Kansas took the comeback trail to Indianapolis.
The Jayhawks overcame two double-digit deficits and took command midway through the second half on Saturday to beat Arkansas 93-81 in the Southeast Regional final. It earned them their ninth trip to the Final Four and first since they won the national championship in 1988.Last time, Danny Manning was the hero for Kansas. This time, junior Alonzo Jamison was the top scorer with a career-high 26. But as usual it was a team effort for the Jayhawks (26-7), who will play the North Carolina-Temple winner at the Final Four in Indianapolis.
Kansas coach Roy Williams was an assistant under North Carolina coach Dean Smith for 10 years.
The loss ended Arkansas' bid for consecutive trips to the Final Four. Last year, the Razorbacks lost to Duke in the national semifinals.
Kansas was the worst free-throw shooting team in the 64-team tournament, but the Jayhawks were deadly from the line Saturday, making 26 of 33.
Another key for Kansas was shutting down Arkansas star Todd Day in the second half. After scoring 21 points in the first half, Day was limited to five after intermission.
"We may look ugly at times, but today we were pretty," Williams said.
Arkansas dominated at the start, taking a 17-6 lead in the opening six minutes only to see Kansas rally for a quick 29-27 lead.
The top-seeded Razorbacks (34-4) broke away again, leading by as many as 14 on the way to a 47-35 halftime lead.
Third-seeded Kansas, which had gotten off to good starts in its previous three tournament games, started the second half with an 8-0 run and managed to tie the game three times, the last at 56-56 with 14:55 to play.
The Razorbacks led 62-57 with 12:10 to play on a rebound basket by Day, his first points of the second half.
Arkansas then went almost four minutes without scoring and Kansas took the lead for good on a scoop shot by Adonis Jordan with 9:10 left.
As Arkansas' outside game disappeared, Kansas continued to go inside with success. Jamison, who was averaging 10.2 points per game, started an 8-0 run that gave the Jayhawks a 77-68 lead with 4:13 left, and they stretched it to 93-77 in the final 30 seconds.
Jordan finished with 14 for Kansas, while Brown and Sean Tunstall each had 11 and Mark Randall 10.
Oliver Miller, who left the game briefly after aggravating a groin injury in the second half, had 16 points and Ernie Murry 14 for Arkansas.
Arkansas did everything to Kansas at the start that the Jayhawks had done to Alabama in the regional semifinals, when the Southwest Conference champions won 93-70.
The Razorbacks hit the offensive boards and 3-pointers for a 11-point lead with less than six minutes gone. Day scored eight, including two 3-pointers.
Kansas rallied to take its first lead of the game, 29-27, on a 3-pointer by Terry Brown with six minutes left in the half.
That was it for Kansas in the first half, however. Arkansas went 15-0 over the next four minutes, converting everything and staying active on the offensive boards. Kansas missed three shots and was guilty of four turnovers, including a 10-second violation that led to the final point of the run.
Day's fourth 3-pointer of the first half, and Arkansas' sixth, gave the Razorbacks a 45-31 lead just before intermission.
But the Jayhawks took control as the second half began. Brown scored inside twice to start the first 8-0 run, and Jamison capped it with a 3-pointer.
Arkansas' pressure was ineffective throughout the second half and when Kansas took the lead for good it was on a bad turnover by the Razorbacks.
The Razorbacks were running their offense when Arlyn Bowers threw a short pass well over the head of Lee Mayberry. Rather than just get possession via the backcourt violation, Tunstall outraced Mayberry for the ball and fed Jordan for the underhand basket.
Kansas just kept clicking and there was no comeback in the Razorbacks, who had won their three tournament games by an average of 18.3 points.
This will be Kansas' first trip to the Final Four from any region other than the Midwest. The Jayhawks, who have won five straight regional championship games, have won the national title twice, in 1952 and 1988.
Mike Maddox, who had eight points, is the only player from the 1988 team still active for Kansas. Randall was a medical redshirt that year after undergoing jaw surgery.