Maye finished with 17 points off the bench for North Carolina.
Isaac Humphries had been struggling to find his rhythm all season, but he found it when the United Kingdom men’s basketball team needed it most, in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament against the North Carolina Tar Heels.
The potential one-and-done first-round picks were crushed, after Luke Maye’s jumper with 0.3 seconds remaining sent top-seeded North Carolina to the Final Four following the thrilling, 75-73, victory at FedExForum in Memphis, and No. 2 Kentucky to an offseason of regret.
Theo Pinson brought the ball down and passed back to Maye.
“Luckily it went it went in”, Maye said after the game. “It was a great feeling”. If there was a game this season where they needed Chris Boucher – this is it.
Youth and talent had taken second-seeded Kentucky (32-6) to this point.
Seconds later, UNC’s celebration began. That result put the Tar Heels in the Final Four for the second consecutive season.
Next – North Carolina will next face No. 3 OR in the Final Four on April 1. The players have talked about it all season, mentioning how hard they’ve worked with the goal of fixing what went wrong a year ago. Kentucky’s Malik Monk made two 3-pointers in the final minute. Lost in the drama of the game, Williams changed to a zone defense which stifled the Wildcats-De’Aaron Fox and Monk had a much harder time getting into the lane.
SC and Florida played as close as expected until the final minute. He got a four point play in the second half to give the Heels another chance with the lead. North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams knew him from those camps, and eventually asked the Huntersville native to come play for his Tar Heels as a preferred walk-on.
From there UNC scored 12 consecutive points. The junior guard played 33 minutes. Joel Berry added 11 points despite missing part of the first half when he reinjured an ankle, hobbling to the locker room for treatment.
UNC’s lead grew as large as seven with 54 seconds to play. The Tar Heels escaped with win No. 247.
Maye’s heroics came seconds after Kentucky’s Malik Monk hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 73 with 7.2 seconds left. For he and most of his teammates, it was a 180-degree turn from the last game of this nature they experienced in the NCAA Tournament. And that set up Monk, again. On Sunday, the Heels took another step on the road to reaching their goal. “It’s tough to lose on a last-second shot like that”. Williams simply let his players play.
“We did not quite execute”, Calipari said.
“That shot is just playing back and forth in my head”, Fox said. Jackson easily laid the ball in the basket.