Fresh off winning another Big 12 regular-season title, No. 3 Kansas visits No. 9 Texas on Saturday in Austin.
Kansas (25-5, 13-4) clinched a share of its NCAA-leading 64th regular season championship with a 67-63 win over visiting Texas Tech on Tuesday. The Jayhawks claimed it outright the next night when Texas (22-8, 11-6) lost at TCU 75-73.
The Jayhawks rebounded from a mediocre start in league play by winning their last seven games to claim their 17th Big 12 title in coach Bill Self’s 20th season in Lawrence.
“I always envision us having good years … but if you would’ve told me before the year that this team would do what they’ve done this year, and accomplish what they’ve accomplished so far this year, I would’ve said that would’ve probably been a little bit of a reach,” Self said.
“We (were) 6-4 (in the league) and (had to) go run off seven in a row to put us in a position to get at least a share of (the Big 12 championship). That didn’t seem very likely at the time. But the kids are tough. They find a way to win even when we’re not very good.”
The Jayhawks saw their 10-point halftime advantage cut to two on several occasions in the second half against Texas Tech, the latest when De’Vion Harmon’s 3-pointer made it 65-63 with four seconds left. Gradey Dick’s two free throws two seconds later secured the win.
Jalen Wilson, who averages a team-high 19.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, had 21 points and five rebounds. Kevin McCullar, who averages 11.2 points per game, added 14 points and nine rebounds against the Red Raiders. Dajuan Harris Jr. finished with 16 points and five assists.
Meanwhile, Texas never led against the Horned Frogs and squandered its chance to play Kansas for a share of the Big 12 title.
The Longhorns cut TCU’s 13-point lead early in the second half to 71-68 on Tyrese Hunter’s 3-pointer with 1:02 left. But Damion Baugh hit two free throws with 19 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.
Sir’Jabari Rice, who averages 12.2 points per game, led Texas with 16 points, while Hunter added 15. Dylan Disu and Marcus Carr had 10 points apiece in Texas’ second straight loss and third in the past five games.
“We’re still playing for something,” Longhorns interim coach Rodney Terry said. “You’re playing for seeding, you’re playing to put yourself in the best position right now for the big prize. And I think we have as good a team in the country and have a chance to win a national championship.”
In the season’s first meeting on Feb. 6, the host Jayhawks held on for an 88-80 win behind Dick and Harris, who scored a game-high 21 and 17 points, respectively. Texas was led by Carr’s 29 points, while Timmy Allen added 18.
–Field Level Media