NCAA tournament: Michigan State, Kentucky advance

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Michigan State turned the defensive tables on Virginia last night, and the Spartans advanced to the Elite Eight, putting them back in a place where they have had a lot of success.

Branden Dawson had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and the Spartans forced top-seeded Virginia into a terrible shooting performance in a 61-59 victory in New York to advance to East Regional final of the NCAA tournament.

The fourth-seeded Spartans (29-8) will play Connecticut (29-8) on Sunday with a Final Four berth at stake. The seventh-seeded Huskies beat third-seeded Iowa State 81-76 earlier Friday.

Michigan State overcame a horrible start to the second half and then withstood a late run by the Cavaliers (30-7) to advance to the regional finals for the eighth time since 1999 - all under coach Tom Izzo. The Spartans have a 6-1 record in those games, and in 2000 they went on to win it all.

Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon both had 17 points for Virginia, which became the second No. 1 seed to be eliminated, joining Wichita State.

Adreian Payne had 16 points for Michigan State, and his three-pointer with 1:29 left gave the Spartans the lead for good at 54-51. After a miss by Brogdon, the 6-foot-10 Payne turned point guard, finding Dawson with a line drive lob pass for a dunk with 52 seconds to go.

Harris hit a three with 39 seconds left to bring the Cavaliers within 56-54.

Payne found another way to help the Spartans, making two free throws with 32 seconds left for a 58-54 lead.

Brogdon hit a three with 1.1 seconds left to bring Virginia within 60-59. Gary Harris made one of two free throws to make it 61-59, and Virginia's last attempt was well off the mark.

Kentucky 74, Louisville 69

Nobody will accuse these Kentucky kids of being the fastest learners. Not this season. And certainly not during most of last night's game against Louisville.

But once again, late in the game with everything on the line, they figured things out just in time.

Aaron Harrison hit a three-pointer for the go-ahead score with 39 seconds left in Indianapolis, and Julius Randle made a pair of clutch free throws to lift the fantastic freshmen of Kentucky past their in-state rivals.

The eighth-seeded Wildcats (27-10) led for a grand total of 65 seconds in this Midwest Regional semifinal. They'll play Michigan on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four.

"I told them before the game, you'll get punched in the mouth, and you're going to taste blood," coach John Calipari said. "You can fight or you can brace yourself for the next shot. They fought."

Fourth-seeded and defending champion Louisville ends its season at 31-6.

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