LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Perry Ellis scored 27 points to match a season high, Wayne Selden Jr. added 19 and top-seeded Kansas topped No. 5 Maryland for a 79-63 NCAA Tournament South Region semifinal victory Thursday night. The win put the Jayhawks back into the Elite 8 for the first time since 2012.
It took time for the Jayhawks (33-4) to get going, but once they finally seized the lead late in the first half everything else fell into place for their 17th straight victory. They emerged from the break to make their first six shots and steadily take control behind senior forward Ellis, who made 10 of 17 from the field.
Selden was right there with 7-of-16 shooting to help Kansas earn a berth in Saturday's regional final against Villanova.
The Terrapins (27-9) dictated the early tempo and briefly engaged in a back-and-forth game with the Jayhawks before eventually falling behind the tournament favorite. Rasheed Sulaimon led Maryland with 18 points.
Landen Lucas added 14 points and 11 rebounds while Frank Mason III had 11 points for Kansas, which outworked Maryland 43-28 on the glass and outscored the taller Terps 40-28 in the paint.
Better shooting also helped the Jayhawks, who made 14 of 25 in the second half and finished 29 of 62 from the field (47 percent).
Kansas just had to take its time to slow down Maryland, which entered the game with every starter averaging at least 11 points per contest. Its main focus was keeping Maryland guard Melo Trimble (17 points) from getting hot, a strategy that worked as the sophomore made just 5 of 16 from the field with just one 3-pointer.
The Jayhawks defense kept other Maryland players from becoming factors on both ends as well and ended up holding the Terps to just 40 percent shooting including 35 percent after halftime.
Maryland dictated the early tempo before Kansas regrouped late in the first half to eventually grab a 36-34 lead at the break.
Sulaimon got the Terps started with the first of two 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes to provide an 18-12 lead, significant considering they made just 1 of 18 from long range in their second-round win over Hawaii.
Kansas went 5 1/2 minutes without a field goal but didn't flinch and eventually fought back to take its first lead at 27-26 on two Devonte' Graham free throws with 5:33 remaining in the half. The teams then traded 6-2 runs with the Jayhawks making the last one for a slim edge, better than they could have expected after shooting 41 percent.
Ellis provided the steadying force with 12 points and added a couple more baskets during a 14-9 run for a 50-43 lead, a stretch in which the Jayhawks made their first six shots to start the second half.
Kansas was playing the way it wanted by that point and kept up the tempo in building a 16-point lead with four minutes left.
Maryland: The Terps made 5 of 25 3 pointers.
Kansas: Ellis entered the game with a tournament scoring average of 21 points through the second round.
Maryland: Season over.
Kansas: Faces Villanova on Saturday.