Duke’s leading scorer, Luke Kennard, was in foul trouble for most of the second half, and his teammate Grayson Allen (18 points) struggled with his shot.
Sindarius Thornwell, who scored 29 points in the Gamecocks’ win over Marquette on Friday, was terrific again, finishing with a game-high 24 points.
“When you shoot 7 for 35 in the first half and you’re down just 7 points, I tell you, it just gives you confidence,” Thornwell said. “It was our defense. It kept us in it. We thought we could win the game coming out the second half because of shooting so poorly the first half.”
With Duke’s loss, there is now only one team left in the tournament from the A.C.C.: North Carolina.
Tar Heels fans, who had watched their team subdue Arkansas in the previous game in Greenville, stayed in the arena to team up with South Carolina partisans and pour full-throated hostility on the Blue Devils, North Carolina’s archrival. The Gamecocks’ campus is just 104 miles from the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
“You could tell they fed off the crowd,” Duke’s Matt Jones said. “It is a luxury to have.”
The Gamecocks, who before this year had not won an N.C.A.A. tournament game in 44 years, have now won two in a row and are on their way to Madison Square Garden for the round of 16.
The buzzer-beating play that saved Kentucky on Sunday might not warrant a spot in March lore. But the thrill of a blocked shot by the freshman Edrice Adebayo — and the skill required to execute it — almost made up for what had been, to that point, three and a half days of college basketball with a conspicuous shortage of memorable endings.
Using his 7-foot-1-inch wingspan on the perimeter, Adebayo, known as Bam, preserved second-seeded Kentucky’s season with a block on Wichita State guard Landry Shamet’s last-second 3-point attempt. The Wildcats escaped, 65-62, in Indianapolis in a rematch with the 10th-seeded Shockers, who had also made Kentucky fight hard for a win in the round of 32 in 2014.
It was one of several tight games on Sunday, when another No. 1 seed, North Carolina in the South Region, nearly fell to a 10-loss Arkansas team.
Although neither game featured a buzzer-beater or a late game-winning shot, at least they were nail-biters. Through the first 42 games of the tournament, there had been only six games decided by 3 points or fewer, compared with 23 with a margin of 10 points or more.
The Tar Heels trailed No. 8-seeded Arkansas, 65-60, with under three minutes remaining, but fought off the Razorbacks to win, 72-65, in Greenville, S.C.
North Carolina was supposed to be too motivated by a last-second loss to Villanova in the 2016 national championship game to get upset this early in the tournament, but Arkansas was much more than an earnest underdog. The Razorbacks were demons defensively and held Carolina to 38.1 percent shooting.
With Arkansas down by 65-62 with about 15 seconds to play, the freshman Anton Beard took a 3-point attempt from the right wing to try to even the score. It clanged off the back rim.
North Carolina led by 17 in the first half before Arkansas rallied behind its defense.
Joel Berry II, Carolina’s second-leading scorer, did not practice Saturday and showed the lingering effects of an ankle injury. He made just 2 of 13 field goal attempts.
The A.C.C. had the most teams in the tournament of any conference, with nine, but eight are now gone.
Fans in Sacramento got to see a tight game between Oregon, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest, and 11th-seeded Rhode Island. The game went down to the final minute, but two big 3-pointers by the Oregon sophomore Tyler Dorsey kept the Ducks just out in front for a 75-72 win. Rhode Island’s E. C. Matthews had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds with a 3, but it was well defended by Jordan Bell and sailed long.
Another No. 11 seed, Southern California, went down to the wire with No. 3 Baylor. But the Trojans, who had come back from double-digit deficits in their first two wins, could not pull off the upset, falling, 82-78.
On Sunday, the Shockers trailed at halftime and faced a 5-point deficit with two and a half minutes remaining. But Kentucky’s youthful lineup did not crack.
“We thought we’d come back and win the game,” Wichita Coach Gregg Marshall said. “We thought we were the better team.”
In a fierce defensive matchup, not one but two blocked shots put Kentucky over the top. Another Wildcats freshman, Malik Monk, swatted away a 3-point try by Markis McDuffie with about 10 seconds remaining.
“He pump-faked, and I knew he had to shoot it,” Adebayo said. “So I just went up and tried to block it.”
The Wildcats, in the South Region, became the second No. 2 seed to advance to the round of 16, along with Arizona, which beat Saint Mary’s on Saturday.
A third, Louisville, will not join them.
When Louisville Coach Rick Pitino compared the shooting ability of seventh-seeded Michigan Wolverines to that of the Golden State Warriors, Michigan Coach John Beilein knew exactly what Pitino was doing.
“This is the part before they kick your butt,” Beilein said. “They try to butter you up a little bit.”
The psychological games were one part of Pitino’s plan to defeat the Wolverines, one of the hottest teams in the country, with a six-game winning streak. Another was suffocating Michigan’s torrid perimeter shooters.
An 8-0 Louisville run broke a tie before halftime in Indianapolis, but the Wolverines did not panic.
“A team that isn’t as experienced, that doesn’t have the poise we have, would come back and try to win it all right away,” Beilein said. “We won every four-minute period until we got ahead.”
At the end, as Louisville kept charging back, the Wolverines calmly handled the full-court pressure and relied on one of their upperclassmen, junior D. J. Wilson, to deliver at the free-throw line. Wilson, a 6-10 forward, went 4 for 4 at the line in the final seconds to ensure a 73-69 Michigan win. This Midwest game, like other games before it, would include no buzzer-beaters.
In Tulsa, Okla., when ninth-seeded Michigan State cut Kansas’s lead to 54-53 with about 12 minutes remaining, the spectators buckled up for an exciting finish. It never materialized.
The Jayhawks, seeded No. 1 in the Midwest, outscored the Spartans by 36-17 the rest of the way to win easily, 90-70. There was no stopping Kansas in the open floor. The game became a highlight reel of alley-oops and dunks.
Foul trouble for Michigan State’s Nick Ward, and a banged-up Miles Bridges, meant the Spartans were not the same as they had been on Friday, when they beat the University of Miami, which was one seed higher.