Kansas capitalizes on historic rally to claim fourth NCAA men’s basketball title: NPR
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The Kansas Jayhawks rallied behind the biggest comeback in national championship history on Monday against the University of North Carolina to win the NCAA men’s championship.
The last one-seeded Jayhawks trailed 15 at halftime to rally to a 72-69 victory over the Tar Heels in a tight game between two historic programs. It was the fourth NCAA title for the Kansas men’s team.
It was the greatest comeback in national championship history, surpassing the 1963 title game when Loyola overcame a 15-point deficit to beat Cincinnati at the buzzer, 60-58.
“Tonight we obviously worked hard in the first half,” said KU coach Bill Self, who won his second championship. “But the kids competed.”
The Tar Heels led 40-25 early in the second half, but Kansas quickly recovered, scoring 20 points in just over seven minutes and cutting North Carolina’s lead to a single point.
Both teams continued to fight for the lead throughout the half. With 1:30 left in the game, North Carolina was once again ahead by a single point, 69-68, until Kansas starting forward David McCormack sank a two-pointer, knocking down the tables on the Tar Heels.
The tension continued to mount when North Carolina forward Armando Bacot had to be helped off the field with a leg injury with just 38 seconds left. McCormack sank two more runs soon after, securing a 72-69 lead and the Kansas championship.
“It’s kind of hard to see us shaken up. Coach challenged us to come back and we did,” Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot said.
Prior to Monday’s game, Kansas had played 10 national title games. Monday’s game was the fifth time UNC and Kansas have met in a national championship or Final Four game. The first time was in 1957, when the pair went to triple overtime in the Final Four, with North Carolina winning 57-56.
“These don’t fall out of trees, they’re hard to get,” said Self, who is 4-0 against UNC in the NCAA Tournament. “I think this team can play any team Kansas has put on the field.”