Post play proved pivotal throughout Final Four

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David McCormack’s late inside baskets to help Kansas surge past North Carolina in the NCAA championship game followed a Final Four trend

NEW ORLEANS — David McCormack’s two late baskets in the paint to help Kansas surge past North Carolina during the NCAA championship game followed a Final Four trend.

The way teams played in the post had a major influence on how the games turned out.

McCormack scored the final four points of Monday night’s national title game to finish with 15 points and 10 rebounds in Kansas’ 72-69 triumph.

His final basket came after Tar Heels center Armando Bacot, whose strong start helped stake North Carolina to a 15-point halftime lead, needed help getting to the bench after re-aggravating an ankle injury that occurred during the second half of his influential semifinal performance on Saturday night.

The late-game heroics capped a memorable Final Four for the Jayhawks’ big man.

In the first semifinal game, Villanova lacked the size to handle the 6-foot-10 McCormack, who had two inches on anyone guarding him. He threw down several thunderous dunks and motioned repeatedly to Kansas fans to “raise the roof” of the Superdome on his way to a game-high 25 points.

The Jayhawks rolled to an 81-65 victory in which they led most of the second half by double digits.

Bacot, meanwhile, outplayed Duke’s post players in the other semifinal.

With 7-1 Duke center Mark Williams in foul trouble and playing just 16 minutes, Bacot was able to take command of the paint, grabbing 21 rebounds to go with his 11 points. Williams finished with eight points and four rebounds, and the Tar Heels pulled out an 81-77 victory.

With McCormack and the Jayhawks’ 6-8 Mitch Lightfoot seeing their playing limited by foul trouble in the first half of the final, UNC’s Bacot had 12 points and 10 rebounds through the first 20 minutes, despite his sore ankle.

But McCormack asserted himself in the second half, when he had nine points and seven rebounds. During that same stretch, Bacot was limited to just three points and five rebounds in the final 20 minutes, during which Kansas outscored the Tar Heels by 18 to pull off the largest comeback in an NCAA Tournament title game.

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