Beats Kentucky 75-73 to win South Regional final
Apopka’s Joel Berry II scored 11 points, grabbed four rebounds, had three assists, and two steals as the North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 75-73 to advance to the final four in Phoenix next weekend.
Berry left the game early in the first half after injuring his ankle but returned soon thereafter.
Berry was driving in the first half when he rolled the left ankle. Wincing as he walked gingerly to the bench, he was evaluated briefly by a trainer before they went to the locker room. But he was there for only a few minutes before he ran back out to the court and went immediately to the scorer’s table to check back in.
The Tar Heels Luke Maye hit a jumper with 0.3 seconds left in the game, winning a showdown of college basketball’s elite in the South Regional.
The national semifinal will be the 20th for North Carolina, where the Tar Heels (31-7) will play Midwest champ Oregon on Saturday in Glendale, Arizona.
North Carolina took control with 12 straight points over the final 5 minutes, a run similar to what it used a week ago to beat Arkansas. The Tar Heels finished this game with a 16-9 run. Kentucky’s freshmen De’Aaron Fox hit a 3 and Malik Monk quickly added two more, one with 7.2 seconds left and defenders in his face to tie the game at 73.
Playing their second spectacular game against each other this year, the Tar Heels avenged December’s 103-100 loss with a buzzer-beater from unheralded sophomore Maye.
Berry, a 6’0 point guard, played high school basketball at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Florida. He led his team to three state titles and was the first player named Florida Mr. Basketball three times. He was named a Parade All-American and McDonald’s All-American as a senior in 2014. At North Carolina, Berry has led the Tar Heels as its point guard, averaging 14.6 points, 3.7 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game this season.
ESPN contributed to this report.