ST. LOUIS - All the upstarts are headed home. It comes down to North Carolina and Kansas, the bluest of the bluebloods, for a spot in the Final Four.
Thomas Robinson had 18 points and 15 rebounds, Jeff Withey blocked 10 shots to finish one shy of the NCAA tournament record, and the second-seeded Jayhawks held off No. 11 seed North Carolina State 60-57 in the Midwest Regional semifinals Friday night.
The top-seeded Tar Heels escaped with a 73-65 overtime win over No. 13 seed Ohio earlier in the night, setting up a Sunday showdown between the Jayhawks and North Carolina, led by former coach Roy Williams.
Kansas (30-6) squandered an eight-point lead in the final few minutes, and didn't wrap up the win until Richard Howell's off-balance heave at the buzzer came up well short.
The Jayhawks poured off the bench to celebrate, while coach Bill Self seemed to slump his shoulders in exhaustion. He then headed for the scorer's table to shake hands with N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried, who needed only one season to turn around the Wolfpack.
C.J. Leslie had 18 points to lead N.C. State (24-13), despite sitting much of the second half with four fouls. Scott Wood finished with 12 points on 2-for-10 shooting, though his biggest mistake wasn't a missed shot but the shot he never even got to attempt.
N.C. State had pulled within 58-57 on a transition layup by C.J. Williams with just over a minute remaining. The teams swapped possessions before Kansas managed to get a layup from Elijah Johnson off an inbound pass from Tyshawn Taylor with 13.5 seconds remaining.
The Wolfpack crossed midcourt and called a timeout to set up a play, which was designed to get the ball to Wood off a skip pass in the corner. But the sharpshooter stepped out of bounds when he tried to pull in the high pass, giving the ball back to Kansas with 5 seconds remaining.
Robinson was fouled and missed the free throw at the other end, and after a heave three-quarters of the way down court, Howell's tightly guarded shot at the buzzer came up nowhere close.
Johnson finished with 11 points for the Jayhawks, who advanced despite a miserable performance by Taylor at the point. Their second-leading scorer was held to six points on 2-for-14 shooting, missing all six of his 3-point attempts.
Kansas was just 1 for 14 from beyond the arc as a team.