Brandon Rush scored a career-high 28 points in front of his home town fans, sealing the deal with two free throws in the final seconds, and No. 5 Kansas beat a determined Texas A&M 77-71 Saturday in the Big 12 semifinals.
With both teams' NCAA tourney invites secure, this game was about pride and momentum.
Texas A&M (24-10, 10-9 Big 12) fought hard the entire game, and were within two points in the final minute, before Kansas scored the final four points to lock up the win.
Every time Kansas opened a lead, the Aggies would claw their way back.
In the first ten minutes of the game, the Aggies matched the Jayhawks point-for-point, trailing 19-18.
Kansas extended their lead to eight points, 34-26 at the 3:13 mark before the Aggies scored the last 8 points of the half to tie the game 34-34.
Kansas came out strong at the start of the second half and regained an 8-point lead, 49-41, with 14:42 left in the game.
The Jayhawks still held their 8-point lead with seven minutes left when the Aggies mounted another comeback.
The Aggies pulled within 2 points, 65-63, on a Beau Muhlback 3-pointer with 5:20 on the clock.
Kansas extended their lead back to 7, 73-66, with 1:34 left.
A 3-pointer by Beau Muhlback and two free throws by Dominique Kirked pulled the Aggies to within 2 points, 73-71, with under a minute to go.
A layup by Russell Robinson and two free throws by Brandon Rush locked up a 77-71 Kansas win over Texas A&M.
The Aggies (24-10) outrebounded Kansas 35-25 and hit almost 54 percent of their shots but could not stop 6-foot-6 junior Brandon Rush.
The two-time defending champion Jayhawks will meet Texas (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) for the championship for the third year in a row. Kansas and Texas tied for the regular-season title, but the Longhorns bested the Jayhawks 72-69 in their only meeting.