Top-Seeded Kansas Falls Victim to Cyclones in Title Game, 70-66
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The expression on Wayne Selden. Jr.’s face made it clear he had seen enough as he slammed the alley-oop delivery through the rim in the second half, trying everything to roadblock the freight train that is an Iowa State comeback. His career-high 25 points and top-seeded Kansas fell victim all the same as No. 13/15 Iowa State claimed the 70-66 win and the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship title Saturday evening inside Sprint Center.
The weekend finale pitted top-seeded Kansas (26-8) against second-seeded Iowa State (25-8), but the 11th Big 12 Championship game appearance for the Jayhawks ended in just their second loss. KU is now 9-2 all-time in Big 12 title games, the only other coming at the hands of Oklahoma in 2002.
Sophomore guard Frank Mason III scored 13
points and dished four assists.The Cyclones’ nasty habit for comebacks was no joke. Kansas held a sizable 37-23 lead at halftime and pushed it to 17 points in the second half, but no margin was safe. Five minutes into the final frame, the Cyclones erased the deficit and went right past it. The roles flipped from the first 20 minutes to the second. KU stifled ISU to 23 points in the first half, while the Cyclones held the Jayhawks to 29 second-half points. ISU’s 47 points in the final frame were the third-most allowed by Kansas this season, with the first-most (50) and second-most (48) also tallied by the Cyclones.
For the second-straight game, Selden put his team on his back. On Friday, he posted his first 20-point postseason performance, paving the way for his career-high 25 on Saturday. Named to the All-Tournament Team, he is the first Jayhawk since Wayne Simien in 2005 to chalk up multiple 20-point efforts in a Big 12 tourney run. He was a personal-best 8-for-8 from the free throw line, and 8-for-12 from the floor. Of KU’s 5-for-19 field goals in the second half, Selden was 3-of-4.
Fellow sophomore Frank Mason III joined Selden in double-figures with 13 points, but did most of his damage with an 8-for-9 mark at the free throw line. Aside from Selden, only sophomore forward Landen Lucas and sophomore guard Brannen Greene hit shots in the second half. For the first time since Feb. 10, five different Jayhawks connected from three-point territory. Junior forward Perry Ellis had one of them and led the floor with nine rebounds. Mason and freshman guard Devonte’ Graham dished a team-high four assists apiece.
On the other bench, Tournament MVP Georges Niang powered the Cyclones with 19 points. Also on the All-Tournament Team was teammate Monte’ Morris, who distributed six assists without a turnover and scored all 11 of his points in the second half. Jameel McKay tied Morris for the game-high with two steals and Niang with eight rebounds, while chipping in 11 points. Abdel Nader was effective with 13 points and a block.
Playing in front of a sold-out crowd for the third-straight day, the teams worked through a slow shooting start with ample support. A three-point play from freshman Kelly Oubre, Jr. backed by a Lucas dunk opened the widest margin for either team, 12-9, with half of the first period already ticked away.
Ten minutes gone, both squads turned it up. The Cyclones broke a four-minute scoring drought with consecutive layups, but the Jayhawks had an answer. Ellis interrupted a pair of long jumpers from Selden with his second three-pointer of the tournament. Mason connected from the wing, and in 90 seconds, the Jayhawks broke out for a 7-0 run and a 21-13 lead.
Taking a break from the long-two, Selden bulldozed through the lane for four-straight points in the paint and added a pair of free throws to push KU’s lead to nine. Mason pulled up from the left side for a three-pointer and, just like that, Iowa State was down by double-figures for the fifth-straight game.
The Jayhawks were well-aware that the Cyclones pulled off four-straight comeback victories – and put their plan in place to end the streak. Graham’s three-pointer capped a string of five-consecutive made baskets, sending Kansas to halftime with a 37-23 lead.
A huge crowd behind them and a knack for dismantling deficits, Iowa State went to work. McKay and Niang joined forces for an 8-0 ISU run, forcing a Kansas timeout. The pause did little as the duo extended the Cyclone scoring rally to 10-straight with a Niang-to-McKay lob. Free throws from Mason interjected, but Niang answered with a three-pointer on the other end. Just five minutes into the final frame, the 17-point Kansas lead was hacked to two, 42-40.
Queue Selden’s slam. He took flight before Mason even let go of the pass, dunking the ball and testing the building’s decibel level. Relentless, Morris tallied four-straight points to cut the Kansas lead to a meager, 48-47. Again, Selden stepped in. This time with his first three-pointer in the last seven games, fighting to keep his Jayhawks from giving up the lead.
Exactly eight minutes remained when Selden’s blockade gave out. A dunk from Bryce Dejean-Jones tied the score, a minute later, Jones’ layup handed Iowa State the lead, triggering another debilitating 10-0 scoring run. Kansas fell behind, 57-51.
The five-minute mark came and went as the Jayhawk offense had been completely eclipsed by Iowa State’s momentum. Following Selden’s three-pointer with 10:36 on the clock, free throws were the only source of KU’s point production. More than nine minutes passed with the team’s only points from the line.
A Selden basket started it and a Selden basket ended it. The grueling lapse between Kansas field goals was broken up a scrappy Selden drive. Less than 90 seconds were on the clock when Selden hit the and-one free throw.
Despite everything, the game was tied at 63-63.
Now it was the Cyclones who did their work from the free throw line, going 7-for-8 in the final minute. Ignoring the dismal shooting numbers, Greene pulled up and nailed the three. The long ball pulled Kansas within two, 68-66, but the top-seed would get no closer. Iowa State claimed the title, 70-66.
NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday will air on CBS at 5 p.m. (Central) on March 15. The Jayhawks’ 25-consecutive NCAA tourney appearances is the longest active streak in the event.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): So. G Frank Mason, III (34/37), So. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (34/69), Fr. G Kelly Oubre, Jr. (25/25), So. F Landen Lucas (12/12), Jr. F Perry Ellis (32/69)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads, 177-62
ATTENDANCE: 19,075 (18,972 capacity)
- Handed Kansas just its second loss in the Big 12 Championship title game, and its first since 2002 when falling to Oklahoma.
- Made Kansas 26-8 on the season and 11-8 in games away from Allen Fieldhouse (5-6 in true road games and 6-2 on neutral floors).
- Changed the Jayhawks’ record in the Big 12 Championship to 13-6 in conference tournament championship games (9-2 in the Big 12 era). Overall, KU’s record is now 68-26 in conference tournament play and 38-10 in the Big 12 Championship.
- Dented Kansas’ record in Sprint Center to 27-6 all-time and 3-1 this season.
- Moved Self to 351-77 while at Kansas, 33-11 in conference tournament action (24-6 while at KU in the Big 12 Championship) and 558-182 overall.
- Made KU 2,152-830 all-time.
- In regular-season play, Kansas has not been beaten twice by the same Big 12 opponent in the Bill Self era. When including the Big 12 Championship, Kansas has now been beaten by the same opponent twice in a season only twice in Self’s 12 years. The first against Texas (67-82, 2/23/04; 60-64, 3/13/04) and the second this season against Iowa State (81-86, 1/17/15; 66-70, 3/14/15).
- KU’s 17-point blown lead (40-23) was the largest-blown lead in a loss since giving up a 20-point advantage against Arizona (1/25/03).
- The 14-point halftime lead is the largest-blown halftime lead since KU started the keeping the record in the 1988-89 season. The previous was 13 (52-39) in that same Arizona contest.
- KU’s 37-23 halftime lead was Iowa State’s second-largest deficit of the season. Its largest was a 37-18 hole against Oklahoma, which the Cyclones also came all the way to win. In fact, Iowa State had been down by double-figures in each of its last five games and recorded comeback victories in all of them.
- With eight minutes remaining, Iowa State tied the game, 51-51, and claimed the advantage by the seven-minute mark.
- From 10:35 to 1:30 in the second half, the Jayhawks scored just nine points – all of which came from the free throw line. The Jayhawks went a solid nine minutes without a field goal.
- For the first time since the Texas Tech game (2/10/15), five different Jayhawks hit a three-pointer.
- KU was outrebounded (34-37) for the 11th time this season and is 7-4 in those games.
- Kansas is now 19-2 when leading at halftime in 2014-15.
- Sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., became the first Jayhawk since Wayne Simien in 2005 to post two 20-plus point efforts in the Big 12 Championship with 20 points against Baylor and a career-high 25 points against Iowa State.
- Sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., was 0-for-16 from three in his last seven games, but he knocked down about the longest two-pointers possible with back-to-back makes from the top of the key in the first half.
- Selden also hit his first three-pointer in seven games, snapping an 0-for-16 spell. His 43 three-pointers this season move him into ninth place on KU’s all-time threes in a season list, passing Andrew Wiggins.
- That’s the fourth time this year that Selden has crossed the 20-point mark and seventh time in his career.
- Selden’s 8-for-8 efficiency from the free throw line was a career-best.
- Junior F Perry Ellis scored seven points, putting him 40th on KU’s all-time career scoring list (1,131), passing Wayne Hightower (1,128). His nine rebounds on Saturday gives him 602 for his career, tying him with Brandon Rush for 28th all-time at Kansas.
- Redshirt junior F Hunter Mickelson recorded KU’s lone block on Saturday. He is the only Jayhawk with blocks in each of the last six games.
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