Kansas rides big second half to gritty road win over Texas
The Jayhawks have had an up-and-down ride away from home this season, beating Georgetown and Baylor yet losing to Temple by 25 and giving up 86 points in a loss last week to Iowa State. Entering Saturday, opponents were averaging almost 10 points a game more against Kansas outside of Allen Fieldhouse, a trend the Jayhawks reversed against Texas.
The win was Kansas' most impressive game away from Lawrence yet, showing a balanced offensive attack and high-energy defensive effort. Perhaps most importantly, the Jayhawks took care of the ball incredibly well, finishing with only three turnovers on the day and none in the second half.
Texas opened up the game with an 11-2 run capped by a three by Connor Lammert, but it would turn out to be the largest lead of the game for the Longhorns. Kansas used eight first-half points each by Brannen Greene and Perry Ellis to take a 32-30 halftime lead, despite giving up seven offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes to Texas.
At times, the Longhorns length looked to be too much for the Jayhawks. Texas racked up nine blocks, including five by 6-foot-11 freshman Myles Turner, and were always a threat on the boards as the nation's fourth-best rebounding team.
After being initially slowed by the zone defense employed by Texas, Kansas was able to eventually find holes and took advantage of an often frantic-pace, especially in the opening stanza.
But it was the latter half when the Jayhawks truly took control. After the Longhorns jumped out to a five-point lead in the second half's opening six minutes, three-pointers by Wayne Selden Jr. and Greene gave Kansas the lead it would not surrender. A 12-2 run put them up five with 9:26 remaining, and the Jayhawks would comfortably go up 10 minutes later on a shake-and-bake drive by Frank Mason III.
Four different Kansas players scored in double figures, with both forward Cliff Alexander and Greene providing a key spark off the bench. Alexander had 15 points, nine rebounds and two assists, while Greene made 4-of-5 three-pointers to finish with 14 points.
The bright spot for Texas was undoubtedly the play of sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor, who scored a season-high 23 points and grabbed five rebounds. Taylor hasn't quite looked the same since returning from a broken wrist, but played perhaps his best game of the season on Saturday and in a season-high 35 minutes. The play of Taylor will be very important to how far this Longhorns team can go in the future, and Texas fans should be very encouraged with his play against Kansas.
But for now, the Jayhawks ensure they will at least stay tied atop the Big 12 despite last week's loss to the Cyclones. Kansas is now 16-3 on the season and 5-1 in conference play, while Texas drops to 13-5 and 3-3 in the Big 12.
Kansas will face another road test Wednesday against a TCU team that took No. 18 West Virginia to overtime on Saturday, while Texas will continue a brutal stretch with a quick turnaround game at Iowa State on Monday.