Jerian Grant scored 24 points and No. 11 Notre Dame took over with a 26-3 second-half run to rally past No. 19 North Carolina, 90-82, Saturday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game at Greensboro, N.C.
Pat Connaughton added 20 points for the third-seeded Irish (29-5), who went from trailing by nine to up by double figures with a stunning burst that seized momentum in what amounted to a road game and sent the program to its first title in any league.
Connaughton made two three-pointers during Notre Dame's go-ahead run, with the Irish getting into a fast-paced, free-flowing attack set loose by a few ill-timed turnovers by the Tar Heels (24-11).
When it was over, Notre Dame had turned a 63-54 deficit into an 80-66 lead with 2:54 left and largely silenced a home-state UNC crowd featuring plenty of blue in the Greensboro Coliseum seats.
Georges Niang scored 19 points, Abdel Nader made the go-ahead foul shots with 48 seconds to go, and No. 13 Iowa State rallied from a 17-point second-half hole to beat No. 9 Kansas, 70-66, in the Big 12 championship game at Kansas City, Mo.
It was the fifth straight game — including all three in the tournament — that the Cyclones (25-8) rallied from a double-digit deficit, prompting Niang to dub them the "Comeback Kids." Wayne Selden Jr. had a career-high 25 points for the Jayhawks (26-8).
Aztecs lose in final
Josh Adams hit a big three-pointer with a minute left and Wyoming (25-9) earned its first trip to the NCAA tournament in 13 years with a 45-43 victory over San Diego State (26-8) in the Mountain West Conference championship at Las Vegas.
The Cowboys shot five for 22 in the second half and went 8:31 without a field goal, but Adams had the biggest one with 1:02 left, the three-pointer that put Wyoming up 43-41. San Diego State missed two shots and Derek Cooke Jr. hit two free throws to put the Cowboys up four with seven seconds left. The Aztecs' Malik Pope scored with less than a second left, but Wyoming was able to inbound the ball to earn its first conference tournament championship since 1988, as a member of the WAC.
Willie Cauley-Stein scored 18 points, Andrew Harrison had 15 and No. 1 Kentucky routed depleted Auburn, 91-67, in Nashville to reach the Southeastern Conference final and improve to a school-record 33-0. The Wildcats, who broke the school-record winning streak of 32 games set from Dec. 5, 1953, to Jan. 8, 1955, will play for their 27th SEC tournament title Sunday against No. 21 Arkansas (26-7), which advanced with a 60-49 victory over Georgia (21-11) in the other semifinal.
Bronson Koenig scored a career-high 19 points and No. 6 Wisconsin beat Purdue, 71-51, in the Big Ten semifinals at Chicago to reach 30 wins for the fourth time. The top-seeded Badgers (30-3) can match the school record for victories in a season with a victory Sunday against Michigan State (23-10), which rode Travis Trice's 20 points to a 62-58 win over No. 8 Maryland (27-6) in the other semifinal.
Dylan Ennis scored 16 points, Josh Hart had 15 in his latest strong performance off the bench, and No. 4 Villanova thumped Xavier, 69-52, in the Big East championship game at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Wildcats improved to 32-2 and took a major step toward locking up an anticipated No. 1 NCAA regional seeding.
Defending national champion Connecticut (20-13) sustained its hopes for an NCAA bid with a 47-42 victory over Tulsa (22-10) in an American Athletic Conference semifinal at Hartford, Conn. The Huskies (20-13) will face No. 20 Southern Methodist (26-6), whose 69-56 win over Temple (23-10) was fueled by Markus Kennedy, who scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half.
Fifth-seeded Virginia Commonwealth overpowered 24th-ranked Davidson, 93-73, in Brooklyn to reach the Atlantic 10 final for the third straight year. The Rams (25-9) ended a 10-game winning streak by the top-seeded Wildcats (24-7) and on Sunday will face Dayton (25-7), which defeated Rhode Island, 56-52.
Steve Moundou-Missi hit a 15-foot jumper with 7.2 seconds left to give Harvard (22-7) a 53-51 victory over Yale (22-10) in a one-game Ivy League playoff at Philadelphia, giving the Crimson its fourth straight NCAA berth.
Robert Brown scored 22 points and made four three-pointers to lead Alabama-Birmingham (19-15) to a 73-60 victory over Middle Tennessee (19-16) at Birmingham, Ala., for the Blazers' first Conference USA tournament championship.
Xavier Ford and Shannon Evans scored 18 points apiece as Buffalo (23-9), coached by former Duke All-American and March Madness icon Bobby Hurley, earned its first trip to the NCAA tournament by beating top-seeded Central Michigan (23-8) in the Mid-American Conference championship at Cleveland, 89-84.
Deverell Biggs stepped in for an injured Malcolm Riley and made two free throws with 27 seconds left, Madarious Gibbs added another and Texas Southern (22-12) beat Southern, 62-58, in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game in Houston.
Curtis Diamond hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 1:49 left to give Georgia Southern a 44-43 win over Louisiana-Monroe in a Sun Belt Conference semifinal at New Orleans. The Eagles (22-8) will face top-seeded Georgia State (23-9), which beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 83-79, behind R.J. Hunter's 32 points and eight steals. . . . Albany defeated Stony Brook, 51-50, to win the America East tournament. . . . Hampton won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship with an 82-62 victory over Delaware State.