David McCormack of Kansas wins the battle of the big ones

NEW ORLEANS. David McCormack and his Kansas teammates were 15 points behind at half time in the national championship game, but he was still smiling.

“They thought I was crazy,” McCormack said in a TV interview.

He told his teammates, “Just come here, have fun and do what we were born to do.”

Christian Brown didn’t necessarily buy into it.

“He was looking at me and I was like, ‘Why are you smiling, dude?’ he said after the game. “We are less than 15.” He told me, like, keep your head up, keep going, we’ll be fine. I thought, “Dude, I don’t know if I’ve been here before.”

McCormack came out and scored 9 points in the second half, including the Jayhawks’ last 4 points of the game as Kansas closed a 16-point gap to beat North Carolina 72–69 to win the NCAA men’s basketball championship. Monday night at the Superdome. McCormack, a 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward, finished with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds after 6 points and 3 rebounds in the half.

Kansas completed the biggest comeback in championship history with their fourth NCAA championship under the program, their first since 2008 and their second under coach Bill Self.

“We overcome our difficulties, we overcome adversity, we were made for this,” McCormack said in a television interview.

Kansas most likely wouldn’t have won the title if McCormack hadn’t taken over the paint. With North Carolina leading 69–68, he scored a second chance on lane float to lift the Jayhawks 70–69. After a pass from North Carolina, he caught a message from Jalen Wilson and hopped over two Tar Heels guards on the lane to give Kansas the winning lead with 22 seconds left.

“The game is at stake,” McCormack said. You have adrenaline. You have a desire, you will get it. Do a rebound with both hands. The coach talks about keeping the ball high and coming back. That’s what went through my head. I’m right here, we’re working on punches every day.”

When North Carolina defenseman Caleb Love missed a three-pointer in the last seconds, the Jayhawks and their fans began to celebrate. The noise level in the dome rose as confetti rained down.

“We had some really good ball possessions late in the game, we CBed a couple of times and everyone contributed, everyone played well, but when we needed to score, we turned to the big Dave and he did it,” said Selfie in a TV interview.

It was the third game in the NCAA Tournament in a row that McCormack scored in double figures. He scored 15 points and 4 rebounds in the eighth round against Miami in Chicago and then dominated Villanova’s frontcourt with 25 points and 9 rebounds in Saturday’s national semifinals in New Orleans.

McCormack was named to the All-Tournament Team along with Love, Duke’s Paolo Bankero, North Carolina’s Armando Bakot, and Kansas teammate Ochai Agbaji, who was also named Final Four MVP after finishing with 12 points and 3 rebounds. on Monday. .

Entering the game, the battle between McCormack and the 6ft 9in Backot was seen as the deciding match.

Backot injured his right ankle in the national semi-finals against Duke on Saturday and looked cautious early Monday, but he had a superb performance en route to a double-double, posting 15 points and 15 rebounds to tie the game in one season. record with his 31st of the season. He was a big factor as the Tar Heels took a 40–25 halftime lead.

But Backot only scored 3 points and 5 rebounds in the second half and retired late, aggravating his ankle injury.

“I mean, the last 24 hours, probably 15 of them, I was just trying to heal my ankle,” Backot said, adding that Doug Halverson, head athletic coach, and his staff “did a great job getting me ready for this.” . moment”.

He continued, “Right before the game, I really couldn’t even jump. And that’s why I sort of came back. We just kept trying to crack it. They didn’t give up. Luckily, I was able to play 38 minutes.”

In the end, McCormack defeated Backot in a duel and celebrated with the championship.