Rush Scores Career High 28 To Lead Kansas To Semifinal Win Vs. Texas A&M
March 15, 2008
<?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Brandon Rush scored a career-high 28 points to lead Kansas to a 77-71 victory against Texas A&M in a Big 12 Tournament semifinal game here Saturday afternoon. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>
Kansas will meet Texas in the league’s tournament championship game on Sunday as the Jayhawks will attempt to win their third straight tournament title and sixth Big 12 championship all-time. UT and KU tied for the regular season championship, but Texas earned the number-one seed based on the Longhorns’ 72-69 victory against KU in the regular season.
With the win Kansas improved to 30-3 overall. KU has won 30 games eight times in its history, including last year’s 33-victory season. Texas A&M fell to 26-10.
Playing in his hometown of Kansas City, Rush scored 20 of his career-high 28 points in the second half. The junior was nine of 13 shooting on the night, including a five of eight mark from three-point range. The 28 points was just two shy of the most a KU player has ever scored in a Big 12 Tournament game as Paul Pierce had 30 in the 1997 finals vs. Missouri and Wayne Simien scored 30 vs. Oklahoma State in the 2005 semifinals.
Darnell Jackson added 14 points for the Jayhawks, while Sherron Collins chipped in nine and Darrell Arthur added seven points and a team-best seven rebounds. Russell Robinson chipped in seven assists, while Mario Chalmers handed out five and Collins four.
Texas A&M was led by four players in double figures, including Bryan Davis, who scored a team-best 16 points.
Rush’s three-point play at the 17:31 mark of the second half put Kansas up 40-39 and the Jayhawks never trailed the remainder of the game. Rush’s play ignited a 9-0 Jayhawk run which gave them a 46-39 advantage. A&M quickly responded with a 7-3 run of its own to pull within 49-46, but Kansas kept the Aggies at bay and never relinquished the lead.
While KU never trailed in the second half, the Jayhawks could not push their lead to more than eight points. A&M cut the margin to 65-63 before Rush hit two free throws and a three-pointer to put the Jayhawks up 70-63.
A&M then got within two at 73-71 with just under a minute to play before Russell Robinson scored on a layup and Rush hit two free throws to seal the victory.
After shooting 43 percent in the first half, the Jayhawks heated up in the second half making 15 of 22 attempts for 68 percent. KU ended the game shooting 53.8 while holding A&M to 44.4 percent, including just 39.3 percent in the second half.
Texas A&M out-rebounded KU 35-25, including a 22-12 advantage in the first half, but KU forced the Aggies into 13 turnovers, while committing just seven miscues.
The teams stayed close in the first half. After Texas A&M pulled ahead 16-13 on a three-pointer by Joseph Jones, Kansas went on a quick 6-0 run to lead 19-16. KU then posted its biggest lead of the half at 30-22 before the Aggies fought back.
With Kansas ahead 32-26, A&M scored the final eight points of the half to send the teams into the lockerroom tied at 34.
Rush led the KU effort in the first half, hitting three of five shots, including two of three from three-point range for eight points. Russell Robinson handed out five assists in the first 20 minutes, while Mario Chalmers came up with three steals.
Kansas improved to 24-6 all-time in the Big 12 Tournament and has won eight straight at the event. The Jayhawks will play in the championship game for the seventh time in the 12-year event.