Inside The Kansas Jayhawks Second-Half Comeback That Stunned …

Inside The Kansas Jayhawks Second-Half Comeback That Stunned ...

During Monday night’s game in the Caesars Superdome, Mario Chalmers sat just a few rows behind the Kansas bench and did his best to remain still. During halftime, the team he had led to the 2008 basketball national championship was down by 15 points.

In a win against Memphis, it was Chalmers’ 3-pointer that sent the game to overtime, and he hoped the Jayhawks would never forget that. “All I could think was, ‘Don’t give up hope.'” This is what Chalmers said after Kansas beat North Carolina 72–69.

Inside The Kansas Jayhawks Second-Half Comeback That Stunned ...

Well What It’s Like To Lose A National Championship Game.

“Stay confident, just like Coach [Bill] Self advised us to do back in 2008. In the end, I had faith that they would succeed.” You can nearly touch the boundary between the elation of a hard-earned win and the despair of almost.

After losing to Kentucky in the 2012 championship game and to Villanova by a large margin in the 2018 Final Four, Self knows all too well what it’s like to lose a national championship game.

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“We Were Upset With How We Played At Halftime.”

He reminded his 2022 squad that his first national championship team with Chalmers had also been down in the second half, albeit in a more dire and urgent situation. Self noted at the end of the game, “We were upset with how we played at halftime.”

After his team had just overcome a 16-point deficit to win the NCAA championship. “That’s why I asked them, “Would you rather be down 15 points at halftime, or nine with [two minutes left]?” That’s what happened in ’08. Fifteen was the common number they gave.”

Veteran Coach’s Career Was Born At That Very Moment.

His team members took a collective look around the locker room and started shouting, “We will be back! We will be back!” The season-saving comeback that helped cement a veteran coach’s career was born at that very moment.

Against a North Carolina team that had already eliminated Baylor, UCLA, and Duke on its way to the title game in Hubert Davis’ first year, there was more at play than just flying bodies and excited collegiate players mounting a tremendous offensive effort.

Kansas Defeated North Carolina

Kansas defeated North Carolina 47-29 in the second half with to strong performances from Jalen Wilson (11 points), David McCormack (nine points), Christian Braun (10 points), Remy Martin (11 points), and Agbaji (four points). One of the most explosive teams of the previous month seemed average in comparison to the Jayhawks’ defensive discipline.

Self remarked, “That was a Rocky.” “To be punched, punched, and punched some more. You’ve been nearly defeated, but you keep fighting nevertheless.” Until around six months ago, Self was sceptical that he had assembled a club capable of making this run.

There was a lot of talk about his 2021-22 team winning the national championship because of the return of Agbaji, McCormack, and Braun, as well as the addition of Martin, an All-Pac-12 star at Arizona State. However, Self wasn’t ready to make that comparison.

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Fourteen years ago, Chalmers and his squad were inspired by the same drive that drove the Kansas team to the greatest comeback in NCAA championship game history on Monday night. And of that he was quite pleased.