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What to Watch for in the NCAA Final Four

Oklahoma meets Villanova and Syracuse faces North Carolina in the NCAA basketball semifinals

North Carolina's Brice Johnson throws a ball during a practice session
2 years ago

HOUSTON – Some things to watch for Saturday when Oklahoma meets Villanova and North Carolina faces Syracuse in the national semifinals at NRG Stadium:

North Carolina's Kenny Williams dunks during a practice session for the NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament Friday, April 1, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

North Carolina’s Kenny Williams dunks during a practice session for the NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament Friday, April 1, 2016, in Houston. Photo: AP/Eric Gay.

MEET AGAIN: Rematches are far from rare in the Final Four but these four teams have three games between them this season.

Oklahoma blitzed Villanova 78-55 in Hawaii on Dec. 7, and as is expected on Saturday, 3-pointers were the difference.

The Sooners, led by Isaiah Cousins’ 4-for-4 effort, went 14 of 26 while Villanova, with Kris Jenkins and Jalen Brunson both going 0-for-5, was 4 of 32 from beyond the arc.

North Carolina and Syracuse, both members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, faced each other in a home-and-home series and the Tar Heels swept the Orange.

On Jan. 9, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s first game back after a nine-game NCAA suspension over infractions, the Tar Heels prevailed 84-73 with Isaiah Hicks scoring 19 of his career-high 21 points in the second half. North Carolina scored 51 points and shot 64.3 percent from the field in the half. Trevor Cooney led the Orange with 27 points.

The game at Chapel Hill on Feb. 29 wasn’t settled until the final 2 minutes when Hicks and Brice Johnson came up with big baskets for North Carolina. Johnson had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Michael Gbinije had 17 points for the Orange, who had a chance to tie the game in the final 15 seconds.

Jim O’Connel

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