By EDDIE PELLS
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kansas took home its fourth NCAA title on Monday thanks to a second-half excitement that erased a 16-point deficit and eventually defeated North Carolina 72-69 in an epic battle of power programs.
David McCormack scored the go-ahead bucket from close range with 1:21 to go, then another at the 22-second mark to put the Jayhawks up by three. North Carolina missed its last four shots, including Caleb Love’s Desperate 3 on the buzzer. His lift barely grazed the rim after officials ruled Kansas guard DaJuan Harris Jr. got 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 was blocked, but North Carolina got an offensive rebound and fed Armando Bacot under the bucket. But the big man lost his footing and flipped him over, then limped off and couldn’t return.
That put Brady Manek, a not-so-good defender, on McCormack, and the big Kansas man assisted Manek for the shot that put the Jayhawks three clear.
McCormack and Jalen Wilson led KU by 15 points each. Christian Braun scored 10 of his 12 goals in the second half and Remy Martin scored 11 of his 15 goals in the last 20 minutes as the Jayhawks turned a losing effort into one of their finest wins of all time.
Carolina had scored 16 straight points late in the first half to open a 40-25 lead at the break, but top seed KU (34-6) went to a 31-10 in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Run to gain a six-point lead and put on an amazing finish.
Bacot became the first player to hit double-doubles in all six tournament games with 15 points and 15 rebounds. He finished the season with 31 double-doubles, but it wasn’t enough. Carolina attempted to join Villanova in 1985 as she was only the second 8 seed to win March Madness.
Instead, the Tar Heels (29-10) missed a win and fell to an all-time 6-6 in title games. This was her 21st – and possibly highly unlikely – trip to the Final Four. They made it to the finals by defeating Duke in a back-and-forth thriller and retiring Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski.
But there are no banners for that.
Another will hang in Allen Fieldhouse instead, and McCormack will go down in KU lore alongside Mario Chalmers, Danny Manning and the rest of the Kansas greats thanks to his late-game exploits.
This title was three years in the making. KU was 28-3 and the clear favorite heading into March 2020. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, halting both the Jayhawks and the season in their tracks.
Seven players from that squad are also in this one. In some of their minds there was no “what could have been” about 2020 – they knew they’d won it. They won this one instead, showing once again that counting them out is never a good thing.
The Jayhawks surpassed North Carolina 47-29 in the second half — not quite the 47-15 loss they inflicted on Miami in the final 20 minutes of the Sweet 16, but still damn impressive given the circumstances.
Ochai Agjabi, the team’s only All-American, finished the game with 12 points and found breathing room after UNC’s lockdown guard Leaky Black suffered his fourth foul 6 minutes into the second half.
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https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/04/04/kansas-rallies-beats-north-carolina-72-69-to-win-ncaa-title/ Kansas rallies, beats North Carolina 72-69 to win NCAA title – The Mercury News