Perry Ellis came off the bench and scored a career high 23 points to lead 7th-ranked Kansas over Iowa State, 88-73, in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament Friday night in Kansas City. The Jayhawks (28-5) dominated the second half after leading by four points at halftime.
ISU Associate Head Coach T.J. Otzelberger says KU played extremely well after the break. “It felt like we were in a really good position coming out in that second half, but we just didn’t respond,” Otzelberger said. “I think they went on a 9-2 to start the second half and we were never really able to recover.”
Kansas shot 69-percent from the field in the second half. The Cyclones, meanwhile, made just nine three-pointers on 33 attempts.
Otzelberger said ISU shot especially well from long range in two overtime losses to KU during the regular season. “We made 14 (three-pointers) at their place and 17 on our floor,” Otzelberger said. “Part of our identity and what we do is we shoot the three point shot. That’s part of who we are, we’ve kind of got that free wheeling, gun slinger mentality. We didn’t make the shots we needed to tonight and weren’t able to get the defensive stops and that wasn’t a great combination.”
Iowa State was lead in scoring by freshman Georges Niang who tied a career high with 19 points. Melvin Ejim added 17 for the Cyclones, who lost to Kansas for the 16th time in 17 meetings.
ISU will enter the NCAA Tournament with a record of 22-11. “I think we’re a team that can be really dangerous in the tournament,” Otzelberger said. “When you only have a couple of days to prepare for us…our style of play is fairly unique, so hopefully we can take advantage of that next week.” ISU will find out their seed and opponent in the NCAA Tournament Sunday night.