NEW ORLEANS – Things looked bleak in the first half as the Jayhawks were down by 15, and they couldn’t seem to make a shot.
KU did not waver, as they pulled off the largest comeback in NCAA championship game history.
The Jayhawks started the game up 7-0, but North Carolina responded right back, dominating the glass and getting to the foul line, giving them their largest lead of the game at 38-22.
The Jayhawks seemed to have no answer for Armando Bacot, who finished the half with a double-double, securing 12 points and 10 rebounds, making him the first player ever in tournament history to have a double-double in six straight tournament games.
The Tar-Heels would go into the half up 40-25.
Whatever message Bill Self had for the team at halftime, it seemed to have done the trick.
The Jayhawks came flying (pun intended) out the gates in the second half, starting it out with a David McCormack alley-oop on a pass from Jalen Wilson.
After that, Christian Braun scored two straight buckets to bring the game within single digits at 31-40. The Jayhawks didn’t look back, eventually going a 20-6 run.
The turning point in the game and during that run seemed to be when Remy Martin hit a three-pointer to give Kansas their first lead since it was 18-16 with just under 10 minutes left in the first half.
That play was followed by a Dajuan Harris steal, which led to Jalen Wilson’s layup plus the foul, giving Kansas a 56-50 lead, their largest of the game, but the Tar-Heels would not go away.
They were able to tie the game up at 57 after a Puff Johnson three-pointer and continued to stick around, but Remy Martin and David McCormack would not let KU lose, as they came up big throughout the whole tournament.
They scored the last seven points for the Jayhawks, including McCormack drilling back-to-back hook shots, the first one giving the Jayhawks the go-ahead basket with 1:19 left and the second one giving them a three-point lead with 22 seconds left.
McCormack led the Jayhawks with a double-double scoring 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jalen Wilson also had 15 points, and Remy Martin had 14 points with a plethora of timely shots.
Christian Braun had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Ochai Agbaji finished with 12 points.
Agbaji also won the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament, the perfect cap to an award-filled season for the Kansas City native.
The win says a lot about the Jayhawks, along with their depth and resilience.
This was the largest comeback in NCAA championship game history, the previous being Kentucky’s 10 point comeback against Utah in the 1998 national championship.
It is now Kansas’ fourth national championship in program history and Bill Self’s second, securing the first one in 2008.