NCAA BK

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 - 6:00 PM ET
Game Recap
 

Jayhawks top 'Cats for Big 12 title

Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas celebrates the program's ninth Big 12 tournament championship.
Share This Story

   
 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)

One by one, Kansas players headed to the top step of the ladder to cut down the nets, with Jeff Withey carefully nipping at a piece of nylon and then waving it to the roar of the fans.

CBK

FOX BRACKET CHALLENGE

The tournament has kicked off.
Click here to check on the status of your bracket.

There was no way the Jayhawks were going to share this celebration.

No way they were going to share this title.

Withey had 17 points and nine rebounds Saturday night, and the seventh-ranked Jayhawks used their trademark suffocating defense to beat No. 11 Kansas State 70-54 and win the their ninth Big 12 tournament championship — not to mention the tiebreaker over their regular-season co-champs.

''I felt like this game had to be played,'' said the Jayhawks' Elijah Johnson, smiling. ''I think we fed into it, and I think they did, too, and at the end of the day, it was a championship game, and I felt it had to be played for this to be decided.''

There should be no argument any longer over the best in the Big 12.

The Jayhawks (29-5), who may have locked up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with the victory, beat Kansas State for the third time this season. They've also won their last 11 meetings in conference tournaments, and 39 of the 42 games played since the inception of the Big 12.

''I think how this season played out this year, I think it means a lot,'' Kansas guard Travis Releford said. ''And our fans, they have a lot of bragging rights now that this game is over.''

Rodney McGruder scored 18 points despite a poor first half, and Angel Rodriguez had 10 for the Wildcats (27-7), who still have not won a conference tournament in more than 30 years.

CBK CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

HERE'S A TIP

Check out the latest scores and automatic bid winners from all the conference tournaments.

''I just wanted this victory very badly,'' McGruder said quietly. ''We worked so hard, worked so hard to get here, just to let it slip.''

The interest in Round 3, the first meeting between the schools in a league tournament title game since 1980 — back in the days of the old Big Eight — resulted in a record crowd of 19,256.

The ticket was so hot that Eric and Faith DeVault, who were married Saturday morning in a suburban of Kansas City, were given a pair as a gift and turned out for the game still dressed in their tuxedo and wedding dress — though Faith ditched her heels for a pair of flats.

They were treated to a first half that would've made Bill Snyder and Charlie Weis proud.

Two of the best defensive teams in the country, Kansas and Kansas State made more blocks and tackles than layups and jump shots over the first 20 minutes. Both teams committed nine turnovers, and the Wildcats had just three assists while going 6 of 27 from the field.

''It was a low-scoring game,'' Rodriguez said, ''because both teams were playing good defense.''

Kansas State actually struck first, pulling ahead 11-8 on a 3-pointer by Martavious Irving with 11:44 remaining in the half. But the Jayhawks buckled down on defense and the Wildcats didn't make another field goal until Rodriguez rattled in a deep 3 with 1:25 left on the clock.

Meanwhile, Johnson and Naadir Tharpe each hit 3-pointers during a 14-2 run by the Jayhawks, and a bucket by Kevin Young in the closing seconds made it 24-16 at the break.

It was Kansas State's lowest-scoring half this season, and the second-lowest by Kansas.

''Today was probably the poorest we played all week offensively in the first half,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said, ''but we look up and we're still up eight because we defended so well.''

McGruder, who scored 24 points in a quarterfinal win over Texas and 24 in the semifinals against Oklahoma State, had four points on 2-of-9 shooting in the first half, while Ben McLemore — the Jayhawks' star freshman — was scoreless after missing three 3-pointers.

The Wildcats finally got into a rhythm early in the second half, and a put-back off McGruder's miss by big Thomas Gipson got them to 28-25. But that's when Kansas once against clamped down on defense, and the result was another 12-3 to seize control.

WOODEN WATCH

Check out the 25 players on the Wooden Award midseason watch list.

Young started it with a bucket around the rim, Tharpe hit an open 3-pointer and then made a nice feed to Travis Releford for a dunk. A few minutes later, Tharpe hit another 3-pointer to give the Jayhawks a 43-31 and force an incensed Kansas State coach Bruce Weber to call timeout.

''In games like this, everybody's going to go on a run,'' Withey said. ''They went on a run, and we just countered with another run. We knew we had to get stops.''

They kept getting stops, too.

Kansas stretched its lead to 60-46 on a 3-pointer by Perry Ellis, who followed his career-high 23 points in a semifinal win over Iowa State with 12 more against the Wildcats, and 65-48 on a three-point play by Withey that essentially wrapped up the game.

The Wildcats never could get the lead under 10 the rest of the way as Kansas improved to 9-1 in Big 12 tournament title games. The Jayhawks also improved to 6-0 this season at Sprint Center, which just so happens to be a host site for the NCAA tournament next weekend.

Might the Jayhawks carry a No. 1 seed right back to Kansas City?

''I think we're deserving to be in the discussion,'' Self said. ''I think we'll be for sure one of the five or six most highly ranked teams on the seed line.''

Tagged: Kansas State, Kansas, Rodney McGruder, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NCAA BK Videos

Georgetown, Syracuse to renew CBK rivalry Posted: Jun 10, 2014
Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III on the renewal of the rivalry betw...

Cuonzo Martin new head coach at Cal Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Cuonzo Martin is introduced as Cal's new head coach.

UConn tops Notre Dame in women's final Posted: Apr 09, 2014
Hear from Geno Auriemma and his players after their National Championship victor...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..