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Kansas cruises past Villanova to reach NCAA title game

NEW ORLEANS — David McCormack muscled his way to 25 points, Ochai Agbaji was nearly perfect from the field and added 21 points, and hot-shooting Kansas raced to a big early lead before withstanding every Villanova run for a 81-65 victory Saturday night that sent the Jayhawks back to the national title game.

Christian Braun also had 10 points, including a key 3-pointer to ward off a comeback late in the game, as the Jayhawks (33-6) exacted a measure of revenge for a Final Four beatdown by the Wildcats four years ago in San Antonio.

Now, they hope to follow a familiar pattern against Duke or North Carolina on Monday night. The last three times that the Jayhawks and Wildcats have met in the tournament, the winner has gone on to cut down the nets.

Playing without injured guard Justin Moore, Villanova (31-7) watched the lone No. 1 seed to reach the semifinals score the game’s first 10 points and eventually build a 19-point cushion. And despite big nights from Collin Gillespie, Brandon Slater and Jermaine Samuels, the short-handed and undersized Wildcats never made it all the way back.

Gillespie, playing in his 156th game for the Wildcats, hit five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, while Slater hit four 3s and had 16 points. Samuels finished with 13 points in the final game of his college career.

More to come on this story …

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