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March 8, 2008

Kansas clinches Big 12 crown with win at A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)- Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur both scored 16 points and No. 5 Kansas beat Texas A&M 72-55 on Saturday to clinch at least a share of its fourth straight Big 12 regular-season title.

Many of the Jayhawks held up four fingers as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Kansas (28-3, 13-3) will have to wait about 24 hours to see if it will have to share the title it with No. 9 Texas. The Longhorns could tie with a win over Oklahoma State on Sunday.

It marks the sixth time in school history that Kansas has won four straight conference titles and the first since 1995-98. The Jayhawks have been league champions eight times in the short history of the Big 12 and this extends their NCAA record of conference titles to 51.

The Jayhawks led by 10 points at halftime and took advantage of poor second-half shooting by Texas A&M (22-9, 8-8) to stay on top throughout the second half and cruise to their fourth straight win.

Dominique Kirk and Donald Sloan had 15 points each for the Aggies.

Kansas was ahead by 12 points with about 2 1/2 minutes left when Brandon Rush sailed over Bryan Davis for a one-handed dunk that brought the Jayhawks bench to its feet and drew loud cheers from the handful of Kansas fans in the arena. He was fouled on the shot and his free throw made it 68-53 and put an exclamation point on the victory.

Kansas led by 13 points early in the second half before A&M went on a 14-7 run, highlighted by 3-pointers by Josh Carter and Sloan, to make it 48-42 with about 13 minutes left.

A 3-pointer by Chalmers got the Jayhawks going again and Russell Robinson had two layups to put the Jayhawks ahead 55-44 about 4 minutes later and Texas A&M didn't threaten again.

After their early second-half run, the Aggies didn't make a basket for almost 7 1/2 minutes. Kansas extended its lead from six points to 14 in that span.

Texas A&M broke out of the shooting slump with a 3-pointer by Kirk that made it 60-49 with about 6 minutes left.

It was the first time Mark Turgeon, who played and was an assistant coach at Kansas, faced his former school as coach at Texas A&M. The inconsistent Aggies could have used the win to bolster their NCAA tournament resume, but instead end the regular season with their fate unclear after losing five of their last seven games.


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