KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Georges Niang walked off the floor in the closing minutes with a bloody towel pressed tightly to his forehead, pumping his fist and riling up the Iowa State fans in the Sprint Center.
Turns out he was just jump-starting the celebration.
Niang scored 25 points before leaving with that gash above his right eye, and the No. 16 Cyclones beat 10th-ranked Kansas 94-83 Friday night to reach their first Big 12 tournament title game since 2000.
“We love competing for championships,” Niang said later, a bandage over his wound. “Coach says take it one day at a time, but the Big 12 championship is one day away from us.”
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DeAndre Kane had five three-pointers and scored 20 points and Melvin Ejim added 19 points for the Cyclones (25-8), who will play Baylor (24-10) in the final. The Bears beat Texas 86-69 in the other semifinal.
Perry Ellis led Kansas with 30 points. The Jayhawks again were playing without 7-footer Joel Embiid, the Big 12 defensive player of the year, and his rim-protecting presence was missed. The freshman has a stress fracture in his back and is likely out until at least the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
“Joel not being in there, he could probably guard Niang better,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “But I think it was more a collection of everybody rather than just one individual.”
The Sprint Center was packed to the rafters with fans eager to see whether Iowa State could finally end its five-game losing streak against the Jayhawks, or whether Kansas could burnish what it hoped would be a résumé worthy of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The teams got after it right from the tip, racing up and down the floor in what amounted to a series of 94-foot wind sprints.
Things got so intense normally placid Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg was rung up with a technical foul after Kane appeared to be hammered on the way to the basket and no foul was called.
“I used a bad word,” Hoiberg said sheepishly. “I’m not going to say I didn’t.”
Doug McDermott scored 32 points and 14th-ranked Creighton advanced to the championship game in its first season in the conference with an 86-78 victory over Xavier at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Creighton (26-6) will play Providence (22-11) in Saturday’s final.
The Friars beat Seton Hall 80-74.
Rodney Hood made two free throws with 3.8 seconds left to lift No. 7 Duke past Clemson 63-62 in a quarterfinal game in Greensboro, N.C.
Jabari Parker, the ACC rookie of the year, scored 18 points and Hood had 17 for the Blue Devils, who will play North Carolina State in the semifinals.
T.J. Warren scored 28 points and Ralston Turner banked in the go-ahead three-pointer with 2:28 left as N.C. State beat 11th-ranked Syracuse 66-63.
Joe Harris, who is from Chelan, tied a season high with 20 points to lead No. 6 Virginia, the ACC regular-season champion, to a 64-51 victory over Florida State. Virginia is guided by former Washington State coach Tony Bennett.
The Cavaliers will play Pittsburgh, an 80-75 winner over No. 15 North Carolina. Talib Zanna had 19 points and a career-high 21 rebounds for Pitt.
LaQuinton Ross had 26 points and 13 rebounds and No. 24 Ohio State rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to beat Nebraska 71-67 in a quarterfinal game in Indianapolis.
“Unfortunately, I thought we beat ourselves,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “You have to credit Ohio State with their pressure late. In the last 13 minutes, they really did an excellent job of getting us rattled.”
Ohio State will face No. 8 Michigan in the semifinals. The Wolverines had a close call, beating Illinois 64-63.
Jordan Morgan scored on a layup with 7.9 seconds left to put Michigan ahead and a shot by Tracy Abrams of the Illini bounced off the front of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
No. 12 Wisconsin will play No. 22 Michigan State in the other semifinal. Wisconsin’s Ben Brust scored a career-high 29 points in an 83-57 rout of Minnesota. Branden Dawson had 16 points and Gary Harris added 13 to help Michigan State — which had lost three of its previous four — defeat Northwestern 67-51.
Top-ranked Florida, which was unbeaten in SEC regular-season play, beat Missouri 72-49 in a quarterfinal game in Atlanta.
Scottie Wilbekin scored 15 points for the Gators, who will face Tennessee in the semifinals. The Volunteers beat South Carolina 59-44.
Kentucky will play Georgia in the other semifinal.
James Young scored 21 points, and Julius Randle had 17 points and 16 rebounds as Kentucky beat Louisiana State 85-67.
Charles Mann scored 16 points, including a go-ahead basket with 17 seconds remaining, and Georgia edged Mississippi 75-73. Marshall Henderson scored 19 points for Ole Miss but made a mere 5 of 21 shots, including 2 of 16 three-pointers.
Russ Smith scored a career-high 42 points and defending NCAA champion Louisville cruised to a 94-65 victory over Houston in the semifinals of the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament in Memphis, Tenn.
Fifth-ranked Louisville’s opponent in Saturday’s title game is 21st-ranked Connecticut, which beat No. 13 Cincinnati 58-56.
Shabazz Napier scored 15 points for UConn.
Dwayne Polee II scored 18 points to lead No. 8 San Diego State to a 59-51 victory over UNLV in a semifinal game in Las Vegas.
The Aztecs will play New Mexico in Saturday’s final. The Lobos beat Boise State 70-67 to advance.