NEW ORLEANS (WGHP) — The North Carolina Tar Heels and Kansas Jayhawks matched up in the National Championship Game on Monday night.
The two historic programs are both among the most successful in the history of the sport and have some interconnected history.
The most obvious of which is Roy Williams, the Hall of Famer who roamed the sidelines for both universities.
Williams was the coach of Kansas from 1988 through 2002 after a decade of being an assistant under legendary Tar Heels coach Dean Smith. Williams would lead the Jayhawks to four Final Four appearances during his time there before returning home to Chapel Hill in 2003 through 2021.
Smith himself was a Kansas native and was an assistant with the Jayhawks from 1953 through 1955 before taking over for Frank McGuire in Chapel Hill in 1961.
Current Kansas coach Bill Self succeeded Williams in 2003 and led Kansas to a national title in 2008, while Hubert Davis is in his first year coaching UNC after spending the last decade as an assistant under Williams.
On to the game itself, the Jayhawks raced out of the gates taking a quick 7-0 lead with 18:30 left in the first half.
The Tar Heels battled back taking a 12-11 lead with 13:30 remaining following an and-one layup by star big man Armondo Bacot.
Bacot appeared to injure his ankle in the last five minutes of the Duke game on Saturday but fought through the injury. He was seen walking with a limp before the game but still suited up to play.
“My right leg would have to be cut off for me not to play,” Bacot said.
The teams engaged in more back and forth basketball for the next seven minutes with the score being tied 22-22 with 6:08 remaining in the first half.
UNC dominated for the next four minutes of play, scoring 16 unanswered points to take a commanding 38-22 lead with 2:11 remaining in the first half.
Sophomore forward Puff Johsnon grabbed an offensive rebound and put in a layup as time expired to give the Tar Heels a 40-25 lead heading into the half.
Bacot showed no signs of being hampered by his ankle, securing a double-double in the first half with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Tar Heels’ defense in the first half was stifling, holding Kansas to a meager 10-of-33 from the field.
UNC also dominated the free throw battle in the first half, covering on 13-of-16 attempts from the charity stripe.
Kansas got a series of defensive stops to begin the second half to reduce the deficit to nine at 40-31 with 17:41 remaining in the game.
After some back and forth, sophomore forward Jalen Wilson converted an and-one layup to bring the Jayhawks to within seven with 15:40 remaining, 45-38.
Kansas continued their run trimming the deficit to one with 11:36 remaining, 48-47.
The Jayhawks followed that up with a nine-two run taking a 56-50 lead with 10:08 remaining.
Sophomore guard RJ Davis scored a quick four points to stop the bleeding and bring UNC to within two points at 56-54 with 9:16 remaining.
A Tar Heels three made by Johnson tied the game at 57-57 with 7:48 remaining.
Kansas would take the edge for the next four minutes taking a 65-61 lead with 3:45 remaining.
UNC tied the game at 65-65 but a stepback three from Kansas guard Remy Martin gave the Jayhawks a 68-65 advantage with 2:39 left.
Two quick layups for the Tar Heels gave them a 69-68 lead with 1:41 remaining.
Kansas big David McCormack made a jumper with 1:21 remaining to give the Jayhawks a 70-69 lead.
Bacot’s injured ankle gave in on the next play forcing an injury timeout for him to exit the game with :38 left.
McCormack took advantage of the opportunity, scoring in the post to give Kansas a 72-69 lead with :22 remaining.
UNC forced a couple of three-pointers that went wayward before eventually turning the ball over.
Kansas stepped out of bounds with just :04 remaining giving the Tar Heels one final chance to send the game to overtime.
Caleb Love failed to convert on his last-second three-point attempt giving the Jayhawks the 72-69 win and the National Championship.