NEW ORLEANS — The University of Kansas was playing the first half as poorly as it had ever been all season and trailed North Carolina by 15 points at halftime.
But in the second half, those Jayhawks from all season returned; those who play defense, avoid unnecessary fouls and execute in the important moments, to orchestrate a historic comeback and be crowned national champions of men’s collegiate basketball.
Kansas beat North Carolina 72-69 on Monday night to win its fourth title, the second in the era of coach Bill Self, who became the first from that university to win multiple championships.
“I told the guys we needed to play better,” Self said. “I knew that was going to happen eventually.”
It also had to be that his best man during the Final Four, center David McCormack, could play a full half. In the first one he had to leave early due to foul problems and his colleague from North Carolina, Armando Bacot, took the opportunity to make a difference.
In the second, without tomorrow, Coach Self sent McCormack to the court and he became the dominant force down the board, where Bacot could do little in the last minutes with obvious discomfort in the ankle that he hurt in the semifinals against Duke.
McCormack also made the last two baskets of the game for Kansas, including the final one in a visible personal effort, passing North Carolina’s best player tonight, Brady Manek, with 22 seconds left in the game.
Earlier, McCormack had scored with a hook, after winning an offensive rebound and that with 1:20 gave the advantage to his school, at that time by only one point.
“Yes, they were big plays, the biggest plays of my life,” McCormack said. “That shows how much confidence the coach and my teammates have in me. The coach called the play and said we were going to shoot inside the paint. I appreciate that I had the opportunity and that I was able to respond.”
Kansas erases a 16-point first-half deficit to overwhelm the Tar Heels and win the 2022 NCAA men’s national championship.
Kansas was a worthy champion who already in the “elite 8” round had shown that he could recover from adversity.
They rallied ahead against Miami to become the first university to win by 26 points in the NCAA Tournament. This Monday, in the national championship game, the difference was 16 points, which represents the greatest of all time for a team that at the end of the match is crowned national champion.
It was the biggest comeback in title finals history, overcoming the biggest deficit to win a 15-point national championship game, by Loyola Chicago against Cincinnati in 1963.
“The message was always the same, trust each one of us,” said Ochai Agbaji. “The coach challenged us and we had to respond in all aspects. It was a matter of playing our game and executing in the second half, trying to prevent them from doing again what had worked for them and had hurt us.”
Kansas won the game despite being heavily outrebounded (55-35) and outscored on second chances (28-8); something almost unthinkable. But his 31-point rally in the first 10 minutes of the second half saved the season and resulted in the national title.
“Champions don’t fall from trees,” Coach Self said. “They’re very hard to come by. We’d been close and we couldn’t. We punched the ticket today. I knew we deserved more than we’ve gotten lately.”
“This is the result of an entire effort, of an entire university.”
We would like to give thanks to the author of this post for this amazing material
Kansas comes back against North Carolina and wins NCAA title