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Kansas Coasts Past Miami to the Final Four

CHICAGO — The No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks overcame inconsistent taking pictures and a halftime deficit in opposition to Miami on Sunday to grab a 76-50 victory, successful the Midwest area and advancing to the Ultimate 4.

For a time, an upset had appeared inside attain for Tenth-seeded Miami, which had already ventured deeper into the bracket than any prior Hurricanes staff. Going through a gifted however slump-prone Kansas lineup, it held Ochai Agbaji,a nationwide participant of the 12 months finalist, to six first-half factors. The Jayhawks missed each 3-point shot they tried earlier than halftime and transformed solely one-third of their first-half free throws.

However instantly after the intermission, Kansas regained its footing.

Agbaji, who completed the sport because the Jayhawks’ main scorer with 18 factors, nabbed a steal from a Miami attacker, then launched an extended go to Christian Braun, who slammed the ball by way of the ring to tie the sport at 40 and enliven the pro-Jayhawk crowd at Chicago’s United Heart. On the subsequent Kansas possession, Braun, a junior guard, hit a 3-pointer, his staff’s first of the night time, giving the Jayhawks a lead they by no means relinquished.

“I feel we wanted some vitality greater than something,” mentioned Braun, who scored 12 factors and pulled down 6 rebounds. “Once I hit that 3, it was a giant confidence booster for me and I’m certain for the remainder of the staff. We simply wanted some vitality. I assumed we had been flat within the first half.”

Kansas, the Huge 12 match champions and the one No. 1 seed to advance previous the spherical of 16, confirmed flashes of greatness that sustained it by way of its early bouts of pained taking pictures.

Late within the first half, Remy Martin, an Arizona State switch who emerged as a number one scorer for Kansas within the match, hit an extended leap shot that narrowed Miami’s result in 2 factors. However the Hurricanes countered with a Kameron McGusty basket, a pressured turnover and a length-of-the-floor drive by Isaiah Wong. When Martin appeared to have a lane to the basket for Kansas on the opposite finish, McGusty swooped in for a block, sealing a 6-point halftime lead for Miami. McGusty completed the sport with 18 factors, main the Hurricanes, and Wong with 15.

“I assumed we did a darned good job within the first half enjoying the way in which we wished to play, getting again defensively and scoring the ball,” Miami Coach Jim Larrañaga mentioned.

However within the second half, it appeared, Kansas may do no mistaken.

After Braun stuffed a Miami shot, Agbaji missed a layup on the opposite finish. However Jalen Wilson saved the ball in bounds for the Jayhawks, dealing it exterior to Agbaji, who made amends with a 3-pointer that wanted no help from the rim and that prolonged Kansas’ result in 12.

“We weren’t excellent the primary half and performed tight somewhat bit and couldn’t guard McGusty,” Kansas Coach Invoice Self mentioned. “And for no matter purpose, the lid got here off the second half and the depth picked up defensively after which we had about two good performs flip into 4, flip into eight, which was 16. That was about in addition to we may play the second half.”

All through the match, Miami gamers had adopted the relaxed character of Larrañaga, a septuagenarian identified for his locker room dance strikes and for main George Mason to an unlikely Ultimate 4 look in 2006. Earlier than tipoff, maybe in homage to Miami’s popularity as a soccer college, the Hurricanes lined up for a simulated discipline objective.

“Crucial factor — and I inform them this day-after-day, and have because the match started — smile and keep free,” Larrañaga mentioned on the eve of the sport. “Benefit from the second. This must be a heck of plenty of enjoyable.”

After the sport, Miami gamers expressed a mixture of delight in what they achieved and disappointment that their journey had ended.

“Simply having the ability to accomplish the issues we did this 12 months, to lose, it simply hurts,” McGusty mentioned. “We’ve finished so much,” he added. “We’ve gotten so shut.”

Kansas, which can play Villanova subsequent weekend in New Orleans, is a daily within the late rounds of the match.

The Jayhawks have performed in 15 earlier Ultimate Fours, together with three throughout Self’s tenure, and personal the longest energetic streak of N.C.A.A. match appearances, with 32 straight. On Friday, Kansas surpassed Kentucky as this system with probably the most wins. However for a staff with excessive expectations for itself, nationwide titles have been elusive, with just one, in 2008, since Self took over as coach in 2003.

In a match that had been unfriendly to top-seeded groups, Kansas saved successful, although not dominating, at the very least not till late within the Miami sport. The Jayhawks endured a closer-than-expected problem from No. 9 Creighton within the spherical of 32 and outlasted No. 4 Windfall on Friday even with out a lot offense from Agbaji.

“He has labored offensively, I feel largely due to how individuals have defended him,” Self mentioned of Agbaji after the sport on Sunday. “And possibly we haven’t finished job getting him the ball. However I do know now after the way in which we performed the second half, he’ll be stuffed with confidence transferring ahead.”

This system nonetheless feels the sting of the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, when the Jayhawks had been ranked first within the closing Related Press ballot. Many in Lawrence, Kan., the place revelers poured onto Massachusetts Road to rejoice on Sunday, believed a championship that 12 months had been attainable.

“I by no means felt like this staff was the most effective staff within the nation this 12 months,” Self mentioned earlier than the sport with Miami. “I felt like in ’20, that was the most effective staff within the nation.”

However this 12 months’s staff, whose youngest starters are redshirt sophomores, has proved resourceful and skilled. The latest emergence of Martin, a postseason bench scoring risk who handled accidents earlier within the season, has added to a way that successful a championship is feasible.

“This 12 months’s staff is completely different, completely,” Self mentioned. “However I do suppose that this 12 months’s staff has the identical likelihood to do as nicely simply because they’ve a robust perception that they’ll accomplish something. And it’s been spectacular for me to observe them develop in that perception this 12 months.”

Kansas and Villanova can be joined within the Ultimate 4 by Duke, a two seed, and by both eighth-seeded North Carolina or Fifteenth-seeded St. Peter’s, who will play one another later Sunday.

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