Basketball·March Madness

No. 1 seed Duke, RJ Barrett stunned as Michigan State advances to Final Four

Michigan State upset RJ Barrett, 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.

Canadian freshman missed 1 of 2 free throws with chance to tie; Steve Nash defends Barrett in tweet

Duke guard Tre Jones, centre, covers his face as he walks off the court with teammates Zion Williamson, left, and Cam Reddish after losing to Michigan State in the NCAA men's East Regional final in Washington on Sunday. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

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

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.

Barrett, Duke's other star freshman, from Mississauga, Ont., 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.

Canadian basketball icon Steve Nash is sticking up for Barrett, who drew criticism on social media.

Nash, an eight-time all-star who played 18 seasons in the NBA from 1996-2014, posted a supportive message on Twitter about Barrett — his godson — after the loss.

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

Auburn overcomes 11-point deficit to down Kentucky in OT

Auburn's romp through college basketball royalty has brought down the winningest program of all.

Bryce Brown scored 24 points, Jared Harper and Anfernee McLemore made the plays that mattered in overtime, and the fifth-seeded Tigers rallied from a 10-point hole to beat second-seeded Kentucky 77-71 on Sunday to earn the Auburn program its first trip to the Final Four where they will face Virginia. 

Harper finished with 26 points for the Tigers (30-9), who roared through Kansas and North Carolina just to reach the finals of the Midwest Region. But few gave the plucky bunch of three-point specialists much of chance against the star-studded Wildcats (30-7), especially after they lost versatile forward Chuma Okeke to a gruesome knee injury in the closing minutes against the Tar Heels.

Chuma was there in more than just spirit, though. He was rolled behind the bench in his wheelchair early in the second half, and was right there to join in the celebration at the buzzer.

The Tigers had only reached the Elite Eight once before, and that was 33 years ago. But after twice losing to Kentucky during the regular season, they rose to the occasion on the game's biggest stage.

They forced overtime when Harper made a tying layup with 38 seconds to go then the diminutive guard scored the first four points of the extra session. And when Ashton Hagans scored for Kentucky, it was McLemore who added back-to-back baskets that forced the Wildcats to play catch-up.

They never made it all the way back.

Samir Doughty made the second of two free throws to give Auburn a 74-71 lead with 16.1 seconds left, and the Wildcats' Keldon Johnson misfired at the other end, wrapping up a victory that will surely send the Auburn fan base streaming to Toomer's Corner.

PJ Washington had 28 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Wildcats, though he had a shot blocked that could have given his team the lead in the closing seconds. Johnson added 14 points and Hagans had 10.

With files from The Canadian Press

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