Kansas Wins Big 12 in a Tale of Two Halves

Texas fell 90-86 in Lawrence, giving Kansas the Big 12 regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. The Longhorns were outscored 48-32 in the second half in a game where freshman forward Kevin Durant put up 32 points, but was slowed by an ankle injury.

The Longhorns were unstoppable in the first half of play. Kevin Durant had 25 at the break, Texas was knocking down everything and the Horns took a 54-42 lead over the No. 3 team in the country into the break. Kansas was shooting strong as well in the first half, but couldn't keep up with Texas. The Horns hit an amazing 11-of-13 from behind that arch in the first half, but after the break the Longhorns' lead fell apart.

Texas only hit 3-of-18 three-pointers in the second. Kansas on the other hand, kept their high percentage rolling, finishing the game 52 percent from the field (33-of-63) and 61 percent from three-point range (11-of-18). Mario Chalmers led the Jayhawks with 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

Texas fell to 22-8 on the season and 12-4 in the Big 12. With Texas A&M's win over Missouri on Saturday, the Longhorns are the third seed in next weekend's Big 12 Tournament.

Kansas locked up the top spot in the conference tourney with its win over Texas, running its regular season record to 27-4 and 14-2 in the Big 12.

Despite all of the Horns' struggles in the second, they still only trailed by two with 23 seconds to go thanks to a three-pointer by A.J. Abrams off the in-bounds pass. Texas quickly fouled and sent Kansas forward Julian Wright to the line. Wright made the first but missed the second and Durant pulled down the rebound. Texas now had the ball, trailing by three, but was unable to convert. Justin Mason missed a three from the corner, then D.J. Augustin got the rebound and took another three. The freshman PG leaned forward with the shot, looking for contact, but was instead met with a block by a Wright, streaking in from Augustin's left.

Texas was forced to foul again and Russell Robinson went to the line. Robinson missed the first but hit second to make it a two-score lead and sealed the win for the Jayhawks.

Along with the massive disparity in three-point buckets, the stat line that showed the biggest shift for Texas from half to half was Durant's. Durant finished with 32 points, but he had 25 of them in the first half. Midway through the second, the freshman forward slipped as he was shooting and twisted both of his ankles…that's right, both ankles driving the bucket. He twisted his left ankle planting his foot and then rolled his right coming off the plant, but the left one was giving him the most trouble as he limped to the locker room.

Durant lays on the floor after injuring his ankle (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

With 7:19 to go Durant returned to the game, but was clearly slowed by his tweaked ankles. However, things had already begun to go very wrong for Texas before Durant left the game. The Horns were already trailing 71-65 after giving up a 12-point halftime lead.

Augustin did what he could to keep to Horns afloat, putting up 19 points and 13 assists, but the Jayhawk's second half attack was too much for Texas. In a bright spot for the Longhorns, Saturday's contest marked the return to action for Matt Hill. The freshman forward finished the game with 2 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist in 13 minutes.

Texas' regular season has concluded at 22-8. By receiving a top four bid to the conference tournament, the Longhorns will receive a first round bye and will play their first tourney game on Friday, March 9th.

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