Villanova defeats Kansas 64-59, advances to Final Four

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Villanova is headed to the Final Four! (WPVI)

Villanova upset top-seeded Kansas Saturday night in the NCAA Tournament South Region final to reach the Final Four.

"I think it's time that Villanova shows their talent, and I think everyone's excited about it," said Angela Caruola, Berwyn.

Hundreds of Nova alum gathered at the Field House in Center City. The big game reunited old college pals.

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"Who better to watch the game with than my college roommate and my husband?" said Cindy Pascarella, Richboro. "He graduated with us, too."

"You want to be around people who actually care about the team so that's why we all decided to gather here," said Jarred Cannon, Northern Liberties.

The Wildcats had dominated previous games, but Saturday night was a claw biter for the Cats.

Throughout the game, Kansas and Villanova jockeyed for the lead.

But in the end, crowds went wild as Villanova pulled out a 64-59 win, advancing them to the Final Four for the first time in seven years.

"I'm proud of them. You can't ask for anything more. That's a dream for them to be part of this," said Mary Salvucci, Broomall.

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Villanova upset top-seeded Kansas Saturday night in the NCAA Tournament South Region final to reach the Final Four.

Kris Jenkins made two free throws with 13.3 seconds remaining, Jalen Brunson added two more with 3.5 seconds left and second-seeded Villanova upset the top-seeded Jayhawks 64-59 on Saturday night in the South Region final. The Wildcats will play Oklahoma next weekend in Houston.

Mikal Bridges and Josh Hart each made big steals in the final minute to help the Wildcats (33-5) pull off the upset and end the Jayhawks' 17-game winning streak. The Wildcats are back in the Final Four for the first time since 2009, and they can credit balanced scoring and ferocious defense.

Jenkins, Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono each scored 13 points for the Wildcats. They used a 10-0 run to take a 50-45 lead and get key baskets and plays down the stretch in beating the Jayhawks (33-5).

"Every guy on this team is willing to do whatever it takes to win, man," said Jenkins, who made all six free throws to offset 3-for-10 shooting. "Everybody on this team sacrifices. But we're not satisfied. We're looking forward to our next game in Houston. This definitely is a special feeling, but like I said before, we're not satisfied."

Devonte' Graham had 17 points, and Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden Jr. added 16 each for Kansas, which got just four points from leading scorer Perry Ellis. The Jayhawks shot 46 percent from the field and even won the rebounding battle 32-28, but played from behind most of the night.

Even when it was ahead, Kansas never seemed in control and ended up making desperation plays that didn't work.

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Ryan Arcidiacono celebrates his 22nd birthday with a trip to the Final Four.

Graham shot 5 of 9 from long range, but fouled out late, and everyone else was a combined 1 for 13 from behind the arc. Kansas also committed 16 turnovers, including several in the final minutes when it was within a possession of tying or leading.

"I think the basket shrunk a little bit for us, and certainly, they probably got some confidence the way they were defending us," Kansas coach Bill Self said about Villanova. "But it came down them making free throws and it came down to a couple of loose balls, and that was the difference in the outcome."

Villanova got 10 points from Daniel Ochefu, including a big jumper with 6:14 left, just one of many big plays the Wildcats made to preserve the lead after finally wresting it from Kansas.

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Villanova upset top-seeded Kansas Saturday night in the NCAA Tournament South Region final to reach the Final Four.

It wasn't easy. Mason scored five points and the Jayhawks cut it to 60-59 with 15 seconds left. But Arcidiacono, who turned 22, preceded that with four free throws before Jenkins and Brunson followed with two more. The Wildcats made 18 of 19 at the line and all eight in the final 33 seconds.

The Wildcats were also given the ball with 34 seconds left when officials determined that Graham undercut Hart on a scramble after Graham's turnover. Graham fouled out at that point, and Mason's foul led to the first of Arcidiacono's foul shots.

Darryl Reynolds had two free throws and Bridges had a key tip-in for the Wildcats as well in a game in which they shot 40 percent from the field.

Villanova gets to pursue its second national title in its fifth Final Four berth, though the NCAA vacated its 1971 appearance because star Howard Porter had signed a pro contract while still in college. The Wildcats will face Oklahoma next Saturday in Houston.

More importantly, the Wildcats did what no team had been able to over two months and really wasn't expected to in knocking out the tournament favorite. But both teams had been ranked No. 1 this season and have been winning even bigger in the tournament.

This Elite Eight matchup seemed inevitable as a result, with Villanova coach Jay Wright comparing it to a heavyweight bout in Friday. The Wildcats ended up cutting off the court with a zone defense and mixing in timely offense.

Villanova's 40-percent shooting including 4-of-18 from long range didn't matter as the Wildcats had the victory that moves them into April.

"We wanted to make it a street fight, make it an ugly game," said Arcidiacono, who shot 6 of 7 from the line to seal the win on his 22nd birthday. "I think we did that."


The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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