Magic Monday: KU rallies from 16 down, defeats UNC for national title
NEW ORLEANS (KWCH and AP) -Kansas brought its fourth NCAA title back home Monday thanks to a second-half flurry that erased a 16-point deficit and eventually overcame North Carolina 72-69 in an epic battle of power programs.
David McCormack scored the go-ahead bucket from close range with 1:21 left, then another at the 22-second mark to put the Jayhawks ahead by three. North Carolina missed its final four shots, including Caleb Love’s desperation 3 at the buzzer. His heave barely grazed rim after officials ruled that Kansas guard DaJuan Harris Jr., stepped out on an inbounds pass with 4.3 seconds left.
The Tar Heels went scoreless over the final 1:41.
After McCormick’s go-ahead bucket, Love’s shot got blocked but North Carolina got an offensive rebound and fed to Armando Bacot under the bucket. But the big man lost his footing and turned it over, then limped off the court, unable to return.
That put Brady Manek, not as good a defender, on McCormack, and the Kansas big man backed in Manek for the shot that put the Jayhawks ahead by three.
McCormack and Jalen Wilson led KU with 15 points each. Christian Braun scored 10 of his 12 in the second half and transfer Remy Martin had 11 of his 15 over the final 20 minutes, as the Jayhawks turned what looked like a lost cause into one of the sweetest wins ever.
Carolina had scored 16 straight points late in the first half to open a 40-25 advantage at the break, but top-seeded KU (34-6) went on a 31-10 run over the opening 10 minutes of the second to take a six-point lead and set up a fantastic finish.
Bacot had 15 points and 15 rebounds to become the first player to record double-doubles in all six tournament games. He finished the season with 31 double-doubles, but it was not enough. Carolina was trying to join 1985 Villanova as only the second 8 seed to win March Madness.
Instead, the Tar Heels (29-10) fell one win short and dropped to 6-6 all-time in title games. This was their record 21st - and possibly most unlikely - trip to the Final Four. They made it to the final by beating Duke in a back-and-forth thriller and sending Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski into retirement.
There are no banners for that, though.
Instead, another will hang at Allen Fieldhouse, and McCormack, thanks to his late-game heroics, will go down in KU lore along with Mario Chalmers, Danny Manning and the rest of the Kansas greats.
You can follow the game as it developed with the updates below.
The Jayhawks have done it. KU climbs back from a 15-point deficit to win the national championship, 72-69.
Under 4:00 Timeout:
With 3:45 left, KU has a four-point lead, 65-61. The Jayhawks are hitting shots and clamping down defensively. North Carolina continues to fight on the offensive glass, which is helping to keep them in in. Out of the break, the Tar Heels will get a pair of free throws.
Under 8:00 Timeout:
The Jayhawks climbed all the way back on a monster, 31-10 run to build a lead to as large as six. North Carolina settled to stay in it. We’re tied at 57-57 with 7:48 left in the game. Ochai Agbaji and Jalen Wilson join Christian Braun with 12 points apiece to lead the resurgent Jayhawks.
Under 12:00 Timeout:
KU has a chance to take the lead out of the break, down 48-47 with 11:36 left. KU is getting into the lane and converting good looks while doing better on the glass, pulling down rebounds from the cold-shooting Tar Heels. Christian braun has come on strong, hitting five of his last seven shots to lead the Jayhawks with 12 points.
Timeout, North Carolina:
A 12-1 run has KU right back in this one. In less than eight minutes, the Jayhawks cut a 15-point deficit down to one, A Christian Braun layup has KU down 46-45 with 12:41 left in the game.
Under 16:00 Timeout:
The Jayhawks are doing exactly what they need to get back into this game, now within single digits, 45-37. KU has outscored North Carolina 12-5 with a chance to cut into the lead even more after the break. Jalen Wilson made a layup and was fouled. He’ll have a free throw when play resumes.
HALFTIME: UNC 40, KU 25
The Tar Heels end the first half on an 18-3 run to build a healthy lead at the break. KU is struggling on the glass and having trouble converting shots, even higher-percentage looks around the rim. Armando Bacot leads the Tar Heels with a double-double, 12 points and 10 rebounds. Ochai Agbaji leads KU with eight points. As a team, KU is only shooting about 30 percent, hitting 10 of 33 shots. The Jayhawks have also been outscored by 10 at the free throw line.
Under 4:00 Timeout: A 10-0 North Carolina run caps a dominant few minutes that has the Tar Heels up, 32-22 with 3:46 left in the half. The Jayhawks are only shooting 32 percent from the field and have only taken two free throws, compared to 12 for North Carolina. Ochai Agbaji’s five points continues to lead the Jayhawks.
Under 8:00 Timeout: KU is facing a momentum shift with North Carolina taking a 22-18 lead with 7:53 left in the half. The Tar Heels have 14 second-chance points.
Under 12:00 Timeout: Inside 11 minutes to play in the first half, an eventful stretch sees North Carolina climb back into the thick of it. KU holds a 15-12 lead, scoring a pair of buckets after Carolina went on a 9-2 run to build its first lead of the game. First-Team All American Ochai Agbaji leads KU with five points.
Under 16:00 Timeout: It’s a fast start for the Jayhawks with a 9-3 lead. First-team All-American Ochai Agbaji set the tone with a three-point shot made on KU’s first offensive possession. David McCormack leads the way with four early points, hitting two of his first three shots.
Start: The starting five for the Jayhawks is guard Dajuan Harris Jr., guard Christian Braun, guard Ochai Agbaji, forward Jalen Wilson and forward David McCormack.
Pre-game: KU and North Carolina come in with a lot of confidence as both appear to be playing their best basketball at the right time. To get here, KU battled through the second and third rounds of the NCAA Tournament before blowing out Miami with a dominant second-half display against Miami in the Elite Eight and handing Villanova in the national semifinal. On its path, North Carolina played the part of spoiler, upsetting top-seeded Baylor in the round of 32, ended UCLA’s run in the Sweet 16 and set the clock to midnight on Cinderella story, Saint Peter’s, the fist No. 15 seed to ever advance to the Elite Eight. In the national semifinal, North Carolina ruined the party for its longtime, bitter rival, Duke. In the 81-77 upset, the Tar Heels denied legendary, hall-of-fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski a national championship in the final season of his career.
In the warmup, KU looks loose and ready to go.
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