Kansas defeated North Carolina State even though the Jayhawks made two shots - two - from outside the lane.
North Carolina beat No. 13 seed Ohio despite turning it over 24 times.
Both the Jayhawks and the Tar Heels survived their Midwest Regional semifinal games Friday night. It sets up a No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kansas regional final game at ---- Sunday in St. Louis. The winner advances to the Final Four in New Orleans.
"The programs are certainly tied together, for a lot of different reasons," said KU coach Bill Self, who replaced Roy Williams when he took the North Carolina job.
Self's Jayhawks advanced by winning their second game that came down to the final possession. Kansas (30-6), which trailed most of the previous NCAA Tournament game before beating Purdue, held off No. 11 seed North Carolina State, 60-57, Friday night.
"We haven't been a picture-perfect team all season," Self said. "The guys take pride in not being perfect. They take pride in winning ugly. It's because the guys are tough. Man, they're tough. And they find a way."
North Carolina State (24-13) jumped to a 13-3 lead and Kansas went into Grind Mode. With the Jayhawks' unable to make shots from the perimeter, they had to rely on a strong inside game and defense. Thomas Robinson (18 points, 15 rebounds) notched his school-record 26th double-double and Jeff Withey had 10 blocks, the second-most in NCAA Tournament history.
"We knew they were going to attack us," said Withey, who added 10 points and five rebounds. "After the first block, I just kind of got in a rhythm and kind of knew that they were just going to keep on attacking and it just was coming to me."
Withey helped key a defense that limited North Carolina State to 28.4 percent shooting. But with the Jayhawks shooting just 37 percent and missing 13 of 14 3-point attempts, Kansas kept the drama in play.
"You can say what you want about our offense,"
Robinson said. "But defensively, we've been great. When nobody scores, we can't
Tyshawn Taylor's drive and score with 3:48 remaining gave the Jayhawks a 58-50 lead. But the Wolfpack responded with a 7-0 run to pull within a point with 1:22 remaining. North Carolina State missed a 3-pointer and C.J. Leslie's drive with the offensive rebound was blocked by Withey.
Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one with 16 seconds remaining but the ball went out of bounds off the Wolfpack. Taylor found a cutting Elijah Johnson for a layup with 14 seconds remaining that provided the final margin.
North Carolina struggled without sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall (broken wrist). It's highly questionable he'll be ready to play Sunday. That could give Kansas the edge but Taylor, the senior point guard is in a slump; in three NCAA games, he's 11-of-33 from the field and has missed all 12 of his 3-point attempts.
"I stunk it up tonight," said Taylor, who missed 12 of 14 shots against N.C. State. "I'll be the first to tell you. It gets frustrating, but I can't hang my head and get down. I've just got to be able to do other things to help my team win. But I'd have felt lot worse if we lost tonight."
Self's message in the locker room Friday night: "Be happy, be excited, by no means be satisfied." Satisfaction will come with a victory Sunday.