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Let my emotions get the best Of me tonight apologize to all my jayhawk fans and anybody who supports me or our program won't happen again!
Kansas ended one Big 12 rivalry with a triumph. One more will give the Jayhawks a huge advantage in pursuit of a conference championship.
KU held off Texas A&M 66-58 in one of those can’t-stand-prosperity games. The Jayhawks saw a 21-point second-half lead melt to four.
But Kansas held on and will take a one-game lead into Saturday’s Border War contest with Missouri.
With the fourth-ranked Jayhawks at 13-2 in league play and 23-5 overall, the final regular-season game between the programs as Big 12 members will put the winner in the driver’s seat for the conference championship. Third-ranked Missouri, which like Texas A&M is moving to the Southeastern Conference next season, stands 12-3 in the Big 12.
Given the stakes and the status of the series, Kansas coach Bill Self said the atmosphere “will be as good as it’s ever been in the history of the building. That’s a pretty long time.”
Allen Fieldhouse opened in 1955.
Self said he viewed Missouri’s loss to Kansas State that broke the tie in the loss column as an opportunity for his team.
“The way I tried to sell it to our guys is we caught a break,” Self said. “Not that often in sports or life do you get one handed to you, so you have to take advantage.”
For about 34 minutes, the Jayhawks did just that. With guard Elijah Johnson leading the way with 18 first-half points, Kansas took a 10-point lead at halftime and stretched it to 21 with 13:25 remaining.
…Bill Self doesn’t think Saturday’s game against Missouri will be the biggest in the history of Allen Fieldhouse. “Probably not,” Self said. “We’ve had other games where we had to win it to win the league. But in fans’ minds and our players’ minds since they beat us the first time it’s probably the biggest.”
Then, on Wednesday night at Reed Arena, Johnson ignored the past, scoring 21 points and leading his team to a 66-58 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies.
Johnson, who didn’t turn the ball over once, said it was just like playing in the park.
“I needed to score for us tonight,” he said.
On a night when Taylor and Robinson scored 22 points, 13.6 points fewer than their combined conference-season average, Johnson attacked the Aggies with a quick first step and a balanced, accurate jump shot.
“I didn’t realize he had 18 until I got to the stat sheet,” coach Bill Self said of Johnson’s first-half scoring total.
…“We’ve kind of been waiting for Elijah to come on,” Taylor said. “It was good for him today to get a little bit of confidence going into the game Saturday.”
There, awaiting Kansas’ players like a detention after school, was the long flight back to Lawrence.
Officially, after putting away Texas A&M 66-58 on Wednesday, the Jayhawks could freely focus on Saturday’s Border War against Missouri. But on their plane, the Jayhawks also probably got an earful of what transpired in the final minutes of a once-comfortable game turned uncomfortably close.
So, yes, Missouri is now here, but A&M is not yet forgotten.
“It’s hard for me to get excited right now,” KU coach Bill Self said, “because that was ridiculous down the stretch.”
…Kansas’ problems in the final minutes started at the free-throw line, where guards Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson combined to go 2 of 6 in the final 1:10.
The game got close as a result, and then it got chippy. After Johnson missed the second of two free-throw attempts with 40 seconds left, Thomas Robinson hunted for the rebound, fell to the ground fighting for possession and was called for a technical foul after shoving A&M’s Ray Turner.
Robinson sat with his fifth foul, and A&M’s Elston Turner hit two free throws that cut KU’s lead to four.
“Inexcusable,” Self said. “As bad a play as I’ve seen.”
It’s not that the Jayhawks completely imploded. It’s just that they had a chance to finish the job, had A&M under their foot, and they let the Aggies squirm instead of cleanly finishing the deal.
“To put them in position to have a chance to win the game is beyond belief,” Self said, “because we made basketball plays experienced guys should never make.”
…Yet here’s the reality: Kansas still beat an unappealing team by eight in the Game Before the Big One.
The Game Before includes only two ingredients, both easy to detect: It is played against a middling team, and it comes before a game that everyone else is already talking about. In both cases, Kansas’ game against A&M fit perfectly.
The Game Before, though, is a different kind of test than the one a team will soon face. It’s not so much about skill or talent as a test of focus. Can a team handle the weight of that looming giant?
It’s like eating lunch with your mom before going on a date. You may love your mom, you may enjoy spending time with her, but part of you is still going to think about your date while she’s talking.
On this night, in front of a sleepy crowd, KU’s lack of focus down the stretch didn’t prove costly. Now, the Jayhawks have what they wanted before coming to College Station: the chance to clinch the Big 12 title against Missouri on Saturday.
“If you told me we won by eight when I got here,” Self said, “I’d be ecstatic. But we were up by 21.”
“Inexplicable,” Self called Robinson’s foul.
“There’s a lot of teams out there that can focus, but there’s not too many that can focus for 40 minutes,” junior guard Elijah Johnson said. “Our goal is to focus for 40 minutes.”
Another big bucket came from senior guard Tyshawn Taylor, who hit a driving layup and foul shot at 1:57, boosting the 57-53 lead to seven points. It was KU’s first basket in a long seven-minute stretch. It came early in the shot clock on a set play.
“He can get in the paint and get his own shot. He needs to start getting shots for his teammates,” Self said of Taylor, who had 12 points and four assists against two turnovers.
“He is as good as anybody in the country getting his shoulders past people. We ran a fake ball screen, told him to turn the corner. He turned the corner. That was a big play. They’d gotten it to four, and we were able to get it to five, six. The pressure was on, but not like it would have been if they got another stop and basket.”
Self was miffed Taylor picked up his fourth foul with 7:56 left.
“How do you reach when you have three (fouls) and you know how valuable you are to our team? That was a bad play. He made a couple big plays when he got back in,” Self said of Taylor.
Billy Kennedy gambled and lost.
The Texas A&M coach figured putting more defensive attention on Kansas University forward Thomas Robinson would give his team the best chance against the Jayhawks.
As a result, KU guard Elijah Johnson broke free for 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting in the Jayhawks’ 66-58 victory Wednesday night.
“That’s the mark of a good team that’s got talented players. Elijah Johnson’s a good player,” Kennedy said. “We took a chance to try to take Robinson away and leave (Johnson) open. He was struggling from the three the last five games — really was struggling. He’s a good player, and he stepped up and made shots.”
Johnson scored 18 of his points in the first half, as KU built a 31-21 advantage. The Jayhawks extended that lead to 47-26 with 13:25 left.
“You can’t give Kansas a 20-point lead on your home court and expect to play perfect and come back and win,” Kennedy said. “The only thing I would say is that we didn’t throw in the towel. We had opportunities to cash it in, and we battled a little bit.”
It's obvious many have given up on this basketball season, which is too bad for a program that's made six straight NCAA tournament appearances. Yet an announced crowd of 6,868 says different. Heck, A&M drew 8,122 when Kansas came here in 2004 when the Aggies went 0-16 in Big 12 play.
The most disappointing aspect of Wednesday's crowd was the students for a nationally televised game. A&M officials said 1,039 students were there -- 40 more than for Saturday's crowd against Missouri. It just seemed about half. Maybe they came and got their 12th Man reward cards scanned and went to the library to study.
Several of the Aggie players motioned to the crowd to make noise during a 19-5 run as A&M cut KU's lead to 60-56 with 1 minute, 46 seconds left. It had to be somewhat discouraging to see all those empty seats.
"We are on the court playing, and that's all we can control," said senior guard Dash Harris who returned after missing seven games with an ankle injury. "Of course, we'd like to have this place packed."
While winning a basketball game Wednesday night in Reed Arena, the fourth-ranked Kansas University basketball team also managed to diagram a blueprint for how to make an early exit in the NCAA Tournament.
Get a big lead and then turn inattentive, lose the ball, get into foul trouble, lose your temper and in the same play remove the best player on the team.
Next thing you know, the clock expires, the game is lost, and the tournament is just a television show that hurts too much to watch.
Kansas defeated Texas A&M, 66-58, and in doing so should have defeated any notion that the Jayhawks have enough talent to stray from playing with more intensity and smarts than the other guys and still cruise to victory.
Kansas is in contention for a No. 1 seed more because of its extraordinary will than skill, and when the former falters, the lack of depth of the latter gets exposed in a hurry, especially when it can’t shoot straight.
ESPN article: In case you missed it yesterday, "tough love" for TRob from Coach Self. Great read!
Kansas is on the verge of a possible eighth-straight Big 12 title. That’s remarkable. The Big 12 has been one of the toughest conferences in the country during that stretch. Bill Self has done a tremendous job with this group, has managed a star in Thomas Robinson perfectly, developed a good complimentary player in the post in Jeff Withey and dealt with an enigmatic but effectiveTyshawn Taylor. And remember, the Jayhawks lost their top recruit, Ben McLemore to academics in the nonconference. Self is right there for coach of the year nationally with Mizzou’s Frank Haith, Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.
…Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas announced he will step down on July 1. The Big 12 should consider NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen for the position. Shaheen, who was responsible for coordinating the NCAA’s move from Overland Park, Kan., to Indianapolis, has been the glue for the NCAA tournament. Shaheen helped negotiate the latest television contract for the tournament with CBS and Turner and is as connected as anyone at the NCAA in college athletics. But he has to re-interview for his job after the Final Four and according to multiple sources the hierarchy at the NCAA wants him out for a change. Shaheen is too valuable in college athletics to be left idle. The Big 12 could use his vision going forward.
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Big 12/College News
Big 12 Schedule & Results
The Big 12 will unveil an all-new promotional campaign at the Big 12 basketball tournament in Kansas City from March 7-10, commissioner Chuck Neinas told ESPN.com at Wednesday's conference commissioners' meeting.
"We’re in the process of retaining a public relations firm and we’re going to have a major campaign promoting the new Big 12," Neinas said. "We feel that competitively, we take a backseat to no one."
"Our record shows that," he said. "You name the sport and we’re there. Football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, you name it."
At Big 12 Football Media Days in August, the Big 12 unveiled a branding intitiative focused on the league's new 10-team format and a new slogan: "How We Play," focused on the round-robin, nine-game "One True Champion" scheduling of the slimmed down league.
However, just months after emphasizing that initiative, Texas A&M and Missouri left the league. The $1 million investment with GSD&M, an Austin, Texas,-based marketing firm, was rendered useless.
"I don’t know that they spent it all," Neinas said of the past initiative. "The presidents and chancellors have put aside a substantial budget to help our campaign."
Neinas declined to discuss the specifics of how much money would be set aside.
No firm for the campaign has been selected yet, but Neinas said to expect some commemoration in July when TCU and West Virginia officially become the ninth and 10th members of the new Big 12.
The Big 12 plans to have TCU and West Virginia included in the new promotional campaign, however.
"The image has suffered obviously, because of institutions leaving the conference, so we’re going to celebrate the addition of the two new members on July 1st," Neinas said.
Neinas wants to celebrate the success of the Big 12, which recently executed the six-year grant of rights to make it official: The Big 12's 10 current members are in place through the league's next TV negotiations for the first-tier media rights.
A newfound stability and on-field success would be the focus of the new push to promote the Big 12.
"If you look at the preseason prognosticators, you’ll see six of the 10 members of the Big 12 are in the top 25," Neinas said. "I think that’s an indication as to how we’re viewed competitively and we just have to let the nation know that we’re in a good, stable position and everyone is working together to move forward."
In eight stunning minutes, Oklahoma State had climbed out of a 30-12 halftime hole and had two open 3-point shots to tie. First Keiton Page missed. Then Brian Williams did.
The previous six weeks, Oklahoma had turned second-half lethargy into an art form. The Sooners' latest collapse seemed inevitable.
And then, at last, they flipped the script.
Instead of folding, OU pressed the attack with arguably its 12 most inspired minutes of the year. The result was a 77-64 Bedlam victory that left the Sooners skipping around the arena with smiles that belied their 4-11 Big 12 Conference record.
And why not? Their six-game losing streak was over, and they had just beaten OSU for the eighth consecutive time in Norman.
They picked a pretty good night to finally close a deal.
"We needed a win desperately," OU forward Romero Osby said. "But the fact that it was Bedlam also puts a little significance on it. To come out and try to beat Oklahoma State, that's what we're supposed to do."
The odds of a random college player who made only one shot in nine minutes of action shooting up the charts on Sportscenter’s Top Plays are pretty low.
Enter long shot Quintrell Thomas.
With just more than eight minutes left in No. 21 UNLV’s 75-58 rout of Boise State on Wednesday night, Thomas stormed down the lane and cleaned up Justin Hawkins’ missed layup with an emphatic put-back slam.
The dunk set off the crowd and the Rebels, specifically sophomore forward Mike Moser, who got in Thomas’ face and refused to get out until Thomas acknowledged the awesomeness of the moment.
On a night full of NBA and college basketball action, ESPN tapped Thomas’ dunk as the No. 2 play of the night. Sportscenter anchor Stan Verrett called the highlight and pointed out the plight of the Broncos’ Drew Wiley, who tried to grab the rebound in front of Thomas and was actually whistled for a foul on the play.
“That guy from Boise State is like, ‘Great, now I’m going to be on Top Plays,’ ” Verrett said.
Las Vegas Sun
1. Sure, it helps to be a No. 1 seed — but you probably knew that already. In the past 10 NCAA Tournaments, 15 of the 40 teams to make it to the Final Four were No. 1 seeds. That includes 2008, when all four No. 1s made it to the final Saturday. But if Missouri has to enter the 2012 NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed, it shouldn't cause acid reflux. Nine No. 2 seeds have made it to the Final Four over the past 10 NCAA Tournaments. And while I don't think Missouri will drop to a No. 3 seed — the sky is not quite falling yet, OK? — five No. 3 seeds have advanced to the Final Four over the last 10 NCAA Tournaments. Last season, the Final Four didn't have a No. 1 or a No. 2 in the field. But UConn, which won the championship, was a No. 3 seed.
…Whether MU and those teams begin the journey as a No. 1, No. 2 or even No. 3 seed ... well, it just isn't as significant this season.
The key? Being one of the top three seeds. Over the past 10 NCAA Tournaments, half the spots in the Final Four (20 of 40) have been claimed by top threes.
St Louis PD
But after a Big 12 title and a school-record 32 victories, Iowa State could not finish off the Spartans and a heavy home-court advantage at The Palace at Auburn Hills. It was slipping away, and Eustachy couldn’t stand to see the most successful tournament run of his career come to such an end.
With 10 seconds left, Eustachy went onto the court after official Curtis Shaw. He screamed. He gestured. He cursed. He came close enough that the worst possible outcome – a physical confrontation – appeared possible.
The famously short-tempered Shaw – known as “Quick Draw Curtis Shaw” – wasted no time ejecting Eustachy. Eustachy’s assistants herded the fuming wild man off the court before it could get worse.
When Eustachy left the arena that night, you know where he went.
“I went to a big bar with my brother-in-law,” he says. “They had 101 beers on tap. I think I tried every one of them that night.”
The 2000-01 Iowa State team was almost as good as its predecessor. The Cyclones won 25 games and again captured the Big 12 title, but March was a bust. The Cyclones were seeded second in the West Region but were shocked by 15th-seeded Hampton 58-57, and Eustachy’s run in Ames dwindled from that point. He went 29-33 the next two seasons, which probably made it easier to fire him when the pictures came out in the spring of ’03.
Iowa State hasn’t come close to anything like that battle in Auburn Hills ever since. Neither has Eustachy … but he’s working on it.
Fast forward 12 years from that infamous ejection. On the night when Southern Miss is playing its thriller against Tulsa, the C-USA supervisor of officials is courtside to watch. His name: Curtis Shaw.
We’ve become extremely good friends,” Eustachy says, smiling. “I don’t think that’s coincidental. It’s a journey.”
Yahoo: The resurrection of Larry Eustachy
A high school game in Wichita tonight that matches future Jayhawks will be televised by Metro Sports in Kansas City.
Wichita Heights, which includes KU signee Perry Ellis, takes on Wichita North and junior point Conner Frankamp, who averages 35 points for the 12-7 team and is committed to Kansas.
Heights is the three-time defending Kansas Class 6A champion and is riding a 62-game winning streak. Ellis, a 6-8 forward, averages 26 points per game.
Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.
Heights senior Perry Ellis and North junior Conner Frankamp, two of the top basketball players in City League history, will be on the floor together tonight for the final time in a regular season game.
The next time they meet will either be at the Class 6A tournament – sub-state play begins next week – or at Kansas, where Ellis has signed and Frankamp has made an oral committment.
“It’s a great night for fans to come out and watch those two young men,” North coach Gary Squires said. “They are special players. They bring so much to the game. They’re fun to watch, fun to coach.”
Heights coach Joe Auer agreed.
“They’re both great kids,” he said. “Those two guys let their play do all the talking. They don’t play to the crowd. They don’t play to their fan club in the front row. They just play for their team. And that’s it.”
…Heights seats 1,200; fans who don’t get in can watch the game on Cox 22.
It’s senior night, which is always emotional, but will be especially so because Ellis, who has led Heights to three straight Class 6A titles, is finishing his career as a Falcon.
And then there’s the matter of this being the last regular-season game played at Heights’ gym. A new gym, currently under construction, will open before next season.
“Our guys take a lot of pride in that court,” Auer said. “We haven’t lost a game on that floor since 2007, and they certainly want to defend their home floor.”
Semi Ojeleye, a 6-foot-6 junior forward from Ottawa High, will attend Saturday’s KU-Missouri game on an unofficial visit. Ojeleye, who is Rivals.com’s No. 46-rated player in the Class of 2013, has received scholarship offers from Kansas State, Marquette, Missouri, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Northwestern, Oklahoma State and UCLA.
JaKarr Sampson, a 6-8 senior from Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, tells Rivals.com he will visit Florida and Providence at some point following this weekend’s official visit to KU.
Chris Walker will visit Florida State Thursday for the Duke game, and won’t be at Kansas this weekend, he told SNY.tv.
“Florida State tomorrow,” he said by text.
The 6-foot-9 Walker is the Rivals No. 2 power forward in the Class of 2013 and recently listed Kansas in his top three, along with UConn and Florida.
“They’re recruiting me hard and say I can come in and start and be an instant impact,” Walker told Five-Star Basketball in December in reference to Kansas. ”They’re recruiting me for the three and four.”
After visiting campus in October, Walker has watched a few Kansas games on TV.
“I could help them on defense and help them score a lot and do [well] on the pick-and-rolls.”
Kansas hosts Missouri Saturday and is set to host Shabazz Muhammad, JaKarr Sampson, Perry Ellis, Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene.
Ellis, Frankamp and Greene have all committed.
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