lon Kruger is back in college basketball's biggest showcase for the second time after a 22-year absence.
"It's about seeing the feelings of satisfaction on the players' faces," Kruger said. "They feel good about this right now, but they'll feel even better about it years from now. They've got a special, special spot."
Elgin Cook scored 24 points for the Ducks (31-7), whose 11-game winning streak ended one game shy of the second Final Four in school history.
"No one expected it," Cook said. "We were confident. We believed in each other, but this hurts a lot."
Hield scored 17 points in the first half, capped by his fifth 3-pointer, from three steps behind the line with 4 seconds left to put the Sooners up 48-30.
"I thought he had a phenomenal game," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "And every time I felt like we were getting ready to do something, he would jump up and make a shot."