NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kansas brought home its fourth NCAA title on Monday thanks to a second-half flurry that erased a 16-point deficit and ultimately defeated North Carolina 72-69 in an epic battle of programs. power.
It was the biggest comeback in title game history, topping Kentucky’s 10-point rally to beat Utah in 1998.
David McCormack scored the go-ahead bucket from close range with 1:21 left, then another in the 22nd second to give the Jayhawks a three-point lead. North Carolina has missed its last four shots, including Caleb Love’s Desperation 3 at the buzzer. His lift barely brushed the edge after officials ruled Kansas guard DaJuan Harris Jr. had made an inbounds pass with 4.3 seconds left.
The Tar Heels went scoreless through the 1:41 final.
After McCormick’s 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 turned it around, then limped off the pitch, unable to come back.
That put the not-so-good defender Brady Manek on McCormack, and the Kansas big man backed Manek up for the shot that put the Jayhawks ahead by three.
McCormack and Jalen Wilson led KU with 15 points apiece. Christian Braun scored 10 of 12 in the second half and transfer Remy Walker scored 11 of 14 in the final 20 minutes as the Jayhawks turned what looked like a lost cause into one of their finest all-time wins.
Carolina had scored 16 straight points late in the first half to open a 40-25 advantage at the break, but top seed KU (34-6) continued a 31-10 run over the 10 minutes into 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 wasn’t enough. Carolina was trying to join Villanova in 1985 as the second 8 seed to win March Madness.
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