Kansas Holds On To Reach Big 12 Final

Saturday, March 10th 2007, 3:30 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Mario Chalmers scored 16 points and No. 2 Kansas held off a second-half charge from Kansas State to win 67-61 on Saturday and advance to the Big 12 championship game.

Julian Wright added 12 points, including a jumper with 1:05 left that put the game out of reach, and Sherron Collins had 10 points and 6-assists for the top-seeded Jayhawks.

Chalmers hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Kansas its first double-digit lead of the game at 43-31 in the opening minutes of the 2nd-half, and the Jayhawks eventually pushed ahead by 14 on a 3-pointer by Brandon Rush.

The Wildcats stayed in it, though, by preventing Kansas from extending its dominance on the boards. The Jayhawks had outrebounded Kansas State by 43 in sweeping the teams' two regular-season meetings.

This time, the Wildcats had a 23-13 rebounding edge in the 2nd-half and ended up with only three less than Kansas for the game.

Cartier Martin capped an 8-0 run to bring Kansas State back within 56-52 with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4:11 remaining.

The 4th-seeded Wildcats had a chance to bring it closer in the final 2 minutes, but Rush dove to create a jumpball to regain possession for the Jayhawks. Wright responded with a spinning jumper in the lane that extended Kansas' lead to 62-54 with 1:05 to play.

Kansas State couldn't get closer than 6-after that.

In Sunday's championship game, the Jayhawks will face either No. 15 Texas, the tournament's No. 3 seed, or 7th-seeded Oklahoma State.

In a century-old rivalry that includes 263 games, the teams had only met once at a location outside of Kansas City, Mo., or the state of Kansas. The Jayhawks won that game, an NCAA tournament regional final, 71-58 in Pontiac, Mich.

They're now 1-0 against the Wildcats at Oklahoma City's Ford Center, too.

No matter where the games are played, Kansas has dominated the series in recent years. They've won 35 of the previous 36 meetings dating back to 1994. Kansas State's only win in that span came last January on the Jayhawks' home floor.

Martin led the Wildcats (22-11) with 17 points, Lance Harris scored 16 and Akeem Wright had 12 points. David Hoskins, the team's second-leading scorer with a 14.5-point average, committed a career-high eight turnovers while scoring only eight points.

In Bob Huggins' first season as coach, the Wildcats are hoping a quarterfinal win against fellow bubble team Texas Tech was enough to put them over the top for their first NCAA tournament bid since 1996.