Two less-than-impressive performances weren’t enough to prevent top-ranked Duke from making it to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title game.
Struggling for the second time in as many games, the Blue Devils needed a tip-in by freshman William Avery with less than a second left to escape with a 66-64 victory over Clemson (18-13) in Saturday’s semifinals in Greensboro, N.C.
Duke (29-2) shot just 37 percent but advanced to today’s title game against No. 4 North Carolina. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils split their regular-season series, with each team winning on its home floor.
(3) Kansas 91, Nebraska 59
In Kansas City, Mo., Raef LaFrentz hit another career milestone as the Jayhawks (33-3) scored 32 of the game’s first 40 points en route to a rout of the Cornhuskers (20-11) in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament. Kansas meets Oklahoma in the final.
The two-time Big 12 player of the year, bothered all week by a sore shoulder, scored 19 points and became the second player in Kansas history - and the 85th in the history of the NCAA - with more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
(4) N.C. 83, (21) Maryland 73 (OT)
In Greensboro, N.C., the Tar Heels, appearing tired and beaten for 40 minutes, dug down deep in overtime, scoring on its first nine possessions of the extra period to beat the Terrapins in the ACC tournament semifinals.
Shammond Williams scored 10 of his 25 points in the overtime to lead North Carolina (29-3) to the Atlantic Coast Conference finals for the seventh time in the 1990s.
The Tar Heels have now beaten the No. 3-seeded Terrapins (19-10) six straight times in the ACC postseason and denied Maryland its first trip to the title game since 1984.
(6) UConn 69, (22) Syracuse 64
In New York, the Huskies’ bench and defense brought it a third Big East tournament championship. They struggled offensively for the third straight game but still beat the Orangemen.
Reserve Rashamel Jones had 17 points to lead the Huskies (29-4), who held the Orangemen (24-8) without a field goal for 8:28 of the second half as they wiped out a nine-point deficit.
(7) Kentucky 99, (16) Arkansas 74
In Atlanta, the Wildcats destroyed the Razorbacks’ vaunted pressure defense, shooting 63 percent in the first half to coast to victory in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Kentucky (28-4) built a 58-33 halftime lead. Arkansas (23-8) never got closer than 20 the rest of the way. Twelve players scored for the Wildcats and five were in double figures, led by Jeff Sheppard with 17 points.
Kentucky advanced to play today in the title game against South Carolina. The Wildcats are seeking their sixth championship in seven years and 21st overall; no other school has more than six.
(9) Purdue 68, (18) Illinois 47
In Chicago, Brad Miller scored 19 points and helped hold the Illini (22-9) to 36 percent shooting as the Boilermakers (26-6) advanced to today’s Big Ten title game.
Chad Austin scored 22 points for Purdue, which will go for its 22nd conference title against Michigan.
(14) Cincinnati 71, N.C. Charlotte 57
In Cincinnati, Kenyon Martin had five points and a block in a decisive second-half run that carried the Bearcats (26-5) past the 49ers (19-10) in the Conference USA tournament championship.
(15) S. Carolina 87, (10) Mississippi 77
In Atlanta, BJ McKie scored 37 points and Melvin Watson added 27 as the Gamecocks’ backcourt duo dominated the Rebels (21-6) in a victory that sent the Gamecocks (23-6) into the Southeastern Conference championship game for the first time.
(17) Michigan 85, Minnesota 69
In Chicago, Louis Bullock scored 23 points and Robert “Tractor” Traylor added 18 as the Wolverines (23-8) showed their inside-outside versatility to beat the Gophers in the Big Ten tournament semifinals.
UNLV 56, (20) New Mexico 51
In Las Vegas, Tyrone Nesby hit a short jumper to put his team ahead, then clinched it with two free throws with 9.9 seconds left as the Runnin’ Rebels (20-12) beat the Lobos (23-7) to win the Western Athletic Conference championship.
Xavier 77, G. Washington 63
In Philadelphia, James Posey scored 23 points, including 11 for 14 from the foul line, as the Musketeers (22-7) won their first Atlantic 10 tournament by beating the Colonials (24-8).
Delaware 66, Boston U. 58
In Newark, Del., Darryl Presley scored 25 points and had 13 rebounds to lead the Blue Hens (20-9) past the Terriers (19-11) in the championship game of the America East tournament, putting them in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history.
Nicholls St. 84, Texas-Arlington 81
In Shreveport, La., Russell McCutcheon scored 22 points, including a basket with 11 seconds remaining, and the Colonels (19-9) beat the Mavericks (13-16) for the Southland Conference tournament championship.
S. Carolina St. 66, Coppin St. 61
In Richmond, Va., Raheem Waller’s tip-in with 23 seconds left lifted the Bulldogs over the Eagles (21-8) in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament, putting the Bulldogs (22-7) in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history.
Women’s Top 25
(4) La. Tech 69, (15) W. Ken. 68
In Ruston, La., Tamicha Jackson hit a 15-foot jumper with 22 seconds and the Lady Techsters (26-3, 13-1) held off the Hilltoppers (25-8, 12-2) in the Sun Belt conference tournament championship.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Today on TV 3:30 p.m.: Men’s NCAA Tournament selection show (CBS, ESPN) 4:30 p.m.: Women’s NCAA Tournament selection show (ESPN)