LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Kansas forward Perry Ellis seems intent on ending his college career with the loudest of bangs. Ellis set a personal NCAA Tournament career high Thursday night with a game-high 27 points, helping the top-seeded Jayhawks pull away from fifth-seeded Maryland in the second half to capture a 79-63 South Region semifinal win at KFC Yum! Center. Kansas will meet Villanova, a 92-69 winner over Miami in Thursday night's first semifinal, Saturday night for a berth in the Final Four. Accused by some of not delivering under March pressure in his first three seasons, Ellis is averaging 23 points per game in this year's tournament and shooting 27-for-41 from the field. The 6-foot-8 senior delivered 15 second half points in this one, feasting on a Terrapins interior defense weakened when center Diamond Stone drew his third foul 68 seconds into the second half. "I've gotten a lot more aggressive," Ellis said. "My teammates, coaches, are all telling me to be aggressive, and that's what I'm trying to do. They have a lot of confidence in me." Ellis did nothing to dissuade his supporters, hurting Maryland repeatedly with face-up jumpers as well as pick-and-rolls that saw the Terrapins botch defensive assignments. On one such play, three Maryland defenders followed guard Wayne Selden down the lane while Ellis ran to the bucket after setting a screen at the 3-point arc on the left wing. Selden simply dumped a pass over his shoulder, and Ellis turned it into a three-point play for a 57-48 lead at the 11:45 mark. Ellis' last points, a 17-foot jumper from the left wing with 6:03 left, forced Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon to burn a timeout with his team trailing 66-53. A former Kansas point guard who has never beaten his alma mater in seven career games, Turgeon found the time to express his admiration for Ellis' progression from role player to team leader of the nation's top-ranked team going into the tournament. "He's playing with a lot of confidence, and he didn't force things," Turgeon said. "We knew he was driving right tonight, and we still couldn't stop him. When he gets that jump shot going like he did in the second half, he's a hard guard." Selden was a pretty tough cover as well, contributing 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Forward Landen Lucas delivered plenty of help as well with a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double, enabling the Jayhawks (33-4) to trump Maryland 43-28 on the boards. It was the third double-double for Lucas, a 6-10 junior who never got off the bench in two December games and didn't join the starting lineup for good until a Jan. 23 win over Texas. "He's such a smart player who knows his position and does a great job," Ellis said of Lucas. "He makes a lot of different plays. He's an awesome player." While Ellis, Selden and Lucas combined for more than three-fourths of the points, Kansas really won this one on the defensive end. It clamped down on the Terrapins in the second half, permitting them to make just eight of 23 field-goal attempts, including three of 13 on 3-point tries. "I thought we played superb in the second half," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. "We defended and then we rebounded. Then we ran good stuff offensively. It was a good team effort tonight." Guards Rasheed Sulaimon and Melo Trimble scored 18 and 17 points, respectively, for Maryland (27-9), but the team's other three starters failed to reach double figures. It was a disappointing finish for the Terrapins, who were a consensus pick to contend for the national championship in October but didn't play to their considerable potential. "I still think we got a lot of the shots that we wanted to get," Sulaimon said. "But the difference was they hit their shots and we didn't. Sometimes, the ball just bounces that way." NOTES: Maryland is the only Big Ten Conference team with five players averaging double-figure scoring. ... Kansas' 27th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament is the nation's longest active streak and ties the longest in tournament history (North Carolina, 1975-2001). ... The Jayhawks collected their 100th NCAA tourney win Thursday night.
Ellis, Kansas overpower Maryland in South semis
The Sports Xchange | Mar 25