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Kansas Beats UNC to Win National Championship, Completes Biggest Comeback in Title Game History

In one of the most stunning comebacks in college basketball history, No. 1 Kansas defeated No. 8 UNC, 72–69, to win the 2022 national championship on Monday night.

The Jayhawks secured the fourth title in the program’s history after rallying from a 16-point deficit to stun the Tar Heels inside Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. The win gave coach Bill Self his second national championship, making him the first KU coach to win multiple NCAA titles.

Jayhawks star and Big 12 Player of the Year Ochai Agbaji was named the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The senior guard recorded 12 points and three rebounds in the win, and averaged 18.9 PPG on the season.

Kansas’s 16-point comeback is the largest in NCAA title game history, passing the previous mark of 15 points set by Loyola Chicago against Cincinnati in 1963.

A strong first half by the Tar Heels gave Hubert Davis’s squad a commanding 40–25 lead going into halftime. UNC, led by top rebounder Armando Bacot, racked up 18 second chance points to Kansas’s two while holding the Jayhawks to three points in the half’s final five minutes.

A David McCormack dunk in the opening minute of the second half sparked an eventual 20–6 Jayhawks run to cut the deficit to 46–45 with 12:42 to play. An Agbaji and-1 tied the game at 50–50 before a three from standout guard Remy Martin moments later gave Kansas its first lead since the 9:44 mark of the first half.

From there, the Jayhawks continued to apply pressure but the Tar Heels would respond as both teams jockeyed for an edge down the stretch. UNC forward Brady Manek again stepped up in the clutch with a basket to give the Tar Heels a 69–68 lead. But a pair of jumpers by McCormack in the final 1:30 proved to be the difference as Kansas held on for the shocking win. 

McCormack finished with a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double to lead what ended up being a well-rounded effort by KU. Martin turned in a hot shooting performance off the bench with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting including four threes. Sophomore forward Jalen Wilson added 15 points while guard Christian Braun contributed 12 points and 12 boards. 

Bacot again led the way for UNC with 15 points and 15 rebounds, but exited with 38.5 seconds remaining in the game after rolling his right ankle—the same injury he sustained against Duke two days ago. Tourney darling Caleb Love and fellow guard R.J. Davis combined for an efficient 28 points on 10-of-41 shooting. Manek scored 13 points while sixth man Puff Johnson chipped in 11 points.    

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