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Oregon stuns Kansas to reach first Final Four in 78 years

Tyler Dorsey (middle) and Jordan Bell (right) were the protagonists in Oregon’s upset of Kansas. (Getty)

KANSAS CITY — Amid thousands of blank stares, there was one villainous smile. That smile, and a few similar ones, told of a stunning result Saturday night that is both historic and calamitous, memorable and forgettable, euphoric and devastating.

The smile came from Oregon’s Dillon Brooks as he strutted back down the Sprint Center floor. Then he looked up to the crowd and saw those stares. As he did, he might as well have been back-pedaling to Phoenix.

A year after falling short at this very stage, Brooks and Tyler Dorsey led No. 3 seed Oregon to a shocking upset of top-seeded Kansas, 74-60 in a de facto road game. They also led Oregon to its first Final Four since 1939.

As the Ducks celebrated, the Jayhawks and their thunderously loud fans were left to ponder yet another tournament failure, one that local reporters have dubbed a disaster if it were to happen, one that nobody saw coming after Kansas romped to the Elite Eight with an average margin of victory of 30.

But it was clear from the opening minutes that a fourth win wouldn’t be as easy. Oregon played stoically and passionately, but under control. As it continued to do so, noise turned to silence. Excitement turned to exasperation. Kansas’ seemingly assured place in the Final Four turned into a dream dashed. What began as a raucous crowd at Allen Fieldhouse East turned to a nervous crowd, and then a frantically concerned one, and finally a dejected one.

Every single Kansas basket brought thousands of blue- and red-clad Jayhawks fans to their feet, but over the course of 40 minutes, they did a lot of sinking back into their seats, too. Tyler Dorsey, Dylan Ennis and Dillon Brooks all hit early 3s, and reveled in the silencing of the crowd.

Multiple Ducks players said Friday that they enjoy playing — or, more specifically, winning — on the road more than they do at home, and their mentalities throughout the first half exemplified that. Whereas Kansas played tight, as they admittedly had in previous first halves in the tournament, Oregon played freely, unfazed and uninhibited by the at times rapturous noise.

The first big moment of the game came less than three minutes in. Moments after picking up an early foul, Josh Jackson was tagged with a controversial second for a hand check. He stalked to the bench, ripping his jersey out of his shorts as he did. He would sit for nearly nine minutes, and was ineffective when he returned

Oregon led 36-28 at the three-minute mark of the first half, and in fact, if it weren’t for Frank Mason, the lead would have been larger. Mason had 14, half of his team’s points, and got many of them after beating his man off the dribble. He got 15, 16 and 17 on a 3-pointer with 2:22 remaining to cut the lead to five. He scored 15 straight points for Kansas to keep them in the game.

No other Jayhawk could get going, though. Oregon’s 1-2-2 halfcourt trap, which fell back into both a matchup zone and a man-to-man, slowed Kansas’ offense. Neither Jackson nor Devonte’ Graham scored a single point.

Oregon’s Jordan Bell was a menace within a 10-foot radius of the rim all game. He erased four Jayhawks shots at the rim, and grabbed eight boards. His horizontal and vertical athleticism was spectacular.

It was Dorsey, though, who had the single biggest minute of the half. And it was the final minute. With Oregon’s lead at five, the Ducks decided to go two-for-one. Dorsey pulled up for a 2, and his shot rattled off rim, off glass, and in. After a Kansas turnover on the other end, he had ample time to rise up again, and this time his shot went straight off the glass and in. Oregon raced off the court in glee, and with a 44-33 lead.

After the break, it was Brooks’ turn to get going. he elevated for two 3s, and strutted back down the court, smiling, relishing his role as public enemy No. 1. Bell also rejected two early shots to keep Kansas’ offense quiet, and Oregon extended its lead to 16.

Kansas tried to speed its way back into the game by amplifying its already breakneck pace, but Oregon, unlike Purdue on Thursday, was similarly comfortable with the pace. The Ducks dove to the floor for loose balls and ran their own fast breaks. They turned Kansas’ on-ball pressure against it by staying calm and passing out of traps to score.

Kansas appeared to feel the mounting pressure as Oregon’s double-digit lead held deeper and deeper into the half. Graham air-balled a six-footer. Kansas’ urgency didn’t yield more fluid play; it yielded the opposite.

 

As the second half wore on, Oregon’s energy, and as a result its performance, started to wane. Its offense became stagnant. Kansas’ defense went into desperation mode, and Oregon’s offense shut off.

With the lead cut to 10, Dorsey hit one massive three, his fifth of the game, and brought a finger to his lips as he jogged back down the court.

But Kansas kept coming. The Jayhawks got to within nine, and Svi Mykhailiuk hit a cold-blooded 3 from the left corner to cut the lead to six with 2:49 remaining. “Let’s go Jayhawks!” chants filled the arena.

On the very next possession, Oregon again got no movement and no penetration, but Dorsey flicked a shot at the rim as the shot clock expired. The rebound bounced into the arms of an Oregon player, and seconds later, Dorsey crossed over, rose, and drilled a 3. On Oregon’s next possession, Bell got not one but two offensive rebounds, and his goaltended layup pushed the lead back to 11.

Oregon held on for the victory, and will advance to the Final Four to play the winner of Sunday’s showdown between North Carolina and Kentucky.

Permanent link to this article: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/oregon-stuns-kansas-to-reach-first-final-four-in-78-years-024820188.html

Once a basketball novice from Gabon, Chris Silva is now a key piece for South Carolina

Chris Silva was once an athletic teenager with little idea how to play basketball. Now he’s essential to upstart South Carolina’s success.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.foxsports.com/college-basketball/story/chris-silva-south-carolina-gamecocks-ncaa-tournament-032517

Mop girl nearly gets wiped out after Gonzaga steal (Video)

Gonzaga is moving on to the Final Four. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Late in its dominant Elite Eight win over Xavier on Saturday night, the only thing that could have stopped Gonzaga at one point was the girl who mops the floor at SAP Center in San Jose.

Already up 19 points with under four minutes to go, Josh Perkins stepped in front of a lazy pass from Xavier’s J.P. Macura and took off the other way. As he approached the hoop for an uncontested layup, the girl whose job is to keep the floor dry while the action is at the other end was still on the court. Perkins had to slow down as the girl did her best to scurry off the court.

As Chris Webber said on the broadcast, she was just doing her job and was able to get out of the way just in time. Still, it made for a funny moment. It had to be a shock to see a speedy 6-foot-3 guard coming right at her.

(TNT)

Perkins’ bucket increased the lead to 21, 78-57, and the Bulldogs went on to win 83-59 to advance to the Final Four for the first time in program history.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/mop-girl-nearly-gets-wiped-out-after-gonzaga-steal-video-005406836.html

Florida State brings its defense to defeat Oregon State (Mar 25, 2017)

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) Ivey Slaughter started swiping to help Florida State discover its best defense from all angles, and the third-seeded Seminoles erased a daunting deficit and ran right into the Stockton Regional final with a 66-53 win over second-seeded Oregon State on Saturday.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.foxsports.com/womens-college-basketball/story/florida-state-brings-its-defense-to-defeat-oregon-state-032517

Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four (Mar 25, 2017)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points while orchestrating Gonzaga's efficient offense, and the Zags finally shook their overrated tag by routing Xavier 83-59 on Saturday to reach the Final Four for the first time.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.foxsports.com/college-basketball/story/gonzaga-beats-xavier-83-59-to-reach-first-final-four-032517

Gonzaga throttles Xavier to send Mark Few to his first Final Four

The Zags and Musketeers entered Saturday both in search of their first Final Four. (AP)

 

SAN JOSE, Calif. — SAN JOSE, Calif. — In its marvelous 19-year reign atop the WCC, Gonzaga has captured 17 league titles, made the NCAA tournament every season and advanced to the Sweet 16 or beyond eight times.

All that success makes it difficult for any Gonzaga team to achieve something never done before, yet this year’s Zags managed to hit the one milestone that had previously eluded the program.

Gonzaga is taking Mark Few to his first Final Four, and the top-seeded Zags did it in emphatic fashion. They brushed aside Xavier 83-59 in the NCAA tournament’s West Regional title game to advance to play either Florida or South Carolina in Phoenix next Saturday.

The emphatic victory over Xavier was especially impressive considering how hot the 11th-seeded Musketeers had been entering play. They had toppled Maryland, Florida State and Arizona to reach the Elite Eight for the third time in program history.

A vastly improved defense had been the biggest difference between this year’s Gonzaga team and past editions, but on Saturday it was the Zags’ offense that carried them. They carved up Xavier’s trademark 1-3-1 zone and shredded the Musketeers’ man-to-man, opening up a double-digit lead late in the first half and extending it further throughout the second half.

When Xavier allowed Gonzaga’s frontcourt standouts to go 1-on-1 in the low post, Johnathan Williams and Przemek Karnowski often scored at will. When the Musketeers sent double teams, the Zags’ shooters made them pay, snapping out of a postseason shooting slump to drain 12 of 24 attempts from behind the arc.

Gonzaga won its first three NCAA tournament games despite poor offensive games from Nigel Williams-Goss, but the Washington transfer rediscovered his shooting stroke Saturday, scoring a game-high 23 points. Williams was also dominant around the rim, scoring 19 points on an array of lob dunks, post moves and put-backs.

It’s fitting that Xavier was the last hurdle for Gonzaga in its quest for its first Final Four. These two Jesuit basketball powers separated by 2,000 miles have mirrored one another both in trajectory and accomplishment the past two decades, both rising from humble origins to emerge as perennial national powers.

When Xavier coach Chris Mack played for the Musketeers in the early 1990s, he and his teammates sometimes had to wear hats, gloves or heavy sweatshirts while practicing at the aging Cincinnati Gardens. There was a sheet of ice beneath the gym floor, yet the owners rarely turned on the heat in advance for the Musketeers.

In those days, Xavier was so anonymous nationally that broadcasters routinely mispronounced the school’s name as “Eggs-Avier” and print media often referred to them as “Xavier of Ohio” to avoid confusion. Since then, the Musketeers have steadily risen in stature, going from lords of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference in the early 1990s, to Atlantic 10 juggernaut for the next two decades, to upper-echelon Big East team the past four years.

Gonzaga’s ascension from WCC afterthought to national power is no less impressive.

When Mark Few served as an assistant at Gonzaga in the 1990s, head coach Dan Fitzgerald ordered his staff never to pursue prospects with Pac-10 offers because he thought it was a waste of time and money. What player would turn down a Pac-10 school to come to a remote WCC program with aging facilities, no track record of success and massive financial limitations?

Few was too ambitious to accept that policy and the program began to blossom as a result. Now Gonzaga has a budget, facilities and a winning tradition that few power-conference programs can match.

Maybe the craziest similarities between Xavier and Gonzaga were their NCAA tournament track records.

They both entered Saturday’s game with 27 NCAA tournament wins, tied for the most without a Final Four. They both had reached eight Sweet 16s and three Elite Eights without advancing to the sport’s biggest stage.

Now Gonzaga can claim bragging rights over Xavier in one critical regard. Though their histories are similar, only the Zags are going to the Final Four.

More college basketball coverage from Yahoo Sports: 

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Permanent link to this article: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/gonzaga-throttles-xavier-to-send-mark-few-to-his-first-final-four-002158480.html

Podiatrist who set free throws world record dies at 94

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) A California podiatrist who made history when he shot 2,750 consecutive free throws has died. He was 94.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.foxsports.com/nba/story/podiatrist-who-set-free-throws-world-record-dies-at-94-032517

At long last, Gonzaga makes its first Final Four

There was no doubt about it Saturday against Xavier.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.foxsports.com/college-basketball/story/gonzaga-bulldogs-final-four-xavier-musketeers-nigel-williams-goss-032517

Somehow … someway … the SEC is dominating the NCAA tournament (Yahoo Sports)

Somehow ... someway ... the SEC is dominating the NCAA tournament

The Southeastern Conference is suddenly the king of college basketball. The SEC has three teams in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament – Florida and South Carolina will play each other for the right to reach the Final Four on Sunday, and Kentucky will play Atlantic Coast Conference power North Carolina. By seed, neither the No. 4 Gators nor the No. 7 Gamecocks were expected to get this far, which has added to the league’s surprising impact.


Permanent link to this article: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/sports/rss/ncaab/SIG=139kkg8qo/*http%3A//sports.yahoo.com/news/somehow-someway-the-sec-is-dominating-the-ncaa-tournament-235439284.html

North Carolina, Kentucky face off again for Final Four berth

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Roy Williams wanted another chance at Kentucky after his North Carolina Tar Heels lost to the Wildcats in December.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.foxsports.com/college-basketball/story/north-carolina-kentucky-face-off-again-for-final-four-berth-032517

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