Kansas to Face Iowa State in Big 12 Championship Title Game
Big 12 Championship Final
Big 12 Conference regular-season champion Kansas (26-7, 13-5) advanced to the Big 12 Championship title game for the 11th time in the 19-year history of the league with a 62-52 win against Baylor on March 13. KU will face Iowa State (24-8, 12-6) on Saturday, March 14 at 5 p.m. (Central) on ESPN. The Cyclones won their fourth-straight game by defeating Oklahoma, 67-65, in its semifinal contest on March 13.
This is the third-straight year Kansas and Iowa State will meet in the Big 12 Championship with both previous battles in the semifinals. KU won in 2013, 88-73, while Iowa State claimed last year’s matchup, 94-83.
Kansas is 9-1 in Big 12 Championship title games and 13-5 all-time in postseason tournament championship game contests.
No. 9/10 Kansas (26-7, 13-5) scores 71.4 points per game and has a +6.8 scoring margin. The Jayhawks average 38.1 rebounds per game and have a +3.8 rebound margin. KU averages 13.4 assists, 6.7 steals and 5.2 blocked shots per game.
After missing two games due to a knee injury suffered in the home season finale against West Virginia (3/3), All-Big 12 First Team selection, junior F Perry Ellis returned to the starting lineup and scored 11 points and pulled down six rebounds in the Big 12 Championship semifinal win against Baylor (3/13). A 2015 Academic All-Big 12 First Team honoree, Ellis leads KU with a 14.1 scoring average and 6.9 rebound average. He is the only player in the Big 12 to rank sixth or higher in scoring (sixth) and rebounding (fourth). All-Big 12 Second Team selection, sophomore G Frank Mason III, is second in scoring at 12.3 points per game. He scored a career-high-tying 21 points at OU (3/7) in the regular-season finale. Mason leads KU with 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game. His 36 three-pointers made this season are third-most on the team. All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection, sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., scored his third 20-point effort of the season, sixth of his career, with 20 points in the Big 12 semifinal against Baylor (3/13). He also pulled down a career-high eight rebounds against the Bears. Selden averages 9.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He has made a team-high 45 three-pointers. All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honoree, freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr., leads KU in the two Big 12 Championship games with a 17.0 scoring average. Included was a career-high 25 points against TCU (3/12), which included 15 free throws made. For the season, Oubre averages 9.5 points and 5.1 rebounds and is second on the team with 39 steals. Sophomore F Landen Lucas, who has 11 starts in 2014-15, rounds out the KU starters. Lucas has started the last three games for KU and is averaging 10.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in that span. Lucas averages 3.3 points and 4.0 rebounds for the season.
Junior F Jamari Traylor has started four of the last five games and 18 games this season. He has averaged 8.3 points in his last four games and 4.8 ppg and 3.7 rpg for the season. Traylor’s 36 blocked shots are second on the team.
Sophomore G Brannen Greene was suspended for the regular-season finale at Oklahoma (3/7). He averages 5.8 points and is second on the team with 37 three-pointers made. He makes 42.7 percent from beyond the arc in 2014-15. Freshman G Devonte’ Graham is scoring 5.1 points per game and is third on the team with 50 assists. Redshirt junior F Hunter Mickelson has averaged 11.8 minutes in his last four games and averages 7.2 for the season. Mickelson scored five points and pulled down six rebounds at Oklahoma (3/7) and averages 2.4 points and 1.9 boards for the season. Freshman F Cliff Alexander (7.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 blocked shots per game, six starts) has sat out the last five KU contests as a precautionary measure after the NCAA alerted KU about issues that could affect Alexander’s eligibility.
THE KANSAS-IOWA STATE SERIES
Kansas leads the all-time series with Iowa State, 177-61, dating back to 1908. KU has won six of the last eight matchups and 19 of the last 22 meetings. In the conference tournament, Kansas holds a 6-3 advantage, with the Cyclones winning the last meeting in the 2014 semifinals (94-83) at Sprint Center in Kansas City. This will be the fifth meeting between the two schools in the Big 12 Championship with KU holding a 3-1 advantage in those meetings. The two teams have met twice in conference tournament championship games with both meetings in the Big Eight era. Kansas defeated ISU, 73-71, in the 1986 title game and Iowa State defeated KU in the 1996 championship game, 56-55, with both meetings at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas is 32-10 against Iowa State with a 29-9 record in regular-season play and a 3-1 mark in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 22-5 all-time versus Iowa State, including 21-5 while at KU, while ISU’s Fred Hoiberg is 3-9 all-time against KU. Expect a close one as since Hoiberg’s arrival at ISU, five of the last nine meetings have been decided by nine points or less with two of those in overtime.
Earlier this season, Iowa State defeated Kansas 86-81 on Jan. 17 in Ames, Iowa, and Kansas defeated ISU 89-76 in Lawrence.
- With its 62-52 win against No. 16 Baylor (3/13) in the Big 12 semifinal, Kansas improved to 10-4 against Associated Press ranked teams in 2014-15. The 10 victories versus AP ranked foes are the most in a single season for KU, surpassing the 9-1 record in 1996-97.
- KU averages 5.2 blocked shots per game in 2014-15 and has 35 blocks in its last five games for a 7.0 per game average. Included were 10 blocks versus Texas (2/28) and nine blocked shots against TCU (3/12).
- Kansas has outrebounded its last two opponents and 21 of 33 opponents this season, compiling an 19-2 record in those contests. Seven of those games have been by double figures, including two in Big 12 play.
- Kansas had nine steals in each of its two Big 12 Championship games against TCU (3/12) and Baylor (3/13). KU has averaged 8.5 steals in its last four games. Included were a season-high 13 steals against West Virginia (3/3). KU averages 6.7 steals for the season.
- Freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr., leads Kansas in its two Big 12 Championship games with a 17.0 scoring average. Included was his career-high with 25 points against TCU (3/12). It was his third 20-point effort of the season. Oubre, who averages 9.5 points for the season, has averaged 14.5 points in his last six games. Oubre has pulled down seven or more rebounds 11 times this season, including three of his last six contests.
- After his 20-point effort against Baylor (3/13), sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., is averaging 13.5 points and making 66.7 percent from the field (10-for-15) in the Big 12 Championship. He has three 20-point games this season.
- Junior F Perry Ellis scored 11 points and pulled down six rebounds against Baylor (3/13) in his first return to the lineup after missing two games with a sprained knee. He has scored 23 or more points in three of his last five games played.
- Ellis shot 50 percent or better in eight Big 12 games this season with four contests at 62.5 percent or better. His seven double-doubles in 2014-15 are tied for second in the Big 12 and he is the only player in the conference to rank in the top six in scoring (sixth at 14.1 ppg) and rebounding (fourth at 6.9 rpg).
- Sophomore G Frank Mason III has led KU in scoring seven times this season, including two of his last four games. He scored a career-high-tying 21 points at Oklahoma (3/7). Mason had three steals against TCU (3/12) and two against Baylor (3/13). He has 12 steals in his last six games.
- Sophomore F Landen Lucas has pulled down six or more rebounds in each of his last four games and is averaging 7.8 boards in that span. Lucas is 13-for-17 (76.4 percent) from the field in his last three games.
- Freshman G Devonte’ Graham has three or more assists in 11 games this season, with 10 against Big 12 teams. He had four dimes and zero turnovers against TCU (3/12).
- Redshirt junior F Hunter Mickelson has at least one blocked shot in each of KU’s last five games and in each of his last seven games played. Mickelson has eight blocks in the last five games and averages 1.0 blocks for the season.
- The win made Kansas 26-7 on the season, giving the Jayhawks 26 wins for the eighth time in the last nine seasons.
- The victory jumped the Jayhawks’ record in the Big 12 Championship to 19-16 in conference tournament semifinal games (11-6 in the Big 12 era).
- Baylor’s 52 points were a season-low, tying the fewest points the Bears has scored since posting the same total twice last season (vs. Kansas, 2/4/14; vs. Wisconsin, 3/27).
- KU improved to 19-2 when outrebounding the opponent in 2014-15.
- The Jayhawks are now 19-1 when leading at halftime in 2014-15.
- Junior F Perry Ellis returned to the starting lineup after the only two-game hiatus of his career. Ellis had played in 102-consecutive games before a sprained knee kept him out against Oklahoma (3/7) and TCU (3/12).
- Ellis was a welcome sight, especially since he shines in the Big 12 Championship. Including his 11 points and six rebounds against Baylor, he now averages 15.5 points and 6.7 rebounds in six Big 12 tourney games.
- Sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., scored a team-high 20 points, his personal-best in postseason play. His 7-for-9 (77.8 percent) was his career-high in efficiency.
- Redshirt junior F Hunter Mickelson recorded two blocks. He is the only Jayhawk with blocks in each of the last five games. He is averaging 1.6 blocks and 1.0 steals per game in that span.
- Sophomore G Brannen Greene had missed 15-straight threes over the last five games, including the Baylor contest, but his three-pointer in the second half stopped a 10-1 Baylor run and put the Jayhawks up 39-30 with 12:29 to play.
- Sophomore G Frank Mason III led the Jayhawks with four assists, his most since dishing five dimes against TCU (2/21).
NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday will air on CBS at 5 p.m. (Central) on March 15. The Jayhawks’ 25-consecutive NCAA tourney appearances are the longest active streak in the event.
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