NEW ORLEANS — A tale of two halves.
Kansas’ first half of the national championship was marred by missed layups, awful rebounding and a lack of energy as North Carolina took a 40-25 lead at halftime.
But the second half told a different story. A 20-6 run in the second half led by Christian Braun brought the Jayhawks within one, and they took a six point lead shortly after.
Then the score flip-flopped for the rest of the night. Remy Martin hit some big shots, Jalen Wilson hit some shots, but David McCormack’s rebound and hook shot with 22 seconds to gave the Jayhawks a 72-69 lead and a fourth national title.
“It was a big play and it shows how much trust coach and my teammates have in me. Coach called the play and he said we’re gonna throw it inside in and we have trust in you and faith in you to deliver and get us a basket,” McCormack said.
“And I just prevail, and I made the basket happen and I appreciate them for allowing me to have that opportunity.”
McCormack has had his struggles at KU with inconsistent play and injuries, but head coach Bill Self has said that McCormack has always been their guy and that he had full confidence in him.
“Game’s on the line, you got adrenaline pumping, you got a desire you gonna go get it,” McCormack said about the last play.
McCormack’s attitude even made him smile at halftime while KU was down 15 points.
“I was like ‘Why are you smiling dude? We’re down 15,'” Braun said. “He’s telling me ‘Keep your head up, keep going, we’ve been here before.’ And I was like ‘Man, I don’t know if I’ve ever been here before.’ Down 15 in the national championship game, I’ve never been there.”
“We’re just proud of him. He kept us going.”
“I was in the locker room telling guys ‘Just believe in yourself, have fun with it, it’s gonna be our last game regardless,” McCormack said. “Do what you need to do because that’s how we got here in the first place. Don’t doubt yourself.”
He averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in the tournament, and had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the game and a career that will be remembered in Lawrence for years to come.
“These goals and these dreams that we’re living right now, we never would’ve thought of when we first stepped foot on campus,” Ochai Agbaji said about McCormack.
“If I had a most outstanding player throughout the whole entire Final Four, it would be David.”
Big Dave may not get his number retired in Lawrence, but his final season and his tournament run will be known as the anchor to KU’s fourth national championship.
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