After top-seeded Kansas completed its second-half surge in the Midwest Regional Championship to grab a 76-50 win over 10-seed Miami in Chicago, Final Four fever swept through Lawrence as the Jayhawks returned to campus Sunday night.
When KU Athletics opened the doors to Allen Fieldhouse at 8 p.m. Sunday night, nearly 5,000 students and fans poured into the stands. Jack Norris, a KU sophomore, ran alongside his friends to soak up the moment.
View a photo gallery from the Jayhawks' Elite 8 matchup against Miami in Chicago.
"It's crazy seeing everyone bolt in there," Norris said. "It was a huge line and everyone was running in at once. I love that. I feel like that shows the kind of passion that KU fans have."
Patiently waiting for the Kansas men's basketball team to step on the floor after returning home from the Windy City, fans were treated to both the Marching Jayhawks pep band and a full replay of the Midwest Regional championship game against Miami on the video board.
Ava Dunekack, a KU freshman, was among the first students to grab a front-row seat inside Allen Fieldhouse. Dunekack's always been a lifelong Jayhawk fan, but she admitted it's a much different feeling witnessing Kansas punch its ticket to New Orleans as a student.
"I grew up around the KU tradition and my dad's been a big fan since I was little," Dunekack said. "But it's a different experience to actually go to school here and experience it as a student because you feel a different kind of pride."
KU overcame a rough first half to play arguably their best second half of the season against the Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon. Three Jayhawks — Ochai Agbaji (18), David McCormack (15), and Christian Braun (12) — led the team in scoring.
View a gallery of photos as fans in downtown Lawrence celebrate the Jayhawks' win to advance to the Final Four.
After the Jayhawks' arrived home, Kansas coach Bill Self said the second-half switch enabled his group to snap back into shape after the rough start and advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2018. And it was clear from the reception they received on Sunday night that the Jayhawks' adoring fan base was more than a little fired up about the accomplishment.
"This is the reason why these guys come to Kansas to play here," Self told the crowd. "It's because of you. We can't tell you how much we appreciate everyone being here. I heard you guys had a good excuse to have a cocktail or two on Mass Street before you came to campus."
Self then reminded everyone that school was still the most important part of their KU experience but he noted that he didn't think any of their teaches would be upset "if as many of you as possible can be in New Orleans, Louisiana," next week for the Final Four.
KU wil face No. 2 seed Villanova at 5:09 p.m. on Saturday in the first of two semifinals. North Carolina and Duke will play in the late game. And the two winners will meet up Monday night to play for the national championship.