54 - 64 Final
  for this game

Kansas rallies to sink Nebraska

Mar 15, 2008 - 3:56 AM By Marc Bowman PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) - Brandon Rush helped No. 5 Kansas recover from its worst half of the season.

Rush provided a spark by scoring six of his nine points early in the second half as the Jayhawks rallied for a 64-54 victory over Nebraska in the Big 12 Conference quarterfinals on Friday night.

Kansas (29-3), the second seed, advances to Saturday's semifinals, where it will meet Texas A&M.

The Jayhawks scored a season-low 22 points in the first half, as the Cornhuskers used an aggressive perimeter defense to force 12 turnovers.

"Going into the half, we didn't talk about X's and O's," Kansas Head Coach Bill Self said. "we talked about being who we are. We played real tight in the first half, and hen you play tight you tend to miss shots and foul a lot."

Nebraska (19-12) outscored Kansas, 15-0, in points off turnovers and limited the Jayhawks to just seven points over a 10-minute span just before intermission en route to taking a 27-22 advantage into halftime.

"I was very disappointed with our team in the first half, disappointed that we got frustrated, disappointed in the lack of energy," Self said. "I was most disappointed in was the fact that we are athletic enough that we should be a great loose-ball team and they beat us on the loose balls. That shouldn't happen."

Led by Rush's six points, Kansas went on a 15-4 run out of the break to take a 37-31 lead with 14:16 left in the game.

Rush, the Jayhawks' leading scorer in conference play, converted a three-point play at 17:51 to put Kansas ahead to stay, 30-29.

"It was just a matter of us hitting them in the mouth before they hit us," Nebraska's Ade Dagunduro said. "Coach told us to play with confidence and that's what we did for the most part of the game, pretty much all of the game. And they responded well early in the second half and they took the lead, and we couldn't bounce back like we wanted to."

After Nebraska cut the advantage to four at 40-36, the Jayhawks expanded their lead to 58-48 with 1:19 to play behind six six points from Sherron Collins and five from Mario Chalmers.

"I try to be the one to talk and speak up when no one else is," said Collins, who also drew a technical foul for getting into a spat with Ade Dagunduro. "One thing we always have to deal with, as Kansas, is we are always playing with a target on our backs."

Collins scored 13 points and Chalmers and Darnell Jackson added 12 apiece for Kansas, which has won 10 straight games against the Cornhuskers and 19 of its last 20, including a 6-1 advantage in conference tournament play.

"We knew we just had to change from the first half," Collins said. "We had a small little run and got the lead down to five (before halftime). I think we went into the locker room with a little bit of momentum on our shoulders."

Kansas has won each of its 12 first games in Big 12 tournament play and seven straight since 2006 to reach semifinals for the 11th time.

"I thought we played well the first half, but I thought there were some big plays there that could have helped and we didn't make those plays," Cornhuskers coach Doc Sadler said. "The second half I think more than anything it was a physical thing. Those guys are so much more athletic and bigger, and our guys got wore down. They hit us hard and we didn't respond aggressively. That's when the game kind of changed a bit."

Dagunduro led Nebraska with 13 points, but was held to just three in the second half. Center Aleks Maric was held to 10 points and seven rebounds. He finished his career with 995 rebounds, fifth-best in conference history.