Malik Sealy scored 22 points and Robert Werdann tossed in 21 Friday night to lead St. John's to a 91-74 upset victory over Ohio State in an NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal.
The Big Ten co-champion Buckeyes, the top seed in the Midwest, never led against the Redmen, who take a 23-8 record into Sunday's regional championship against the winner of Friday's Duke-Connecticut semifinal.Jim Jackson led Ohio State, 27-4, with 17 points.
Sealy hit six of nine shots from the field in the first half as St. John's connected on 60 percent of its field-goal attempts while building a 43-24 halftime advantage. Sealy had 14 points in the first half.
The Redmen worked the ball inside to the 6-foot-11 Werdann in the second half as he scored 17 points. Ohio State center Perry Carter sat out much of the second half after drawing his fourth foul.
St. John's increased its lead to 56-32 after a pair of 3-point plays by Werdann during a 9-3 spurt.
Ohio State closed to 63-47 with 12:28 remaining after baskets by Mark Baker and Treg Lee, but that was as close as the Buckeyes would get.
St. John's cemented the victory with a 9-0 surge, featuring six points by Jason Buchanan, that gave the Redmen an 84-59 advantage with 4:27 left.
St. John's had little trouble breaking Ohio State's press as the Redmen went on a 9-2 spurt to lead 18-10 with 12:15 left in the first half.
St. John's got several high-percentage shots off the press, converting 18 of 30 field-goal attempts in the first half.
Ohio State hit only nine of 29 shots from the field (31 percent) in the first half.
Chucky Sproling had 17 points for St. John's and Buchanan and Billy Singleton added 14 apiece for the Redmen.
Jamaal Brown had 14 points, all in the second half for the Buckeyes, who got 13 points from Mark Baker and 11 from Perry Carter.
N. Carolina 93, E. Michigan 67
At East Rutherford, N.J., George Lynch and Pete Chilcutt combined for 12 points and North Carolina ran off 15 straight points following a brief confrontation between Tar Heel Rick Fox and Eastern Michigan center Marcus Kennedy midway through the second half Friday night for a victory over the Hurons, advancing the Tar Heels to the final of the NCAA East Regional.
The Tar Heels, 28-5, the region's top seed, will meet the winner of Friday night's second game between fourth-seeded Oklahoma State and No. 10 seed Temple in the final on Sunday.
The 12th-seeded Hurons, making their first appearance in the Sweet 16 after upset wins over Mississippi State and Penn State, finish 26-7.
The Hurons, a heavy underdog, had stayed close throughout the first half and only trailed 61-57 with 12:50 left when Carl Thomas nailed his fifth 3-pointer of the game.
On the Tar Heels' next possession, Carolina freshman center Eric Montross was fouled and after the whistle, he was elbowed by Kennedy as he walked to the foul line. Tar Heel senior forward Rick Fox confronted Kennedy and the two exchanged words and had to be separated.
The Tar Heels came out of an official's timeout fired up by the incident. They increased their defensive pressure, took control of the inside game and ripped off 15 straight points.
The Hurons, when they were able to get the ball up court against Carolina's press, went cold from the field and scored just 10 points over the final 12:50.
Chilcutt and Hubert Davis paced the Tar Heels with 18 points each and Montross added 17. King Rice had 12 points and Lynch 10. Carl Thomas led the Hurons with 27 points and Kennedy had 19, but missed several easy lay-ins during Carolina's decisive run.
After Chilcutt's basket gave the Tar Heels a 78-59 lead with 6:41 to go, Coach Dean Smith went to the bench and substituted freely the remainder of the game.
Davis scored 10 straight points on three consecutive 3-pointers and a free throw in a 1:43 span of the first half to give the Tar Heels a 29-18 lead with 9:26 to play in the half and Carolina looked ready to blow it open.
But the Hurons battled back behind Kennedy and when Charles Thomas fed Carl with an alley-oop pass for a dunk with 1:53 the Hurons were within 42-40.
Chilcutt hit two free throws and Hallas countered with a basket but Rice sent Carolina to the locker rooom up 47-42 by nailing a 3-pointer with one second left.
Carl Thomas kept the Hurons in it early, draining three 3-pointers en route to 15 first-half points, Kennedy had 12 and Charles 8. Montross paced the Tar Heels with 11 points in the half and Rice and Davis had 10 apiece.
The Hurons hit five of seven 3-pointers in first half, but connected on only two of 13 in the second half when the Tar Heels made their move.