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Kansas Jayhawks beat Tar Heels, 72-69, in NCAA men's title game

North Carolina forward Brady Manek (45) tips the ball in against Kansas forward David McCormack (33) during the second half of the men's championship Monday, April 4, 2022, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/AP
North Carolina forward Brady Manek (45) tips the ball in against Kansas forward David McCormack (33) during the second half of the men's championship Monday in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Kansas staged a 16-point comeback, the largest in NCAA championship history, to best North Carolina in New Orleans.

In KU’s third trip to a title game in New Orleans, the Jayhawks triumphed in a 72–69 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels. KU previously lost Big Easy title games in 2003—the last year for coach Roy Williams before he returned to his home state of North Carolina—and 2012, when Bill Self last coached KU in the title game.

The Jayhawks won their second national title under Self and the first since 2008. Self is a perfect 4-0 against the Tar Heels in the NCAA tournament. It was KU’s first title game against the Heels since 1957, when Wilt Chamberlain played at KU and the Heels won in triple overtime.

Earlier in the weekend, KU reached the title game after beating Villanova, 81–65, in the semifinal for its first win in three postseason matches against the Wildcats.

David McCormack and Jalen Wilson were KU’s co-scoring leaders with 15 points each. McCormack scored the game’s final four points after KU trailed, 69–68.

Senior Ochai Agbaji, of Oak Park High School in Kansas City, scored 12 points.

The Jayhawks had plenty of motivation. This season’s squad is largely made up of the team that was eliminated in the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

The 2019–2020 season also ended in disappointment. In 2020, the pandemic denied a talented Kansas team the chance to win a national championship. The Jayhawks were projected to be the overall No. 1 seed in that tournament, which was canceled.

KU trailed by 15 at halftime, but staged a furious comeback in the opening minutes of the second half. The Jayhawks outscored the Tar Heels, 24-10, by the time the second half reached its midpoint and had a 56-50 lead.

The key addition to this year’s team was Remy Martin, a transfer from Arizona State. Though slowed by a knee injury in the regular season, Martin provided a spark in the postseason, starting with the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City.

In the NCAA tournament, Martin was voted the Most Outstanding Player in the Midwest Region.

This season, KU entered the Final Four as the highest remaining seed in the tournament, while the Tar Heels were seeded eighth.

The Jayhawks end the season with a 34-6 record.

Sports have an economic and social impact on our community and, as a sports reporter, I go beyond the scores and statistics. I also bring the human element to the sports figures who have a hand in shaping the future of not only their respective teams but our town. Reach me at gregechlin@aol.com.
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