Courtesy of Kansas Athletics
CHICAGO – The Kansas Jayhawks used a dominant second half Sunday at the United Center to top Miami 76-50 in the Elite 8, advancing to the 16th Final Four in program history.
The top-seeded Jayhawks trailed by six at half to the 10th-seeded Hurricanes, but outscored Miami 47-15 in the second half to pull away and secure the Midwest Regional Championship. Kansas shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half, while holding Miami to 21 percent shooting, and outrebounding the Hurricanes 25-11.
“That’s about as well as we played in this tournament so far,” Coach Bill Self said of his team’s second half performance. “The guys didn’t worry about the distractions about what was going on in the first half, they just played the second half.”
The win sends Kansas (32-6) to the Final Four for the fourth time under Self and second time in the last the four NCAA Tournaments. The Jayhawks will face the No. 2 seed out of the South Region, Villanova, on Saturday in the National Semifinals in a rematch of the 2018 Final Four matchup that went the Wildcats’ way.
Super-senior Remy Martin was named the MVP of the Midwest Region, while Christian Braun and David McCormack earned All-Region Team honors.
Trailing 35-29 at half on Sunday, Kansas wasted no time grabbing the lead in the second. McCormack scored the first five points of the half for the Jayhawks to close the deficit to one at 35-34. After a bucket and a free throw from Miami to put the Hurricanes (27-7) up four, it was all Jayhawks.
Ochai Agbaji scored on a driving layup and then Jalen Wilson did the same to knot the game at 38. Trailing 40-38, Braun had a dunk to pull the game even, and then hit a 3-pointer at the 15:27 mark to give Kansas its first lead since leading 27-26 in the first half.
The Jayhawks never trailed again. Kansas went on a 17-4 run once it was tied 40-40, capped by a 3-pointer from Martin off a pass from Braun to make it 57-44 in favor of Kansas. Self’s squad led by double digits the rest of the way, with their largest lead coming at the very end when Jalen Coleman-Lands hit a 3-pointer to make the final deficit 26.
Agbaji finished with a team-high 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the floor, while also adding five rebounds, four assists and four steals in 34 minutes. McCormack finished with 15 points in 18 minutes, going 6-for-7 from the floor. Braun had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Martin had nine points and Wilson had five points and 11 rebounds.
Kansas outscored Miami 42-20 in the paint and 17-0 on second-chance points. The Jayhawks shot 50 percent from the floor, while holding Miami to 35 percent shooting. With the strong defensive performance in the second half, Kansas improved to 24-0 this season when holding opponents to less than 70 points.
The Jayhawks will now travel to New Orleans to take on No. 2 seed Villanova on Saturday, April 2 in the Caesars Superdome at 5:09 p.m. CT.