SALT LAKE CITY — For those who don’t already, it’s time to Fear the Beard. After an amazing, double-overtime victory, Jacob Pullen and Kansas State are one win from the Final Four.

Scruffy beard and all, Pullen hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second overtime and finished with 28 points Thursday night to help the second-seeded Wildcats outlast No. 6 Xavier 101-96 in an epic game in the West Regional semifinals.

After knocking off one so-called mid-major, the Wildcats (29-7) will play another, fifth-seeded Butler, on Saturday to try to make their first Final Four since 1964. This is the first time Kansas State has made it this far in the NCAA tournament since 1988.

But it was hard to call Xavier (26-7) a loser on this night.

With the Musketeers trailing by three at the end of regulation, Terrell Holloway got fouled while heaving up a 30-footer with five seconds left and calmly made all three free throws.

Xavier was down by three again at the end of the first overtime, but Jordan Crawford jacked up a 35-footer that hit nothing but net.

It was one of those moments that belonged on YouTube, right beside Crawford’s dunk on LeBron James, for sure.

But for Kansas State, this victory might land in a more permanent archive.

It was a classic.

Crawford led Xavier with 32 points.


WEST VIRGINIA 69, WASHINGTON 56: Clutching his right hand and writhing in pain on the court, West Virginia senior Da’Sean Butler allowed himself only two seconds to worry that his college career was over — and maybe the Mountaineers’ NCAA tournament run, too.

When Butler realized the hurt was subsiding, he got up and went about his business in lifting the second-seeded Mountaineers (30-6) over 11th-seeded Washington (26-10) at Syracuse, N.Y.

“Once I stood up, the one thing that was pretty numb was my hand, and I said, ‘All right, I’ll be fine,’ ” he said.

He was, and so were the Mountaineers. Coach Bob Huggins’ team set a school record for victories, extended its winning streak to nine and advanced to the Elite Eight for the second time since 2005.

Seeing Butler on the court was a major scare for West Virginia, which was playing its first game without point guard Darryl Bryant, who broke his right foot in practice Tuesday.


KENTUCKY 62, CORNELL 45: John Wall and top-seeded Kentucky (35-2) overcame an early deficit with swarming defense, stopping a captivating NCAA tournament run by 12th-seeded Cornell (29-5) in the East Regional semifinals at Syracuse, N.Y.

With much of the Carrier Dome crowd — and the country — pulling for an upset by the Ivy Leaguers, Cornell bolted to a 10-2 lead in the opening minutes.

But quickly, Wall and the Wildcats displayed all the NBA-caliber talent that makes them a traditional powerhouse. Kentucky led 32-16 at halftime and made it 38-21 before Cornell climbed back into it.

With Kentucky ahead 40-34 with 5½ minutes left, Coach John Calipari’s team kept its composure and advanced to play No. 2 seed West Virginia for a spot in the Final Four.


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