Kansas defeats former coach, UNCKansas gets the best of their former coach, take advantage of shorthanded Tar Heels
By Ryan Wolstat, QMI Agency
|The Kansas Jayhawks gesture the number four for their upcoming trip to the Final Four after they won 80-67 against the North Carolina Tar Heels. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP)
Kansas’ scoring star ended an ugly slump, North Carolina’s did not.
And those are major reasons why the Jayhawks are on to the Final Four in New Orleans at the expense of the Tar Heels.
Tyshawn Taylor, who had scored just 26 combined points in three games at the NCAA championship tournament on 33% shooting, went off for 22 points, six rebounds and five assists on 10-of-19 shooting to key the 80-67 win over the undermanned Tar Heels.
Thomas Robinson added 18 points and nine rebounds and Jeff Withey again stepped up defensively with timely blocked shots.
With just over three minutes remaining, Kansas began a 12-0 run to finish the game and stun the top-seeded Heels.
With point guard Kendall Marshall unable to go again, UNC’s Harrison Barnes struggled once more, going just 5-for-14 from the field after a 3-for-16 disaster the game before.
Bill Self was just 1-5 in Elite Eight games coming in, but has now beaten his Kansas predecessor, Roy Williams, in both the Elite Eight and Final Four.
The No. 2-seeded Jayhawks will take on Ohio State on Saturday.
In one of the better games of the tournament, the teams shot 56% (Kansas) and 64% (UNC) in the first half, before putting the defensive shackles on.
Minus Marshall, Carolina was lucky to head into the half tied and did so because of a huge effort from its bench.
The teams cooled considerably from there until Kansas’ late surge, which was sparked by two Withey blocks.
“There’s no way to put into words the way we feel,” said Williams, who left Lawrence after 15 years to return to take his dream job at North Carolina, eventually winning a national title there.
“It was a game of runs,” Williams said. “And we didn’t answer the last one.
“It’s the NCAA tournament. One team wins and one team loses and that’s what we have to understand.”
Both powerhouses understand that losses come with the territory. Kansas has bowed out in the first two rounds three times under Self, UNC twice under Williams. Each also went to the Elite Eight last year.
Though backup Stillman White had seven assists and zero turnovers, Carolina missed the steady hand of Marshall, who gets the best out of Barnes and the rest of the squad, though young James Michael McAdoo served notice with a 15-point effort.
North Carolina bricked 24-of-31 shots in the final 20 minutes.
“I missed a lot of shots I usually make,” Barnes told reporters in the locker room.
“Big-time players come through in big-time games and it just wasn’t there tonight.”
Kansas lost six of its top eight scorers from 2011 and its top three recruits were ruled ineligible for this season.
But Taylor, Self’s only returning starter, came through when it mattered the most.
“We felt like we were the underdog like we had something to prove,” Taylor said.
Nobody moreseo than Taylor.