Final, KU wins 77-71
It may sound redundant, but here it goes...
KU started slow in the Sprint Center, using an early second half run to build a lead it wouldn't relinquish, advancing in Big 12 Tournament play.
It was the case Friday night in a 64-54 win over Nebraska, and was again Saturday in a 77-71 semifinal triumph over pesky Texas A&M, giving KU its 30th win of the season and a berth in Sunday's title game against Texas, who earlier knocked off Oklahoma, 77-49. It marks the third straight year the league's tournament will end with a KU-UT showdown. KU won each of the past two years.
Brandon Rush was KU's best offensive option all afternoon against A&M, scoring a career-high 28 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including a 5-of-8 showing from long range. Darnell Jackson did the work inside for KU, who again had a quiet offensive showing from leading scorer Darrell Arthur. Jackson had 14 points and four rebounds, while Arthur scored just seven. Sherron Collins was big off the bench, as was the case a week ago, too, in a 72-55 win over A&M in College Station. This time, he had nine points and four assists.
Bryan Davis scored 16 points to lead A&M, while fellow big man Joseph Jones notched 14.
Sunday's game tips off at 2:00 p.m. KU lost to Texas in Austion on Feb. 11, 72-69.
For more on Saturday's game, including full postgame coverage and looks ahead to Sunday, log back onto KUSports.com and read Sunday's Journal-World.
3:41, second half, KU leads 70-66
Bryan Davis and Beau Muhlback combined to swish three free throws out of the timeout to pull A&M close yet again at 63-60, but off a feed from Sherron Collins, Darnell Jackson slammed home his 10th and 11th points of the game. The lead then dropped down to two points for KU as Beau Muhlbach cashed a three from the right wing, leading to a Bill Self timeout call.
Brandon Rush then got himself to the free throw line and hit two free throws, giving him a game-high 23 points and pushing the KU-heavy crowd in the Sprint Center to its feet.
Rush then exploded again, hitting a three in transition off a feed from Sherron Collins, giving himself a career-high 26 points on the afternoon. Joseph Jones, though, after a Texas A&M timeout, hit a three of his own to pull A&M to within four with 3:41 to play.
6:38, second half, KU leads 63-57
Bryan Davis hit one of two free throws out of the timeout, and Darrell Arthur came back the way KU had hoped he would much of the day, hitting a nice turnaround from in close after establishing position in the post. A&M's answer was an impromptu tip-in from Dominique Kirk off a Josh Carter three ball that was tipped by Brandon Rush. Sherron Collins went hard to the rack again and was fouled, hitting a pair of free throws to put KU up six at 55-49.
Brandon Rush scored his 17th and 18th points after Mario Chalmers called a 30-second timeout during a loose ball scramble, converting the bucket on another slashing drive to the rack. Josh Carter tried to come back with a three but was a bit long, and after KU couldn't anser, Bryan Davis hit the miracle three to end all miracle threes against a fading shot clock. Brandon Rush answered quickly with a deep three from straight on, putting KU ahead by eight. The lead went back down to five off a Josh Carter three and quickly ballooned back to eight with a Sherron Collins trifecta.
Bryan Davis dumped in an and-one bucket inside, leading to a full timeout at the 6:38 mark with KU ahead 63-57.
11:34, second half, KU leads 51-46
Derrick Roland scored a tough two along the baseline out of the timeout to stop the bleeding for Texxas A&M, and that was followed by traded three-pointers between he and Brandon Rush. Then, Chinemelu Elonu scored two after working inside against Darrell Arthur inside to pull the Aggies to within three.
A&M had two chances to bring it in closer after entry passes on the KU end went out of bounds off the hands of Darrell Arthur first, then Cole Aldrich, but Sherron Collins took off after an Aggie turnover and scored a bucket in transition to push the Jayhawk lead back to five at 51-46 with 11:34 to play.
15:38, second half, KU leads 46-39
Bryan Davis made it a two-point lead for A&M with a baseline jumper, which was the product of a Joseph Jones offensive rebound to follow up a Josh Carter three miss from the right wing.
Brandon Rush slugged back for KU with a floater while slicing across the lane on the other end, drawing a foul to go with it. His free throw gave him 11 points on the afternoon and KU a one-point edge. Rush then tried to add a three to it at after an A&M turnover, but it missed. Darnell Jackson followed it with a tip-in, putting KU ahead by three. The lead grew to five on another Rush jumper folloiwng a Dominique Kirk miss. Sherron Collins then created some backcourt trouble, forced a steal and scored two in transition, putting KU ahead 46-39 with a quick 9-0 run, ending with a Mark Turgeon timeout call.
Halftime, game tied 34-34
Dominique Kirk, who hit six three-pointers Friday night, drilled his second of the game on the heels of another Joseph Jones jumper to pull Texas A&M to within two at 34-32. He then added a tear-drop jumper to tie the game. Joseph Jones forced a tie-up with Cole Aldrich on the defensive end to give Texas A&M another offensive opportunity before the break, but Kirk's jumper missed. KU got the ball with just under eight seconds to go but couldn't score.
The game went to the half knotted up, 34-34. Brandon Rush led KU with eight points, while Cole Aldrich chipped in six off the bench. Those points were needed with Darrell Arthur again starting slow, scoring just three before halftime. Joseph Jones, who struggled mightily against KU last Saturday, led all scorers with 11 points, while Dominique Kirk's late buckets gave him eight at the break.
2:47, first half, KU leads 34-26
Josh Carter hit a baseline jumper out of the timeout to pull A&M within one, but after a pair of KU misses couldn't convert on a three from the right wing against a fading shot clock. Darnell Jackson took down the long rebound and Cole Aldrich's second bucket of the game came on the other end on a 10-foot turnaround on the left side of the hoop.
Aldrich made it six points on the day off another lob feed, this time from Sherron Collins. Chinemelu Elonu then answered with a big one-handed slam underneath after corralling a board off a Josh Carter miss.
Elonu would add a free throw during a drought on the offensive end going both ways until Brandon Rush stroked his second three of the game with just over five minutes to play in the half, putting KU ahead 26-21.
Sasha Kaun then cashed a pair of free throws following DeAndre Jordan splitting a pair at the line. Russell Robinson pushed the lead to eight after a travel call against A&M's Bryan Davis. He collected the offensive board off a Darrell Arthur miss and slipped in two off the glass, putting the Jayhawks ahead 30-22.
Joseph Jones then scored his third bucket of the game inside after an offensive board, and his fourth two-pointer came moments later off a KU turnover. He hit his third mid-range jumper of the game. Darrell Arthur answered the A&M mini-run with a turnaround jumper inside - his first field goal of the game - and an open court Mario Chalmers layup sent the game into its final full break of the first half, KU ahead again by eight at 34-26.
10:17, first half, KU leads 19-16
Derrick Roland slashed inside for a hanging two off the left block out of the timeout to put Texas A&M up 11-5, and the Jayhawks tried to go inside ont eh other end, with Sasha Kaun getting himself to the free throw line, hitting the first and missing the second. Off his miss, Darnell Jackson tipped the rebound out to Sherron Collins, who fed Brandon Rush for his first three of the game.
Joseph Jones took an entry feed on the other end and tried to answer for the Aggies, but Sasha Kaun collected a defensive board off the long miss. Darnell Jackson then drew contact on DeAndre Jordan - just into the game - on the other end to give himself a shot at charities. He hit both to tie the game, but Jones answered with a mid-range jumper on the other end. Jackson came right back down the lane with a soft runner which fell in off the back iron.
Bryan Davis had a chance to push A&M back atop with a pair of free throws after drawing a foul on Darnell Jackson but couldn't convert. And after Darrell Arthur went empty inside on the offensive end from up close, Jones hit another jumper from just inside the arc.
The Jayhawks responded with a lob feed from Brandon Rush up top to Cole Aldrich, which was dropped in off the glass. Then, after forcing a Bryan Davis turnover, Rush shot up in transition and threw home a one-handed dunk. Sasha Kaun added to it with a two off the glass on a quick turnaround followoing a Donald Sloan three miss, pushing KU ahead by three and forcing Mark Turgeon to call a 30-second timeout.
15:50, first half, Texas A&M leads, 9-5
Darnell Jackson started the game with quick two off the glass after Russell Robinson controlled the opening tip. Dominique Kirk gave Texas A&M its first lead, however, on a three from the right wing, and Bryan Davis was able to draw a foul on Darrell Arthur underneath on the next possession after KU came up empty.
Davis hit both charities, and then scored two buckets sandwiched around a Mario Chalmers dunk in transition to put A&M up 9-5. Darrell Arthur was called for a travel at the 15:50 mark, sending the game into its first full break with KU down four.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The 2008 postseason Kansas University men's basketball team looked nothing like the one that finished the regular season on a four-game tear, escaping from Friday's quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament with a 64-54 win over Nebraska.
Now the Jayhawks get an immediate chance to redeem themselves in the semis against a pretty familiar foe. KU takes on Texas A&M, who it defeated in College Station on the Aggies' Senior Day exactly one week ago, 72-55.
The theme for KU in that win was interior defense, as the Jayhawks doubled down repeatedly, holding the inside trio of DeAndre Jordan, Joseph Jones and Bryan Davis to a combined 16 points on 5-of-16 shooting. A similar showing from the KU bigs today would mean a bounceback showing for sophomore forward Darrell Arthur, who last night struggled mightily in scoring just six points on 1-of-4 shooting, picking up four personal fouls. To contrast that, a week ago in Reed Arena, he was lights out from practically everywhere on the floor, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds.
The Aggies advanced to play today by upsetting No. 3 seed Kansas State Friday night, 63-60. The winner gets Texas tomorrow in the tournament title game, as the Longhorns ousted Oklahoma, 77-49, in the day's first game.
Tip-off is set for right around 3:30 p.m.