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Kansas Jayhawks beat North Carolina Tar Heels in thrilling NCAA final showdown

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The 2021-2022 NCAA season came to a thrilling conclusion on Monday, April 4. A showdown game in New Orleans between the Kansas Jayhawks and North Carolina Tar Heels ended with Kansas edging out their rivals to claim its fourth national title.

Per ESPN, the Jayhawks recovered from the largest halftime deficit in the history of the tournament to win the title with a final score of 72-69. At halftime, Carolina had a comfortable lead, with the score sitting at 40-25. That changed in the second half when Kansas dominated the court with an 18-6 run that dashed its opponent’s chances for a similar performance.

With five minutes left in the game, Kansas had a razor-thin lead of 63-61. At this point, Carolina could have still claimed the title. The Tar Heels’ blend of offensive and defensive power created a comfortable lead in the first half, but Kansas’ highly efficient offense allowed it to dominate the second half. In ten minutes, the Jayhawks outscored the Tarheels 31-10.

This tactic is the same one Kansas utilized for its victories over Texas Southern, Providence, and Miami. The second-half run altered the trajectory of these previous games, most notably the crushing 45-17 defeat of the Hurricanes in the second half of the Elite Eight Showdown.

As Kansas hit its stride, Carolina was visibly fatigued. Armando Bacot was limping in the second half due to a turned ankle from Saturday’s game with archrival Duke. Exhausted from chasing Kansas’ powerhouse offense, the Tarheels faced defeat when David McCormack scored a crucial 3-point lead with a skyhook over Brady Manek in the game’s thrilling final seconds.

The outcome was not based on Carolina’s collapse but on Kansas’ historic comeback. The Jayhawks completed 58% of its shots in the second half compared to Carolina’s 28%.              

When climbing a ladder to claim a piece of the net at the Superdome, Kansas head coach Bill Self was beaming as he simply said, “It feels even better than I thought it would.”

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