Jayhawks to Williams: ‘You’re not in Kansas anymore’

For one half, it appeared North Carolina coach Roy Williams might have an answer for stopping his former team.

But Kansas woke up and knocked out the Tar Heels in the second half en route to 70-58 victory and another Sweet 16 appearance.

Top-seeded Kansas (31-5) outscored North Carolina 49-28 in the second half to defeat No. 8-seeded North Carolina 70-58 in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at Sprint Center. Kansas advanced to the Sweet 16 and will play Michigan Friday in the South Regional semifinals.

This was the second year in a row, and third time in six years, that these two teams matched up in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas has won all three meetings, including an 80-67 victory in the Midwest Regional Final last season. Kansas also defeated North Carolina 84-66 in the Final Four in 2008 when Kansas won its last national championship.

Kansas coach Bill Self said his team “played miserably” in the first half, but the Jayhawks stormed out the gate in the second half behind Travis Releford.

“I told them, ‘If we just keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll be fine,'” Self said, tongue in-cheek. “I wasn’t happy with them. It’s OK not to play your best, but at least don’t play your best when you’re being yourself. We weren’t ourselves at all in the first half. We had to have some individuals step up. Travis was terrific.”

Releford scored 12 points in the first 8:24 of the second half to help Kansas turn a nine-point halftime deficit into a nine-point lead.

“The first half we just let those guys get whatever they wanted,” Releford said. “The key in the second half was we got out and defended them a lot better.”

Releford finished with 22 points, including 13 in the second half, to lead the Jayhawks. Jeff Withey added 16 points and 16 rebounds for Kansas. He also blocked five shots. Withey now stands second to Tim Duncan (50) of Wake Forest in blocks in NCAA tournament history with 43.

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