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A man possessed, Kansas forward David McCormack tops ratings after big night in 81-65 Final Four win over Villanova

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Kansas forward David McCormack, center, celebrates after scoring during the second half of a college basketball game against Villanova in the semifinal round of the Men's Final Four NCAA tournament, Saturday, April 2, 2022, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Kansas forward David McCormack, center, celebrates after scoring during the second half of a college basketball game against Villanova in the semifinal round of the Men's Final Four NCAA tournament, Saturday, April 2, 2022, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

1 – David McCormack – To think that McCormack played fewer than 30 minutes (29) and yet still dominated is pretty impressive. For the second game in a row — both massive, massive games for Kansas — the senior forward was good from the jump and ready to bring his best. In Saturday's 81-65 win over Villanova, he scored on easy buckets by being strong and in the right place. He scored on tough shots when Villanova defended him well. And he played with the passion of a mad man who knew he could not be stopped. One of the more underrated aspects of his game on Saturday night was his patience in the post. In a game of that magnitude, with so much on the line, it would be real easy to let your emotions get away from you. McCormack never did. Instead, he channeled them into productive and efficient basketball and led the Jayhawks into Monday’s title game with 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting and nine tough rebounds. Check this number out: +25. That’s what the Jayhawks were when McCormack was on the floor on Saturdays. Wowzers.

2 – Ochai Agbaji – Nothing says big time player making big time plays in a big time game quite like what Agbaji did on Saturday night. He looked like he was shooting in an open gym setting for much of the first 10 minutes, knocking down casual, rhythm jumpers to help Kansas claim its big lead. He was aggressive, he wanted the ball, he didn’t hesitate to let it fly and he drained everything. It wasn’t until the second half that he showed he was human by missing and that came after Villanova did everything it could to (a) game plan to stop him and (b) take him away once he got going. He finished with 21 points and was the perfect complement to what McCormack was able to do inside, giving the big man the room he needed by pulling Villanova’s defenders to the perimeter in bunches.

3 – Jalen Wilson – Wilson’s had a few of these. Not-great shooting nights (4-of-11) that he more than made up for by getting on the glass. He led all players with a dozen rebounds, picking up 11 points in the process to drop another double-double in a game-high 37 minutes of action. He also added five assists and just one turnover. Wilson had a couple of tough drives to the rim and five big offensive rebounds. His scrappiness helped keep Villanova from ever getting too close after they started chipping into that 19-point Kansas lead.

4 – Dajuan Harris Jr. – Harris hit three big 3-pointers, a couple at crucial times and also finished with a 4/1 assist-to-turnover ratio and 2 steals in 30 minutes. All were good numbers. But his early defense on standout Villanova guard Collin Gillespie was by far his most important contribution. He frustrated Gillespie from the jump, harassing him out high and in the post as he tried to use his size to back Harris down. You can’t say enough about the number of times Harris has delivered in a different way on a given defensive assignment throughout the season. Big guys, small guys. Quick guys, physical guys. You name it, he’s been up to the task. Checking Gillespie was a big test and he passed with flying colors, making sure that Kansas did not give Villanova any hope of dictating the way this one was played.

5 – Christian Braun – Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you, “The Closer.” After watching his teammates stake Kansas to a series of double-digit leads, Braun did his damage at the end, knocking in three of the four shots he made late to deliver the final knockout blow. He played 33 minutes and was better than the low number in the points column most of the night indicated. He dished 5 assists with 2 turnovers and added a block and a steal to his 3 rebounds. His points were big but his attitude was bigger. Braun’s nastiness after his big shots definitively ended any and all hope Villanova had of staging an improbable comeback late. And his teammates absolutely love it when he goes berserk like that. Expect to see more of it than you’ve seen all year on Monday night. No reason to hold anything back now.

6 – Remy Martin – Call me crazy, but after a pretty quiet night on Saturday, it sure seems like things are set up well for Martin to have a big night on Monday. Villanova is so disciplined and detail-oriented and Harris was so good defensively that it made it hard for Martin to put his fingerprints on this one. He hit a 3, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished two assists without a turnover in 21 minutes. So it’s not as if his contributions were meaningless. They just weren’t the postseason Remy Martin we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. You have to think that’s still in there and that, in what will be his final game in a wild run as a Jayhawk, he’ll be ready to break it out. He, like the rest of these guys, is just one more win away from a national title.

7 – Mitch Lightfoot – Lightfoot was not nearly as effective as McCormack inside in this one, simply because he does not have the same size. McCormack was a bully in there tonight, and Lightfoot got bullied a little at times. His bucket at the end of the first half was pretty huge, though, as it helped Kansas preserve the mental edge of being up double digits after an amazing first half. He also added 4 rebounds, a block and a turnover in 10 minutes. And if McCormack had not picked up his second foul with 6:02 to play in the first half, Lightfoot’s minutes might’ve been cut in half.

8 – KJ Adams – He checked in with four other reserves for the game’s final minute as Kansas dribbled out the clock. Throughout the season, I’ve tried to break down some aspect of these deeper reserves even on nights when they didn’t play many minutes. But at this point it’s pretty simple. KU is going to play seven guys on Monday night and these guys will be absolutely fine with that because they want to win a ring.

8 – Zach Clemence – He checked in with four other reserves for the game’s final minute as Kansas dribbled out the clock. Throughout the season, I’ve tried to break down some aspect of these deeper reserves even on nights when they didn’t play many minutes. But at this point it’s pretty simple. KU is going to play seven guys on Monday night and these guys will be absolutely fine with that because they want to win a ring.

8 – Jalen Coleman-Lands – He checked in with four other reserves for the game’s final minute as Kansas dribbled out the clock. Throughout the season, I’ve tried to break down some aspect of these deeper reserves even on nights when they didn’t play many minutes. But at this point it’s pretty simple. KU is going to play seven guys on Monday night and these guys will be absolutely fine with that because they want to win a ring.

8 – Joe Yesufu – He checked in with four other reserves for the game’s final minute as Kansas dribbled out the clock. Throughout the season, I’ve tried to break down some aspect of these deeper reserves even on nights when they didn’t play many minutes. But at this point it’s pretty simple. KU is going to play seven guys on Monday night and these guys will be absolutely fine with that because they want to win a ring.

Season standings

1 – Ochai Agbaji, 346 +

2 – Christian Braun, 319

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 287

4 – Jalen Wilson, 281 •

5 – David McCormack, 240

6 – Remy Martin, 194 z

7 – Mitch Lightfoot, 192

8 – Joseph Yesufu, 120

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands, 119 b

10 – KJ Adams, 96

11 – Zach Clemence, 84 y

12 – Bobby Pettiford, 50 x

• Missed first 3 games to serve a suspension

x – Out with abdominal injury starting Dec. 6 (returned Jan. 11) Done for the season on Feb. 25.

y – Out with a toe injury starting Jan. 11 (returned Feb. 12)

z – Missed 10 games with a knee injury (returned Feb. 26)

  • – Missed 1 game because of COVID-19

b – Missed 1 game because of a migraine headache

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