Gamecocks, Tar Heels Reach Final Four

Sports Associated Press

The NCAA Final Four is set, and the semifinals will include both South and North Carolina. The seventh-seeded Gamecocks have earned their first berth in the national semifinals, while the No. 1 Tar Heels have advanced this far for the 20th time.

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   Sindarius Thornwell scored 26 points and hit the go-ahead free throws that put South Carolina ahead to stay in a 77-70 triumph over the fourth-seeded Florida Gators. There were 14 lead changes and 10 ties until Thornwell drained two free throws to put the Gamecocks ahead 65-63 with 2:24 remaining. The East Regional MVP followed the foul shots with a nice assist to Maik Kotsar and a steal with 40 seconds left to help South Carolina go ahead 73-68.

   PJ Dozier added 17 points for the Gamecocks, who trailed 40-33 at halftime.

   The Gators shot 0-for-14 from 3-point range in the second half after going 7-for-12 from downtown in the opening 20 minutes. Justin Leon had a team-high 18 points for Florida.

   South Carolina will take on Gonzaga in the first semifinal Saturday at Glendale, Arizona. Like the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs have never played in a Final Four before.

   In Sunday's second game, North Carolina was facing overtime until Luke Maye drained a jumper with 0.3 seconds left to give the top-seeded Tar Heels a 75-73 win over Kentucky in the South Regional final. Maye's game-winning bucket came after Kentucky freshman Malik Monk hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with 7.2 seconds remaining.

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   De'Aaron Fox also hit a trey after North Carolina went on a 12-0 to take a six-point lead late in the game.

   Maye finished with 17 points off the bench for North Carolina. Justin Jackson scored 19 points, and Joel Berry II added 11.

   Bam Adebayo and Fox each had 13 points for the Wildcats, while Monk finished with 12.

   North Carolina will play Midwest champ Oregon on Saturday in Arizona.