- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - 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 jumpstarting the celebration.

Niang scored 25 points before leaving with that gash above his right eye, and the No. 16 Cyclones held on down the stretch to beat No. 10 Kansas 94-83 Friday night and 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.”

DeAndre Kane had five 3-pointers and scored 20 points, and Big 12 player of the year Melvin Ejim added 19 points for the fourth-seeded Cyclones (25-8), who will play for just their second tournament title Saturday night against seventh-seeded Baylor.

The Bears knocked off No. 3 seed Texas 86-69, their third win in three days.

The victory for Iowa State represented its first in four tries against Kansas in the Big 12 tournament, and its first over the Jayhawks in Kansas City since March 10, 1996, when the schools were still part of the Big Eight. It also allowed Iowa State to match its 2001 team for the second-most wins in school history, trailing only the 32 wins piled up by the 2000 team.

Incidentally, it was that team that won the Cyclones’ only Big 12 tournament title.

“It’s a great win for us, for the fact it gives us confidence we can compete with anyone in the nation,” Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It was good to finally get one of these after struggling to close out games against Kansas the past few years.”

Relying on some hot outside shooting, Iowa State took charge in the second half, and then held on as the top-seeded Jayhawks (24-9) tried to make a late run to get back into the game.

Perry Ellis led Kansas with 30 points. Andrew Wiggins finished with 22.

The Jayhawks again were playing without 7-footer Joel Embiid, the league’s defensive player of the year, and his rim-protecting presence was sorely 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 resume 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. Iowa State got the better of it early, forging a 23-16 lead, but the Jayhawks countered with a brutally efficient 20-3 charge to take control.

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