NEW ORLEANS – The Kansas Jayhawks captured their sixth national championship in school history Monday night at the Caesars Superdome, topping North Carolina 72-69 in the National Championship game.
The Jayhawks erased a 15-point halftime deficit to capture their second national championship under Coach Bill Self, outscoring the Tar Heels 47-29 in the second half. The win marked the program’s third national championship since 1988. Kansas shot 58 percent from the floor in the second half, hitting 19 of 33 shots from the floor, while North Carolina went 11-for-40 from the floor in the second, shooting 28 percent.
Kansas trailed by 16 at one point in the first half. The 16-point deficit is the largest ever overcome in a championship game in NCAA history.
Five Jayhawks scored in double figures for Kansas in the win, led by 15 points apiece from Jalen Wilson and David McCormack. McCormack had 10 rebounds as well to post a double-double, while Christian Braun also had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Remy Martin finished with 14 points, while All-American Ochai Agbaji finished with 12.
Agbaji was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament, adding to his already long list of accolades. McCormack was named to the All-NCAA Tournament Team, joining Agbaji..
Trailing 40-25 at halftime, the Jayhawks wasted no time starting the comeback, coming out of the locker room hot. Trailing 45-33 with 16:10 to play, Braun scored on a layup to cut it to 10. Wilson then converted an and-one to cut it seven at 45-38. That was the closest the Jayhawks had been since trailing 29-22 with more than four minutes to play in the first half.
After an Agbaji free throw made it six, Dajuan Harris Jr., hit a basket to get it to four. Trailing 50-47 with just more than 11 minutes left, Agbaji hit an and-one to knot the game at 50 for the first tie since it was 22-22.
Kansas then scored the next six points to grab a six-point lead at 56-50. North Carolina came right back, however, to tie it back up at 57 with 8:16 to play. The Jayhawks would lead from there until North Carolina tied it again at 65 with just more than three minutes to play. But Martin hit another 3-pointer to put Kansas up again.
After back-to-back buckets put North Carolina back up one, McCormack went to work and scored in the paint to put the Jayhawks up 70-69 with 1:21 to play. He then scored again with 22 seconds left to make the score 72-69 and close out the national championship win for the Jayhawks.