Norman Ok, April, 5 (The Oklahoma Post) –
In a battle between college basketball juggernauts for the national championship, the Kansas Jayhawks came back from a 15 point halftime deficit and defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Jalen Wilson and senior David McCormack led Kansas with 15 points each. Arizona State super-senior transfer Remy Martin added 14 points, Christian Braun led the team in minutes played with 40 and had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. The MVP of the final four, Ochai Agbaji also put up 12 points.
North Carolina was led by Armando Bacot, who had 15 points and 15 rebounds. RJ Davis also threw in 15 points and 13 rebounds. Former Sooner and Harrah, Oklahoma native Brady Manek also had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Kansas won the game despite being outrebounded by 20. The Jayhawks shot 43.9 percent from the field, while North Carolina was limited to 31.5 percent from the field.
Kansas came out hot to start the game, going up 7-0 within the first two minutes. UNC chipped away at the lead, and the teams went back and forth for the first 14 minutes of the first half. With 5:49 left on the clock in the first half, Armando Bacot set a screen for Harrah native Brady Manek, and he drained the right-wing three to break the 22-22 tie. This set off an offensive and defensive explosion by the Tar Heels as they went on a 16-0 run to take a 38-22 lead.
Kansas went into the locker at the half down 15 points, staring at what could be a devastating end to a spectacular season if they did not find out how to solve the puzzle that was North Carolina.
Kansas came out of the locker on a 31 to 10 run, seizing the momentum for the game.
Bill Self’s words worked because, within the first 10 minutes of the second half, Kansas took the lead on a Remy Martin three-pointer. From that point on, it was a dog fight, in which both teams traded blows for the rest of the game.
“I told them at halftime, would you rather be down 15 with 20 left or down 9 with 2 left?”, the legendary Bill Self told Turner Sports-CBS’s Jim Nantz in a post-game interview.
Down by one with 51 seconds left, Armando Bacot got the edge on his defender, drove the lane, and looked like he was about to give the Tar Heels the lead until he twisted his ankle and lost the ball. Kansas capitalized on the turnover as David McCormack stretched the lead to three on the other end.
After a Brady Manek turnover, it looked like Kansas had the title won until DaJuan Harris stepped out of bounds on the inbound play and UNC had a chance. Caleb Love threw up a last-second shot at the buzzer that was short, and the Kansas Jayhawks became national champions.
According to ESPN North Carolina was 46-0 all time when leading by double digits at the half in march madness. Kansas broke that streak on Monday to capture the trophy.
North Carolina is the 4th team in history to make it to the national championship as an 8 seed. The victory gave Kansas its fourth national championship and the second for future hall of fame coach Bill Self, making him the only coach in Kansas history to win more than one title.
(Writing by Austin DeSpain; editing by Robbie Robertson)
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