Texas Falters Late in Lawrence

The Texas Longhorns entered Saturday without a win at Allen Fieldhouse and will leave town the same way after Longhorns senior guard A.J. Abrams faltered late seemingly playing one on five. The Jayhawks won 83-73 and in doing so won their second outright Big 12 title in three years and fifth overall in a row.

The Texas Longhorns played team basketball for the first 36 minutes on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse and were squarely in position to have a shot a huge victory. As has been the case all season, the Longhorns played a game of feast or famine abandoning team basketball in the closing minutes and Texas faltered behind the poor shot selection and unforced turnovers by A.J. Abrams.

The Longhorns (20-10, 9-7), Abrams' last quality play came with 4:08 to play when he caught the ball on the left wing and caught Kansas guard Brady Morningstar out of control on a close out and drew a two shot foul. Abrams made both and Kansas led 73-71.

The Jayhawks (25-6, 14-2) followed with a miss by freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor and the Longhorns had the ball with a chance to tie. On that possession, Abrams shot an ill-advised three-pointer which resulted in a long rebound and a transition three by Kansas to make it 76-71 with 3:25 to play.

Abrams then followed with a turnover off of a mishandled pass from Balbay. The turnover resulted in another Jayhawk run out and a dunk by Taylor and suddenly the lead was seven.

After a Texas timeout, Abrams recorded another unforced turnover with 2:44 to play. Three possessions, a bad shot and two unforced turnovers and the Longhorn fate was sealed.

Kansas closed out the Longhorns in the final two minutes and walked away with an 83-73 win and a 9-0 record all-time against Texas in Allen Fieldhouse.

In the first half, Texas raced out to a commanding lead in the second portion of the first half behind the hot shooting of Damion James, the all-around play of Dogus Balbay and the timely scoring of Dexter Pittman.

The Longhorns extended to a 44-30 lead with a 1:40 remaining in the half before Kansas closed with a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 44-37.

James scored 20 first half points for the Longhorns, while Balbay scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists.

James led the Longhorns with 26 points. Pittman chipped in 16 and Abrams 10.

Sherron Collins led Kansas with 21 points and seven assists. The junior guard was joined in double figures by Cole Aldrich with 12 and Tyshawn Taylor with 11.

A Look at the Numbers

The Longhorns shot 42.4% (25-59) overall, 25.0% (3-12) from three and 90.9% (20-22) from the free throw line.

The Jayhawks converted 50.0% (27-54) from the floor, 54.5% (6-11) from the three-point line and 88.5% (23-26) from the foul line.

Texas won the battle of the boards 33-32.

Texas committed 11 turnovers to 10 by Kansas.

The Good

The Longhorns were very good on the glass today against one of the top rebounding teams in the country.

Damion James played his best half of offensive basketball in his three years at Texas knocking down open three pointers, mid-range jumpers and finishing around the rim. James didn't play fast and out of control, but displayed a calm, comfort and let the game come to him.

Dogus Balbay played a terrific all-around game.

The good was Kansas deciding they were going to defend Balbay out to 18-20 feet in the first half instead of sagging back to 12 feet as so many teams have. Balbay, even without a jump shot, will go by any guard in the country if they play tight on him and when he does it is often blow by penetration resulting in scramble situations by the defense.

Balbay pushed in transition, played passing lanes, recovered in transition and blocked shots, grabbed traffic rebounds and should have had nine or 10 assists if Pittman could have finished plays at the rim.

Justin Mason had his best all-around game in quite a while. The junior finished with eight points, seven rebounds and four assists. He did a pretty good job when on Collins and played hard on both ends for the entire game. He made three or four hustle plays on offensive rebounds or in loose ball situations.

James made all eight of his free throws and Pittman all six of his attempts from the stripe.

The Bad

The Longhorn's senior leader played selfish basketball during the game-deciding stretch when he had played within the team concept with very good results for the first 36 minutes. As has often been the case with Abrams during his career, his trend toward selfish play has been a killer on the offensive end and often creates transition or run outs with bad shots from deep and the long rebounds that follow.

Dexter Pittman missed two dunks and two more point blanks that he simply has to finish to beat a ranked team on the road and for Texas to be the best team they can be. The effort was outstanding from Pittman today, but a 6-10, 295-pound player has to finish at the rim to maximize his ability as a post player. Today, those four misses over the course of the first 36 minutes changed how Texas approached the final four minutes of the game.

Other than those two areas, there isn't much to be negative about as Texas put itself in position to win the game at a very tough place to play against a quality opponent.

Overall

Texas finishes fifth in the Big 12 race and will play the Colorado Buffaloes on Wednesday at 2pm in Oklahoma City at Ford Center. Texas, while very likely to be in the NCAA Tournament, could place itself squarely on the bubble if they drop the first round game. Should Texas win on Wednesday, they would play #4 seed Kansas State at 2pm on Thursday.


Horns Digest Top Stories