Hungry 'Horns Blast Jayhawks

Isaiah Taylor and Jonathan Holmes combined to score 45 points and the Longhorn defense stifled the visiting Kansas Jayhawks in an 81-69 victory.

The win not only gave Texas four wins in a row over ranked teams — a school record — but also halved the Jayhawks' advantage in the Big 12 standings. Kansas (16-5, 7-1 Big 12) now leads Texas (17-4, 6-2) by a game, with the two teams yet to play another contest in Lawrence. A sellout crowd of 16,540 caught the game, Texas's first sellout since Kansas two years ago.

"I want them to enjoy it, and they should," said Texas coach Rick Barnes after the game. "But we've got a long way to go."

This one wasn't ever close. Kansas came into the game averaging a Big 12-best 1.214 points per possession, and were fresh off back-to-back 1.36 and 1.23 performances. But the Jayhawks were at 1.00 on Saturday night — that actually increased significantly in the second half — and couldn't string together any sort of offensive run to cut into the Longhorn advantage, built up during the first half.

Texas constructed that lead as Kansas started off 5-for-9, then made just 3-of-22 shots the rest of the half, while the Longhorns made almost 45 percent of their attempts. The worst field goal percentage of the Bill Self era at Kansas was the 29.5 percent that the Jayhawks shot at TCU last year, but they were only at 25.8 percent in the first half against Texas.

And the Longhorns were the more physical team, grabbing eight offensive rebounds to the Jayhawks' nine. That, combined with 11 points apiece from Isaiah Taylor and Jonathan Holmes, allowed Texas to take a 38-23 advantage into the halftime break, with the Longhorns owning not just a big lead, but all the momentum.

"We struggled from the opening tip," said Kansas coach Bill Self. "They had us on our heels the whole time."

The two sides mostly played equal in the second half, with any small Kansas run matched by Texas. In fact, the Jayhawks never did get the score within double-digits in the second-half.

Fresh off a 27-point outing at Baylor, Taylor again got to the rim at will, scoring 23 on a combination of floaters and shots at the rim. Afterward, Self called Taylor the best player on the floor, a major compliment considering Taylor's three-star ranking coming out of college, while Self's squad had multiple McDonald's All-Americans.

When Taylor went out briefly after rolling his ankle, Holmes helped to pick up the slack. His jumpers were working as he poured in another 22.

But this was also a night for the complementary Longhorn pieces. Cameron Ridley finished just off a double-double, scoring nine points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking four shots. Demarcus Holland had just four points, but led Texas with 11 boards and had three assists, two steals and generally excellent defense. Javan Felix helped to run out the game with nine points, seven of which came at the free throw line. Connor Lammert had seven big points off the bench, while Prince Ibeh had four blocks.

"It goes back to their investment," Barnes said. "They're totally invested."

Between them, Ridley and Ibeh (4) and Holmes (3) combined for 11 blocks between them. Texas had 12 as a team, tying for the season-high. Texas was fourth nationally in block rate coming into the game at 17.6 percent, but the Longhorns were up to 18.5 on Saturday.

"They affected a lot of shots," Barnes said. "It was not a lot of anything easy around the rim."

Kansas's Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, considered to be top-five NBA Draft picks for 2014, combined to shoot 5-21 and had more fouls than field goals. Wiggins had an especially tough night, making just 2-of-12 shots and struggling to keep Texas's quick guards in front of him before fouling out with seven points. Wayne Selden paced the Jayhawks with 21 points and Perry Ellis had 11.

It was Texas's first win over Kansas since the 2010-2011 season, and the Longhorns' first victory over the Jayhawks in Austin since 2007-2008. That year, Texas and Kansas shared the regular season Big 12 title, with the Jayhawks going on to win the national championship.

"They're a good team, man," Ellis said. "We have to be ready for them when they come to Lawrence. They're a good team."

"It was pretty much a dominating performance by the Longhorns today," Self said. "I felt like Texas was the hungrier team today."

Winners of their last six straight, the Longhorns will now travel to take on the Big 12's last-place team on Tuesday, when Texas heads to TCU. That tip is set for 7 p.m.


* Texas's win didn't go unnoticed on the recruiting trail, either. Euless Trinity post Myles Turner, the top target on Texas's board for 2014 and a five-star prospect tweeted out "I SEE YOU TEXAS!!! DANG". Turner later deleted the tweet, which was sent during his official visit to Oklahoma State.


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