Kansas vs. North Carolina: Jayhawks use defense, big second half to advance to Sweet 16


Strong defense and another big game from star center Jeff Withey keyed Kansas' Round of 32 victory over North Carolina on Sunday afternoon.

If there was one single phrase to best describe Sunday's Round of 32 match-up between the South's No. 1 seed Kansas and the No. 8 seed North Carolina, it'd be "a tale of two halves." The Tar Heels used hot shooting to jump out to a 30-21 lead at intermission, before Kansas countered with a 49-28 run after the break.

For more, visit TarHeelBlog and RockChalkTalk

The final result was a 70-58 Kansas victory which helped the Jayhawks advance to their sixth Sweet 16 in seven years. Sunday also marked the second season in a row North Carolina's season ended at the hands of Kansas.

For the Jayhawks, the key to victory came on the defensive end. The nation's No. 1 field goal percentage defense (Kansas has limited opponents to just 35.7 percent from the field this season) was spectacular Sunday, holding North Carolina to just 30.1 percent overall.

And as SBNation.com's North Carolina affiliate website TarHeelBlog.com pointed out on Monday, it was an especially disappointing effort for the team's three leading scorers, P.J. Hairston, James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock.

Here's was TarHeelBlog.com's insight on Sunday's game:

So for all the talk about Roy Williams' coaching, also known as the simplistic way out for the average fan, the Tar Heels lost this game because they didn't make shots. James Michael McAdoo was 5-19, P.J. Hairston was 6-17(3-9 from three) and Reggie Bullock was 1-6(1-4 from three.) That is UNC's three best offensive weapons who all need to hit shots and play well for the Tar Heels to succeed against a #1 seeded team. That trio ended up 12-42. So people can talk about coaching, officiating, the de facto home game for Kansas, etc, etc, etc. In the end North Carolina missed too many shots and that is why they lost.

Meanwhile with the win, Kansas now moves on to face Michigan in a Sweet 16 match-up Friday night. The Wolverines cruised into the South Regional semifinals after double-digit wins over South Dakota State and VCU this past weekend.

And entering Friday night's game, the biggest key for the Jayhawks could be the continued development of big man Jeff Withey. The senior from San Diego is having an NCAA Tournament to remember, with 33 total points, including a massive 16 point, 16 rebound, five block effort on Sunday against the Tar Heels.

But as Kansas affiliate Rock Chalk Talk pointed out on Monday morning, Withey's development into an elite big man is no accident. If anything, it's a testament to head coach Bill Self, who has become notorious for turning little known low post players like Withey, Thomas Robinson and others into NBA Draft prospects.

Here was Rock Chalk Talk's take on Withey:

In one season Withey had gone from an afterthought to a huge returning piece as Kansas fans looked forward to 2012-2013. It's actually a story that plays out over and over in Lawrence with Bill Self. A player that maybe hasn't broken into the lineup or perhaps one that has been sitting behind some other future NBA draft pick eventually emerges as an NBA draft prospect and a great player in their own right. That's exactly where we're at with Jeff Withey today.

Withey and Kansas will next take on Michigan this Friday at 7:37 p.m. ET from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.

If the Jayhawks win, they'll advance to face the winner of Florida and Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday afternoon.

More in College Basketball:

Florida Gulf Coast makes history by advancing to the Sweet 16

The best and worst of Sunday's Madness

Printable bracket for March Madness

Miami photobombs, dances, does it all

Full coverage of March Madness

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