No. 9 Kansas 80, Kansas St. 67
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—With Wayne Simien scoring and rebounding, and frustrated Kansas State providing the opposition, Kansas did just fine without Keith Langford.
Simien, the unanimous choice for conference player of the year, had 28 points and 14 rebounds as the ninth-ranked Jayhawks beat Kansas State for the 31st straight time Friday night, 80-67 in the second round of the Big 12 tournament.
Simien, the Big 12’s leading scorer and rebounder, was also 10-of-13 from the foul line for the short-handed Jayhawks. The 6-foot-8 power forward has eight double-doubles in his last 10 games, and 15 for the year.
Kansas, which tied Oklahoma for the regular season championship, outrebounded Kansas State 42-26. Guard Michael Lee had a career-high 11.
“I think that rebounding was the difference,” Simien said. “I can’t remember the last time we had somebody else in double-digit rebounds, let along a 6-2 guard.”
Langford, Kansas’ second-leading scorer, was out with an ankle injury and a stomach virus and the Jayhawks had lost four of their last six, giving Kansas State fans hope that an end could be at hand to the long, demoralizing losing streak.
Instead, it was the same old story. Kansas State (17-12) has not beaten Kansas since January 1994, the most remarkable span in a spirited state rivalry that began in 1907.
“We didn’t think they were vulnerable at all,” Kansas State senior Jeremiah Massey said. “They’re one of the best teams in the country and we knew they were going to come out and fight this thing without Keith Langford. We had to come out and play our best game of the year and we didn’t do that.”
Simien said the seniors did not want the streak to end on their watch.
“It is satisfying,” he said. “Records are meant to be broken and (the streak) will be someday.”
The Wildcats are still hopeful of an NIT bid.
“I hope we earned our right into the tournament,” coach Jim Wooldridge said. “I think we’re right there and I hope you can see us in that tournament next week. We’re optimistic about that.”
The Jayhawks (23-5) will meet the winner of Friday night’s Colorado-Oklahoma State game in the semifinals Saturday night.
Fighting from behind all night, Kansas State finally shaved the lead to 60-57 on Massey’s putback and subsequent free throw when Kansas’ Aaron Miles picked up his fourth foul on the play.
But then slumping J.R. Giddens hit a 3-pointer, Miles sank a pair of free throws and Simien hit a short turnaround jumper to put Kansas on top 67-57 and the Wildcats never threatened again.
Lance Harris had a career-high 23 points for Kansas State. Massey, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, had only four points in the first half but finished with 17 and Cartier Martin had 14.
Simien was masterful, hitting short and medium-range jumpers as well as scoring inside. He was 9 of 13 from the floor.
The Jayhawks led by as many as 13 early in the second half, but Massey’s three-point play and a free throw from Justin Williams made it 56-52 with 8:08 left.
Giddens, supposedly the Jayhawks’ best 3-point threat, was 4-for-14 from the floor, including 3-for-11 from beyond the arc. In his last six games, he has hit 8 of 39 3s.
“It was a good win for us,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “We haven’t played well in the past three weeks. It wasn’t pretty but we had guys make plays at key moments.”