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U-Conn, Oklahoma State Advance to Final Four


The University of Connecticut and Oklahoma State both advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. men's college basketball championship after winning their regional title games Saturday.

Oklahoma State's 64-62 victory over St. Joseph's University of Philadelphia was a cliff-hanger, decided only when the Cowboys' John Lucas nailed a three-point shot with less than seven seconds left.

St. Joe's was the top seed in its region and had the best record in Division One college basketball - 30 wins and just one defeat - before Saturday's game. Oklahoma State was seeded fourth for the regional playoffs at East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The Cowboys are in the NCAA tournament's Final Four for the first time in nine years. In next Saturday's national semifinals, they will face the winner of Sunday's game in St. Louis between the University of Kansas and Georgia Tech.

Connecticut, a number-two seed, put down the University of Alabama relatively easily Saturday, 87-71, in Phoenix, Arizona. Connecticut's All-America center Emeka Okafor hurt his shoulder and played only 19 minutes, but the Huskies' Ben Gordon stepped up with 36 points,and Rashad Anderson added 28. Eighth-seeded Alabama previous had staged two major upsets, bumping both top-ranked Stanford University and Syracuse, the defending national champion, from this year's tournament.

Next Saturday, U-Conn will play either Xavier University of Ohio or Duke, who match up later today in Atlanta, Georgia.

The winners of the two national semifinals at the end of this week will play for the 2004 men's college basketball championship in San Antonio, Texas, on April 5.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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