Kansas vs. UNC score, takeaways: Jayhawks complete historic comeback to win first NCAA championship since 2008

A meeting of college basketball powers in Monday night's national title game delivered a game for the ages as Kansas rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat North Carolina 72-69 and secure the program's fourth national championship. The Jayhawks' furious rally marked the largest-ever comeback in a national title game, besting Loyola-Chicago's 15-point comeback against Cincinnati from the 1963 title game.

David McCormack scored a critical go-ahead lay-up with 1:21 remaining to put Kansas ahead 70-69. Then, he added another bucket with 22 seconds left to make it a 72-69 edge. North Carolina missed consecutive 3-pointers on the ensuing possession and a look from the top of the key at the buzzer to cement the outcome.

Kansas jumped out to an early 7-0 lead but was outscored 40-18 over the rest of the first half as the Tar Heels dominated the offensive glass for an 18-2 edge in second-chance points entering the break. But whatever coach Bill Self told the Jayhawks at halftime worked wonders as KU came bursting out of the locker room with 31-10 spurt.  

McCormack finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds and was particularly clutch late while doing battle with injured UNC big man Armando Bacot. The Tar Heels' junior center was playing on a twisted ankle that he re-injured while maneuvering for a potential go-ahead bucket in the final minute. But he got the best of McCormack in the first half before McCormack came up with key plays late in an epic finish.

Here are the takeaways from a classic national title game on Monday night in New Orleans. 

David McCormack's redemption

When David McCormack hit a jumper less than a minute into the game to give the Jayhawks a 5-0 lead, it seemed like he was picking up right where he left off in a semifinal win over Villanova on Saturday. In that 81-65 KU victory, he scored a season-high 25 points. With Bacot hobbled and McCormack riding high off the confidence of Saturday's performance, the early returns suggested the Jayhawks might have an edge on the interior.

Bacot struggled initially, but as the half wore on, UNC's wounded warrior repeatedly got the best of McCormack, who left the game with 4:17 remaining in the first half after picking up his second foul. His exit came amid a 16-0 run for North Carolina, and things did not improve amid McCormack's absence. 

But in the second half, the KU big man found his footing. He finished with his 11th double-double of the season, and his two baskets in the final two minutes made the difference. It's been an up-and-down career for McCormack, and that was embodied in Monday's game. Ultimately, it ended on the greatest up as he lifted the Jayhawks to a national title.

Role players emerge

The trio of Remy Martin, Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson combined to shoot 3 of 18 from the floor in the first half for Kansas. In the second half, those same three players combined to make 13 of 18 shots from the field. Wilson tied McCormack for a team-high with 15 points, and Braun added a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Martin, meanwhile, hit all four of his shot attempts in the second half, including a trio of 3-pointers.

While Agbaji and McCormack were arguably the most important players for this Kansas team throughout the season, what set the Jayhawks apart were their role players. In particular, the dynamic play of Braun and Wilson as players with a unique combination of size and versatility made KU a tough matchup all season.

With Agbaji, Martin and McCormack as seniors on this season's team, the display from Braun and Wilson may only be a preview of things to come. While either or both could choose to test the NBA Draft waters, the pair of dynamic playmakers could make Kansas a contender to repeat as national champions if they return next season.

UNC runs out of star power

Bacot put the Tar Heels on his back in the first half but ran out of gas in the second half, going 0 for 6 from the floor after halftime. With 50 seconds remaining, he twisted his injured right ankle again and fell to the floor in agony while making a move toward the basket with the Tar Heels trailing 70-69.

The play was symbolic of how Bacot gave everything he had before hitting a literal breaking point in the game's final minute. With guards RJ Davis and Caleb Love combining to shoot 10 of 41 from the floor, North Carolina simply lacked the firepower it needed in the second half to keep pace with the red-hot Jayhawks.

eeSophomore forward Puff Johnson provided a huge lift off the bench with 11 points, including nine in the second half as he played extended minutes due to Leaky Black's foul trouble. But a UNC squad that got so many clutch buckets from Love, Davis, Brady Manek and Bacot on a memorable run needed just one or two more to get across the finish line.

Kansas Jayhawks championship gear released

The Jayhawks have won their first national title since 2008. You can now buy Kansas championship shirts, hats, jerseys, hoodies, and much more to celebrate the historic win. Get gear here now.

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Live updates

What a game

Best Final Four ever? What a classic. Kansas wins it 72-69 behind a couple of clutch David McCormack buckets down the stretch. He was a bit of a goat in the first half as Bacot put North Carolina on his back. In the end, he is the hero. Kansas has its fourth-ever national title, and UNC will look back with a lot of regret. A 15 point halftime lead evaporated immediately after halftime. Tar Heels battled down the stretch but didn't have enough in the tank, especially after Bacot re-twisted his ankle.

April 5, 2022, 3:46 AM
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Another UNC answer

 Kansas keeps looking for the kill shot, but UNC keeps answering. Heels back ahead 69-68 with 1:41 remaining after a Manek layup. KU timeout.

April 5, 2022, 3:29 AM

Under 4

It's 65-61 Kansas with 3:45 left as David McCormack picks up his fourth foul, which will send Bacot to the free-throw line coming out of the timeout for UNC. Tar Heels need Armando to give them something if they are going to finish this.

April 5, 2022, 3:23 AM

Here we go

The u8 timeout arrives with 7:48 remaining and UNC having scratched back to tie it at 57-57. Caleb Love is starting to come alive, and Puff Johnson is providing big minutes off the bench amid the foul trouble for Leaky Black. Bacot is 0 for 5 in the second half. KU has made this run while making just 1 of 5 from 3-point range. It has 20 of its 32 points in the paint this half.

April 5, 2022, 3:15 AM

Kansas ahead

Wow, the Jayhawks have come all the way back and taken the lead with a REmy Martin 3 and a Jalen Wilson and-1. 56-50 Jayhawks. It's 31-12 KU in the second half. Just insane. Whatever Bill Self said to this team at halftime is going down in program history. Although, it may not be suitable for public consumption. Night and day difference between halves.

April 5, 2022, 3:08 AM

Leaky Black

Not sure how long Hubert Davis can keep him on the bench with four fouls. Feels like the Jayhawks are getting what they want at will here. Black is UNC's best perimeter defender and has been for over two minutes already. KU is in overdrive like it was in the second half vs. Miami and you need Leaky out there to help get stops.

April 5, 2022, 3:03 AM

Quite a turn

Kansas is outscoring UNC 20-6 in this second half, and it's now 46-45 UNC with 12:41 left. David McCormack already has 5 boards in the second half and is stepping up here. Timeout Heels, who have seen a 15 point halftime lead evaporate. Christian Braun lowkey has a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards.

April 5, 2022, 2:57 AM

Kansas cuts lead

Great start for Kansas, off to a 12-5 start in the second half. Jalen Wilson will be at the FT line trying to make it 45-38 after the u16 timeout after drawing a foul on Manek. After Wilson and Christian Braun struggled in the first half, both are off to huge starts here in the second. Manek has 3 fouls and all of the sudden it feels like this game has a new dynamic.

April 5, 2022, 2:48 AM
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