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Kansas Surges Past North Carolina with Stunning Second Half

Jayhawks Capture National Championship in Stirring Battle

The second verse was the polar opposite of the first and it was enough for Kansas to win the national championship Monday in New Orleans.

The Jayhawks downed North Carolina 72-69 in a thrilling game that wasn’t over until a final gasp from the Tar Heels drew nothing but air.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 04: Jalen Wilson #10 of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 72-69 during the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament National Championship at Caesars Superdome on April 04, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by TOM PENNINGTON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Kansas was down 15 points at the break but erupted on a 31-10 run to go up 56-50.

North Carolina, an eighth seed, would not give up and managed to tie the game but could not topple the Jayhawks, who scored the game’s final four points.

The game of twists and turns saw things change in the final minute when North Carolina’s Armando Bacot reinjured the right ankle he sprained in a Final Four game against Duke.

Bacot appeared to step on a loose floorboard on the court aggravating the injury.

The Jayhawks took advantage of Bacot’s absence by getting the ball to McCormack and the big guy went over Brady Manek for a basket and a 72-69 lead.

Carolina had a wild possession that saw it miss a series of shots before Manek threw the ball out of bounds with 4.6 seconds left.

Kansas inbounded the ball yet the Jayhawks’ Dajuan Harris Jr stepped out of bounds, giving North Carolina one last chance with 4.3 seconds left. Officials added 1.1 seconds to the clock during a review.

The last shot by Love found nothing but air and Kansas had completed the comeback and won the national championship as a top seed.

Kansas (34-6) outscored Carolina (29-10) in the second half 47-29. Against another ACC foe earlier in the tournament, the Jayhawks wasted Miami to the tune of 47-15 in the second half.

Kansas was led by Jalen Wilson and McCormack with 15 points apiece. Five Jayhawks were in double figures.

North Carolina got 15 points from Bacot and R.J. Davis each. Manek and Love had 13 apiece.

Trailing by double digits, the Jayhawks exploded after intermission, erasing a 15-point deficit in nine minutes.

In fact, Bill Self’s team went on a run to take a six-point advantage before the Tar Heels seemed to regain their footing.

The Tar Heels used a 7-1 run to tie the game at 57.

It was game-on with less than five minutes to go.

Kansas went up four only to see North Carolina counter.

With 2:38 left Remy Martin gave Kansas the lead on a 3-pointer but Love hit a layup 11 seconds later to bring North Carolina within a point.

Love missed a jumper but Manek was under the basket to corral the rebound and put the layup home to give North Carolina a 69-68 lead with 101 seconds left.

The Jayhawks went up one when David McCormack put home a hoop after an offensive rebound of his own miss.

If Carolina fans thought they had seen this sports movie before, they had.

Against a top-seeded Baylor team — also from the Big 12 — in the second round of the NCAA tournament, North Carolina was up by 25 in the second half when Manek was ejected for throwing an elbow.

The defending national champions rallied to tie the game and send it to overtime but North Carolina somehow pulled it together to advance.

The first half had been all North Carolina and Tar Heels led by as many as 16 and went to the break up 40-25.

Kansas looked out of sorts and nothing was falling. The Jayhawks were 6-of-21 from the paint. They appeared disorganized and off their game.

But that’s why they play second halves.

Sixty-five years earlier, North Carolina downed Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas in triple overtime. In 2022, however, the Jayhawks managed to settle a score from decades earlier.

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