Luke Maye played just 20 minutes in North Carolina's 75-73 victory over Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament South Regional final, but he made every minute of his time on the court count, especially in the final seconds of the game.
After Malik Monk tied the score at 73 with a miraculous three-pointer with 7.2 seconds left to play, North Carolina's Theo Pinson drove the length of the court and into the lane, pitching the ball to Maye, who was stationed on the three point line to the left for the basket.
Without hesitation, Maye let fly and swished the game-winner with 0.3 seconds remaining, sending North Carolina to the Final Four for the 20th time in the program's storied history.
Maye and his teammates celebrated on the court in Memphis, seeking redemption for last season's last-second loss to Villanova for the national championship.
The final shot was not the only contribution made by the 6'8" sophomore forward. Maye was mostly on target uring his various stints on the court, going 6-for-9 from the field for 17 points, including making two of three three-pointers and all three of his free throw attempts. He also added three rebounds, two assists and had a steal.
His point total was second to teammate Justin Jackson, who tallied 19, but was only 7-for-17. Kennedy Meeks was a major force under the rim, scoring seven points while hauling in 17 boards and blocking four shots in 32 minutes. Maye's accuracy and heady presence were critical to the Tar Heels prevailing, especially when everything was on the line in the closing seconds.
North Carolina heads to Glendale, Arizona, site of the NCAA Tournament Final Four, to face the Oregon Ducks, the #3 seed from the West region, making its first appearance in the Final Four since winning the tournament in 1939.
In the other regional final on Sunday, 7th-seeded South Carolina earned its first trip to the Final Four in the school's history, defeating #4 Florida, 77-70, in the East Regional, an all-SEC classic.
Sindarius Thornwell led all scorers with 26 points as the Gamecocks rallied from seven points down at the half. South Carolina faces the #1 seed from the West, Gonzaga, also making its first trip to the Final Four.
Both Saturday games are slated for broacast coverage on CBS, starting with the Gamecocks and Bulldogs at 6:09 pm ET. The North Carolina-Oregon match-up should tip at or around 8:49 pm ET.
College Basketball Daily will keep the hoops juices flowing during the week leading up to the National Semi-Final games in Arizona.
Here's a peek at the upcoming daily schedule:
Tuesday: Statistical Breakdown of Final Four Teams
Wednesday: Key players, situations, strategies...
Thursday: East-West National Semi-Final Preview
Friday: South-Midwest National Semi-Final Preview
NCAA Tournament Conference Scoreboard
Through Sunday (3/26) Games
|Conference (# of teams)||Record||Winners (# of Wins)|
|ACC (9)||9-8||Notre Dame (1), Florida St. (1), Virginia (1), Louisville (1), Duke (1), North Carolina (4)|
|Big East (7)||6-7||Villanova (1), Butler (2), Xavier (3)|
|Big Ten (7)||8-7||Purdue (2), Wisconsin (2), Northwestern (1), Michigan (2), Michigan State (1)|
|Big 12 (6)||9-6||Kansas State (1), West Virginia (2), Iowa St. (1), Kansas (3), Baylor (2)|
|SEC (5)||11-4*||Florida (3), Arkansas (1), Kentucky (3), South Carolina (4)|
|PAC 12 (4)||10-3||USC (2), Arizona (2), Oregon (4), UCLA (2)|
|Atlantic 10 (3)||1-3||Rhode Island (1)|
|American (2)||1-2||Cincinnati (1)|
|West Coast (2)||5-1||Gonzaga (4), St. Mary's (1)|
|All Others (23)||(4-23)||Mt. St. Mary's (1), UC Davis (1), Middle Tennessee (1), Wichita State (1)|
*One SEC loss and one SEC win occurred in the same game, the East Regional Final, South Carolina 77, Florida 70