If you were to guess the halftime score of the National Championship game based upon the expression on Senior David McCormack’s face, you wouldn’t presume that KU was trailing UNC 40-25. With only 20 minutes to play in regulation, Junior Christian Braun was taken aback by the big man’s reaction. 

"I was like, 'Why are you smiling, dude? We're down 15,” Braun said, per Jeff Borzello of ESPN. "He was telling me, 'Keep your head up, keep going, we'll be alright.' I was like, man, I don't know if I've ever been here before. Down 15 in a national championship game. I've definitely never been there."

KU rallied behind McCormack’s unwavering confidence, staging the largest halftime comeback in National Championship History. Behind a balanced team effort and exceptional defense, KU outscored UNC 47-29 in the second half. The final score was 72-69, giving KU their fourth title in program history and the second of Coach Bill Self’s legendary career. Kansas shooting guard Ochai Agbaji was awarded Most Outstanding Player (MOP) of the NCAA tournament, capping a truly historic senior season.

As the clock struck zero and the Jayhawks were crowned National Champions, over 70,000 elated fans flocked to the streets of downtown Lawrence. Massachusetts street, better known as "Mass Street," is a bar/shopping district that has become the default location for celebrations following major KU sporting events. Kansas Sophomore Alex Dargahi reveled in the festivities and shared his experience with The Topeka-Capital-Journal. 

"I came here for the Final Four but this is even crazier, double the amount of crazy,” said Dargahi. “I've never seen anything like this; I've never been a part of anything like this. It's truly beautiful and blissful."

Jayhawk fans have been patient. The perennial contenders last won the national championship in 2008 when Mario Chalmers hit his infamous 3 pointer to force overtime against Memphis. Chalmers was present in New Orleans for the 2022 championship game. According to the Kansas City Star, he never doubted KU’s resilience. 

“That’s KU,” Chalmers said of comeback victories. “We came back [in 2008], so they had to come back. It’s the only way. That’s how we win our championships. We always come back when we are down.”

While KU’s 2022 championship game performance lacks a catchy name such as “Mario’s Miracle,” Coach Self believes it’s more fitting that way. 

“This is the ‘2022 miracle,” Self said. “I think they’ll enjoy it more without having a name attached to it because that’s how we played all year long.”

For super-senior Mitch Lightfoot, the championship culminated six years of hard work and sacrifice. After losing out on a potential title run in 2020 because of the virus, it was only right that Lightfoot utilized his extra year of Covid-19 eligibility to finish his college career on top. At the championship parade on Sunday April 11, Kansas guard Joseph Yesufu acknowledged how much it meant for Lightfoot to finally win a title. 

“He had a great career here. Everybody loves Mitch,” Yesufu said. “He did a lot for this program, and I’m just very happy that we sent them off the right way.” 

The majority of  KU’s starting lineup will not be returning for the 2022-2023 season. Luckily for Kansas fans, Coach Self already has these bases covered with incoming talent. According to 247sports.com, KU’s 2022 class ranks 4 in the nation, with three 5 star recruits having already signed letters of intent. Among these commits are shooting forward M.J. Rice, Center Ernest Udeh Jr. and Gatorade National Player of the Year Gradey Dick. The young lineup will have massive shoes to fill as defending NCAA championships. Only time will tell if they can live up to the lofty expectations. Until then, Jayhawk nation will be savoring a National Championship 14 years in the making.

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