Kansas wins 9th Big 12 Tournament title in rout of K-State
Kansas City, MO – Instead of clinching its fifth straight outright Big 12 regular-season crown last weekend, Kansas had to settle for a share with in-state rival Kansas State following a loss to Baylor.
There wasn't any doubt as to who the better team was on Saturday.
Jeff Withey had 17 points and nine rebounds in No. 7 Kansas' 70-54 rout of No. 11 Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game.
Kansas won its sixth Big 12 Tournament title in eight years and its record ninth overall, which is more than the rest of the league put together. The Jayhawks improved to 9-0 in Big 12 championship games.
"I thought we played really well and efficiently all three days over here. I think we guarded pretty well," KU head coach Bill Self said.
The Jayhawks, who have won 31-of-34 regular-season meetings against the Wildcats since the 1996-97 season, also defeated them in the 2010 Big 12 title game.
Perry Ellis and Naadir Tharpe netted 12 points apiece for Kansas (29-5), which has won 10 of its last 11 games.
Rodney McGruder finished with 18 points to lead the Wildcats (27-7), who never found a consistent rhythm offensively and went a 10-plus minute stretch without a field goal in the first half.
Kansas' loss to Baylor last Saturday allowed Kansas State to win its first conference championship since 1976-77 when it played in the Big Eight.
"We've had a great year," K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. "Won a piece of the Big 12 Championship. Got to the championship. We've done a lot of good things, but there's still more good things to come."
Martavious Irving's 3-pointer at the 11:55 mark of the first half gave the Wildcats an early 11-8 advantage, but they didn't record another field goal until 1:31 was left in the opening stanza.
Meanwhile, Kansas slowly pulled away as it went on a 14-2 run during K-State's cold spell.
Elijah Johnson and Tharpe nailed 3-pointers during the surge, which was capped on a Withey dunk to give Kansas a 22-13 edge. Angel Rodriguez's triple finally ended the drought for the Wildcats.
Kansas took a 24-16 cushion into the break.
Thomas Gipson's tip-in got K-State within 28-25 early in the second half before the Jayhawks pulled away again with a 12-3 swing. Withey had five points during the burst to put Kansas up 40-28.
McGruder's layup pulled the Wildcats within 50-41 with 8:36 remaining, but Ellis' three-point play at the other end upped the advantage back to 12 and K- State never got within single digits again.
"In games like this, everybody's going to go on a run. They went on a run and then we just countered with another run," Withey said.
Kansas' margin reached its apex at 17 down the stretch.
Kansas has won a share of nine straight Big 12 regular-season crowns ... The Jayhawks has won all three of their games against K-State this year ... Rodriguez poured in 10 points.