KANSAS CITY, Mo. – One by one, Kansas players headed to the top step of the ladder to cut down the nets, with Jeff Withey carefully nipping at a piece of nylon and then waving it to the roar of the fans.
There was no way the Jayhawks were going to share this celebration.
No way they were going to share this title.
Withey had 17 points and nine rebounds Saturday night, and the seventh-ranked Jayhawks used their trademark suffocating defense to beat No. 11 Kansas State 70-54 and win the their ninth Big 12 tournament championship – not to mention the tiebreaker over their regular-season co-champs.
I felt like this game had to be played, said the Jayhawks’ Elijah Johnson, smiling. I think we fed into it, and I think they did, too, and at the end of the day, it was a championship game, and I felt it had to be played for this to be decided.
There should be no argument any longer over the best in the Big 12.
The Jayhawks (29-5), who may have locked up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with the victory, beat Kansas State for the third time this season. They’ve also won their last 11 meetings in conference tournaments, and 39 of the 42 games played since the inception of the Big 12.
I think how this season played out this year, I think it means a lot, Kansas guard Travis Releford said. And our fans, they have a lot of bragging rights now that this game is over.
Rodney McGruder scored 18 points despite a poor first half, and Angel Rodriguez had 10 for the Wildcats (27-7), who still have not won a conference tournament in more than 30 years.
No. 9 MIAMI 81, N.C. STATE 71: In Greensboro, N.C., Durand Scott scored a career-high 32 points to help Miami in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals, earning its first trip to the championship game.
Shane Larkin added 23 for the top-seeded Hurricanes (26-6), who led the entire way and by 19 points late in the first half. Miami shot 46 percent behind Scott, a senior guard who went 12-for-18 from the field and 5-for-8 from three-point range.
No. 13 FLORIDA 61, ALABAMA 51: In Nashville, Tenn., Kenny Boynton scored 11 straight points during a 15-0 second-half run as Florida rallied from a 10-point, second-half deficit in a Southeastern Conference tournament semifinal.
The top-seeded Gators (26-6) advanced to today’s championship game against either Mississippi or Vanderbilt.
No. 15 NEW MEXICO 63, UNLV 56: In Las Vegas, Tony Snell scored 13 straight points for New Mexico during a second-half run, and the Lobos pulled away late to add the Mountain West tournament title to their regular season crown.
No. 20 MEMPHIS 91, SOUTHERN MISS 79, 2OT: In Tulsa, Okla., Chris Crawford scored 23 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer in double overtime, and Memphis won its seventh Conference USA tournament title in the past eight years.
No. 25 VCU 71, UMASS 62: In New York, Troy Daniels made six three-pointers to score 20 points, and VCU advanced to the Atlantic 10 tournament title game in its first season in the conference.
The Rams will face top-seeded Saint Louis today.
No. 15 DELAWARE 75, HOFSTRA 54: In Upper Marlboro, Md., Elena Delle Donne had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Delaware breezed to a third straight berth in the Colonial Athletic Association title game.