Friday, March 23, 2012 | 6:54 p.m.
Baylor 75, Xavier 70
• Betting line via Wynn Las Vegas: Baylor -6, does not cover.
ATLANTA — Quincy Acy, the only senior in Baylor's starting lineup, had a double-double to help the Bears hold off Xavier 75-70 on Friday night and advance to its second regional final in three years.
Baylor will face the Kentucky-Indiana winner in Sunday's South Regional final.
Acy had 20 points and 15 rebounds. He sank two free throws with 31 seconds remaining after Xavier cut the Bears' lead to six points.
Baylor, wearing bright neon-green uniforms, never trailed and led by 18 points less than 8 minutes into the game.
Xavier played from behind all night, but never quit. The Musketeers cut the lead to just three, 71-68, with 22 seconds remaining.
Pierre Jackson had 16 and Perry Jones III had 14 for the Bears (30-7).
Tu Holloway led Xavier with 22 points.
Xavier was hurt by poor shooting, especially from beyond the arc. The Musketeers were 0-for-11 on 3-pointers before Justin Martin ended the drought with 2 minutes remaining. He added another 3 40 seconds later, and Holloway's 3 with 22 seconds remaining cut the lead the 71-68.
Holloway added another basket, but Baylor's Brady Heslip made four consecutive free throws in the final 17 seconds to protect the lead.
Heslip, coming off his career-high 27 points on nine 3-pointers against Colorado, had only one against Xavier and finished with 11 points.
Baylor also won three NCAA tournament games in 2010 before losing to eventual national champion Duke.
Xavier (23-13) couldn't advance after making the round of 16 for the fourth time in five years.
Kenny Frease had 18 points and Mark Lyons had 16 for the Musketeers.
With Xavier stretching its defense and Baylor working the clock, Jackson sank a 3-pointer with 2:50 remaining to give the Bears their biggest lead of the half at 65-54. Following a missed free throw by Lyons, Acy's basket pushed the lead to 13 points -- too much for the Musketeers to overcome.
Heslip surprised the Musketeers by scoring on two drives to the basket in the opening minutes. Heslip added a 3-pointer before a jumper by Quincy Miller stretched Baylor's lead to 22-4.
Xavier needed 10 minutes to reach double figures, but a flagrant one foul by Acy on Frease helped the Musketeers recover from their slow start.
Acy, who scored a combined 11 points in the Bears' first two wins in the tournament, knocked Frease to the floor when he hit the 7-foot center from behind with 5:08 remaining in the half. The officials reviewed a video replay before ruling on the severity of the foul.
Frease made both free throws and then scored three seconds later as Xavier retained possession. It was the start of 13 unanswered points as Xavier cut Baylor's lead from 33-16 to 33-29. Jackson ended the run with a 3-pointer to give the Bears a 36-29 halftime lead.
Ohio 65, North Carolina 73
• Betting line via Wynn Las Vegas: North Carolina -10.5, does not cover.
ST. LOUIS — Awful all night, Harrison Barnes came through when North Carolina needed him most.
Barnes scored five of his 12 points in overtime and the top-seeded Tar Heels escaped a huge upset with a 73-65 victory over 13th-seeded Ohio on Friday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals.
Ohio, trying to become the first team seeded 13th or worse to make the regional finals since the tournament expanded in 1985, had a chance to convert a three-point play that would have given the Bobcats the lead with 25 seconds left in regulation. Walter Offutt missed from the line, however, and Ohio went 0 for 6 from the field in the first overtime of this year's NCAA tournament.
Tyler Zeller finished with 20 points and a career-high 22 rebounds for North Carolina, leading four scorers in double figures.
Offutt led the Bobcats (29-8) with 26 points, including 18 from 3-point range, and Nick Kellogg added 14. But D.J. Cooper, who had averaged 20 points in the first two tournament games, finished with just 10 on 3-of-20 shooting.
North Carolina (32-5), which has won 11 straight in the regional semifinals, plays the winner of North Carolina State-Kansas on Sunday afternoon.
"Probably the ugliest win I've ever been a part of," Reggie Bullock said. "But we won the game and, hopefully, we'll do better on Sunday."
The Tar Heels were playing without dazzling point guard Kendall Marshall, perhaps their most irreplaceable player and the steadying hand behind their fast-paced attack, and his absence clearly showed. The Tar Heels were sloppy, turning the ball over a season-high 24 times, and they could never get a handle on the smaller, quicker Bobcats.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he didn't think Marshall would be able to play Sunday, either.
"I don't think so 'cause he still hasn't done anything, but North Carolina's going to play on Sunday. We're happy about that," he said.
After trailing by as many as 15 in the first half, Ohio got hot from long range in the second half. The Bobcats were 8 of 13 from beyond the arc in the second period, with Offutt doing most of the damage.
Cooper finally made a 3, his only one of the game, and Kellogg came right back with another to give Ohio its first lead of the game, 47-46 with 8:28 to play, sending the crowd at the Edward Jones Dome into a frenzy. Ohio had a sizeable number of fans, and the Bobcats quickly won over all the folks who came to root for Kansas.
Barnes, who shot just 3 of 16, made a free throw and hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 57 with 3:21 left. Ivo Baltic scored on a turnaround jumper to give Ohio a 61-60 lead with 1:41 to play.
Barnes missed badly on a 3, drawing taunts of "Air-ball!" from the Ohio fans. Williams could be heard yelling "One stop!" at his team, and Cooper missed on a jumper at the other end. Bullock then drilled a 3 to give North Carolina a 63-61 lead. But Offutt scored on an off-balance jumper, drawing a foul by Stilman White in the process.
Offutt had a chance to give Ohio the lead with 25 seconds to go, but his free throw was wide to the left and Zeller grabbed the rebound.
The Tar Heels worked the shot clock down to the very last seconds, but Barnes missed yet another shot and Offutt came up with the rebound. He flipped the ball to Cooper, who raced to midcourt and launched a prayer. It caromed off the rim, sending the game into overtime.
Kellogg's father, Clark, calling the games in Atlanta for CBS, smiled as he watched the final plays.
"Overtime," he said, clapping.
But the Bobcats had nothing left. Bullock opened the extra period with a 3 and Barnes came right back with a jumper. After Kellogg made a pair of free throws to cut it to 68-65, Barnes made a pair of his own and Ohio could never get any closer.
"It means a heck of a lot," Williams said moments after his team escaped, "but we've got to play better than we did today."