Some Kansas fans still have not forgiven Roy Williams for doing the unthinkable by voluntarily leaving as Kansas head coach after taking the Jayhawks to the 2003 title game, falling just short to Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse. Williams complained this week that the team he left for, UNC, had to travel back to the doorstep of the state he left for a possible second round game against 1-seed Kansas on the Missouri side of Kansas City. However, at half time it looked like his Tar Heels were on course to take out another 1-seed, and then they were blown away.
UNC’s 30-21 halftime lead did not hold up after Center Jeff Withey, who ESPN’s Jay Bilas called the best defender in the country earlier Sunday, stole the show with a 16 point, 16 rebound, and 5 block performance. The Jayhawks rallied late to pull off a significant 70-58 win against the Tar Heels.
North Carolina held a 12-2 lead early until Kansas charged, taking the lead with just a little over 7 minutes remaining in the first half.
Williams’ young team responded well, however, and made an impressive run at the end of the half to retake the lead 30-21. Both teams shot poorly in the first half.
Although the Tar Heels had rebounded well from losing their lead and had the upper hand in the first half, Kansas owned the second half. Less than five minutes in, the Jayhawks tied the game at 35. Shortly after, Kansas took the lead and rapidly expanded their advantage to double digits and held that lead throughout the remainder of the competition.
Freshman guard Ben McLemore, who has led the Jayhawks in scoring this season, managed only 2 points. Instead, it was Senior guard Travis Releford who paced the Jayhawks with 22 points in the victory.
The top seeded Kansas will move on to play fourth seeded Michigan on Friday in what looks to be a great match-up. Both teams looked outright dominant over strong foes in the second half of their Round of 32 game.