Kansas upsets UNC for last Final Four slot
Kansas coach Bill Self celebrates with guard Elijah Johnson during the second half of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Midwest Regional final against North Carolina on Sunday, March 25, 2012, in St. Louis. Kansas won 80-67. / AP Photo
(AP) ST. LOUIS - Nothing personal, Roy.
Tyshawn Taylor broke out of his slump in a big way Sunday, scoring 22 points and leading Kansas back to the Final Four with an 80-67 victory over former coach Roy Williams and top-seeded North Carolina.
The second-seeded Jayhawks (31-6) will play Ohio State on Saturday in their first appearance in the Final Four since 2008, when they won the national championship. And how's this for symmetry? Kansas began this year's tournament in Omaha, Neb., same place as four years ago.
As the game ended, Taylor much maligned for his shooting struggles during the first three games of the NCAA tournament ran to Kansas fans and raised both arms in the air.
"There's no way to put into words the way we feel," Williams said. "There's no way to put into words the way I feel. ... It's the NCAA tournament. One team wins and one team loses, and that's what we have to understand."
Taylor led five Jayhawks in double figures. Player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson added 18 points and nine rebounds, and Elijah Johnson kept up his blistering pace in the tournament with 10 points, including a 3-pointer with 3:07 to play that sparked Kansas' 12-0 run to end the game. Jeff Withey made two monster blocks to deny the Tar Heels during the run including one that set up a big three-point play by Taylor.
Taylor came up with the rebound after Withey swatted away a shot by John Henson and streaked downcourt for a layup, getting fouled by Stilman White in the process. As the Kansas-heavy crowd roared, Taylor butted his head into Robinson's chest. He made the free throw to give Kansas a 74-67 lead with 1:59 left, and the Jayhawks cruised from there.
James Michael McAdoo scored 15 for the Tar Heels (32-6), who played better in their second game without injured star point guard Kendall Marshall. But North Carolina couldn't overcome a 5:46 field goal drought to end the game.
"It was a game of runs," Williams said. "And we didn't answer the last one."
This was only the second time Williams had faced Kansas since leaving the school where he spent his first 15 years as a head coach, taking the Jayhawks to the NCAA title game twice they lost in both 1991 and 2003 and two other Final Fours. Though Kansas fans have softened some Williams was still greeted with a chorus of boos Williams said Saturday that facing his old team will always be unpleasant.
"Too emotional for me. That's the bottom line," Williams said, calling Kansas his "second-favorite" team. "I don't think it'll ever feel good for me, regardless of the outcome. I don't think I'll ever feel comfortable with it."
At least this one went better than the first meeting, at the 2008 Final Four, where the Jayhawks walloped North Carolina on the way to winning the title Williams never could at Kansas.
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