Ellis leads Kansas past Iowa State in Big 12 semis
Kansas City, MO – Perry Ellis came off the bench to score 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting, as seventh-ranked Kansas pulled away in the second half for an 88-73 win over Iowa State in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.
Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson each added 14 points for the top-seeded Jayhawks (28-5), who will face 11th-ranked Kansas State in Saturday's title game. Ben McLemore ended with 10 points for Kansas, which beat the Cyclones for the 16th time in the last 17 meetings.
Georges Niang scored 19 points and Melvin Ejim added 17 for Iowa State (22-11), which had won three in a row entering Friday's contest. The Cyclones upended Oklahoma in Thursday's quarterfinals, but had a difficult time against Kansas' size.
"They're a big, strong team," Ejim said. "They're able to use their size to their advantage to that. And they were able to get to the loose balls, loose rebounds, and that was a big part of why we lost."
Iowa State led by as many as eight points in the first half, although that was early at 12-4 following a 3-pointer from Ejim.
The Jayhawks pushed ahead for good following eight consecutive points. Naadir Tharpe capped the burst with a layup with 2:26 left for a 32-26 difference.
Kansas held a 35-31 edge at the break thanks to Travis Releford's 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
"It was a big momentum boost to go into the locker room with energy pumped up and just come out and feed off of that," Johnson said.
The Jayhawks took over by shooting an astonishing 18-of-26 (69.2 percent) from the field in the second half, while holding the Cyclones to 42.9 percent. Kansas used a 17-6 run early in the period to assume a 55-39 cushion.
Iowa State didn't get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Kansas dominated the points in the paint, 50-32 ... Tyrus McGee had 12 points for Iowa State ... Kansas advanced to its 10th Big 12 title game and 18th overall league tourney championship tilt.