Kansas won its fourth NCAA title Monday on the back of a frantic second-half offense that erased a 16-point deficit in a 72-69 victory over North Carolina in an epic battle between colleges with strong basketball programs.
It was the biggest comeback in title finals history, overcoming Kentucky’s 10-point deficit in 1998 to beat Utah.
David McCormack made the game-changing basket with 1:21 remaining and then another with 22 seconds left that put the Jayhawks up three points. North Carolina missed its last four shots, including Caleb Love’s desperate 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded. His shot just grazed the rim after umpires determined Kansas player DaJuan Harris Jr. had stepped out on a pass with 4.3 seconds remaining.
The Tar Heels were scoreless in the final 1:41.
After McCormack’s decisive basket, Love had a shot blocked. Then North Carolina got an offensive rebound and passed the ball to Armando Bacot under the basket. But he lost his balance and lost the ball, before limping off the pitch. He couldn’t come back.
That left Brady Manek, who is not that good of a defender, up against McCormack, who managed to increase the lead to three points.
McCormack and Jalen Wilson led Kansas with 15 points apiece. Christian Braun had 10 of his 12 points in the second half, and loanee Remy Walker added 11 of his 14 in the final 20 minutes as the Jayhawks turned what seemed like a lost cause into one of their sweetest wins.
Bacot had 15 points and 15 rebounds and was the first player to record double-doubles in all six tournament games. He finished the season with 31 double-doubles, but it wasn’t enough. Carolina was attempting to join the 1985 Villanova class as just the second 8th-place finisher to win March Madness.
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Kansas comes back against North Carolina and wins the NCAA