Iowa State finally conquered Kansas in the Big 12 Conference tournament semifinals Friday 94-83 behind an impressive performance from forward Georges Niang whose face was bloodied late in the game when he took a charge.
The Cyclones carried a five-game losing streak against the Jayhawks into the game spanning both regular season games this season and games last season. Niang taking a charge to keep a fire lit under his teammates was somewhat fitting because the Cyclones lost a game to Kansas last season when officials flubbed a call against Niang for a block when he tried to take a charge in the final minute.
Niang, who scored 25 points Friday to lead ISU to the Big 12 final for the second time, was on the floor for several minutes with a cut on his head from the contact with Brannen Greene. When he rose and walked off the court with a towel to his head, he pumped his fist to the delight of Iowa State fans.
In a courtside interview during the Baylor-Texas semifinal game, Niang told ESPN he did not suffer a concussion but required five stitches to close the cut. He said he will play in the championship game.
Kansas was hoping to follow its 10th consecutive regular season conference title with a Big 12 tournament title and keep its hopes for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament alive. But after suffering its ninth loss of the season, Kansas can count on a No. 2 seed when the bracket is announced Sunday. No team with more than seven losses ever has earned a No. 1 seed.
Star freshman Andrew Wiggins had been on a hot streak of late entering the game. He had scored 71 points in his previous two games combined trying to pick up the slack with fellow freshman Joel Embiid out with the back injury. Wiggins never found that same rhythm against the Cyclones. He scored 22. Perry Ellis led the Jayhawks with 30.
All five Iowa State starters scored in doiuble figures. Big 12 Player of the Year Melvin Ejim finished with 19 and five rebounds. Forward Dustin Hogue was a bit of a surprise with 12 points and nine rebounds.
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