Monday, April 4, 2022 09:20 PM (ET)

Kansas completes record rally to top UNC for NCAA title

Field Level Media
Apr 5, 2022

NEW ORLEANS -- David McCormack put the finishing touches on the biggest comeback ever in an NCAA Tournament championship game.

The Kansas senior scored the final four points of the game as the Jayhawks completed a comeback from a 16-point, first-half deficit to defeat North Carolina 72-69 and win the national title on Monday.

"I didn't say much at halftime," said Bill Self, who became the first Kansas coach to win multiple national championships. "We were disappointed in how we played in the first half. North Carolina obviously was the better team in the first half, but that was about as good defensively as a team can play in the second half."

Kansas (34-6) trailed by one point when McCormack, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, rebounded his own miss and scored on a layup for a one-point lead with 1:21 left. After a Tar Heels turnover, McCormack made a hook shot from the lane for a three-point lead with 22 seconds left.

"I just appreciate Coach and my teammates trusting me to make those plays with the game on the line," McCormack said.

After an exchange of turnovers, North Carolina's Caleb Love missed a 3-point attempt in the final second.

The rally from a 16-point deficit broke a record set by Loyola Chicago when it overcame a 15-point deficit to defeat Cincinnati in overtime for the 1963 national title. The 15-point halftime deficit the Jayhawks overcame surpassed the 10-point halftime hole Kentucky escaped against Utah in 1998.

Jalen Wilson scored 15 points, Remy Martin added 14, Christian Braun had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Ochai Agbaji scored 12 as top-seeded Kansas won its fourth national championship and first since 2008.

"We came back after Coach challenged us to play better and show more pride," Braun said. "We did that in the second half."

Agbaji was tabbed as the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player.

"This is a special group of guys," Agbaji said. "We overcome the odds and adversity as a family."

Armando Bacot had 15 points and 15 rebounds, RJ Davis had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Brady Manek had 13 points and 13 rebounds, Love scored 13 and Puff Johnson 11 to lead North Carolina (29-10), a No. 8 seed that reached its third title game in the past six tournaments.

"I should be disappointed," Tar Heels first-year coach Hubert Davis said, "but I feel so much pride for what these guys have done for themselves, this team, our university and our community. You can't ask for them to do any more than they did. I'm extremely proud of each one of them."

The score was tied at 65 before Martin made a 3-pointer, but consecutive baskets by Love and Manek gave the Tar Heels a 69-68 lead with 1:41 left.

The Jayhawks made three unanswered baskets in the first 2:20 of the second half to trim a 15-point halftime deficit to nine.

Love's 3-pointer pushed the lead back to 12 before Kansas went on a 25-7 run that was climaxed by Agbaji's three-point play, Martin's 3-pointer and Wilson's three-point play.

That gave the Jayhawks a 56-50 lead midway through the half.

Davis responded with consecutive baskets and an assist on Johnson's 3-pointer that tied the score at 57.

--Les East, Field Level Media

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