Maye hits late jumper to lift North Carolina to Final Four
- Author: Julie Sanders Mar 29, 2017,
Mar 29, 2017, 1:29
"I just kind of stepped back, and he gave me the ball and I just shot it, and luckily it went in", Maye said of his game-winner. Down the stretch this season he has looked better and has given Carolina solid minutes.
All of this came after his 16-point, 12-rebound performance Friday night against Butler. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it's the first meeting between Final Four first-timers since 1973. Luke Maye's family is abundant with athletic genes as his mother also played basketball at West Charlotte and, during her senior year, she was named the Mecklenburg County girls' player of the year.
Coming into Sunday, the health of North Carolina point guard Joel Berry II was a concern.
For South Carolina - coached by the equal-parts angry and effervescent Frank Martin - being an underdog at this point is a good thing. Before this season, SC hadn't posted a win in the NCAA Tournament since 1973. "But I'm really happy for this team and the work that they've put in, the toughness that they've shown, and they're just, they're wonderful kids".
It's been rolling at Gonzaga since Mark Few took over in 1999. So, absolutely, this is a surprising Final Four - even though it's a Final four featuring three league champions and two No. 1 seeds.
Led by tenacious guards Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins and 7-foot-1 center Przemek Karnowski, the Bulldogs broke through big time this year, beating Xavier 83-59 on Saturday night. "We were down. We needed to make plays like we did in the Aransas game".
"I've been there 28 years". Then it had a rematch against No. 3 seed UCLA, a team it lost to in the regular season, followed by a matchup with No. 1 seed North Carolina. This South final featured Kentucky with the most tournament wins all-time with 124 and North Carolina just behind with 120 (now 121). This is the second straight time the Tar Heels have been the region's top seed and advanced to the Final Four through Memphis, and now they can only hope to replicate their success of 2009 when they won the program's fifth national title.
They have spent the past year seeing their nightmare finish to the 2016 tournament replayed on an endless loop of highlight shows and March Madness videos.
When the Wildcats' Malik Monk hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds to play, Kentucky fans were ecstatic. "I wish I could get those 4 seconds back, but I can't".
South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell and the rest of his Gamecocks teammates are making their first trip in school history.