In a tightly contested contest between (1) Kansas and (2) Villanova, ‘Nova prevailed 64-59 in the final of the South Regional at the KFC Yum! Center. The Wildcats will return to the Final Four for the first time since 2009.
‘Nova entered halftime with a five point lead over the Jayhawks but were given a scare at the beginning of the second half when Kansas cut the deficit to three off of two made free throws by senior Perry Ellis and a turnover by ‘Nova junior Kris Jenkins on an inbounds, which was intercepted by Frank Mason III, who scored a layup off the turnover.
The Wildcats would maintain the lead until there was 13:24 left and Ellis scored a layup, his only made basket of the night, giving Kansas the one point advantage. The Kansas lead did not last, as a three from senior Ryan Arcidiacono gave ‘Nova the 2 point lead with 8:42 left and they did not look back after that.
‘Nova’s sound defense and free throw shooting throughout the game and down the stretch helped Jay Wright and company come out of this one victorious.
Devonte’ Graham led the Jayhawks in scoring with a game-high 17 points, while Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason III each had 16 points. Ellis was limited to four points (1-5 FGM-A).
Josh Hart, Arcidiacono, and Jenkins all had 13 points of their own for ‘Nova. Daniel Ochefu added 10 points and 8 rebounds. Mikal Bridges’ 6 points, 3 boards, 1 assist, and 5 steals off the bench can not be overlooked. The redshirt freshman played a huge role in the victory for the Wildcats. His work on the defensive end was stellar and he made a key steal in the final minute of the game to send ‘Nova into the Final Four.
Villanova will face West Regional winner (2) Oklahoma and star Buddy Hield next Saturday in the Final Four.
Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
-(1) Villanova defeats (3) Michigan in the National Championship