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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Dedric Lawson poured in 24 points, Quentin Grimes added 18 before leaving late with cramps and No. 17 Kansas roared away from West Virginia for an 88-74 victory Friday night in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.
Devon Dotson added 13 points and Marcus Garrett had 11 for the third-seeded and reigning champion Jayhawks (25-8). They advanced to play No. 5 seed Iowa State for the title Saturday night.
Kansas has advanced to the championship game three of the past four years.
The 10th-seeded Mountaineers (14-20) led much of the first half and hung tough early in the second, but three games in three days finally caught up to them. Tough wins over Oklahoma and No. 8 Texas Tech left them with tired legs – probably minds, too – and the Jayhawks eventually went on a 13-2 run midway through the second half to seize control.
The lead reached 20 with 7 1/2 minutes to go, and the Jayhawks cruised the rest of the way.
Lamont West led West Virginia with 16 points. Derek Culver had 14.
Kansas has won the tournament 11 times, and Iowa State is unbeaten in four championship trips, but the two teams have met in the finals just once: The Cyclones won 70-66 in 2015.
Grimes has struggled with his shot most of the season, to say nothing of living up to his five-star status out of high school. But the freshman guard found his stroke from the opening minute, when he buried the first of five first-half 3-pointers to get the Jayhawks off and running.
West Virginia pulled ahead midway through the half, but Grimes added three more 3s to regain the lead, then hit a buzzer-beater from 30 feet to give the Jayhawks a 48-40 advantage.
Lawson fueled their clinching run, getting it started with an easy basket and added another bucket and a 3-pointer during the 13-2 charge. By the time Garrett finished it off, a crowd heavily in favor of Kansas was buzzing about the opportunity to face the Cyclones.
The Jayhawks were ahead 75-58 with 6:33 left when West hit a pair of free throws. Freshman big man David McCormack gathered the ball while standing out of bounds and tossed it to Garrett for the inbounds. But when Garrett stepped over the out-of-bounds line, it wound up being a turnover, and Bill Self immediately called timeout to lay into his team on the bench.
West Virginia lost four players to injuries, transfers and dismissals, and it left them with very little depth. That appeared to play a factor in the second half, when the Jayhawks began to get up and down the floor and the Mountaineers were unable to keep up .
Kansas has played this week with a chip on its shoulder after failing to win a share of the regular-season title. Now, the Jayhawks have a chance to match the 1999 team by winning the tournament as a No. 3 seed, and perhaps help their NCAA Tournament seeding on Selection Sunday.
Kansas plays the Cyclones for the championship Saturday night.
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