Elijah had a team-high 21 points
Survive and advance. Usually, that's a mantra reserved for the Tournament, but tonight it seemed fitting. Regardless of how much emphasis Self and co. placed on maintaining focus in College Station this week, Saturday is the big game, and Wednesday's matchup against the Aggies seemed more like a nuisance than anything else.
Despite this, and what the score might suggest, Kansas didn't come out and lay and egg against A&M. On the shoulders of a breakout first half by Elijah Johnson, the Jayhawks built a ten point lead as the first half came to a close. Not a pretty effort ("pretty" is not an adjective used to describe many A&M games), but the Jayhawks were keeping the Aggies at bay.
The 'Hawks came out strong in the second half as well, and would eventually push the lead all the way to 20. For a while, it looked like we would get what we wanted, and our impact players would get some much needed rest down the stretch on our way to comfortable win. Unfortunately, only part of that came true. Thomas Robinson did spend quite a bit of time on the bench over the last ten minutes, largely due to foul trouble. However, Tyshawn watched a chunk of the game down the stretch from the sideline as well, suggesting that perhaps Bill Self wanted to see just how much he could rely on the rest of the 8 man rotation to maintain.
As it turns out, sloppy play and poor offense (kind of a recurring theme this year) allowed Texas A&M to make this one a game down the stretch. In the end there was just too much ground for them to try to make up, and the Jayhawks were never really in danger of falling behind, but this one came way too close for comfort given the 20 point second half lead, especially considering our penchant for letting leads slip away this year.
In the end, we survived and advanced. Kansas held on to their one game lead over Missouri, and now Saturday's game has a clinched share of an eighth straight Big 12 Championship on the line.