There may be better rivalries in college basketball but few teams have played the high-caliber games that Kansas and Texas have during the last three seasons.
Two of the countries top eight teams battled it out for 40
breath-taking minutes at the Sprint Center on Sunday and this one had
it all. There were big plays by big-time players, game-changing hustle
plays, and a college basketball environment that would be tough to top.
In fact, if you weren’t rooting for one team or another, it
was the type of game where you would just sit back and ooh and ahh.
Instead this one had 16,300 on the edge of their seats for a full 40
minutes. The final margin of victory reads ten points but that
doesn’t represent how close this game was.
“I thought we played great. I thought Texas played great. It
was a game of runs and there were some players out there making
plays,” said KU head coach Bill Self.
Saturday it was Brandon Rush’s career-high that helped defeat
the Aggies, on Sunday it was Mario Chalmers who rang up a career-high
30. The Aggies played a 2-3 zone for most of the day and it was
Chalmers and Rush who exploited it. Together Rush and Chalmers combined
to go 14-21 from behind the arc, and scored 49 of KU’s 84
points. Chalmers' 30 points tied the Kansas individual record for most
points in a tournament game as he matched the 30 points scored by Paul Pierce vs. Missouri in 1997 and Wayne Simien vs. Oklahoma State in 2005.
Both teams put up incomprehensible numbers in the first half as the
Jayhawks and Longhorns each shot 58 percent from the floor. Check out
these numbers - Texas went eight for eleven from three while Kansas was
successful on nine of fifteen attempts from long range in the first
half. But it was Texas who went to the locker room with a one-point
lead (46-45) and Kansas spent a bulk of the intermission talking about
the defensive end of the floor.
“I told the team we got to make a conscious effort to guard
better because in a horse contest, I don't know if you want to get in
one of those with (A.J.)Abrams and (D.J.)Augustin the way they shot it
the first half and the way that obviously (Damion) James and (Justin)
Mason played,” said Self.
“I mean, Mario and Brandon carried us but you just wonder,
can you keep doing it?
We defended and rebounded the ball much better the second half and
played about as complete a game as we’ve played to be honest
“We wanted to slow them down and not let them get
the open looks and make them work for their points. We beat them on
rebounding and that was a key for our win,” said Rush with a
In the first half Augustin torched Kansas for 18 points but part of the
plan in the second half was to make the talented sophomore take more
difficult shots. After going 7-9 in the first half, D.J. went 0-9 from
the floor in the second stanza. That makes Augustin 1-22 from the floor
against Kansas in three of four halves played this season.
It wasn’t just Augustin who struggled in half number two for
Rick Barnes club. Texas went 8-33 from the floor and shot just 24
percent as KU tightened the screws on the defensive end. The Jayhawks
hedged ball screens harder and contested extremely well. The other real
reason the field goal percentage was kept down was KU’s first
shot defense. It was again excellent and unlike the matchup back in
February in Austin – KU pulled down the boards after forcing
misses. At the end of this one the rebounding statistics were skewed
heavily in favor of Kansas – 43-29.
Now if you didn’t see the game, don’t be fooled
into thinking that the poor offensive showing by Texas in half number
two equaled a runaway. After the torrid pace of the first half both
teams combined to miss 16 of their first 17 shots.
With a little over ten minutes left, Kansas had built an eight-point
lead, but in a game of key runs Texas answered with an 11-0 run of its
own and reclaimed the lead, 67-64. Then during a critical stretch of
the game Sherron Collins nailed a three - one of 15 for KU on the day
– that put Kansas back on top 70-69. It was Darrell Arthur’s jumper with 1:52 remaining that gave the Jayhawks a
72-71 lead that they would never relinquish. Kansas ended the game on a
14-3 run to claim its third straight Big 12 title.
Rush and Chalmers will get most of the accolades for this win but this
was truly a team victory. As a testament to how well this one was
played Kansas had 25 assists on 26 field goals, and the man who had
seven of those assists played a big part in this win –
Collins got off to a rough start in this one but ended up making
several key passes and hustle plays down the stretch. The
league’s sixth man of the year finished with nine points,
seven assists, five rebounds, and he went 4-4 from the free throw line
in crunch time.
“He's tough and he has been a big difference in our
team,” added Self. “He adds a different element to
our team. We're going to play those four guards about the same amount
of minutes, but it was hard to take Mario and Brandon out today. They
were on a roll. To be honest with you, Sherron got off to a rough
start, didn't play that well early, but really made some key plays down
Another good sign heading into tourney play? Darrell Arthur ended up
with 16 points on 6-9 shooting, grabbed several big-time rebounds (9
rebounds), and played 36 minutes. KU is simply a better team when Shady
gets that many minutes.
And one last point…Those who were wondering if
KU’s outside shooting was good enough to make a deep run in
KU Completes Three-peat
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