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UNC blows 16-point lead, Kansas wins national championship game

It was the biggest comeback in title game history.
North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis walks off the court after their loss against Kansas in a...
North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis walks off the court after their loss against Kansas in a college basketball game at the finals of the Men's Final Four NCAA tournament, Monday, April 4, 2022, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)(David J. Phillip | AP)
Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 10:18 PM EDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA. (WBTV/AP) - After a stunning run throughout the NCAA Tournament, the North Carolina Tar Heels couldn’t hold on to a 15-point halftime lead in the national championship game and lost 72-69 to the Kansas Jayhawks.

No. 8 seed UNC led 40-25 at the half and led by as many as 16 but was outscored 47-29 in the second half as the top-seeded Jayhawks won its fourth title and first since 2008.

It was the biggest comeback in title game history.

The two teams continued to fight back and forth by exchanging leads and the Tar Heels (29-10) held a 69-68 advantage with 1:41 remaining. But Kansas (34-6) forward David McCormack hit two jumpers in the final 1:21 to clinch the victory.

Guard Caleb Love, who has been lights out in the tournament, struggled in the game, shooting 5-for-24 from the field and missed a desperation 3 at the buzzer. His heave barely grazed the rim after officials ruled that Kansas guard DaJuan Harris Jr., stepped out on an inbounds pass with 4.3 seconds left.

“They just executed and came up with more plays down the stretch than we did,” UNC head coach Hubert Davis said.

The season was the first for Davis at the helm, who replaced long-time head coach Roy Williams when he retired after last season.

Backup sophomore guard Puff Johnson helped keep the Tar Heels in the game late, scoring nine of his 11 points with under 12 minutes remaining. Unfortunately, he was hit in the stomach which led to him vomiting on the court.

Carolina had scored 16 straight points late in the first half to open a 40-25 advantage at the break, but Kansas went on a 31-10 run over the opening 10 minutes of the second to take a six-point lead and set up a fantastic finish.

Five UNC players scored in double-digits and Armando Bacot, Brady Manek and R.J. Davis all had double-doubles. Jayhawks guard Ochai Agbaji was named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

The season was the first for Davis at the helm, who replaced long-time head coach Roy Williams when he retired after last season.

Bacot became the first player ever to have six double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament.

Carolina was trying to join 1985 Villanova as only the second 8 seed to win March Madness. They defeated arch-rival Duke in a thrilling Final Four matchup on Saturday and knocked on No. 1 Baylor, No. 4 UCLA, No. 9 Marquette and No. 15 St. Peter’s en route to the national title game.

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