Kansas rallies, beats North Carolina 72-69 and wins the NCAA title

NEW ORLEANS — Kansas took home its fourth NCAA title Monday thanks to a second-half excitement that erased a 16-point deficit and ultimately defeated North Carolina 72-69 in an epic battle of power programs.

It was the biggest comeback in title game history, surpassing Kentucky’s 10-point rally against Utah in 1998.

David McCormack scored the go-ahead bucket from close range with 1:21 to go, then another at the 22-second mark to put the Jayhawks up by three. North Carolina missed its last four shots, including Caleb Love’s Desperate 3 on the buzzer. His lift barely grazed the rim after officials ruled Kansas guard DaJuan Harris Jr. got out on an inbounds pass with 4.3 seconds left.

The Tar Heels went scoreless over the final 1:41.

After McCormick’s go-ahead bucket, Love’s shot was blocked, but North Carolina got an offensive rebound and fed Armando Bacot under the bucket. But the big man lost his footing and turned, then limped off and couldn’t return.


That put Brady Manek, a not-so-good defender, on McCormack, and the big Kansas man assisted Manek for the shot that put the Jayhawks three clear.

McCormack and Jalen Wilson led KU by 15 points each. Christian Braun scored 10 of his 12 goals in the second half and Remy Walker scored 11 of his 14 goals in the last 20 minutes as the Jayhawks turned a losing effort into one of their sweetest wins of all time.

Carolina had scored 16 straight points late in the first half to open a 40-25 lead at the break, but top seed KU (34-6) went to a 31-10 in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Run to gain a six-point lead and put on an amazing finish.

Bacot became the first player to hit double-doubles in all six tournament games with 15 points and 15 rebounds. He finished the season with 31 double-doubles, but it wasn’t enough. Carolina tried to join Villanova in 1985 when only seeded the second 8 to win March Madness.



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Dais Johnston

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