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No. 3 Kansas survives at Kansas State

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Coming off of a home loss against Iowa State over the weekend, No. 3 Kansas responded with a close 74-71 road win at rival Kansas State on Monday night.

After the Big 12 went through chaos over the weekend with the Jayhawks, Baylor and West Virginia all losing, Kansas took the first step in figuring things out at the top of the conference race by winning ugly.

It wasn’t the best performance from Kansas (21-3, 9-2) on Monday but they were still able to get it done. Senior guard Frank Mason led the Jayhawks with 21 points while Josh Jackson added 18 points despite battling foul trouble. The Jayhawks looked exhausted and continued to make more unforced turnovers than normal but they got a bit of a boost from the return of forward Carlton Bragg (suspension) as they earned a solid win.

Kansas State (16-8, 5-6) couldn’t follow up the win over Baylor with another top-three win as they fell just short of really making its NCAA tournament case a strong one. Forward Dean Wade led a balanced scoring effort with 20 points as the Wildcats did a great job of pounding the offensive glass — finishing with 20 offensive boards.

Improving its offensive efficiency from shooting 38 percent is important but head coach Bruce Weber has to feel good that his team just went toe-to-toe with two potential No. 1 seeds (Baylor and Kansas) and went 1-and-1 with a one-possession loss. Kansas State gets another crack at a top-15 team in conference play with a road game at West Virginia for its next game.

Ellis leads No. 1 Kansas to 85-63 rout of K-State in Big 12s

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Perry Ellis scored 21 points, Frank Mason III added 16 and top-ranked Kansas ran roughshod over weary Kansas State, 85-63, on Thursday in the quarterfinals in the Big 12 Tournament.

The Jayhawks (28-4), who won their 12th consecutive regular-season crown, led 45-30 at halftime before pushing their advantage past 20 for much of the second half. They coasted the rest of their way to a semifinal matchup Friday night with No. 22 Baylor, which handled No. 23 Texas earlier in the day.

Carlton Bragg added a career-high 12 points for Kansas. Devonte Graham finished with 11.

The eighth-seeded Wildcats (17-16) were led by Justin Edwards, who hit five 3s and had 23 points. But the senior guard didn’t get nearly as much help as he had in a first-round victory over Oklahoma State.

Wesley Iwundu and D.J. Johnson scored 10 apiece, but freshman forward Dean Wade – who had a career-high 20 against the Cowboys – was held to five points on 1-for-6 shooting. Fellow freshman Barry Brown was 1 of 8 from the field and managed only three points in 26 minutes.

Kansas State has never beaten Kansas in nine tries in the Big 12 tournament.

The Jayhawks, potentially playing for the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, certainly looked the part before a heavily pro-Kansas crowd. They shot 57 percent from the field, had the edge in rebounding, assists and steals, and protected the ball so well Kansas State never made much of a run.

The few times the Wildcats mounted a charge, Ellis or Mason was there to answer it.

The biggest highlight may have come when Ellis soared for an alley-oop pass and slammed it down midway through the second half, sending the crowd in Sprint Center buzzing and giving Kansas a 55-37 lead.

Edwards kept trying to shoot Kansas State back in the game, but the rest of the Wildcats looked spent from their game against the Cowboys down the stretch. Kansas merely had to protect the basketball in the final minutes to wrap up its 12th consecutive victory.

CHEICK CHECK

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo did not play after needing five stitches in his mouth following an incident in practice Wednesday. Diallo, a five-star recruit, has struggled to earn minutes behind the Jayhawks’ bevy of veteran forwards. He hasn’t scored more than two points in a game since January.

TIP-INS

Kansas State: Edwards also had 10 rebounds. … The Wildcats shot 38 percent, including 6 of 18 from beyond the arc. … The last time the teams met in the Big 12 Tournament was the 2013 finals.

Kansas: Wayne Selden Jr. was held to five points on 1-for-6 shooting. … The Jayhawks improved to 19-1 in their opening game of the conference tournament. … Kansas swept the season series from Kansas State.

UP NEXT

Kansas State waits to hear if it is playing in the NIT.

Kansas plays the No. 22 Bears in Friday night’s semifinals.

No. 17 Iowa State beats Kansas State 80-61

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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AMES, Iowa (AP) Matt Thomas scored 20 points and Georges Niang added 17 to help 17th-ranked Iowa State beat Kansas State 80-61 on Saturday night, clinching its fifth straight 20-win season.

Jameel McKay scored 14 points with 17 rebounds off the bench for the notoriously-thin Cyclones (20-9, 9-7 Big 12), who got 24 points from their reserves.

Iowa State strung together 13-0 runs in each half, which proved to be the difference. The Wildcats pulled as close as 65-59 before backup Hallice Cooke’s 3 with just under four minutes left swung momentum back in favor of the Cyclones.

D.J. Johnson had 22 with nine boards for Kansas State (15-14, 4-12), which shot just 4 of 18 from 3-point range.

Iowa State’s dream of a share of the Big 12 title ended last weekend when Kansas secured its 12th league win.

But the Cyclones are still hoping they have a big run left in them.

Beating K-State was a necessary start.

Iowa State shook off a sluggish first few minutes with a 13-0 run to jump ahead 21-14. Still, it took a 3 from Monte Morris to give the Cyclones a 31-30 lead at the break.

Two consecutive 3s from Thomas in the left corner put Iowa State ahead 45-39. Cooke, who has mostly struggled in his first season with the Cyclones, then drilled one from that exact spot to make it 48-39.

Deonte Burton’s first basket, an emphatic one-handed dunk, pushed Iowa State’s lead to 60-45. K-State answered with seven straight and Niang was forced to the bench with his fourth foul with 7:27 left. But McKay followed Cooke’s huge 3 with a dunk as the Cyclones pulled away.

Cooke finished with 10 points after being held scoreless for four straight games.

TIP-INS

Iowa State: Niang started for the 120th time Saturday. … All five Cyclones starters entered play averaging at least 10 points and four boards a game. … Thomas completed a rare four-point play to give Iowa State its first lead, 17-14. He later moved into seventh place in school history on made 3s.

Kansas State: The Wildcats played their 13th ranked team this season, surpassing the school record of 12 set in 2010-11 and 2014-15. … K-State forced 13 turnovers against one of the best teams in the Big 12 at securing the ball.

UP NEXT

The Cyclones close out their home schedule Monday night against Oklahoma State.

Kansas State hosts TCU on Wednesday.

Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LukeMeredithAP

Wesley Iwundu, Kansas State knock off No. 1 Oklahoma

Bo Rader /The Wichita Eagle via AP
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One of the big questions regarding No. 1 Oklahoma was how they’d handle an off shooting night. On multiple occasions this season the Sooners have managed to win in spite of a subpar effort from one of their guards, thanks in large part to national Player of the Year frontrunner Buddy Hield. But what would they do against a team that managed to limit Hield (by his standards)?

That’s what happened at Kansas State Saturday night, and the Sooners did not have the right answers for the Wildcats on either end of the floor. Wesley Iwundu scored 22 points, dished out seven assists and played excellent defense on Hield throughout the game to lead the way. And freshman forward Dean Wade chipped in with 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench as the Wildcats won by the final score of 80-69.

Hield scored 23 points but did so on 7-for-16 shooting, and a lot of that damage was done during the second half as he scored 17 points during the game’s final 20 minutes. But it wasn’t enough as the Sooners didn’t get much from anyone other than Ryan Spangler (nine points) as they looked to mount a comeback. Jordan Woodard, who’s been a consistent supplementary scoring option this season, went scoreless Saturday and that essentially left Oklahoma with three scorers (Hield, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins).

It’s highly unlikely that anyone’s going to completely take away Hield; the key there is to make him work for everything he gets and the long, athletic Iwundu managed to do that. But if you can take away one (or more) of Oklahoma’s supplementary scorers you’ve got a shot at knocking them off.

Oklahoma also had issues defensively, as the Wildcats shot 52.9 percent from the field. Iwundu was very good at finding scoring opportunities not only for himself but for his teammates as well, and in the post players such as Wade and D.J. Johnson were effective against Spangler, Khadeem Lattin and Akolda Manyang. Kansas State outplayed Oklahoma in the post, and their execution offensively helped the Wildcats pull off the upset despite committing 15 turnovers.

If not for those turnovers the margin likely would have been worse for Oklahoma, which scored 26 points off of Kansas State turnovers and many of its 15 fast break points came via K-State mistakes. The Sooners are lethal in transition, something we’ve seen on many occasions this season. Kansas State, when they didn’t turn the ball over, kept Oklahoma from running out and finding the quality looks that have made them so successful.

As a result, Bruce Weber’s Wildcats made sure that Hield and his fellow Oklahoma seniors will graduate without a win in Manhattan.

Bill Self calls Brannen Greene’s game-ending dunk a ‘d— move’

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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Wednesday night No. 7 Kansas played in-state rival Kansas State for the first time this season, and despite winning by a comfortable margin of 77-59 the Jayhawks did not put forth their best effort. As a team Bill Self’s team shot 55.1 percent from the field and converted 23 Kansas State turnovers into 30 points.

But they also at a disadvantage on the boards, as Kansas State grabbed 13 offensive rebounds, and guard Wayne Selden Jr. did not follow up his outstanding performance Saturday against Kentucky with another solid effort. Selden scored seven points, shooting 3-for-9 from the field while failing to grab a single rebound. That gave Self plenty to discuss following the game, but at the start of his press conference he apologized to Kansas State for the actions of junior wing Brannen Greene.

In the game’s final seconds Greene, instead of holding the ball and allowing time to expire, threw down a two-handed dunk to provide the final margin. Below is video of the final seconds, with Kansas State exerting minimal (if any) effort defensively.

Self didn’t look pleased with Greene’s move as he approached Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber for the customary postgame handshake, and he certainly didn’t mince words during a postgame radio interview, calling the incident “the biggest d— move I’ve ever had a player do during a game.”

Here’s the full quote, with context:

“Brannen Greene, we’ve put up with him doing some stuff in the past, but that was probably the biggest dick move I’ve ever had a player do during a game. To dunk the ball like that when the other team. Even their players are going, ‘How disrespectful to the game.’ It certainly showed unbelievably poor sportsmanship.”

Self went further, starting his postgame press conference with an apology:

This isn’t the first time Greene has raised Self’s ire this season, as he was suspended six games during non-conference play for conduct detrimental to the team. Self reinstated Greene a game earlier than expected, bringing Greene back for the team’s win over Holy Cross December 9.

Greene’s minutes have fluctuated in recent games, as he’s played 11 minutes or less in seven of Kansas’ last eight games. Included in that stretch was the loss at Oklahoma State in which Greene didn’t play, and he played 24 minutes in the Jayhawks’ loss at Iowa State. Situations like this don’t help matters when it comes to earning more playing time down the line.

Kansas visits TCU Saturday, with No. 14 West Virginia visiting Lawrence next Tuesday.

Ellis helps No. 7 Kansas pull away from Kansas State, 77-59

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Kansas coach Bill Self was only slightly happier Wednesday night than Kansas State counterpart Bruce Weber, and the only reason for that was his seventh-ranked Jayhawks had won.

“I’ll be candid,” Self said after the 77-59 victory, “they outplayed us. They beat us to loose balls, they outhustled us. … That’s about as soft as I can remember one of our teams playing.”

Perry Ellis scored 19 points, and Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte Graham added 10 points apiece, to bail out the Jayhawks (18-4, 6-3 Big 12) on a night they were dominated on the glass.

Kansas managed two offensive rebounds while getting outrebounded 36-21 by an undersized opponent.

“It wasn’t a well-played game on our part at all,” Self said. “But I think K-State, they came ready to play. I thought their defense was really, really good. I think they shrunk the floor on ball screens, they control the glass. … For some reason we were still ahead.”

That reason was probably the Wildcats’ 23 turnovers.

“One of the things I put on the board was, `Make simple basketball plays,”‘ Weber said. “We try to do too much sometimes and don’t let the game come to us.”

Stephen Hurt had 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Wildcats, who have not won at Kansas since 2006 – three coaches ago. Wesley Iwundu added 15 points but also had six turnovers.

“Coach said, `You can’t let offense determine defense,’ and that happened to us,” Iwundu said.

Not in the first 15 minutes. That part of the game belonged to Kansas State, which clogged the lane and forced a handful of early turnovers of its own to take an early 18-10 lead.

“We can’t do that,” Graham said. “We have to come out and know everyone is coming after our heads.”

Eventually, Ellis and Mykhailiuk knocked down 3s to help start a first-half run, and Frank Mason III countered his balky shot with some hustle that created plays for others. After one hard landing, the guard got up to find the white sleeve covering his right calf and knee soaked through with blood.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats slowly began to lose their composure.

After Mason’s basket with 12 seconds to go, Hurt turned the ball over on the inbounds play, sending Weber into an uproar. He stormed across the court after one of the officials and appeared to be close to getting a technical foul before assistants reined him in.

“I tried to keep my poise. And for 16 minutes, I told the official, I kept it to myself,” Weber said. “You have to fight through it and be tougher than that.”

Then again, Weber wasn’t any happier when Brannen Greene knocked down a 3-pointer and was fouled, converting a rare four-point play with 2 seconds left that gave Kansas a 39-29 lead.

Kansas State trimmed its deficit to 47-45 on a basket by D.J. Johnson with just under 12 minutes to go, but Wayne Selden III answered with a 3 from the wing and a layup off an alley-oop pass.

That kicked off one more big run that allowed the Jayhawks to seize control of the game.

“It was amazing to me, we were up 10 at the half and I felt like it was a tie,” Self said. “It was one of those games, I looked up and I was surprised we had the lead.”

STOKES SURGERY

Kansas State guard Kamau Stokes will have surgery on his right knee Thursday. He was hurt in last Saturday’s win over Mississippi. “He’ll probably be out for a while,” Weber said without giving details on the nature of the surgery. “It’s a miracle that he could come back (this season).”

TIP-INS

Kansas State: Johnson had nine points before fouling out. He played 12 minutes. … The Wildcats finished with a 36-21 rebounding advantage. … Kansas State is 1-6 in road games.

Kansas: C Hunter Mickelson did not play while dealing with a high ankle sprain. … Landen Lucas, who fouled out, had eight points and six rebounds. … Kansas was 16 of 22 from the free throw line.

UP NEXT

Kansas State plays No. 1 Oklahoma on Saturday.

Kansas visits TCU on Saturday.