Dallas Colleges: Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Baylor sharpshooter Brady Heslip hit a pair of 3-pointers to keep No. 3 Kansas at bay, and Perry Jones III finished with 18 points as the No. 12 Bears beat the Jayhawks, 81-72, on Friday night to reach the Big 12 tournament title game.
Quincy Miller added 13 points and eight rebounds, and Pierre Jackson had 11 points and seven assists for the Bears (27-6), who will play No. 5 Missouri or Texas for the championship.
Baylor lost to the Tigers in its only previous Big 12 title game.
Tyshawn Taylor had a game-high 20 points for Kansas (26-6), which used a big second-half charge to briefly take the lead. But the Bears hung tough down the stretch.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Elijah Johnson scored a career-high 26 points, and No. 3 Kansas began pursuit of its third straight Big 12 tournament title with an 83-66 win over Texas A&M in the quarterfinals Thursday.
Thomas Robinson, the conference player of the year, finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and All-Big 12 guard Tyshawn Taylor added 16 points for the Jayhawks (27-5).
They'll play No. 12 Baylor on Friday. The Bears beat Kansas State 82-74 in the quarterfinals.
Khris Middleton led Texas A&M (14-18) with 24 points, though he didn't get a whole lot of help. Leading scorer Elston Turner was held to eight points on 3-of-11 shooting.
The Aggies head off to the Southeastern Conference beginning next season.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor couldn't get anything going early for Kansas against Texas A&M.
The Jayhawks were OK though thanks to Elijah Johnson's 18 points in the first half that carried the team until their stars warmed up after halftime.
Johnson scored 21 points and Taylor made key plays down the stretch to help No. 4 Kansas fight off a late run by Texas A&M for a 66-58 victory Wednesday night.
"I needed to score for us tonight," Johnson said. "I was just aggressive and I ended up playing into a role. My points just kept us on top."
Johnson finished two points shy of his career-high and his first half performance helped offset Robinson and Taylor combining for three points in the first 20 minutes.
"He got us off to a good start," Taylor said. "He shot the ball well. We've been waiting for Elijah to come on. It was good for him to get a little bit of confidence going into a big game on Saturday."
That big game is a showdown for the Big 12 lead with No. 3 Missouri, a team that beat the Jayhawks 74-71 in the first meeting Feb. 4.
Kansas (23-5, 13-2) led by as many as 21 points in the second half before a big run by the Aggies got them within striking distance.
"To put them in a position to be able to win the game is beyond belief because we were just making basketball plays experienced guys should never make," Kansas coach Bill Self said.
A 3-pointer by Dash Harris cut the Kansas lead to four points, but Taylor made the first of two free throws to leave Kansas up 61-56 with about a minute remaining.
Johnson added a free throw before Robinson fouled out on a technical he received during a scuffle between players when they were trying to secure a loose ball.
Elston Turner made both free throws to make it 62-58 with 40 seconds left, but Jeff Withey scored four points after that to guarantee the win.
Khris Middleton led Texas A&M (13-14, 4-11) with 23 points.
It's time again to make some college football predictions for our local teams. Please share your picks in the comment section.
SMU vs. Marshall (2 p.m., Saturday): The Mustangs (5-5) need a win to become bowl eligible and still control their own destiny in Conference USA's West Division. If SMU can win its last two games, they'll play for the C-USA title. It's a "white out" at SMU. The Mustangs are at home and ready. They'll take care of business. Prediction: SMU 28, Marshall 17
Weber State at Texas Tech (2 p.m., Saturday): If there was ever a time for the Red Raiders to get a Big 12 breather, it's this week. Texas Tech was crushed by Oklahoma, 45-7, last week and is 3-5 in conference. Weber State shouldn't provide much of a problem. Houston comes to town next week. Prediction: Texas Tech 45, Weber State 10
Florida Atlantic at Texas (2:30 p.m., Saturday): The Longhorns offense continues to sputter, but the Longhorns should have some chances to score against Florida Atlantic. Texas needs a win Saturday and a victory over Texas A&M on Thanksgiving night just to finish .500. Prediction: Texas 31, Florida Atlantic 13
North Texas at Louisiana-Monroe (2:30 p.m., Saturday): This should be a good game between two pretty even teams. It's on the road, which might normally suggest some struggles for UNT. But I'm going with the Mean Green in a close one. Prediction: North Texas 31, Louisiana-Monroe 28
Nebraska at Texas A&M (7 p.m., Saturday, ABC): The Aggies are sure excited about this one. As of today, 29,520 students have put in for tickets and the university is arranging to have chairs on the track to get everyone in the stadium they possibly can. And why not? Texas A&M has won four straight and is No. 19 in the country. Nebraska better be ready. The Cornhuskers want to clinch the Big 12 North and continue their march toward a BCS bowl. I think the Aggies come to play at home on Saturday. Prediction: Texas A&M 24, Nebraska 21
Oklahoma at Baylor (7 p.m., ESPN2): The Bears had things going after a win over Texas put them at 7-2 and tied for the top spot in the Big 12 South. But losses to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M mean Saturday's game isn't to keep the Bears near the top of the division anymore. They are bowl eligible and hoping for a chance to beat Texas and Oklahoma in the same season. But I don't see that happening Saturday. Prediction: Oklahoma 34, Baylor 21
Oklahoma State at Kansas (11 a.m., Saturday): I can't see the Cowboys having trouble here, even on the road. They want to be sure they keep that Bedlam clash one that would decide the Big 12 South. Prediction: Oklahoma State 38, Kansas 17
Who gets the golden ticket? There are a few options. Let's take a look (in order of what we think):
1. Utah. The Utes are in the Salt Lake City television market, one that would certainly have some appeal in the Pac 10. They would bring the conference another strong football program and one that has also had some success in the past in basketball. Geographically, they make sense. (This is yet another reason why the MWC went out and got Boise State on Friday.)
2. Kansas. One of the most storied basketball programs in the country would be out of the immediate expansion if A&M goes to the Pac 10. But if they don't, the league might like the idea of adding such a strong basketball school to the conference. It would no doubt help the overall pedigree of the conference. (That's assuming Kansas and Kansas State aren't a package deal).
3. Missouri. Spurned by the Big 10, the Tigers will be looking around for a home. Rumors have circulated that some of the other current Big 12 schools aren't thrilled with them, but maybe that wouldn't matter to get the St. Louis television market. Again, from an expansion point of view, they work.
4. TCU. I've heard some folks mention this idea, but I'm not sure the Pac 10 needs the Frogs. If this is about media markets -- and for the most part it is -- the Pac 10 doesn't need TCU since it has the key Texas markets with the addition of its other teams. It would be fun to see the Frogs play some old Southwest Conference foes, but I can't think an invitation would be headed to Fort Worth.
5. Baylor. Again, a school on the outside looking in for now. There would certainly be a push from the state legislature to get Baylor in place of A&M should the Aggies go to the SEC. But that might not be enough. Certainly, the Pac 10 doesn't need Baylor (same reason as TCU). And if they decided to go another Texas school, TCU seems more attractive because of its football program.
Obviously, there's a lot of talk about what all of this talk about the Pac-10 inviting six Big 12 teams would do to both leagues. But is there an opportunity here for the Mountain West Conference? Warning: This is just speculation on my part, but it's fun to discuss.
Let's say the Pac-10 takes a gaggle of Big 12 teams. At that point, shouldn't the MWC try to jump in and grab those remaining teams? Seems like Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor, for instance, would look good in the MWC. They could even grab SMU to try to push even more into the Dallas-Fort Worth market to join TCU.
Of course, the Big 12 might try to do the same, grabbing TCU and a few other teams, including Houston, Rice and SMU to try to keep the regional conference affiliation in this area. (Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle blogged about that this morning). But the MWC is poised to strengthen itself with an invitation to Boise State. They could get even stronger with some sort of merger with as many remaining Big 12 teams as possible.
What about Nebraska? Maybe they could end up in the MWC if the Big 10 doesn't invite them and they are left out of this Pac-10 party.
Anyway, just a thought from the MWC perspective. We'll see if they can make a mark if this Big 12 raid occurs.
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