Kansas Exploded On Offense In A Wire-To-Wire Final Four Victory Over Villanova

Four years ago in San Antonio, the Villanova Wildcats bludgeoned the Kansas Jayhawks in a Final Four matchup, connecting on 18 three-pointers and leaving no doubt who was the better team. In 2022, Kansas returned the favor, beginning a national semifinal matchup against Villanova with red-hot shooting and leading wire-to-wire to reach the national title game on Monday in New Orleans. In the process, Bill Self inched one step closer to a second championship while Kansas stopped Villanova’s bid for a third title in seven years with a 81-65 victory.

The evening began in scalding-hot fashion for Kansas, and the Jayhawks did not relent for quite some time. Kansas buried its first four shots and, with Villanova kicking the ball around to the tune of three turnovers on the first four possessions, the Jayhawks took a 10-0 lead in the blink of an eye.

Ochai Agbaji, the best NBA prospect on the floor and the leading scorer for the Jayhawks, was also unconscious out of the gate. Agbaji capitalized on a few defensive mistakes and his own talent to convert his first four attempts from three-point range, putting Kansas in control.

Kansas built a 38-19 lead after approximately 15 minutes of game time, putting on an offensive clinic in the process. The Jayhawks made seven of their first ten attempts from long distance and, with the aid of six turnovers from Villanova, Kansas was on cruise control.

Villanova did what it needed to do to close the first half, however, as the Wildcats awakened on both ends. After scoring 38 points in 15 minutes, the Jayhawks didn’t score for more than four minutes, and Villanova zoomed to 10 straight points, cutting the margin from 19 to nine. That allowed Villanova to get to the locker room down only 11 points and, after what a barrage in the early going, that was relatively fortunate for the underdogs.

After a back and forth stretch following halftime, Villanova struck first with a spurt. The Wildcats scored eight straight points to climb within eight with 14 minutes to play and, at that stage, Villanova showed its best life of the evening.

Not to be out-done, David McCormack asserted himself. While Ogbaji garnered the headlines with shot-making in the first half, McCormack was dominant throughout, and he contributed a poster-worthy dunk to give Kansas a 12-point advantage.

Villanova would not go quietly, however, as the Wildcats chipped away until they trailed by only six points with fewer than six minutes remaining. In fact, Villanova had a chance to get the ball back down only six when Kansas missed a shot, but McCormack created a second-chance bucket that was the beginning of the end for the Wildcats. Moments later, Kansas wing Christian Braun connected on the single biggest shot of the evening, beating the shot clock to give the Jayhawks a 12-point lead.

For good measure, Braun buried another three-pointer after a timeout, giving Kansas a 15-point edge and further cementing the final outcome. McCormack and Agbaji were the stars of the evening for the Jayhawks, with McCormack finishing with 25 points (on 10-for-12 shooting) and nine rebounds and Agbaji adding 21 points and six three-pointers. They were not alone, however, as three teammates added at least nine points each, and Kansas put together a thoroughly dominant offensive performance.

Villanova was without its second-leading scorer Justin Moore, who tore his Achilles late in the Elite Eight win over Houston, and that clearly put the Wildcats behind the eight-ball. Still, Kansas capitalized on opportunities throughout the evening, shooting 54 percent from the floor and converting 13 of its 24 three-point attempts. Overall, the Jayhawks scored approximately 1.4 points per possession, punishing Villanova’s lack of size repeatedly and executing in impressive fashion.

On a night that will be remembered for the brilliance of Kansas, Villanova was up to the challenge on offense, scoring more than 1.1 points per possession and burying 13 three-pointers. In fact, the two teams combined to set a new NCAA Tournament record for three-pointers (26), out-pacing the record established by the 2018 meeting between the two programs. That was a fitting endpoint in some respect, but Kansas will now move on to Monday, where it will await the winner of the highly anticipated matchup between Duke and North Carolina.