CHICAGO (AP) — Ochai Agbaji was all over the court. David McCormack dominated inside, and Christian Braun connected from deep.
With one dazzling finish, Kansas roared into the Final Four.
Agbaji, McCormack and Braun led the top-seeded Jayhawks to a brilliant second half in a 76-50 victory over Miami on Sunday, sending one of college basketball’s top programs to the national semifinals for the 16th time.
“That was about as well as we can play, the second half,” coach Bill Self said. “These guys earned it.”
They sure did.
After trailing by six at halftime, Kansas outscored Miami 47-15. The Jayhawks shot 59.3% (16 for 27) after the break, compared to 21.4% (6 for 28) for the Hurricanes. They also outrebounded Miami 25-11 in the final 20 minutes.
Once the Jayhawks started flashing their superior speed and athleticism, the Hurricanes couldn’t keep up.
“We started to play the score, not the game,” Miami forward Sam Waardenburg said.
Agbaji scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half. McCormack opened the half with his own 5-0 run and finished with 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Braun made Kansas’ first 3-pointer with 15:27 left to snap a 40-40 tie.
“We just needed some energy,” said Braun, who finished with 12 points. “I thought we were flat in the first half.”
Kansas (32-6), the only No. 1 seed left in the NCAA Tournament, won the Midwest Region for the 13th time with its ninth consecutive victory overall. Next up is a Final Four matchup with Villanova on Saturday in New Orleans.
Remy Martin, the region’s most outstanding player, had nine points and six rebounds for the Jayhawks. Jalen Wilson grabbed 11 boards, making up for a tough shooting day.
It’s the fourth Final Four for Self in his 19 seasons at Kansas. He also had one of the best teams in the country when the tourney was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time the Jayhawks made it to the semis, they lost 95-79 to coach Jay Wright and the Wildcats in 2018.
“I’ve thought all along that this was a possibility,” Self said. “But I’ve also thought all along that the margin for error wasn’t such where we could get loose and have it be a probability.”
Wilson made two foul shots and Agbaji connected from 3 to lift the Jayhawks to a 54-42 lead with 10:14 left. And they just kept rolling.
A dunk by Agbaji capped a 10-0 run and made it 67-46 with 4:35 left, delighting the pro-Kansas crowd at the United Center. A 3 by Agbaji extended the lead to 23 points with 1:58 remaining.
“At halftime it was basically a matter of kind of a challenge against us,” Agbaji said. “We didn’t come this far to lay down or give up at this point. So just going out there and playing our style of basketball.”
SWEET HOME CHICAGO
Kansas improved to 6-0 in NCAA Tournament games played in the Windy City.
Playing in his hometown, Miami guard Charlie Moore had five points on 2-for-9 shooting. The 24-year-old Moore also spent two years with Kansas, sitting out during the 2017-18 season before appearing in 35 games in 2018-19.
Miami: One of the Hurricanes’ biggest strengths in the tourney was their ability to generate turnovers, but they were unable to rattle the experienced Jayhawks. Miami finished with 14 turnovers, compared to 11 for Kansas.
Kansas: The Jayhawks improved to 44-16 in the NCAA Tournament under Self, but they are focused on winning the national title for the first time since 2008.