Kansas notches historic comeback en route to national title

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


In the NCAA men’s basketball championship game, the Jayhawks proved they could play from behind as well as play with a lead as they overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat North Carolina 72-69 in New Orleans.

The Jayhawks (34-6) bested the previous record for largest comeback win in tournament history by one with the win. It was quite the reversal of fortune for a team that had fallen short of expectations in recent seasons, and that had been defeated by Kentucky a decade earlier when the Jayhawks last participated in a national title game in the Superdome.

“We’ve had some really terrific seasons and some great teams that came up short,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “And I do think that when you have as many good teams as we’ve had – at most places winning one national championship would be quite an accomplishment. I think as many good teams as we’ve had, one’s not enough.”

UNC (29-10) had its chances and held a 1-point lead with 1:41 to play. However, 4 points in the paint by David McCormack, Kansas’ 6-foot-10 forward, proved the difference. Several late attempts at a 3-pointer came up empty for the Tar Heels, including a shot made possible when, with 4 seconds to play, Jayhawk guard Dajuan Harris Jr. stepped out of bounds.

“I can’t be more proud of the group that I just coached this year,” an emotional UNC coach Hubert Davis said in a postgame interview shared by Bleacher Report. “I told them that I desperately wanted them to have experiences and stories and testimonies of their own. And along the ride, they added more stories and testimonies and memories for me as a coach.”

The win marked the fourth national title for Kansas and the second for Self. Davis completed an outstanding first year as the Tar Heels coach having replaced the legendary Roy Williams.

Kansas finished with five players in double figures, but it was McCormack and guard Christian Braun who had the most complete performances. McCormack posted a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double, with Braun registering a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.

North Carolina’s effort was similarly balanced, with five Tar Heels reaching double figures, three of whom produced a double-double. Forward Armando Bacot scored 15 points and pulled 15 rebounds, guard RJ Davis accounted for 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Brady Manek posted 13 points and 13 rebounds as well as 4 blocks.