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For those who don’t already, it’s time to Fear the Beard. After an amazing, double-overtime victory, Jacob Pullen and Kansas State are one win from the Final Four.
Scruffy beard and all, Pullen hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second overtime and finished with 28 points to help the second-seeded Wildcats outlast No. 6 Xavier 101-96 in an epic game in the West Regional semifinals.
After knocking off one so-called mid-major, the Wildcats (29-7) will play another, fifth-seeded Butler, on Saturday to try to make their first Final Four since 1964. This is the first time Kansas State has made it this far in the NCAA tournament since 1988.
Hard to call Xavier (26-7) a loser on this night, though.
With the Musketeers trailing by three at the end of regulation, Terrell Holloway got fouled while heaving up a 30-footer with 5 seconds left and calmly made all three free throws. Xavier was down by three again at the end of the first overtime, but Jordan Crawford jacked up a 35-footer that hit nothing but net.
One of those moments that belonged on YouTube, right beside Crawford’s dunk on LeBron, for sure.
But for Kansas State, this victory might land in a more permanent archive.
It was a classic.
Here’s how other teams fared in the NCAA madness on Thursday:
Willie Veasley glanced up while running back on defense as his 3-pointer bounced high off the rim like so many of Butler’s shots had before.
He paused, though, as the ball drifted back, caromed off the backboard and fell through the net — a huge bounce that helped seal the Bulldogs’ 63-59 upset of top-seeded Syracuse on Thursday night in the West Regional semifinals.
Veasley followed his fortunate 3 with a tip-in as the Bulldogs scored 11 straight points and became the latest mid-major team to knock off a top seed in the NCAA tourney
Now, after reaching the regional finals for the first time in school history, Butler is one win from going home to Indianapolis for the Final Four.
John Wall and top-seeded Kentucky overcame an early deficit with a swarming defense, stopping Cornell's captivating NCAA tournament run with a 62-45 win Thursday night in the East Regional semifinals.
With much of the Carrier Dome crowd — and the country — pulling for an upset by the 12th-seeded Ivy Leaguers, Cornell bolted to a 10-2 lead in the opening minutes.
The team advances to play No. 2 seed West Virginia on Saturday for a spot in the Final Four.
Clutching his right hand and writhing in pain on the court, West Virginia senior Da’Sean Butler allowed himself only two seconds to worry that his college career was over — and maybe the Mountaineers’ NCAA tournament run, too.
When Butler realized the hurt was subsiding, he got up and went about his business in lifting the second-seeded Mountaineers to the East Regional final with a 69-56 win over 11th-seeded Washington. The team advances to the round of eight for the second time since 2005.