The 2019-20 Kansas Jayhawks ended the regular season with a record of 28-3, including wins in 15 of their final 16 games, before the first-ever cancellation of the NCAA basketball tournament. After the Jayhawks’ Final Four victory over Villanova (81-65) on Saturday night in the Superdome, Self recalled that team and indicated that they will be represented in the national championship game as well.
There are no sure things in this tournament, so I do think it has brought value to me and the players,” Self said on Saturday. It’s no secret that underdogs often end up victorious. In [2019-20], though, we had a club that might make a serious playoff push. We played outstanding defence. The tally was already high enough. That was, in my opinion, as ready a team as we’ve ever had for a tournament as they are to win it.
It was difficult for Villanova to score in the paint against McCormack’s size and strength, and Agbaji and his colleagues quickly got on a roll from deep. After jumping out to early leads of 10-0, 16-5, 26-11, and 38-19, Kansas saw their advantage sliced to 10 by a 10-0 run by Villanova right before halftime.
McCormack remarked after the game, “Just talking with [Self], he wanted us to have an inside presence, and normally, if you can play inside-out, it opens up more shots, more driving lanes, a lot of cuts.” Furthermore, “I believe that getting going early opened up the rest of the floor, and we played off of that to make things simple for ourselves,”
When Facing a Deficit of Only 10 Points Late in The Game, Villanova Was Never Able to Make Up The Difference.
After intermission, there was a sequence that really showed how tough of a game Villanova had on Saturday.
Abgaji sprinted to the corner to take a 3-point shot early in the second half, but he was quickly doubled, so he passed to Christian Braun in the paint. Then, with McCormack all alone in the paint, Braun lobbed the ball to him for an easy basket. Even with a strong defensive effort, Villanova was unable to stop the KU bus from speeding away. Kansas’ opponent on Monday night might have a similar issue.
Although Villanova Made a Valiant Effort to Cut KU’s Lead to Six Points Toward the End of the Game, the Jayhawks Never Appeared to Be in Any Real dDanger.
As Braun put it, “[it’s the confidence] in everybody,” after scoring 10 points and sinking a pair of late 3-pointers that proved to be game-winners. We’ve been in a lot of tight situations in the Big 12 this year. There were a number of games that came down to the wire.
“I think we all have a good amount of faith in one another. We always had an explanation because folks like [McCormack] and [Agbaji] were running it today. We knew [McCormack] would fetch us an easy bucket when they returned after a brief absence, so we threw it inside. And [Agbaji] made some crucial contributions. Plus, everyone was intensely focused on their work. The majority of us are on board with this. And we have an idea of what we want to achieve, so we’re all on board with that.
Duke’s clash with North Carolina in Mike Krzyzewski’s final season was the most anticipated game leading up to the Final Four. With Moore’s injury putting a damper on Jay Wright’s quest for a third national championship in six years, Villanova gained sympathy.
Now Self has a Second Shot at a National Championship.
Kansas fell to John Calipari and Kentucky in the 2012 national championship game at the Superdome in New Orleans, the last time Self coached a team there. Six years later, in the Final Four, his team was blown out by Villanova. However, Kansas was the underdog in both situations. And now we’ll never know what the 2019-2020 squad could have accomplished.
- 1 When Facing a Deficit of Only 10 Points Late in The Game, Villanova Was Never Able to Make Up The Difference.
- 2 Although Villanova Made a Valiant Effort to Cut KU’s Lead to Six Points Toward the End of the Game, the Jayhawks Never Appeared to Be in Any Real dDanger.
- 3 Now Self has a Second Shot at a National Championship.