N.C. State and its 2 DJs headed to 1st Final Four since 1983 after 76-64 win over Duke

North Carolina State head coach Kevin Keatts holds the South Regional trophy following an Elite Eight college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament Sunday against Duke in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

DALLAS (AP) — Bruising big man DJ Burns Jr. scored a season-high 29 points, DJ Horne had 20 and 11th-seeded North Carolina State reached its first Final Four in four decades, beating Atlantic Coast Conference rival Duke 76-64 in the South Region final Sunday.

N.C. State (26-14) is back in the national semifinals for the first time since the late Jim Valvano was sprinting around the court looking for someone to hug after winning the 1983 national title with an upset over Houston and Phi Slama Jama.


These Wolfpack head to Glendale, Arizona, next weekend with a nine-game winning streak. After losing their last four regular-season games, and seven of nine, they had to win five games in five days in the ACC Tournament, including a win over Duke in the quarterfinal round, just to get into the 68-team NCAA Tournament field. Now they will play Zach Edey and Purdue in the first national semifinal game, before defending champion UConn takes on Alabama.

“I’ll say like I’ve been saying the whole tournament. When I stop having fun with basketball, I’ll stop playing,” said Burns, who was voted the South Region’s most outstanding player. “There’s just been a total switch in our commitment. Nobody’s being late to things. Nobody’s being a problem on the court. Everybody’s come together.”

Fourth-seeded Duke (27-9), which ousted top seed Houston in the Sweet 16 two nights earlier, missed out on its second Final Four in three seasons after leading by six at halftime and maintaining that margin with 16 1/2 minutes left.

But soon after Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts was called for a technical foul with 8 minutes left, his team had a double-digit lead and was well on its way to becoming the seventh double-digit seed to make the Final Four since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Edey goes big, sends Purdue to 1st Final Four since 1980

DETROIT (AP) — By the time all the scrapping and scratching and diving on the floor was over, it felt like a shame that both those teams, and both those players, weren’t moving onto the Final Four.

Just don’t expect Purdue to feel bad about it.

Boilermakers big man Zach Edey went for a career high 40 points Sunday to muscle Purdue within two wins of the title for the first time since 1980 with a 72-66 victory over Dalton Knecht and his never-say-quit Tennessee teammates.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, a unanimous AP All-American, didn’t even need a ladder to cut down the net after edging out Knecht, another All-American, who finished with 37 points.

The game’s top two players, and their teams, went back and forth all day. How close was it?

There were six ties and eight lead changes. With 5 minutes left and the score knotted at 58, both players had scored 31 points on 12 field goals. According to OptaSTATS, this was the first time opposing players scored more than half their squads’ points in an NCAA Tournament game.

“You’re not trying to take away 100 percent, you’re trying to take away maybe 80 percent of what he’s trying to get accomplished,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said of Knecht. “But we don’t take Zach for granted. He could’ve scored 50 tonight if he’d made his free throws.”

Edey missed eight of his 22 attempts from the foul line. One of those misses sparked the play of the game. After Tennessee grabbed the rebound and worked the ball downcourt, Edey swatted away Knecht’s layup as he drove to the basket while trailing by five with 33 seconds left.

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