Taylor’s 22 lead KU to 80-67 win over Carolina
Tyshawn Taylor has yet to hit a 3-pointer in the NCAA
tournament. Something about playing in domes, perhaps.
The Kansas guard did more than enough without the long-range
touch that he can laugh about that 0-for-17 drought. The Jayhawks
are in the Final Four, bound for the Superdome in New Orleans.
”I don’t like domes. But you know what, domes love me,” Taylor
said after second-seeded Kansas made all the plays late in an 80-67
victory over top-seeded North Carolina in the Midwest Regional
final on Sunday. ”Because we won, you know.
”Is New Orleans a dome, too?”
Kansas (31-6), which picked up steam after a 7-3 start, will
play Ohio State on Saturday in its first Final Four appearance
since winning the 2008 national championship. No matter that
oddsmakers have made them the third choice.
”I don’t know if I ever enjoyed coaching a team more than this
one,” coach Bill Self said. ”I love them. We fight, it’s
combative sometimes, all those things.
”But I love coaching these guys.”
Taylor scored 22 points despite going 0-for-5 from 3-point
range, and was all over the score sheet in the last 4 minutes with
a three-point play, a steal, two rebounds and an assist on a
3-pointer. Playing with four fouls, Jeff Withey had two blocked
shots in the final 2 minutes to keep the Tar Heels down.
”I knew I had to be aggressive still. If I fouled out, I fouled
out,” Withey said.
Kansas finished the game on a 12-0 run, holding North Carolina
(32-6) without a basket in the final 5:46. The clock was still
ticking when Self and North Carolina’s Roy Williams met for the
Right after the buzzer, Travis Releford flung his sweatbands
into the stands.
”We did it,” forward Thomas Robinson said. ”We took another
step. We took what we had, we worked hard and it paid off. For us
to make it this year, with a team nobody thought we could do it
with, it’s great.”
After prevailing in just the 10th meeting against North
Carolina, Kansas advances to play another power it has seldom seen.
This will be just the ninth matchup between Ohio State and Kansas,
although it’s the second time this season after the Jayhawks’ 78-67
victory at home on Dec. 10.
”The last time we played them they had their best player on the
bench and it was a home game, so it’s definitely their chance to
get back at us,” Taylor said. ”But we feel like we didn’t play
our best that game, either.”
Kansas was No. 13 and Ohio State was No. 2, but missing Jared
Sullinger due to injury, in that game.
Self said he didn’t watch much of Ohio State’s victory over
Syracuse on Saturday night because he was catching up on sleep he
didn’t get prior to the Midwest semifinals.
”We’re just fortunate and happy about playing,” Self said.
”I’m not going to think about Ohio State until probably tomorrow.
I’m going to try to enjoy this.”
Whatever happens, he’ll enjoy the Final Four, too.
”You know what, if you get this far, you’re going to play a
great team no matter what,” Self said. ”And they get a chance to
play a pretty good team, too.
”It should be a lot of fun.”
All five Kansas starters scored in double figures. Player of the
year candidate Thomas Robinson had 18 points and nine rebounds,
Elijah Johnson had 10 points with a key 3-pointer in the finishing
Reserve James Michael McAdoo had 15 points in 19 minutes with a
pair of steals that led to two-hand dunks for North Carolina. Tyler
Zeller had 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks in his final
game and John Henson, who averages a double-double, had 10 points
but just four rebounds while hampered by a sprained right ankle he
had taped during the first half.
Harrison Barnes had 13 points, but just five in the second half,
and also had three turnovers. Barnes was the last of the North
Carolina starters to meet with reporters in a somber locker room,
slumped for several minutes in his stall with a towel draped over
”We had an opportunity to win that game and we didn’t come
through,” Barnes said. ”I missed a lot of shots I usually make.
Big-time players come through in big-time games, and it just wasn’t
Williams faced Kansas for just the second time since leaving the
school he coached for 15 seasons. He’s been at North Carolina for
nine years and yet the scars linger with one fan holding a sign
that said, ”Roy Down, 2 to Go.”
North Carolina missed star point guard Kendall Marshall, out for
the second straight game with a broken right wrist. Marshall ruled
himself out before the game because he couldn’t catch a pass, and
said after the game that if the Tar Heels had made it to the Final
Four he would have been ready.
”It was my decision,” Marshall said. ”I think I would have
hurt my team more than helped them.”
Stilman White had seven assists Sunday for a two-game total of
13 with no turnovers in place of Marshall, who counseled the
freshman during timeouts from the bench. But White couldn’t come
through late when Kansas switched to a zone that sagged on the
inside and dared him to shoot.
”We switched into a zone and it gave them a huge problem,”
Withey said. ”Coach Self knows what he’s doing.”
The ploy seemed to confuse North Carolina.
”They switched it up on us and we couldn’t figure it out. I’m
still trying to figure it out,” Henson said. ”That’s why we’re
sitting here now.”
The schools traded baskets in an entertaining, high-octane first
half that had it deadlocked at 47. North Carolina shot 64 percent
and Kansas was at 56 percent, and there were only nine turnovers
Baskets were hard to come by the rest of the way. Kansas shot
35.5 percent but North Carolina was an abysmal 23 percent in the
”We knew we had to tighten up on defense. We shut them down,”
Robinson said. ”It feels great right now. Call me tomorrow morning
and I can tell you how it feels then.”