CLEVELAND — Demetrius Jackson scored 20 points to lead four scorers in double figures and the third-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the seventh-seeded Wichita State Shockers 81-70 in the Midwest Regional semifinals on Thursday night.

Notre Dame (32-5) won eight straight games and advances to the regional final for the first time since 1979 and will take on Kentucky.

Guard Pat Connaughton scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds while forward Zach Auguste and guard Steve Vasturia each added 15 points for the Irish.

Guard Fred VanVleet led Wichita State (30-5) with 25 points while forward Darius Carter added 22.

Notre Dame, which led the entire first half, fell behind briefly early in the second but used a 17-6 run to regain control.

Carter’s basket in the lane gave the Shockers their first lead, 38-37, at the 16:40 mark, but Jackson, a guard, hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Vasturia added another to help push the lead to 54-44 with 12:37 left.

Wichita State cut the lead to 60-54, but a 10-2 spurt put Notre Dame ahead 70-56 with 6:20 to play and the Irish pulled away.

Notre Dame hit 30 of 54 shots from the field, including going 9 of 19 on 3-pointers. Wichita State was 26 of 65 from the field and made only 3 of 18 3-pointers.

Notre Dame led 33-30 at halftime.

The Irish, making eight of their first 10 shots, jumped to a 20-7 lead. Jackson hit a pair of 3-pointers, Connaughton made another and Auguste converted a three-point play.

Notre Dame went scoreless for over three minutes, allowing Wichita State to cut into the lead and trail 25-22. The Irish pushed the lead back to eight before the Shockers again trimmed the lead to three.

GAME NOTES: Wichita State F Darius Carter played his high school ball in Akron. His family is close friends with Cleveland Cavaliers F LeBron James. … The teams, who met for the first time in 24 years Thursday, could face off again in November. Both are scheduled to play in the Orlando Classic. … Notre Dame made its first appearance in the Sweet 16 since 2003. … Notre Dame, coming off a 15-17 season, won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. The Irish defeated Northeastern in the second round and got past Butler in overtime to advance. … The game capped an emotional week for Irish coach Mike Brey, whose mother, Betty, died hours before the win over Butler. … The Shockers lost in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference, but bounced back last week to defeat Indiana and Kansas.

Wisconsin 79, North Carolina 72

LOS ANGELES — Forward Sam Dekker had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Wisconsin held off North Carolina 79-72 in a NCAA West Regional semifinal on Thursday night at the Staples Center.

Forward Frank Kaminsky added 19 points and eight rebounds for the top-seeded Badgers (34-3), who advanced to the regional final. Wisconsin will meet Arizona on Saturday.

Forwards Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson scored 15 points apiece to lead fourth-seeded North Carolina (26-12).

The Badgers put together a 9-0 surge to wipe out a 60-54 lead by the Tar Heels and never looked back. A 3-pointer by Kaminsky, consecutive buckets by guard Zak Showalter and a layup by Dekker boosted Wisconsin to a 65-60 advantage with 5:13 remaining in the game.

North Carolina rallied, though, cutting the margin to 65-64 after a free throw by Johnson, but a 3-pointer by senior guard Josh Gasser and free throw by guard Traevon Jackson pushed the deficit back to five for Wisconsin.

Guard Marcus Paige’s trey with 1:43 left pulled North Carolina within 69-67, but Dekker scored inside again for a four-point Wisconsin lead. However, another Paige 3-pointer cut the lead to 71-70 with 54 seconds remaining.

Two foul shots by Wisconsin guard Bronson Koenig made it 73-70 with 42 seconds left, which turned out to be the difference.

Traevon Jackson returned after missing 19 games with a broken foot and finished with four points.

Kentucky 78, West Virginia 39

CLEVELAND — Forward Trey Lyles scored 14 points, and the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats remained undefeated with an overwhelming 78-39 win over fifth-seeded West Virginia in the Midwest Regional semifinals Thursday night.

Kentucky (37-0) faces Notre Dame (32-5) on Saturday, with the winner advancing to the Final Four.

Five players scored in double figures in the Wildcats’ dominating win. Guard Andrew Harrison had 13 points, while guards Aaron Harrison and Devin Booker and center Dakari Johnson each scored 12.

Guard Juwan Staten scored 14 points to lead West Virginia (25-10). The Mountaineers defeated Buffalo and Maryland to advance to the regional semifinals but were no match for the Wildcats, who put the game away with a 16-0 run early in the first half.

The Mountaineers were optimistic their relentless full-court pressure defense, which forced 40 turnovers in their first two tournament games, could create problems for Kentucky. Even that didn’t work, as the Wildcats only committed 10 turnovers. West Virginia gave the ball away 13 times.

West Virginia guard Daxter Miles Jr. told reporters Wednesday that Kentucky is “gonna be 36-1″ after playing the Mountaineers, a prediction the freshman likely wanted to take back soon after the game started.

The Mountaineers wound up shooting 24.1 percent from the floor, while the Wildcats shot 48 percent.

An overpowering display at both ends of the floor put Kentucky in command 44-18 at halftime.

The teams exchanged baskets to start the game before Kentucky scored the next 16 points to take an 18-2 lead. Aaron Harrison scored 10 points in the run, including back-to-back 3-pointers, a layup and two free throws.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins called timeout during the onslaught that lasted nearly seven minutes, but nothing could stop the Wildcats. A jumper by Staten finally ended the run.

The numbers told the first-half story. Kentucky was 14 of 23 from the field and West Virginia was 5 of 26.

The game featured a battle of high-profile coaches with Huggins going against Kentucky’s John Calipari. The two have been close friends for more than 30 years. Even after the loss, Huggins still has an 8-3 record against Calipari’s teams.

Arizona 68, Xavier 60

LOS ANGELES — Point guard T.J. McConnell scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half, sparking second-seeded Arizona to a 68-60 victory over sixth-seeded Xavier in an NCAA West Regional semifinal Thursday night at the Staples Center.

Forward Stanley Johnson and center Kaleb Tarczewski each scored 12 points for the Wildcats (34-3), and Tarczewski added 12 rebounds. Arizona will meet top-seeded Wisconsin (34-3) on Saturday for a berth in the Final Four.

Center Matt Stainbrook had 17 points and 10 boards for Xavier (23-14).

Xavier had the edge in a tightly contested second half until the Wildcats rallied late in the game. Arizona held a seven-point lead with about two minutes remaining before the Musketeers cut the deficit to 64-60 after a 3-point basket by sophomore guard Myles Davis with 1:31 left. However, Xavier never scored again.

McConnell iced the win with two free throws with 32.9 seconds remaining. Forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added two more to cap the scoring.

Two free throws by McConnell tied the score at 53 with 6:11 remaining before Tarczewski made a pair of foul shots for the lead at 5:27, and the Wildcats never trailed again.

Xavier guard Dee Davis, who scored 12 points, made one of two free throws with 4:28 left, but McConnell’s 3-point bucket put the Wildcats up 58-54.

Tarczewski picked up his fourth personal after fouling Stainbrook with 3:51 remaining. The 6-foot-10 Stainbrook made one of two fouls shots before fouling Arizona forward Brandon Ashley on the other end. Ashley converted his two foul shots for a 60-55 Wildcats lead with 3:36 left.

Ashley hit a jumper to make it 62-57 for Arizona with 2:46 left. It was all the Wildcats needed.

The score was 28-28 at intermission as the teams completed a sluggish first half. The Wildcats led by as much as six early on, but the Musketeers rallied. Xavier also held Arizona without a field goal during the final 3:51 of the half. The Wildcats made just two shots from the floor over the last 7:55 before halftime.

Stainbrook and Johnson each scored 10 points in the first half to lead all scorers. Xavier forward Jalen Reynolds came off the bench to score six first-half points, but neither team had more than one other player score more than four points before the break.

Xavier outshot Arizona 46.4 percent to 37.5 percent in the opening half. Both teams had a rough go of it from 3-point range, with the Wildcats missing nine of their 13 attempts while the Musketeers misfired on all seven of theirs. Xavier committed five turnovers to six by Arizona prior to halftime.

For the game, Arizona shot 40.7 percent from the floor, and Xavier finished at 43.1 percent.