LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Kansas coach Bill Self remembers a time early in Perry Ellis’ career when the senior forward couldn’t speak in front of a crowd.
It felt like a lifetime ago on Saturday afternoon.
Ellis, the often-reserved senior forward, charmed the crimson and blue faithful at Allen Fieldhouse with an emotional farewell speech that spanned laughs and tears.
“People say I’ve been here forever, and they’re right. I got to play with Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning,” Ellis joked. “Since I supposedly have unlimited eligibility, why don’t I come back next year?”
Based on his performance Saturday, Kansas fans wouldn’t have any objections.
Ellis scored 22 points, including a hook shot over Iowa State’s Georges Niang to ice the game, and No. 1 Kansas stretched its nation-leading home winning streak to 42 games with a 85-78 victory over the No. 21 Cyclones.
“I’m proud of this team,” Self said. “I’ve been proud of teams before, but when you have lottery picks or guys like that where you know you have better players who perform at a very high level, the chances are you’ll be successful. This team I think we have terrific players, but I think this team has earned its stripes as much as any team we’ve had here.”
Devonte Graham and Wayne Seldon Jr. finished with 16 points apiece. Kansas (27-4, 15-3) has now won 33 straight home finales.
Ellis, playing in his final game at Allen Fieldhouse, spearheaded an 11-0 run in the final 4:45 by diving across the floor to save a possession. He ended it with an emphatic dunk and 16,000 fans cheering his name one last time.
“You’re just thinking about so much,” Ellis said. “All last night you’re just thinking one more. One more. This was the last go around. There was a lot of thinking, but it was great to come out with the win.”
Kansas looked poise to break the game open with 13:21 left, when Mason slipped his way through two defenders and finished at the rim. But Iowa State wouldn’t go away, responding with a 13-2 run to grab its largest - and last - lead at 63-59.
Niang led the Cyclones (21-10, 10-8) with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists. Jameel McKay added 19 points and nine rebounds.
“Anytime you get to finish your last Big 12 regular season, it’s disappointing to end it on a loss,” Niang said. “Winning in Allen Fieldhouse is something I wanted to do, so losing is real disappointing.”
Kansas also honored fellow seniors Jamari Traylor, Hunter Mickelson and Evan Manning before tipoff.
But Saturday afternoon was all about No. 34.
Ellis was a crucial part of Kansas’ four in-season tournament titles and its lone Big 12 Tournament crown. His still demeanor and consistency made him a fan-favorite. He lost just twice at Allen Fieldhouse.
All of his attributes were on display Saturday.
Ellis scored 12 first-half points and grabbed three rebounds against perhaps the only comparable player in the conference and country, Niang. Even as Ellis struggled through periods of missed shots, he was a force, grabbing rebounds or diving across the court to deny Iowa State a possession.
The teams traded buckets in quick succession throughout the opening period, with neither leading by more than seven points. Niang matched Ellis’ scoring production but foul trouble limited him to just 11 minutes. McKay stepped up in his place with 17 first-half points and seven rebounds, all while not picking up a foul or sitting out.
He, like Iowa State, was good in the second half. Kansas was simply better in crunch time.
“The reality of it is,” Self said, “I couldn’t be more confident of these guys moving forward.
Voice of the Jayhawks Bob Davis called his final game at Allen Fieldhouse. Davis’ career at Kansas spans three decades and 1,184 games. He was honored at halftime with a special ceremony.
HE HAS JOKES
“I thought he could go do standup,” Self said of Ellis’ speech. “Perry was great out there.”
Iowa State: Monte Morris scored 13 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. . The loss snaps a two-game win streak over Kansas. . Niang and Naz Long have never won in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas: Selden didn’t start due to Senior Day. It was the first time in his career that he has not started. . The Jayhawks outrebounded Iowa State 39-33 after falling behind early in that department.
Iowa State: Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 9-12
Kansas: Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 9-12
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.