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Kansas and West Virginia Punch Ticket to Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship
March 09, 2018

Bracket - Championship Central

Kansas and West Virginia advanced to Saturday's Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship final. No. 1 Kansas picked up an 83-67 win over No. 67 K-State in the first semifinal, while No. 3 West Virginia won 66-63 over No. 2 Texas Tech in the second semi. 

Game 7: No. 1 Kansas 83, No. 4 Kansas State 67

Postgame Highlights
Postgame Interview - Malik Newman
Postgame Interview - Mitch Lightfoot
Box Score 
Kansas Postgame Press Conference
Kansas State Postgame Press Conference

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas absorbed the biggest blows that short-handed Kansas State could land, played without its star big man for the second straight game and won its Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship semifinal.

You'd think that would be enough to make coach Bill Self happy.

"I thought they played better than us," he insisted after an 83-67 victory Friday night, "but I thought a lot of it was self-inflicted. We couldn't guard them and offensively we weren't very smart.

"If I sleep two hours tonight," Self added, "it'll be more than I probably think I should."

So much for feel-good feelings.

Malik Newman poured in 22 points, Devonte Graham added 15 points and Svi Mykhailiuk had 12 for the top-seeded Jayhawks (26-7), who nevertheless cruised into a title matchup with No. 14 Texas Tech or No. 18 West Virginia on Saturday night at the Sprint Center.

It was the Jayhawks' eighth straight win over Kansas State (23-10), and they remained perfect in 10 games against their cross-state rival in the Big 12 Tournament.

The fourth-seeded Wildcats learned Friday morning they'd be without All-Big 12 forward Dean Wade, who hurt his foot in their quarterfinal win over TCU. Then they lost starting guard Barry Brown early against the Jayhawks when he was accidentally poked in the eye.

"You can't prepare for Barry going down the first play," Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. "He had very little vision. He wanted to play. He kept saying, `Put me in.' But I held up fingers and asked him how many and he couldn't say."

Forward Mawien stepped up with a career-high 29 points, and Xavier Sneed scored 12 despite another poor shooting night, but the duo couldn't make up for two major absences.

Brown's injury came 90 seconds into the game, when he drove the lane and Graham accidentally got him in the left eye. He flopped to the floor in pain - "It was a little gross when I looked at it," Weber said - and was checked for several minutes before going to the locker room.

Even when he returned to the bench, Brown never looked like he was going to play. There was some bleeding in his eye and he spent the rest of the game holding an ice pack on it.

"It's very tough when one of your main contributors goes down with an injury," Mawien said. "We just had to step up and play hard."

Kansas took advantage of the absences by ripping off a 19-4 run midway through the first half that gave the Jayhawks control. They eventually pushed the advantage to 43-30 by the break.

Mawien and the Wildcats made the Jayhawks work for it in the second half, though. The junior college transfer dominated in the paint, especially when Kansas big man Mitch Lightfoot picked up his fourth foul with 11:38 to go, and Kansas State clawed to within 53-51 with 10 minutes left.

"There was absolutely no resistant guarding Mawien," Self said, "and I hope I'm pronouncing it correctly, because he was by far the best player in the game. He whipped us."

It was Newman that restored order. The transfer from Mississippi State followed his career-best 30-point effort in a quarterfinal win over Oklahoma State with another virtuoso performance.

He drained a 3-pointer to make it 60-53 with 8 1/2 minutes left, then hit his fifth of the game a few minutes later. And by the time Lagerald Vick curled in back-to-back baskets, the lead had swelled to 71-59 and the Jayhawks were on their way toward the title game.

"I mean, we know that basketball is a game of runs. Those guys did a good job of going on their run," Newman said, "but we were able to withstand the storm. We had confidence in one another that we were going to make stops and make plays."

Game 8: No. 3 West Virginia 66, No. 2 Texas Tech 63

Postgame Highlights
Postgame Interview - Sagaba Konate
Postgame Interview - Wesley Harris
Box Score 
WVU Postgame Press Conference
Texas Tech Postgame Press Conference

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Daxter Miles Jr. had 22 points for West Virginia, and Niem Stevenson's half-court heave at the buzzer bounced harmlessly off the iron, giving the No. 2-seed Mountaineers a 66-63 win over No. 2-seed Texas Tech in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship semifinals on Friday night.

Jevon Carter added 17 points and Sagaba Konate had 11 for the third-seeded Mountaineers (24-9), who advanced to their third straight title game. They'll face No. 9 Kansas on Saturday night.

Miles had a chance to clinch the game from the foul line with 6 seconds left, but he only made the first of two free throws. Texas Tech (24-9) corralled the rebound but struggled to get the ball up court, and Stevenson resorted to a half-court shot that would have tied the game.

Jarrett Culver had 16 points for the Red Raiders, who led 57-56 with 4 minutes to go but were unable to hang on. Keenan Evans added 13 points, but their star guard was just 5 of 14 from the field, and missed two crucial free throws and a tightly contested 3-pointer in the final 90 seconds.

West Virginia fell to the Jayhawks in the Big 12 title game two years ago and lost to Iowa State in last year's edition. The Mountaineers haven't won a postseason conference title since 2010, when they were still members of the Big East.

Their semifinal game was precisely the defensive slobber-knocker everyone expected.

West Virginia leaned on its frenetic, full-court press to cause problems and create turnovers, just like the Mountaineers did in their quarterfinal win over Baylor. Texas Tech leaned on its gritty, in-your-face half-court defense to force West Virginia into a bushel of misses.

The Mountaineers led 27-26 at halftime.

At that point, it was a wonder anybody in Sprint Center was still awake.

The fans were treated to a game that slowly built in intensity, especially as West Virginia and Texas Tech remained unable to create separation until midway through the second half.

That's when Miles and Carter, the veteran guards who have been such stalwarts for West Virginia over the years, began playing H-O-R-S-E against each other from beyond the 3-point line.

Their barrage allowed the Mountaineers to slowly build a 54-48 lead at the under-8 timeout.

Texas Tech roared back with nine straight points to swipe the lead away, setting up a frantic push to the finish - and eventually, a wild celebration on the West Virginia bench.

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