OMAHA, Neb. — Top-seeded Kansas brought at least a temporary halt to the insanity this March, withstanding a wild comeback from fifth-seeded Clemson for a too-close-for-comfort, 80-76 victory on Friday.

Malik Newman led the Jayhawks (30-7) with 17 points in a game that looked like a runaway but got close at the end.

For the third straight year as a No. 1 seed, Kansas made its way through the Sweet 16. Getting to the Final Four has been a different story – and the Jayhawks are on the doorstep once again.

As a top seed the last two seasons, Kansas flopped a game shy of the Final Four. This is the sixth time Bill Self’s team has been seeded first since winning it all in 2008, but the Jayhawks haven’t made the Final Four in that span.

Clemson trailed 62-42 midway through the second half but climbed to within six with 2:27 left. But thanks to Devonte Graham’s offensive rebound with 1:57 left, the Jayhawks ran almost a minute off the clock before Clemson misfired on back-to-back 3-point attempts. From there, Kansas overcame a dogged Clemson press just long enough to ensure that the Tigers couldn’t pull any closer until the final buzzer. Gabe DeVoe had a career-high 31 points for Clemson (25-10), which couldn’t replicate the magic it showed in beating Auburn by 31 to reach its first Sweet 16 in 21 years.

Clemson had scored five straight points late in the first half to cut its deficit to 35-27 before Elijah Thomas was called for a flagrant foul. Silvio De Sousa knocked down the free throws, Lagerald Vick buried a 3, and Kansas cruised into halftime ahead 40-27.


Vick, Newman and Graham then opened the second half with 3s to extend the lead to 20.

For Kansas, one of the most encouraging things about its takedown of Clemson was that it jumped ahead in the first half despite a 1-for-7 start by Graham, the Big 12 player of the year. Udoka Azubuike looked strong in his first start of the tournament, with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

DUKE 69, SYRACUSE 65: Duke found a way to crack Syracuse’s zone defense, and now the Blue Devils are back in the Elite Eight for the first time since the 2015 team won it all.

Gary Trent Jr. made two free throws with 6.3 seconds left to help second-seeded Duke (29-7) hold off the 11th-seeded Orange in Omaha, Nebraska.

The win set up a 1 vs. 2 showdown Sunday against Kansas.

Syracuse (23-14), the last at-large team invited to the tournament, saw its unlikely run to the Sweet 16 end, as the Orange were unable to overcome 16 turnovers.



TEXAS TECH 78, PURDUE 65: Keenan Evans scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, and No. 3 seed Texas Tech (27-9) scored 11 straight points to pull away the second-seeded Boilermakers (30-7) in Boston.

Texas Tech trailed for most of the first half before scoring the last 10 points to turn a five-point deficit into a 30-25 lead. The Red Raiders led 58-55 with 5:44 left before Evans hit two free throws and then a 3-pointer to start an 11-0 run that put the game away and set up a clash with top-seeded Villanova on Sunday.


LA SALLE: The Explorers split with Coach John Giannini following a 13-19 finish in his 14th season.

The school said in a statement that the Explorers and the coach have “mutually agreed to part ways,” and a search for a new coach has begun.


“John is a great guy, always with the best interests of his student-athletes at heart, and he did his very best to advance the men’s basketball program at La Salle,” said Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw, who lauded Giannini for his players’ academic success.

Giannini, who coached Maine from 1996 to 2004, said La Salle would “benefit from a new voice.” He added that “it is difficult to admit this, but I have given every effort possible for success.”

“I am truly blessed to have the relationships, challenges and achievements that come from 29 years of being a head coach,” he said.

His team went 7-14 in the Atlantic-10 this year. Giannini had a career record there of 212-226 at La Salle after posting a 125-111 mark in his seven seasons at Maine.

In 2012-13, La Salle won 24 games and reached the NCAA’s round of 16. It was the only NCAA tournament appearance under Giannini, who matched Speedy Morris for longest tenured coach in La Salle history.

Giannini also won a Division III national championship at Rowan.

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