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NCAA Tournament 2012, North Carolina Vs. Kansas Final: Jayhawks Flourish Late To Oust Tar Heels

In a head-to-head battle that absolutely lived up to the immense hype, the Kansas Jayhawks edged the North Carolina Tar Heels 80-67 to win the Midwest region and advance to next weekend's Final Four in New Orleans.

The two programs lit up the scoreboard in the opening half, combining for 94 points, but really clamped down after the intermission at the defensive end. North Carolina's 20 second-half points were in stark contrast with the 47 it produced in the first 20 minutes.

Playing without point guard Kendall Marshall, the Heels were forced to use inexperienced freshman Stilman White at the lead guard spot against Kansas' stable of athletic guards. White did manage to set a game-high with seven assists, but was a liability defensively and struggled to get involved as a scorer.

Jayhawks senior Tyshawn Taylor, who continues to grow into a mature leader, led all players with 22 points and also chipped in five rebounds and five assists. One would think that slowing down Taylor will be the first order of business for the Ohio State Buckeyes and defensive stopper Aaron Craft next weekend.

For more 2012 NCAA Tournament coverage, head over to SB Nation's 2012 tourney hub page. For more on the Ohio State Buckeyes, check out Along The Olentangy, or follow SB Nation Cleveland's Ohio State StoryStream.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.