Kansas Continues Big 12 Dominance; Wins Title, 70-54
March 16, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tabbed as the battle between the two Big 12 Conference regular-season co-champions, No. 7/6-ranked Kansas completed the three-game series sweep over No. 11/12-ranked Kansas State Saturday night to earn the league’s automatic big to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, as senior Jeff Withey, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, led the way for the Jayhawks with 17 points in 70-54 victory in the title game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Championship at the Sprint Center.
For the third time in the last four seasons, Kansas (29-5), the nine-time Big 12 Conference regular-season champions, earned both the regular-season and tournament titles. The 2013 tournament championship is Kansas’ 13th all-time league tournament title and ninth Big 12 tourney crown.
KU increased its overall record against Kansas State to 186-91, while owning a perfect 8-0 mark in Big 12 Championship play.
Much like Friday’s semifinal game against Iowa State, Kansas had its halftime deficit cut to three points twice by Kansas State (27-7) early in the second half. However, the Jayhawks used a 12-3 run, with five points from Withey, to take a 40-28 edge with 13:25 left.
KU maintained a consistent double-digit lead for the remainder of the game and coasted to the 16-point victory, thanks in large part to the play of freshman Perry Ellis off the bench. Coming off a career-best 23 points, Ellis followed with his first back-to-back double-digit scoring performances with 12 points, including 10 in the second half. Ellis also claimed All-Big 12 Tournament honors.
Sophomore Naadir Tharpe was also instrumental in the second half, scoring nine of his career-best 12 points, to round out the three Jayhawks with double-figure points.
Kansas held K-State to six first-half field goals and a season-low 16 first-half points, as the Wildcats shot 22.2 percent from the field. Tied, 4-4, KU’s Travis Releford converted a pair of baskets for the early 8-4 lead with 14:05 on the clock.
K-State responded with a 7-0 run, but then went over 10 minutes without a field goal. During that scoring drought, Kansas used a 14-2 run to build a 22-13 advantage with 2:08 left on the clock. The Jayhawks carried a 24-16 lead into the locker room at half.
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