If someone had told you that No. 1 Kansas would dig themselves a double digit first half deficit and get an 0-for-9 performance from star Ben McLemore against No. 8 North Carolina, you’d probably feel pretty confident in a UNC upset pick. But you’d be wrong.
Whatever Bill Self said to his team at halftime on Sunday in Kansas City worked, because after three halves of pretty lifeless basketball in this tournament (remember that Kansas barely survived No. 16 Western Kentucky on Friday) the Jayhawks came out like a team possessed in the second half against North Carolina. Led by Jeff Withey and Travis Releford, among others, Kansas outscored the Tar Heels 49-28 in the second half, asserting their will on both ends of the floor and leaving Tar Heel fans feeling like this…
Withey, especially, was a force for Kansas, pouring in 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go with 16 rebounds, five blocks, two assists and a steal. Self now has 300 wins as Jayhawks head coach and is 3-0 against UNC since taking over for Roy Williams in Kansas. The question now is will Self celebrate 300 the way Williams celebrated 700 on Friday night? “Let’s bump.”
The win for Kansas sets up what should be a great Sweet 16 matchup with No. 4 Michigan, who has looked very impressive in easily disposing of South Dakota State and a solid VCU team.