The Big 12 Tournament started with a bang on March 9 in Kansas City. The University of Kansas men's basketball team won the tournament, after defeating the University of West Virginia with a final score of 81-71.
DAY FOUR: March 12
No. 1 Kansas beats No. 9 West Virginia for Big 12 title
Devonte Graham matched a career-high with 27 points, Wayne Selden Jr. added 21 and top-ranked Kansas overcame a remarkable performance by West Virginia's Devin Williams for an 81-71 victory over the ninth-ranked Mountaineers in the Big 12 Tournament title game Saturday night.
Perry Ellis added 17 points for the Jayhawks (30-4), who almost certainly locked up the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament by winning their 10th Big 12 Tournament championship.
Kansas trailed the Mountaineers (26-8) at the break before taking control behind Graham, their sophomore guard. He hit five 3-pointers, was 10 of 10 from the foul line and had a career-high four steals, effortlessly dealing with West Virginia's trademark pressure all night.
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) March 13, 2016
Williams finished with a career-best 31 points and 10 rebounds, but the junior forward was forced to carry the load by himself. Jevon Carter was held to four points after scoring 26 in a semifinal win over No. 6 Oklahoma, and leading scorer Jaysean Paige managed just six points while committing four turnovers.
DAY THREE: March 11
West Virginia defeats Oklahoma: 69-67
Everything unfolded in slow motion for West Virginia's Jevon Carter.
He saw Oklahoma star Buddy Hield get the ball in his hands, take a couple of dribbles and cross half-court, then heave a shot at the buzzer that banked through the basket in the Big 12 semifinals.
"It was like a movie. They have the camera on the main character the whole time," Carter said later, sitting alone in the Mountaineers' locker room. "Championship game, it's going to be a tough game — main character makes the last shot. So when he made that I was like, 'Is this possible?'"
Not quite. Not this time.
As Hield leaped into the crowd to celebrate, the game officials huddled around a monitor to review his shot. And after a tense moment, they ruled the ball left Hield's hand a fraction of a second late, and No. 9 West Virginia escaped with a 69-67 victory over the sixth-ranked Sooners on Friday night.
How close was OU's Buddy Hield to beating West Virginia with his halfcourt heave that went in?
THIS close. pic.twitter.com/ShDyCSSleV
— ESPN (@espn) March 12, 2016
"When I saw the replay I was like, 'Nah, that didn't count,'" said Carter, who hit six 3-pointers and led the Mountaineers with 26 points. "They're going to give this game to us."
West Virginia (26-7) certainly earned it.
Jaysean Paige hit a pullup jumper over Isaiah Cousins to give the Mountaineers a 68-67 lead with 11.2 seconds left. Christian James missed a layup at the other end and the Sooners (25-7) fouled with 1.8 seconds to go, sending West Virginia forward Jonathan Holton to the line.
He only made the second of two free throws, giving Hield one final chance.
"I thought it was good, so I went and celebrated. The gym thought it was good too," said Hield, who was held to just six points, one night after pouring in 39 in a quarterfinal victory over Iowa State.
"Time wasn't on my side, I guess."
Now, it will be coach Bob Huggins' boys who play No. 1 Kansas for the title Saturday night.
"It's like I told those guys: 'OK, we won. It's a win against a great, great team," he said. "But we came to win. We didn't come to play tomorrow. We came to win tomorrow. And that's my focus."
Cousins led the Sooners with 15 points and seven assists. James had a career-best 13 points, Ryan Spangler added 12 points and Jordan Woodard had 11 as they tried to make up for the absence of their star.
Hield didn't score until a pair of free throws with a minute left in the first half.
"It was tough. They guarded him good," Spangler said. "When that happens, the other four guys on the court have to figure out a way to get the ball in the hoop."
West Virginia extended its 30-29 halftime lead in the opening minutes of the second half, and it was Carter who predictably did most of the damage. After hitting four 3s in the first half, the sophomore guard knocked down two more in rapid succession to make it 44-36 with about 15 minutes remaining.
Hield finally knocked down his first field-goal, a 3-pointer with 9:39 left in the game, but Paige and the Mountaineers kept harassing him into mistakes that prevented him from catching fire.
It was the rest of the Sooners who finally did that.
Cousins began a 12-0 run by knocking down a 3-pointer and hitting a pair of free throws, and James finished it with two 3s and his own foul shots. The final 3 from just in front of his coach Lon Kruger gave Oklahoma a 62-61 lead with 2:52 left — its first since of the second half.
Tarik Phillip's three-point play gave West Virginia the lead back, and Cousins connected on his third 3-pointer and James added a pair of free throws, as the teams traded the lead down the stretch.
"We don't do a lot of things well, but we really do compete," Huggins said. "We just kind of challenged them to compete a little harder."
Oklahoma: Hield was 1 for 8 from the field. ... The Sooners had a season-high 21 turnovers. ... Oklahoma swept West Virginia in the regular season. ... Spangler reached 1,000 points for his career.
West Virginia: Paige finished with 10 points. Devin Williams had nine points and 11 boards ... The Mountaineers have not won a conference tournament since the Big East in 2010.
Oklahoma begins preparing for the NCAA Tournament.
West Virginia plays for its first Big 12 Tournament title.
Kansas defeats Baylor: 70-66
Perry Ellis had 20 points, Devonte Graham added 14 points and eight assists, and top-ranked Kansas held on through a shaky finish to beat No. 22 Baylor 70-66 in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals Friday night.
Wayne Selden Jr. dunked his way to 11 points for the Jayhawks (29-4), who muddled through an ugly first half before eventually avenging their loss to the Bears (22-11) in last year's semifinals.
Kansas will play sixth-ranked Oklahoma or No. 9 West Virginia for the title Saturday night.
The Jayhawks were in control when coach Bill Self put in his reserves late, but a series of missed free throws and turnovers allowed the Bears to make a run. And after Al Freeman's 3-pointer got Baylor within 68-64 with 20 seconds left, Self had no choice but to send his starters back in.
Jonathan Motley's putback got the Bears within three with five seconds to go, but Graham calmly made the second of two free throws at the other end to put the game away.
Freeman finished with 14 points, and Rico Gathers had 13 points and nine boards, but nobody in green got into much of a rhythm against the Jayhawks' man-to-man defense. Taurean Prince was held to nine points, going 0 for 6 from beyond the arc, and Ish Wainwright managed four points on 2-for-9 shooting before fouling out.
The victory was the 13th straight for Kansas, which can match the number of tournament titles won by every other Big 12 school with its 10th. The Jayhawks also improved to 3-0 at the Sprint Center this season with their eighth consecutive win over the Bears.
Not that they didn't have a chance: Baylor forged a 23-21 lead after a sloppy first half.
The teams combined for 17 turnovers, Kansas at one point throwing it away on four straight possessions. Baylor's Lester Medford tossed a pass to nobody at one end of the floor, and then Ellis launched an air ball from beyond the arc as the teams went into a deep offensive funk.
For a while, it seemed as if nobody wanted to score.
There were only two real highlights: Graham had five assists for Kansas, including back-to-back alley-oop lobs to Ellis, and Jake Lindsey hit a buzzer-beating 3 to give the Bears the halftime edge.
Kansas began to take control as soon as it left the locker room.
Ellis went on a personal 8-0 run, and Selden woke up a sleepy crowd with a soaring dunk. A few minutes later, Graham tossed up a lob from just inside midcourt that Selden threw down for a 43-33 lead.
Baylor began trying to get the ball to Gathers and Prince in the paint, but the Jayhawks did a good job of collapsing on defense. The Bears missed nine consecutive shots during a critical stretch midway through the second half, and that allowed the Jayhawks to establish a comfortable lead.
They wound up needing just about every point of it.
DAY TWO: March 10
KU defeats K-State: 85-63
The Sunflower Showdown ended with a handy defeat of K-State by Kansas. (See official box score). Perry Ellis scored 21 points, Frank Mason III added 16 and top-ranked Kansas ran roughshod over weary Kansas State, 85-63, on Thursday in the quarterfinals in the Big 12 Tournament.
The Jayhawks (28-4), who won their 12th consecutive regular-season crown, led 45-30 at halftime before pushing their advantage past 20 for much of the second half. They coasted the rest of their way to a semifinal matchup Friday night with No. 22 Baylor, which handled No. 23 Texas earlier in the day.
Carlton Bragg added a career-high 12 points for Kansas. Devonte Graham finished with 11.
The eighth-seeded Wildcats (17-16) were led by Justin Edwards, who hit five 3s and had 23 points. But the senior guard didn't get nearly as much help as he had in a first-round victory over Oklahoma State.
Wesley Iwundu and D.J. Johnson scored 10 apiece, but freshman forward Dean Wade — who had a career-high 20 against the Cowboys — was held to five points on 1-for-6 shooting. Fellow freshman Barry Brown was 1 of 8 from the field and managed only three points in 26 minutes.
Kansas State has never beaten Kansas in nine tries in the Big 12 tournament.
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) March 10, 2016
Baylor defeats Texas: 75-61
Taurean Prince had 24 points and 13 rebounds, Rico Gathers added 13 points and No. 22 Baylor's baffling zone defense shut down No. 23 Texas in a 75-61 victory in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals Thursday.
The fifth-seeded Bears (22-10) opened a 15-point lead in the first half, then used coach Scott Drew's trademark defense to keep the fourth-seeded Longhorns (20-12) from coming all the way back.
Baylor will play top-ranked Kansas or Kansas State in Friday night's semifinals.
Connor Lammert had 15 points, Kerwin Roach had 13 and Shaquille Cleare had 12 for the Longhorns, but the bigger story was who got shut down: All-Big 12 guard Isaiah Taylor scored just eight, all in the second half.
The Longhorns have lost four straight to Baylor in the Big 12 tournament.
West Virginia defeats TCU: 86-66
Devin Williams had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead a balanced West Virginia attack, and the ninth-ranked Mountaineers never trailed in an 86-66 victory over TCU in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament Thursday night.
The plucky Horned Frogs gave them a tussle most of the way, though.
They trailed just 63-55 midway through the second half before a spree of 3-pointers allowed the second-seeded Mountaineers (25-7) to seize control. They pulled away in the final minutes to give coach Bob Huggins his first victory in the Big 12 Tournament since taking over his alma mater.
Jevon Carter added 15 points, Tarik Phillip had 13 and Jaysean Paige scored 12 as West Virginia moved on to the semifinals Friday against the winner of No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 21 Iowa State.
Oklahoma beats Iowa State: 79-76
Buddy Hield scored 39 points, Ryan Spangler made a series of critical plays down the stretch and sixth-ranked Oklahoma beat No. 21 Iowa State 79-76 on Thursday night in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals.
Spangler finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds, and Isaiah Cousins also had 10 points for the third-seeded Sooners (24-6), who advanced to play ninth-ranked West Virginia in the semifinals.
The Mountaineers rolled past TCU earlier in the night.
Georges Niang matched a career-high with 31 points for the sixth-seeded Cyclones (21-11), who trailed by 14 midway through the second half before making it a game. But after squandering several chances to get within a possession, it wasn't until Deonte Burton's 3-pointer at the buzzer that they finally did.
DAY ONE: March 9
Kansas State defeats Oklahoma: 75-71
Kansas State looked like a team playing without any pressure in the Big 12 tournament Wednesday night. Maybe because that's the way the Wildcats have chosen to approach it.
"There should be no pressure on us," Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. "We just have to come and play and enjoy the opportunity. That's what we've talked about."
Freshman forward Dean Wade took advantage of his opportunity, scoring a career-best 20 points. Justin Edwards added 17 and Wesley Iwundu had 14 for the eighth-seeded Wildcats (17-15), who will play top-ranked Kansas — the tournament's No. 1 seed — in Thursday's quarterfinals.
TCU defeats Texas Tech: 67-62
Chauncey Collins scored 19 points, hitting three free throws in the final seconds, and the Big 12 tournament's No. 10 seed dealt a major blow to Texas Tech's NCAA Tournament hopes with a 67-62 victory in the first round at the Sprint Center.
"A lot of games we came close, the last four minutes," Collins said. "During that timeout, it was a tied ballgame, we just had to give it our all, put our backs against the wall and live with the results."
Brandon Parrish added 15 points, Vlad Brodziansky had 13 and Malique Trent had 10 for the Horned Frogs (12-20), who scuffled into the Sprint Center having lost seven consecutive games but will now face No. 9 West Virginia — the tournament's second seed — in Thursday's quarterfinal round.