Thursday, March 8, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Kansas 83, Texas A&M 66
By Jason King
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Elijah Johnson scored a career-high 26 points to spark Kansas to an 83-66 victory over Texas A&M on Thursday at the Sprint Center. The victory, which came in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament, catapults the Jayhawks into Friday's semifinal against Baylor. The Bears defeated Kansas State 82-74 in Thursday's first quarterfinal.
Turning point: Trailing 21-20, Kansas uncorked an 18-4 scoring run that gave the Jayhawks a 38-24 lead with just more than two minutes remaining in the opening half. Johnson scored eight points -- including a pair of 3-pointers -- during the march. Kansas led 40-28 at the intermission and never looked back.
Key player: Kansas fans are hoping Johnson's career performance will give the junior guard plenty of momentum heading into Friday's game against Baylor -- and the NCAA tournament. His 26 points came on 8-of-11 shooting. He made five of his seven attempts from beyond the arc and also had four assists and two steals.
Key stat: Not many teams would've defeated the hot-shooting Jayhawks Thursday. Bill Self's squad shot 61.4 percent from the field and 66.7 percent (10-of-15) from 3-point range. Even Robinson made two 3-pointers, giving him six on the season.
Miscellaneous: The loss ends what has been a disappointing season for Texas A&M. Adversity first struck in the fall, when first-year coach Billy Kennedy was forced to miss the first month of official workouts after being diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson's disease. Soon after Kennedy's return, Middleton went down with a knee injury that caused him to miss 12 games throughout the season. He's never been 100 percent. Starting Kourtney Roberson, who is also injured, hasn't played since Dec. 22. And starting point guard Dash Harris missed six Big 12 games with a foot injury. All of it resulted in losses in 10 of the Aggies' final 12 games. Still, Texas A&M managed to stay competitive, as seven of those 10 defeats were by single digits.
What's ahead: Kansas advanced to play No. 4 seed Baylor in Friday's semifinal. The Jayhawks have defeated the Bears twice this season by an average of 16 points. Texas A&M ends its season with a 14-18 record under first-year coach Kennedy.