The Kansas Jayhawks advance to the men’s basketball national championship game after defeating the Villanova Wildcats.
Bill Self is still pondering how his Kansas team might have concluded a season that ended without an NCAA tournament because of COVID-19 two years later.
Before the NCAA tournament was cancelled for the first time in the sport’s history, the 2019-20 Jayhawks went 28-3 and won their last 16 games of the regular season. Following Saturday night’s 81-65 triumph against Villanova in the Final Four at the Superdome, Self recalled that squad and stated the Jayhawks will play in the national championship game for them as well.
“I believe it adds value to myself and the players since this competition has no certainties,” Self said on Saturday. “Of course, the favourites don’t always come out on top. However, in [2019-20], we had a squad that was ready to compete. We were fantastic on defence. And we’d had our fill of scoring. “I believed it was probably as well-prepared a squad as any we’ve had to perform well in the tournament.”
Both Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack were members of the 2019-20 team, which would have been a high seed in the 2020 NCAA tournament and a contender for Self’s second national title.
Related the Villanova Wildcats
By the 9:28 mark of the first half on Saturday, Agbaji and McCormack had either outscored or equaled Villanova’s 11 points, with Agbaji scoring 12 of his 21 points and McCormack scoring 11 of his 25.
Villanova was missing guard Justin Moore, who tore his Achilles in the team’s Elite Eight victory over Houston, and his absence from a rotation that depends on only six players was obvious from the opening of the game. Kansas scored the game’s first 10 points, making seven of their first 13 3-point tries on route to a 13-of-24 (54 percent) overall shooting percentage.
McCormack’s size and strength caused problems in the paint for Villanova, and Agbaji and his teammates got hot from the perimeter quickly. Kansas led 10-0, 16-5, 26-11, and 38-19 until a 10-0 Villanova surge shortly before halftime trimmed the advantage to ten.
After the game, McCormack stated, “Just talking with [Self], he wanted us to have an inside presence, and normally, if you can play inside-out, it opens up more shots, more driving lanes, and a lot more cuts.” “And I think getting off to a good start early on opened up the rest of the floor for us, and we were able to play off of that and make it simple.”
Even though Villanova was down by a single digit for most of the second half, it was never able to bridge the distance.
Villanova’s challenge on Saturday was highlighted by a period after halftime.
Abgaji drove to the corner for a 3-pointer early in the second half, but he was quickly doubled, so he tossed a ball to Christian Braun on the block. The ball was then lobbed to McCormack, who was wide open for the layup. Even Villanova’s excellent defence on Kansas’ top player wasn’t enough to slow down the bus. That may be a concern for Kansas’ opponent on Monday night, as well.
Despite Villanova’s valiant attempt to trim KU’s advantage to six points late in the second half, the Jayhawks never appeared in genuine danger.
Braun, who scored 10 points and nailed a pair of clutch 3-pointers late in the game, remarked, “[It’s the trust] in everyone.” “We’ve been in a lot of these scenarios in the Big 12 all year.” We had a bunch of games down the line that were quite tight.
“Everyone has a lot of faith in each other.” We always had an answer because people like [McCormack] and [Agbaji] had it going today. We could toss it inside when they returned a little later, and we knew [McCormack] would score us an easy bucket. And [Agbaji] made significant contributions. And everyone was completely focused on the task at hand. And we’re all very much on board. And we all know what we want to do, so we’ll all buy in and execute it.”
The Duke-North Carolina showdown in Mike Krzyzewski’s last season garnered the greatest hype heading into the Final Four. After Moore’s injury jeopardised Jay Wright’s bid for his third national championship in six years, Villanova gained sympathy.
Related the Villanova Wildcats As the winds drop down and the danger to communities diminishes, the NCAR fire evacuations in Boulder are being reduced.
Kansas, on the other hand, had probably the most balanced and efficient squad in the tournament heading into the Final Four.
The Jayhawks led Texas Southern 47-19 at halftime in the first round. In the second round, they outscored Creighton, the Big East’s best defensive team, by 113 points per 100 possessions. A 24-12 lead against Providence in the Sweet 16 gave KU control of the game, and a late surge helped preserve the victory. In a blowout win against Miami in the Elite Eight, the Jayhawks outscored Jim Larranaga’s team 47-15 in the second half.
Self will now have another chance to win his second national championship.
Kansas, on the other hand, fell to John Calipari and Kentucky in the national championship game in the Superdome in 2012, the previous time Self’s squad visited the city. Six years later, his team lost a blowout Final Four game against Villanova. Kansas, on the other hand, was the underdog in both occasions. We’ll never know what the 2019-2020 team accomplished.
But this talented squad, led by guys who will never play in the NCAA tournament in 2020, seems to be aware of the implications.
“We came to Kansas for huge games, but you don’t come to Kansas to play the Elite Eight,” Braun stated in the Elite Eight. “After that, we win the Final Four game and declare, ‘We didn’t come to Kansas to win the Final Four; we came to win the national title.’ That is an attitude that everyone possesses. That’s why everyone says ‘one more,’ and it’ll be before [we exit the tunnel]. That’s what everyone is saying on the court. ‘One more.’ So everyone is thinking the same way.”
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