After a hard-fought first half, the Miami Hurricanes lost control of the game in the second and lost to Kansas. Emphatically, the Jayhawks looked like a different team in the second half on the way to its 76-50 victory.
While Kansas came out of the half looking rejuvenated, Miami looked lost and couldn’t get going on either side of the court. Then, the Jayhawks outscored the Canes by 32 in the second half and secured the 26-point victory.
The first half of Sunday’s game was close the whole way through. No team could separate itself from the other, as the biggest lead of the half was the Hurricanes’ six-point lead it took with 44 seconds left in the half.
The teams took turns holding onto the lead, never for too long. Notably, There were 12 lead changes in the first half.
Despite only having a narrow lead, Miami seemed to be in control by the end of the first half. Its 35 points in the period marked its best offensive first half so far in the tournament. This came in large part because of Kameron McGusty‘s electric performance. He had 14 points in the half leading the way for the Canes along with Isaiah Wong, who added 8 points in the first half.
On the other side, Kansas had one of its worst first-half performances. Surely, senior guard Ochai Agbaji took some time to get going and only put 6 points on the scoreboard in the first half. The team as a whole struggled to put up points and found themselves down, 35-29, going into the second half.
After the break, Kansas looked like a new team. The team’s offense ignited and the defense was forcing Miami into tough situations. Certainly, this half was the Hurricanes’ worst offensive half of the tournament and the Jayhawks’ best defensive half.
Miami was only able to put up 15 points in the second half. McGusty flamed out and only scored four points in the half, while Wong put up 7 points in the period. Outside of those two, the rest of the team only accounted for four points. The pair ended as the only two players on their team to score more than 5 points in the game.
On the other hand, Kansas got started fast and never let up. The team took only three minutes to tie the game back up and the team took the lead back with 15:31 left in the game. After regaining the lead, the Jayhawks never lost it and controlled the game the rest of the way.
Kansas’ coach, Bill Self, gave credit to his players for getting the team back in the game.
Agbaji warmed game up, adding 12 points in the half and leading his team with 18 points. David McCormack also made his presence felt as he added on 15 points in the game himself.
By the end of the game, Kansas rounded out a solid effort, and Miami couldn’t keep up. The former outpaced the latter by 13 rebounds, 11 assists and 26 points. The Jayhawks shot 50% from the field and 35.7% from behind the arc, while Miami shot 34.5% and 14.3% respectively.
Preparing for the Final Four
Kansas will now go back to Lawrence with a game against Villanova on the horizon. This will mark the sixteenth time the Jayhawks have made the Final Four, but the team can’t take it lightly.
Villanova has been dominant in its tournament run so far, with its closest victory being its 8-point win over Michigan. If the Jayhawks are to win and make the championship game, it will need to look more like its second half self from Sunday.
Self knows his team cannot become relaxed even though he is confident in its ability to win.
The team is happy to have made it this far but knows the job is not done yet. Now, they still have Villanova and either Duke or North Carolina standing between them and a national championship victory.
Agbaji knows the team still has work to do if they wants to fulfill aspirations of winning it all.