Philadelphia – It’s not yet time for the NCAA Men’s Most Underdog.
Tiny St. University still remains. Peter is alive and well and moving into the final eight of the NCAA Championship after eliminating another strength in basketball. Playing in an inspirational defense and without any fear, the No. 3 seed Peacock stunned Purdue, 67-64, Friday night before a crowd at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia that included several St. Peter fans who made the trip in New. Jersey Turnpike roared in approval.
Peacock (22-11) will advance to face the winner between the No. 4 at UCLA and No. 8 North Carolina in Sunday’s Eastern Regional Final, with a chance to reach the fourth final in New Orleans. They have now defeated second-seeded Kentucky, No. 3 Purdue and No. 7 Murray State to become the No. 1 seed 13 or less to reach the final eight.
“I have a bunch of guys playing basketball and just having fun,” St Peter’s coach Shaheen Holloway said in a TV interview as his players showered him with jubilant celebrations. That’s all we do.
Peacock immediately captured national attention after defeating Kentucky – a favorite for the national title – before becoming the third seed number 15 to advance to the round of 16. St. Peter’s is the first school in New Jersey to reach that far. Men’s Championship since Holloway was a starting guard for Seton Hall 2000.
“We’re happy but make no mistake, we’re unsatisfied,” said goalkeeper Doug Edert, who finished the match with 10 points, including two free throws in the final seconds. “We feel we belong.”
The match was tight throughout with 15 changes up front, and both teams dominated the trading deep into the second half. Bordeaux, known for its big and tall athletic players, outgrew and outdid St Peter’s belly, but the Peacocks found a way to win anyway.
They hit us like they hit the other two teams. They’re grinding us down, said Purdue coach Matt Painter.
St. Peter’s goalkeeper Matthew Lee tied at 57 with 3:17 remaining, and after exactly one minute, Daryl Banks III, the Peacock’s main scorer with 14 points, hit a corner kick in the lead. Teams exchanged baskets and free throws, but Purdue couldn’t catch up.
The Peacocks arrived for Friday’s game wearing T-shirts that read “More is possible.”
“What will they say now?” Holloway said as his players celebrated behind him. “I’ll see you later.”
– Adam Zagoria
Kansas is the only top seed to reach the quarter-finals.
CHICAGO — The veteran Kansas squad rushed into the eighth round on Friday with a 66-61 victory over Providence in the Midwest Regional semifinals, becoming the only top seed to advance in a week when turmoil was the norm.
The Jayhawks dominated the game early on, blocking six shots from Providence in the first 12 minutes and controlling the first half of the rebounding game. But Providence, which debuted as Sweet 16 in a quarter-century, has jumped back and kept the game close at hand.
After trailing by as much as 13, Noah Horschler sunk two 3-pointers in quick succession to pull the brothers one point distance in the second inning. Minutes later, head to the basket to give Providence a quick taste of the lead.
But she proved inadequate against the experienced Kansas team and was effective, even if at times sloppy.
Near the end of the first half, Jayhawk forward Jayhawk’s Jalen Wilson missed a layup twice, but had a rebound each time and was able to force the ball through the hoop. Ochai Agbaji, National Player of the Year, scored only 2 out of 8 field goals. But with Kansas beginnings tense, and the brothers becoming more aggressive, Agbaji reappeared late in the second half when Christian Brown worked an alley from behind the three-point line. Agbaji slammed the house, reviving Jayhawk fans at the United Center in Chicago who had been quiet all night.
Kansas, whose youngest early season player was a sophomore in a red jersey, was also able to count on Remy Martin, a very senior Arizona State player, who led the Jayhawks in scoring with 23 points. Braun, a junior, and Wilson, a sophomore Redshirt, both hit double digits in rebounds.
The Jayhawks will enter Sunday as a strong contender against either Iowa State or Miami, who were about to play each other later on Friday. Iowa is ranked 11th in the Midwest, and Miami is 10th.
But Friday’s performance by the Jayhawks, which followed a closer-than-expected win over Creighton in the round of 32, did little to allay concerns about his endurance late in the tournament. Kansas advances to the quarter-finals for the eighth time during coach Bill Self’s tenure in Lawrence. Only one of those trips ended with a national title.
– Mitch Smith
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