New Orleans Dean Smith wasn't about to forfeit the victory.
Still, the veteran North Carolina basketball coach and Kansas alum expressed remorse for both the Jayhawks and coach Roy Williams following the Tar Heels' 78-68 Final Four semifinal win over his alma mater Saturday at the Louisiana Superdome.
"I was concerned about him," Smith said of Williams, his former assistant who has directed KU to two Final Fours in five years. "He is such a competitor. He lost his mother last year."
The Tar Heels lost to Kansas in the 1991 NCAA semifinals, but Smith said that game had nothing to do with Saturday's intense semifinal.
"I DON'T DWELL on the past," Smith said. "I'm very pleased with this team. Our goal wasn't to play in the national championship game. Our goal is to win the national championship."
The Tar Heels, 33-4, overcame some adversity to win and advance into Monday night's title game.
Starting guard Derrick Phelps had six assists and five rebounds in 30 minutes, despite playing in pain much of the second half after bruising his tailbone taking a charge.
"I hope Phelps is rested by tomorrow," Smith said. "That's what's so great about this format. This day off works wonders."
One of the stars of the game was Phelps' backcourt partner, Donald Williams, who had 25 points. He hit five of seven three-pointers.
"They keyed on stopping our inside game," Phelps said. "That opened up our outside shooting game and Donald hit the open jumpers."
Williams' back-breaking three with 2:37 left upped a three-point lead to six and set the tone for UNC's late-game dominance.
"AT THE TIME, Kansas was trapping in the backcourt and my man left me to go to the trap," Williams said. "Coach encourages us to take that shot in that situation."
"Everyone on the team knows Donald is a tremendous shooter," noted center Eric Montross, who had 23 points and four boards. "He just astonished us with his three-point shooting."
Montross wasn't bad himself. He made nine of 14 shots and 15 points in 14 minutes the second half.
"My teammates did a great job of lobbing the ball inside," Montross said. "Kansas is a good, physical team. They gave us problems inside. I feel good about the game, but there were a few shots that I thought should have gone in."
Reserve center Kevin Salvadori contributed six points and gave KU another seven-footer to worry about.
"He played well. He was active on defense," Smith said. "He made some shots and we gave him the ball in positions to score."