Going up against the No. 1 seed North Carolina, a struggling Kansas team knew they had to bring their best game of the tournament in this Elite Eight matchup—and that's exactly what these Jayhawks did.
An 80-67 closed the deal, and had the Jayhawks going to the Final Four for the first time since head coach Bill Self took them there in 2008, a year in which the team would beat Memphis to win a national championship.
These Jayhawks, in spite of their struggles to get to the Final Four, have shown a tremendous fire behind guard sensation Tyshawn Taylor, as he will be the key to an NCAA championship for this team.
Taylor had arguably his best game of the tournament in a win over North Carolina in the Elite Eight, going for 22 points on 10-for-19 shooting, six rebounds, five assists and five steals.
As his production indicates, offensively and defensively, Taylor willed his Kansas team to a double-digit victory over the favored Tar Heels.
The Big 12 powerhouses have been winning games this season with their top notch offense, scoring 75 points per contest (No. 36). Yet during this tournament, the emphasis has been defense.
In the four tournament wins, Kansas has allowed no more than 67 points and 57 points or fewer in two of the four games. The teams execution of the zone defense has been exceptional, as Taylor and company have been fierce on this end of the floor.
According to ESPN.com, the zone defense has been the biggest change for this team—a change that has led to an improved effort on the defensive end.
"The Jayhawks had played zone 36 times this season; they've played zone 30 times in their last three games."
Yet what makes this player and this team so special is that in the performance against the Tar Heels, aside from the defense, Kansas was able to hold a lead and do it with a special fire in them, an unmatched will to win.
The enthusiasm and passion was evident, as was the drive to win a national title.
Given the success the Jayhawks have had defensively and the strong play from Taylor and Thomas Robinson on both ends, this is a team ready to win a national championship. This Kansas team can see the light, and are playing like they are ready to seize the moment.
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