fb-pixel Skip to main content
NCAA men's basketball

UConn men romp past Arkansas to reach NCAA Elite Eight berth; Gonzaga wins a thriller over UCLA

UConn's Jordan Hawkins drives for a first-half basket. Hawkins led the fourth-seeded Huskies with 24 points in an 88-65 romp over Arkansas Thursday night in Las Vegas.David Becker/Associated Press

After UConn lost as a No. 5 seed to 12th-seeded New Mexico State in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, Huskies coach Dan Hurley told his core players they would be back on this stage.

Not only would they return, but Hurley said he would surround them with players capable of taking them deep into March.

They are certainly doing that.

The Huskies’ 88-65 victory over Arkansas in the West Region semifinals on Thursday night was their third triumph by double digits in as many games. Jordan Hawkins scored 24 points to lead the dominant effort.

Fourth-seeded UConn (28-8) will play Gonzaga -- which defeated UCLA in a 79-76 thriller late Thursday night -- on Saturday for a spot in the Final Four.


“From that day on, we really held each other to a higher standard and just told each other we’re going to push for a national championship,” said UConn guard Andre Jackson Jr. “We’re going to push for that type of standard every day in practice and we’re going to hold each other to that.”

UConn is playing like a team capable of winning its fifth national title and first since 2014. The Huskies outscored their three March Madness opponents by a combined 62 points.

“They’ve got a real complete team, probably the most complete team in the country,” Arkansas guard Ricky Council IV said. “I think they can definitely win it all.”

The Huskies won their first two games by outscoring Iona and Saint Mary’s by a combined 86-49 in the second half. UConn surged early against Arkansas (22-14) with a 14-point run and took a 46-29 lead into halftime.

The Huskies never trailed and led by as many as 29 points. UConn dominated inside by outrebounding the Razorbacks, 43-31, and outscoring them in the paint, 42-24.


Adama Sanogo scored 18 points, Alex Karaban had 11 and Nahiem Alleyene 10 for UConn. Sanogo, who also had eight rebounds,has scored 71 points in 75 minutes in this tournament.

“I’m just proud of the way we’ve built this thing,” said Hurley, who is in his fifth season. “We’ve got an incredible group of players, and we get the right type of people and we’ve got great culture. We’re right where we thought we would be.”

Julian Strawther helps deliver dramatic win for Gonzaga

Julian Strawther hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left to answer a 3-pointer by UCLA’s Amari Bailey, lifting Gonzaga to a wild 79-76 NCAA Tournament win over UCLA Thursday night in the Sweet 16.

The Bruins (31-6), the West Region’s No. 2 seed, stormed back from an eight-point deficit in the final 1:05 and took a 76-75 lead on Bailey’s 3-pointer with 12.2 seconds left.

The Zags (31-5) brought the ball up the floor and Strawther stepped into a 3-pointer, sending Gonzaga fans to their feet.

Strawther's heroics mean Gonzaga has a date with UConn on Saturday.Carmen Mandato/Getty

Gonzaga’s Malachi Smith stole the ball from UCLA’s Tyger Campbell, but Strawther only hit 1 of 2 free throws at the other end, giving the Bruins a chance.

Campbell’s 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back of the rim, sending the Zags rushing off the bench and into the Elite Eight against UConn on Saturday.

Kansas State wins overtime thriller vs. Michigan State

Markquis Nowell capped Kansas State’s thrilling overtime victory, 98-93, over No. 7 seed Michigan State in an East Region Sweet 16 matchup at Madison Square Garden. The dynamic 5-foot-8-inch point guard from Harlem, N.Y., made his NCAA tournament-record 19th assist on an inbounds pass that resulted in a clutch baseline jumper by Ismael Massoud with 12.5 seconds left, then converted a critical Spartan turnover in the open court into breakaway basket at the buzzer to give him 20 points for the game.


Nowell, who overcame a rolled right ankle suffered in the first half, bettered the previous assist record (18) set by UNLV’s Mark Wade in a 1987 tournament win over Indiana.

Markquis Nowell of Kansas State shoots an off-balance jumper during overtime of Thursday's dramatic win over Michigan State.Al Bello/Getty

Keyontae Johnson had a team-high 22 points to lead the third-seeded Wildcats (26-9) to an Elite Eight matchup against No. 9 Florida Atlantic, which got a team-high 15 points from Johnell Davis in a 62-55 upset win over No. 4 Tennessee.

A.J. Hoggard led the Spartans (21-13) with 25 points and six rebounds and Joey Hauser, the brother of Celtics reserve forward Sam Hauser, added 18 points on 4-for-9 shooting from the 3-point arc.

Southern fires men’s coach Woods

Southern University’s men’s basketball program is looking for a new leader after the school announced Sean Woods would not be returning as coach. Woods ends his five-year tenure with a 64-82 overall record.

“At this time, we felt it was necessary to make a change in leadership of our men’s basketball program, over the last five years we have fallen short of our standard and expectations for our men’s basketball program,” athletic director Roman Banks said in a statement.

Under Woods’ leadership, the program finished second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference during the 2019-2020 season.