Thank you for joining VAVEL for LIVE coverage of this Final Four game. This is Austin McConnell, signing off.
Kennedy Meeks had a monster game with 25 points and 14 rebounds, including the game-sealing board at the end. The Tar Heels will face Gonzaga in the title game on Monday.
(0.0): The Tar Heels somehow survive after four missed free throws at the end! They beat the Oregon Ducks 77-76.
(4.0): Berry misses both and Meeks gets the rebound this time.
(5.8): Meeks is short on the first. He misses the second too but Pinson tips the rebound back to Berry! They foul him with 4 seconds left!
(6.4): Smith scores for Oregon after a Pinson miss. It's 77-76 UNC with Meeks going to the line after a foul. What a game.
(42.0): How did that go in?! Dorsey's three-pointer rolls around on the rim for a couple seconds and drops through. This is shockingly a 77-74 game. Timeout.
(57.1): Pinson is fouled by Dorsey. Both shots are good. 77-71.
(1:18): Bell grabs a crucial offensive rebounds and puts it back in. 75-71 UNC, and Oregon calls a timeout. Buckle in, it's going to be a tight finish!
(1:32): It's the end of the night for Dillon Brooks, who fouls out after his fifth. Berry heads to the line in the double bonus and makes the second. 75-69 UNC.
(1:57): The call stands, and UNC takes over possession.
(1:57): A scrap for a loose ball leads to a video review. The call on the floor is UNC ball, but Berry may have touched it before it went out of bounds.
(3:06): The Ducks continue to stroke it from the line. Dorsey makes both to make it 74-69.
(3:24): Jackson makes the free throws. Dorsey is then fouled by Pinson, his third. 74-67.
(3:24): Jackson is fouled after a failed Oregon lob attempt to Jordan Bell. Media timeout with the Tar Heels holding onto a 72-67 lead.
(4:01): Bell is having a nice stretch of play. Some good defensive stops, and he goes to the line after a Pinson foul. He makes them both, and the lead is just five now.
(4:50): Meeks's fourth foul puts Oregon in the double bonus. Bell makes one. 72-65.
(5:13): Bell fouls Pinson attempting to grab an offensive rebound. Pinson makes one of two, and the lead is 72-64.
(5:40): Britt fouls Dorsey, that's his fourth. Dorsey continues the solid free throw shooting, draining both. Brooks is called for his fourth foul as well, but Berry misses the front end of a one-and-one. 71-64.
(6:18): Ennis is called for a loose ball foul on Berry. He also rejects a Meeks layup attempt, but the ball ends up in Berry's hands for a three-pointer. 71-62 UNC.
(7:17): Bell tips in Ennis's miss, but Nate Britt scores over his block attempt shortly after. Berry fouls Dorsey, who makes both free throws. 68-62.
(7:48): The Ducks are in the bonus, and Brooks makes two free throws. 66-58.
(8:15): Media timeout. Oregon is going to have to make a run very soon or the game could become out of reach.
(8:35): The Ducks simply cannot box out Meeks. He grabs an offensive board and is fouled. He splits the pair, but Pinson rebounds the miss and dishes to Meeks for an easy two! The lead is now double digits, 66-56.
(9:02): More points for both Ennis and Meeks, and the score is 63-56.
(9:47): Ennis, Oregon's top scorer, drives and lays it in again. Berry is fouled by Ennis on the other end and makes both free throws. 61-54.
(10:35): Pinson nails a wide open three to answer. 59-52 Tar Heels.
(11:16): Dorsey is a cold blooded scorer, and he hits an NBA-range three-pointer to make it 56-52. Oregon will not go down without a fight.
(12:14): Ennis runs the floor and is rewarded with a reverse layup. 56-49 is the score heading into another media timeout.
(12:44): Jackson then steals the ball and will head to the line after a Dorsey foul. He makes both, and UNC leads 56-47.
(13:10): That is almost unfair! Jackson hits yet another three in the corner, this time fading away with a hand in his face. He is confident tonight, and the score is 54-47.
(13:36): Brooks pump fakes and gets Maye off his feet to draw the foul. It's his third foul, and both free throws are good to cut the lead to four.
(14:11): Ennis lays it in, but UNC is so quick going the other way. Jackson is wide open in the corner and nails another three. 51-45 Tar Heels.
(14:44): Dorsey is fouled by Meeks going to the rack and makes the free throws. 48-43.
(16:50): Dorsey finally hits a shot for the Ducks, and it's a deep three-pointer. But Meeks cannot be stopped inside, and he scores once again. 48-41 UNC. Media timeout.
(17:06): UNC are feeling it now as Jackson knocks down a three. They lead 46-38 and force Oregon to call a timeout.
(17:58): Kennedy Meeks is eating! He slams down a putback dunk and the lead is now 43-38. He is, however, called for an over-the-back foul on the next possession.
(19:00): Ennis opens up the second half tally with an uncontested layup. Meeks continues to eat on the offensive glass and answers with a tip-in. 41-38 UNC
Second Half Underway
Kennedy Meeks leads UNC with 14 points, while Dylan Ennis has 8 for Oregon.
(0.0): Halftime, with UNC leading 39-36 after a major run to erase an 8-point deficit. How will Oregon respond?
(30.0): Jackson with a ridiculous floater from the baseline to make it 39-36 UNC.
(1:30): Nate Britt nails a big three and dishes to Meeks in transition for another layup. Timeout Oregon, and the Tar Heels have regained a 37-36 lead!
(1:55): Brooks and Meeks trade buckets in the paint. Dorsey is fouled again and makes both free throws. 36-32.
(2:45): WOW! Isaiah Hicks with a monster slam on several Ducks defenders. Then Jackson is fouled and makes them both. 32-30 Ducks.
(3:18): Dorsey makes his free throws to make it 32-26.
(3:18) Jackson hits a heavily contested floater to make it 30-26. On the other end, Dorsey is fouled.
(3:43): Berry makes both free throws. 30-24 Ducks. Pritchard picks up his third foul after turning the ball over and will sit for the remainder of the half.
(3:43): Berry will go to the line to try to stop the bleeding for UNC. Oregon's foul was on Kavell Bigby-Williams. Timeout.
(4:39): Ennis hits two transition threes from the same spot. 30-22 ORE
(5:40): Meeks scores two easy buckets on consecutive possessions. Oregon now leads 24-22, and their key forward Bell is hobbling to the bench.
(5:57): A foul on Pinson puts Oregon in the bonus. Brooks makes both free throws to extend the lead to six.
(6:18): Brooks puts back Dorsey's miss, and it's 22-18 Oregon.
(7:34): A blocking foul by UNC's Seventh Woods takes us to a timeout. The poor shooting and turnovers have continued from both teams, but Oregon's zone defense has been particularly effective.
(8:47): Meeks drains a fadeaway jumper, while Benson comes down and drills a corner three for Oregon. 20-18 Ducks.
(10:11): Bell hits a floater, but Jackson answers with a deep three-pointer. Oregon up 17-16.
(10:51): Keith Smith gives Oregon the 15-13 lead on a putback lay-in.
(11:37): Tony Bradley lays it in to make it 13 all. Hicks picks up his first foul on the other end.
(11:50): Ennis nails both, 13-11 Oregon.
(11:50): Pinson fouls Ennis on the fast break, and we head to another timeout. Both teams really struggling offensively, and it's tied at 11. UNC shooting just 3-17 from the floor.
(12:25): A quick second foul on Maye, as he hacks Casey Benson on a three-point shot. Benson makes all three, 11-11 game.
(12:48): Maye hits both free throws, and UNC takes the 11-9 lead.
(13:16): Luke Maye of UNC is called for a loose ball foul, his first. He was the hero against Kentucky, and he now heads to the line after a foul on Dorsey.
(13:43): Oregon has now turned the ball over six times, but UNC can't seem to capitalize.
(15:25): First media timeout comes after Pritchard's second foul. We are tied at 9 apiece.
(16:10): Meeks is eating on the glass, as he grabs another one and scores. Bell trades another basket. 9-9.
(16:59): Meeks hits two free throws after a Pritchard foul. Bell answers with a layup and the game remains tied.
(17:32): Pritchard lays it in and then hits a three on the next possession, game tied at 5.
(18:22): Sloppy play on both ends, but UNC find a bucket through a Pinson offensive rebound and layup. Meeks picks up his first foul.
(19:42): Dillon Brooks picks up an early foul for a moving screen, and Joel Berry responds with a three on the other end. 3-0 UNC.
(20:00): Oregon win the tip and the game begins.
First Half Underway
8:55 PM: The teams are out of the tunnel, and it's just about time for some basketball! North Carolina is looking to reach the title game for the second straight year, while Oregon has never made it that far. Should be a fun contest.
The game will tip right at 9PM eastern time.
8:21 PM: Gonzaga has defeated South Carolina by a score of 77-73 and advances to the National Championship. Oregon-North Carolina to follow from Phoenix shortly.
7:51 PM: Tip-off is just an hour away! Gonzaga and South Carolina are currently tied 65-all in the other semifinal matchup.
And for the Ducks: G Payton Pritchard, G Tyler Dorsey, F Dillon Brooks, F Dylan Ennis, and F Jordan Bell; Stay tuned, tip-off is just under two hours away!
Starting lineup has been announced for the Tar Heels: G Joel Berry II, G Theo Pinson, F Justin Jackson, F Isaiah Hicks, C Kennedy Meeks
As far as injury news, Berry II will almost surely suit up tomorrow night for the Oregon Ducks vs North Carolina Tar Heels live contest. Head Coach Roy Williams said on Tuesday that he was resting and wouldn’t have been able to play mid-week, but he has since felt better and will not want to miss such a massive game. The Tar Heels are also without sophomore guard Kenny Williams, who was lost for the season when he injured his knee a few weeks prior.
The Ducks also lost a key bench player for the season when forward Chris Boucher hurt his knee. Both teams have found a way to cover for these players’ absences, as key as they could have been.
Forward Jordan Bell is the “glue guy” for the Ducks, and his all-around play has been a huge boost for his squad. He blocked eight shots against Kansas and nearly dropped a triple-double in the process. He is someone who can give the North Carolina frontcourt some trouble, and it will be key to box him out on the boards and get him in foul trouble.
For the Oregon Ducks, the key will be the continued performance of Tyler Dorsey. The guard has been on an absolute tear, scoring no less than 20 points in all four tournament games including clutch shots against Rhode Island and Michigan. If he is on fire, it will be a tight game. Junior Dillon Brooks is also a leader for this team, and he always has the potential to take over the game on the offensive end.
The Tar Heels will also need production out of their big men, most importantly the senior starters Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks. Hicks has struggled with foul trouble all season, and it allowed for the aforementioned Maye to get minutes down the stretch and hit the game-winning jumper. They will need Hicks to be more involved on the glass and in the offense against a scrappy Ducks team. Meeks pulled down a monster total of 17 rebounds against Kentucky and will look for more of the same in this one.
Berry, meanwhile, is dealing with a sprained ankle that has bothered him since the team’s first round clash against Texas Southern. He has twisted the ankle multiple times in practice and games since then, but he has continued to battle and play at a high level. After starting out just 3-21 shooting in the tournament, he has regained his rhythm and been a leader for the Tar Heels. His distribution abilities also make him indispensable, and it is a major reason why the team is much worse when he is off the floor.
The key for the Tar Heels in this one will undoubtedly be the play of their two stars, Justin Jackson and Joel Berry II. When these two juniors are at their best, North Carolina is arguably the toughest team to beat in the nation. Jackson’s ability to shoot the three-ball in contested situations is huge, as is his unique ability to drive the lane and finish difficult floaters. His jersey will head to the rafters in the Dean Smith Center, as he accomplished first-team All-American honors from multiple sources.
The Ducks were able to cruise past the number one-seeded Kansas Jayhawks 74-60 in the regional final and have plenty of confidence heading into this matchup with North Carolina. They will need to play their best to knock off the favorites, but they have shown time and time again this season that their heart and ability in the clutch are rivaled by no others.
The Oregon Ducks, meanwhile, are treading on ground in which they have never before tread. This team is the first Ducks team to make the Final Four since the inaugural NCAA Tournament, which included just eight teams in the first place. It has been an impressive season for the squad, and they have backed it up with stellar performances in the tournament despite not being at full strength.
However, they experienced a buzzer beater of their own in the Elite Eight, as unlikely hero Luke Maye knocked out the powerful Kentucky Wildcats in a game for the ages. The score finished 75-73, and went down to wire exactly like their matchup earlier in the regular season. Kentucky came out on top in that one, 102-100. The Tar Heels now stand as the favorites to win the coveted prize and will hope to carry their momentum into the final weekend in Phoenix.
The trip to the Final Four marks the North Carolina Tar Heels’ record 20th time advancing this far in the tournament, and they believe they can finish the job and attain the school’s sixth National Championship. The road to this point has been a dramatic and heartbreaking one, as the Tar Heels were infamously defeated in the 2016 National Championship Game thanks to a game-winning shot by Villanova Wildcats forward Kris Jenkins.
Welcome to VAVEL USA's LIVE coverage of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four game between the Oregon Ducks vs North Carolina Tar Heels live inline score! I'm Austin McConnell, and I will be providing up-to-the-minute commentary and results of the big game. The contest starts at 8:49 PM ET on April 1st, and there will be coverage pregame, mid-game, and postgame.