Roy Williams and North Carolina come up short vs. Kansas in NCAA tournament
Roy Williams once led Kansas to the NCAA Final Four. The Tar Heels head coach has also won a pair of national titles with his alma mater, but games against KU will always affect Roy Williams.
Exhaustion seemed to wash over the face of North Carolina coach Roy Williams. His voice kept catching, his lips quivering so much that he often had to stop mid-sentence.Skip to next paragraph
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It's hard to lose deep in the NCAA tournament.
Even harder to lose to Kansas.
"There's no way to put into words the way we feel. There's no way to put into words the way I feel," Williams said finally. "It's the NCAA tournament. One team wins and one team loses."
Playing without injured point guard Kendall Marshall for the second straight game, top-seeded North Carolina was unable to contain Tyshawn Taylor on Sunday. The senior piled up 22 points for Kansas in an 80-67 victory that sent the Jayhawks to the Final Four.
And the Tar Heels back to Tobacco Road.
"You hurt. You hurt for your team," said Williams, who coached the Jayhawks to four Final Fours. "You hurt for these kids that for 34, 35 minutes were part of a fantastic basketball game.
"The last four or five minutes," he said, "they played much, much better than we did."
The second-seeded Jayhawks (31-6) can finally purge from their memory last season's upset loss to VCU in the regional finals. They'll play Ohio State on Saturday in their first trip to the Final Four since 2008, when they won the national championship.
Player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson added 18 points and nine rebounds against the Tar Heels, and Elijah Johnson kept up his blistering pace in the tournament with 10 points, his 3-pointer with 3:07 to play sparking Kansas' 12-0 run to end the game.
"We knew what we had to do and we did it," Taylor said in the locker room. "That's what it came down to: We made the plays when we needed to."
Jeff Withey made two monster blocks to deny the Tar Heels during the closing run. One of them he tipped ahead to Taylor, whose three-point play in transition made it 74-67 with 1:59 left.
The Jayhawks cruised from there.
"It was a game of runs," Williams said. "And we didn't answer the last one."
James Michael McAdoo scored 15 for the Tar Heels (32-6), who lost for only the third time in 12 regional final appearances — but the second time in two years.
North Carolina went the final 5:46 without a field goal in the Midwest Regional final, sorely missing the play of Marshall, who Williams called "our engine, our driver, the head of the thing."
He broke a bone in his right wrist last weekend against Creighton. After surgery to insert a screw on Monday, he had the cast removed Wednesday and finally practiced a bit on Saturday. But he woke up sore on Sunday and it became clear that he couldn't play.