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Kansas uses its historic rally to claim a fourth men's NCAA basketball title

K.J. Adams #24, Remy Martin #11, Ochai Agbaji #30, and Christian Braun #2 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrate after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 72-69 during the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament National Championship in New Orleans.
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K.J. Adams #24, Remy Martin #11, Ochai Agbaji #30, and Christian Braun #2 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrate after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 72-69 during the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament National Championship in New Orleans.

The Kansas Jayhawks rallied behind the greatest comeback in national championship history Monday over the University of North Carolina to claim the men's NCAA Championship.

The last standing one-seed Jayhawks trailed by 15 at halftime to rally for a 72-69 victory over the Tar Heels in a tight game between two historic programs. It was the fourth NCAA title for the Kansas men's team.

It was the largest comeback in national championship history, surpassing the 1963 title game when Loyola overcame a 15-point deficit to beat Cincinnati at the buzzer, 60-58.

"Tonight we obviously labored in the first half," said KU coach Bill Self, who won his second championship. "But the kids competed."

The Tar Heels led 40-25 at the beginning of the second half, but Kansas quickly recovered, scoring 20 points in just over seven minutes and closing North Carolina's lead to a single point.

The two teams continued to battle for the lead throughout the half. With 1:30 left in the game, North Carolina was once again ahead by a single point, 69-68, until Kansas starting forward David McCormack sank a two-pointer, turning the tables on the Tar Heels.

The tension continued to build when North Carolina forward Armando Bacot had to be helped off the court due to a leg injury with only 38 seconds to go. McCormack sank another two points shortly after, securing a 72-69 lead and the championship for Kansas.

"It's kind of hard to see us get rattled. Coach challenged us to come back and we did that," Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot said.

Prior to Monday's game, Kansas had played in 10 national title games. Monday's game was the fifth time both UNC and Kansas have faced off in either a national championship or a Final Four game. The first time was in 1957 when the two went to triple overtime in the Final Four, with North Carolina coming out on top 57-56.

"These don't fall off trees, they're hard to get," said Self, who is 4-0 against UNC in NCAA tournament play. "I think this team can play with any team that Kansas has put on the court."

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