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Jayhawks Fall To Cyclones In Big 12 Tournament Title Game

The Kansas Jayhawks are this year’s runners up for the Big 12 Tournament championship, losing in the final to Iowa State 78-66 on Saturday.

These two programs have now won each of the last seven league tournament titles, although this was their first head-to-head meeting in the final. Heading into the NCAA tournament, Kansas is 25-9, while Iowa State is 23-11.

For the second game in a row, Iowa State didn’t get into much of a shooting rhythm early on, making just 41.9 percent of its shots overall and just 3-of-11 from three-point range. The Cyclones still went into halftime with a 10-point lead, however, because the Jayhawks were anemic on offense in the opening 20 minutes.

KU started the game just 10-of-36 from the floor as a team and missed all nine of its three-point attempts. Adding insult to injury was a 2-of-8 performance from the free throw line, unable to take advantage of a handful of mistakes by ISU.

Junior forward Dedric Lawson in particular had an uncharacteristically bad half. He scored just five points on 2-of-11 shooting.

The second half picked up where the first left off, as the Cyclones got out to a quick 7-2 run to start the second period. The Jayhawks were able to cut into the lead slightly after it had been stretched out, but a flurry from Iowa State and numerous bad misses at the rim for Kansas pushed the deficit back to 17 at the under-12 media timeout.

Unlike in a handful of big losses for the Jayhawks this season in which the team’s effort once the game got out of hand could be questioned, that wasn’t the case on Saturday, though it wasn’t enough to overcome the Cyclones’ offense. Kansas got within nine points twice in the second half but it wasn’t enough, falling by 12 in the end.

“It was a strange game, Iowa State controlled it basically from the jump but I thought our guys played their butts off,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We just didn’t have much to show for it, couldn’t buy a basket.”

Lawson finished the game as KU’s leading scorer with 18 points on 8-of-21 shooting, while also being named to the all-tournament team. In a rare moment of visible frustration, Lawson picked up a technical foul late in the game after spiking the ball after a foul call.

Freshman guard Devon Dotson was also named to the all-tournament team and finished the final with 17 points.

“We showed some signs where we really wanted to win this game, but they hit some tough shots, and we missed some of our easy shots that we usually make,” Dotson said.

Freshman guard Quentin Grimes scored 10 points, marking this as the second time all season in which he scored in double figures three games in a row. His shooting touch, however, which was key in the semifinals against West Virginia, vanished against Iowa State. He went 0-of-6 from three-point range in the loss.

“I just felt like it was one of those nights, we couldn’t get a basket,” Grimes said.

A trio of Iowa State players made the all-tournament team, including Michael Jacobson, Lindell Wigginton and the tournament’s most outstanding player, Marial Shayok. Wigginton led the Cyclones in scoring with 17 points on Saturday, while Shayok had 15 and Jacobson had 14.

Self said that while Kansas has been starting two big men and playing with that setup more frequently, he needed to make a change against a guard-heavy team like Iowa State.

“If you’re going to play big against that team, you’ve got to score inside,” Self said. “They’re a hard team for us to match up with if Dedric has to guard a little guard.”

Iowa State has now won four of the last six Big 12 tournaments.

All eyes for the Jayhawks are now on Selection Sunday, when their seeding and location for the first weekend (and potentially the second weekend) of the NCAA tournament will be revealed. Kansas has an inexperienced team in terms of postseason play this year, but Self said he’s actually more confident in his team going forward following their effort in the Saturday’s loss.

The confidence heading into the NCAA tournament was a sentiment shared by the players.

“There’s some challenges, but in the big scheme of things I feel like we’re ready for it,” Dotson said. “The four freshmen, we’ve really been prepared by the coaching staff and our teammates.”

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