After some incredible drama in the first set of Elite Eight games Saturday, the last two games of the round hoped to live up to expectations Sunday.
The last two tickets to the Final Four of the 2019 NCAA men's basketball tournament were on the line, with four elite squads hoping to keep their seasons alive. An SEC battle between No. 2 Kentucky and No. 5 Auburn kicked things off in the Midwest, followed by a matchup of elite coaches between No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Michigan State in the East Region.
Here is a look at what you need to know from Day 8 of March Madness.
Sunday's Matchup and Results
No. 5 Auburn def. No. 2 Kentucky 77-71
No. 2 Michigan State def. No. 1 Duke 68-67
Final Four Schedule
Saturday, April 6: No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 5 Auburn; 6 or 8:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Saturday, April 6: No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Michigan State; 6 or 8:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Full schedule available at NCAA.com.
Auburn 77, Kentucky 71
Auburn's unlikely run will continue into the Final Four.
The Tigers didn't rely on elite shooting this time around but instead on hustle and great defense as well as incredible guard play.
Bryce Brown finished with 24 points, while Jared Harper added 26 points and five assists.
Although Harper was just 1-of-6 shooting from three-point range, he was able to consistently get into the lane, including this overtime layup that gave Auburn a big advantage:
Kentucky couldn't keep up while shooting just 5-of-21 from downtown.
Auburn trailed by five points at halftime, but poor shooting was the main culprit as the squad was just 3-of-11 from three-point range in the first half.
Brown helped solve this problem with two quick threes as part of a personal 8-0 run to give the Tigers their first lead of the game:
They continued to make shots in the second half, keeping the offense running smoothly despite the frantic pace.
On the other side, Kentucky remained competitive thanks to its ability to pound the ball inside to PJ Washington:
The forward finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Washington gave Kentucky the lead on a two-point shot in the final minute, but Harper responded with his own to help force overtime.
The Tigers remained confident in the extra period and scored 17 points in just five minutes to secure the win.
Auburn will hope it can keep this run going with a matchup against Virginia in the Final Four.
Michigan State 68, Duke 67
A back-and-forth battle came down to one shot from Kenny Goins with 34 seconds remaining:
Duke couldn't take advantage of its chance to tie or take the lead in the last minute, and the Spartans held on for a dramatic win.
Cassius Winston was in control throughout the game, leading Michigan State with 20 points, 10 assists and four steals. Xavier Tillman added 19 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks in an incredible all-around effort from the No. 2 seed.
It was hard to predict which team would have the advantage early as the first half was a game of runs. Duke knocked down some outside shots on its way to a 12-0 run before Michigan State answered with a 13-0 run to end the half:
Winston was a key part of this success as he took control of the action:
However, Duke still had Zion Williamson, and he was able to make some incredible plays on both ends of the court:
He was unguardable at times, finishing with 24 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
RJ Barrett added 21 points. Javin DeLaurier also was a surprise contributor with 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
This and a tough team defense allowed Duke to remain in the hunt throughout the game.
However, the Spartans made key plays down the stretch and pulled out the win to get to the Final Four. They will now take on Texas Tech in the national semifinals Saturday.