LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Villanova is back in the Final Four thanks to furious finishing kick.
The second-seeded Wildcats scrapped their way to a 64-59 victory over No. 1 Kansas in the NCAA South Region Final on Saturday at the KFC Yum Center. They advance to the national semifinals next Saturday in Houston and will face Oklahoma, whom they lost to by 23 points on Dec. 7. Villanova is in the Final Four for the first time since 2009 and fifth time in school history.
The final minute was frenetic, with Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono knocking down four clutch free throws. When Kris Jenkins made two more free throws, the Villanova lead was three points with 15 ticks left. Arcidiacoco stole the ball on the ensuing possession and the Wildcats could exhale.
Josh Hart, Arcidiacono and Jenkins all had 13 points for the Wildcats (33-5).
Kansas, paced by Devonte Graham with 17 points. Frank Mason and Wayne Selden finished with 16. The Jayhawks saw their national-best 17-game winning streak snapped.
A 10-0 run sent Villanova out front 50-45 with just under eight minutes remaining. Three-pointers by Arcidiacono and Hart fueled the surge.
The Jayhawks (33-5) turned up the defensive pressure to start the second half and pulled within three points on a steal and layup by Mason 18 seconds in. They grabbed the lead 37-36 at 13:23 on a layup by Perry Ellis, who had been held scoreless over the first 20 minutes.
Villanova led 32-25 at the half behind Jenkins (nine points). Graham kept Kansas in it with 11 first-half points.
The Wildcats went on a 13-0 run to build a 25-16 edge with four minutes left in the first half.
Turnovers dogged the Jayhawks, who went scoreless for 6:55 with eight giveaways until Mason hit a free throw to end the drought. He finally scored on a pair of free throws 14 seconds into the second half. KU turned the ball over 16 times in the game, 10 times in the half.