KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Kansas basketball owns North Carolina. Or, you know, Roy Williams. The past three times the two opponents have met, Kansas has won them all. To rub some salt, all three Kansas victories have been in the tournament. Kansas added its third consecutive win over Williams and the Tar Heels Sunday in Kansas City 70-58.
It was almost one year ago to the day that Kansas took down the Tar Heels 80-67 in the Edward Jones Dome on the other side of Missouri in St. Louis. In 2008 Kansas beat Roy Williams in the Final Four and went on to win the national championship. Both times, though, the Jayhawks made the Final Four both times they blew through North Carolina.
“The fact that I coached there for 15 years is extremely important to me, but it doesn’t add anything today,” he said. “I remember UTEP in ’92, Virginia in ’96. I can name every one of them, losing in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse in the national championship game, my last game as a coach at Kansas.”
He can add Kansas in 2013 to that list.
Williams was obviously proud of his team and all it had accomplished this season. The guard-heavy, swarming defense and shooting game plan worked well to start the game, but the second half was a much different story for everyone involved. And it was the second half that handed Williams and North Carolina a third-straight loss to Kansas in the tournament.
The basketball programs at North Carolina and Kansas have been virtual equals throughout both of the teams’ histories. But Kansas head coach Bill Self has had his fair share of success against Williams, especially lately.
“He’s had as good of players as anybody has had for the most part,” said Self. “So when we’ve met, even when we were at Illinois, it was two good teams playing each other.”
All three games have been completely different. In 2008, Kansas showed North Carolina door as it thanked them for coming. Last year’s meeting was “a coin-flip game,” said Self.
“We’ve been fortunate the last three times we played them,” he said. “Last year was a coin-flip game that we made all the plays in the last four minutes. One-point game. We watched it today. Of course, we played great in ’08. Today was not one of those games.”
Self could not have hit the nail any more on the head. Kansas didn’t hit a single jump shot in the first half. At the end of the day, North Carolina was a No. 8-seed, and Kansas trailed by nine points. It made seven shots in the first half and missed all six of its three-point tries. Travis Releford made four shots for Kansas in the dismal half.
But, Kansas shaped up. Star center Jeff Withey hit one shot from the field in the first half, but finished with yet another double-double as he finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Releford led all players with 22 points.
With those numbers and second-half effort, Kansas was able to move past North Carolina yet again into the Sweet 16. In the process, the Jayhawks bid Williams good riddance.