Recap: North Carolina vs. Kansas
St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - For the first time since winning the national championship in 2008, Kansas is going to the Final Four.
Tyshawn Taylor poured in a game-high 22 points and the Jayhawks scored 12 unanswered points before time expired to secure their trip to New Orleans with an 80-67 victory over North Carolina in the Midwest Regional final on Sunday.
All of KU's starters finished in double-figures, including 18 points from Thomas Robinson to go with nine rebounds and 15 points from Jeff Withey, who also supplied eight boards and three blocks, two of which came in the final minutes and helped prevent a final UNC run.
Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson netted 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the second-seeded Jayhawks (31-6), who will battle fellow No. 2 seed Ohio State -- which fell at KU, 78-67, without standout forward Jared Sullinger in December -- with a spot in the national title game on the line.
"I think it's gonna be a good game," said Taylor of the national semifinal matchup. "The last time we played they had their best player sitting on the bench, so they probably felt like we got away with one...but we felt we didn't play our best game either."
Freshman reserve James Michael McAdoo led the top-seeded Tar Heels (32-6) with 15 points, Harrison Barnes donated 13 and Tyler Zeller contributed 12 in defeat. The Heels were halted in the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season after falling to Kentucky in the regional finals in 2011.
Stilman White, a freshman starting at point guard for the second straight game in place of the injured Kendall Marshall, handed out seven assists but scored just four points and missed all three of his three-point attempts. Marshall averaged 10.5 assists per game and led the team with a 66.7 percent three- point percentage before suffering a broken bone in UNC's win over Creighton.
A game highlighted by a series of runs reached its zenith with Kansas' final 12-0 spurt.
After a jumper from Zeller and 1-of-2 free throws from Barnes cut their lead to 68-67, Johnson began the flurry with a trey.
Whithey's second block of the game led to a Taylor fastbreak layup and converted foul shot before Whithey smacked White's attempt away and into the hands of Releford, who ran the length of the floor for a dunk and a nine-point advantage.
"We got some consecutive defensive stops, which we hadn't been able to get the first 30 minutes, and made a ton of plays, individuals plays, great team plays down the stretch," Kansas head coach Bill Self said.
The Jayhawks made 4-of-6 from the charity stripe down the stretch. Meanwhile, North Carolina appeared confused with White directing the action, as the Heels ran critical time off the clock and eventually missed several three-point tries.
Their woes from beyond the arc were, in fact, a problem all game. They connected on just 2-of-17 attempts, both in the first half, and missed all 10 bids in the second stanza.
Prior to the final rally, Kansas had runs of six and seven straight points in the second half, but UNC had responded with two 6-0 surges of its own to keep the contest close.
"The is a great team, and we had great goals," said White. "We didn't quite achieve them, but we played as hard as we could and just came up a bit short."
Both teams came out of the gate on fire -- North Carolina began 14-of-21 from the field, while KU started with an 11-of-18 clip -- and McAdoo made his presence felt early, scoring 10 points in the first 10 minutes.
UNC eventually settled on a 63.6 percent mark in the first half, while Kansas shot 56.3 percent, but the Jayhawks made five more free-throws and the programs entered the locker room tied at 47 apiece.Game Notes
Kansas earned its 14th Final Four appearance overall...John Henson scored 10 points for North Carolina...Taylor finished with six rebounds, five assists and five steals...North Carolina leads the all-time series 6-4...There were 15 ties and 13 lead changes...Kansas held a 12-4 advantage on fastbreaks...North Carolina shot 22.6 percent (7-of-31) from the floor in the second half.