NEW ORLEANS – Two years later, Bill Self still wonders how his Kansas team was able to finish a season that ended without the NCAA due to COVID-19.
That 2019-20 Jayhawks ended 28-3 and won the last 16 games of the regular season before the NCAA tournament was canceled for the first time in the sport’s history. Self remembers that team after Saturday night’s 81-65 win over Villanova on Saturday night in the Finals at the Superdome and said the Jayhawks will also be playing in the national title game for them.
“I think that has added value to me and the players because there are no guarantees in this league,” Self said on Saturday. “A lot of times, the favorites don’t win, but in [2019-20], we have a team that is equipped to run. We defended very well. And we’ve got enough points. I think it’s probably preparation for a team to do as well in the league as any of the teams we’ve had. “
Both Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack play on the 2019-20 roster that will enter the 2020 NCAA tournament as top seeds with a chance to secure a second national championship for Self.
On Saturday, Agbaji and McCormack were ahead or compared with Villanova by 11 points at 9:28 of the first half, with Agbaji scoring 12 of his 21 points up to that point and McCormack scoring 11 of 25. his point.
Villanova played without defender Justin Moore, who ripped his Achilles in the Elite Eight’s win over Houston, and from the start of the game his absence from a rotation relying on just six players was obvious. clear. Kansas scored the first 10 of the game, and the Jayhawks also made seven of their first 13 3-point attempts, completing 13/24 (54%) for the game.
McCormack’s size and strength made Villanova difficult in the highlands, Agbaji and his teammates quickly became angry from the outside. Kansas led 10-0, 16-5, 26-11 and 38-19 before Villanova ran 10-0 cutting the score to 10 just before halftime.
“Just talk to [Self]he wanted us to be inside out, and usually, if you can play from the inside out, that opens up more shots, more driving lanes, more cuts,” McCormack said later. match.” And I think starting early on, it opened the rest of the deck up and we took that and made it easy. “
Villanova could never do enough to close the gap, even as they struggled with a single-digit deficit for some time in the second half.
There was an after-break sequence highlighting Villanova’s challenge on Saturday.
Early in the second half, Abgaji hit the corner to hit a treble, but he soon doubled the lead, so he threw a pass for Christian Braun to cross to save. Braun then hit the ball to McCormack, who was ready for the layup. Even Villanova’s best defense against KU’s best player wasn’t enough to slow the bus. That could also be an issue for anyone in Kansas on Monday night.
Despite Villanova’s valiant effort to reduce KU’s lead to six points late in the second half, it looked like the Jayhawks never faced any real danger.
“[It’s the confidence] of everyone,” said Braun, who scored 10 points and hit a key 3-pointer at the end of the game. All year, we were in a lot of situations like that in Big 12. We played a lot of games. that did indeed close the period.
“Everyone is pretty trusting of each other. And people like [McCormack] and [Agbaji] happened today, so we always have an answer. When they turn around a bit, we can throw it in and we know [McCormack] would bring us an easy crate. And [Agbaji] performed great plays. And everyone is quite passionate about the work. And we were all pretty well bought in. And we know what we want to achieve, so we’re all going to buy and do it. “
Entering the 4th round of the final, the match between Duke-North Carolina in Mike Krzyzewski’s final season created the most buzz. And Villanova received compassion after Moore’s injury affected Jay Wright’s pursuit of a third national title in six years.
But Kansas made it to the Final Four with arguably the most balanced and efficient team in the field.
The Jayhawks had a 47-19 halftime advantage over Texas Southern in the first round. They scored 113 points out of 100 possessions against Creighton, the top defensive team in the Big East, in the second round. A 24-12 lead over Providence gave KU control of that game in the Sweet Round of 16 and a late rally helped preserve the win. Taking on Miami in the Elite Eight, the Jayhawks overcame Jim Larranaga’s team 47-15 in the second half of a failed win.
And now Self will have one more chance to get his second national title.
However, the last time Self’s team played in New Orleans, Kansas lost to John Calipari and Kentucky in a 2012 national championship match at the Superdome. Six years later, his team lost to Villanova in the Finals. However, in both cases, Kansas is the weaker team. We will never know what the 2019-2020 squad could have done.
But this stacking group, anchored by players who never got the chance to play in the NCAA in 2020, seems to understand the stakes well.
“In the Elite Eight, we said, ‘We go to Kansas to play the big games, but you don’t go to Kansas to play the Elite Eight,'” Braun said. “Then we win the Final Four, and we’re saying, ‘We’re going to Kansas to win the Final Four, we’re here to win the national championship.” Everyone has that thought. That’s why everyone says ‘half’ and that’s before [we walk out of the tunnel]. On the pitch, that’s what everyone is saying. ‘Once again.’ So everyone has the same thought. “
https://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/33656801/kansas-jayhawks-secure-spot-men-basketball-national-final-eliminate-villanova-wildcats Kansas Jayhawks secure spot in men’s basketball national final, knock out Villanova Wildcats