No. 4 Kansas Comes Back to Win 15th-Straight, Defeats Texas, 64-59
Jan. 19, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. –Only 2:18 remained when the Jayhawks took the lead for good, but the final minutes of the afternoon were all the Kansas men’s basketball team needed to erase an 11-point deficit and defeat Texas, 64-59, Saturday inside the Frank Erwin Center.
With Kansas (16-1, 4-0) and Texas (8-9, 0-4) entering the matchup as the top-two field goal percentage defenses in the country, scoring was predictably hard to come by. Neither team shot over 40 percent in the opening frame, and for the second-straight road game the Jayhawks took a deficit to halftime following a sub-30 percent shooting performance.
Consequently, Kansas found itself trailing Texas for much of the game, including what seemed to be an insurmountable 11-point margin with only 15 minutes remaining – but it wasn’t. Fueled by a crucial three-pointer from sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe and 11 second-half points from redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore, the Jayhawks outscored the Longhorns 17-6 in the final 5:36 to chalk up their 15th-straight win.
Texas, the second-winningest team in the Big 12 behind Kansas, now starts the conference season 0-4 for the first time since the 1997-98 season, the year before veteran Longhorn head coach Rick Barnes’ arrival.
Questionable after leaving the end of the Baylor game with an ankle injury, McLemore looked 100 percent when he hit KU’s first three of the day, but had scored only five points by halftime. With no Jayhawks in double-digits at the break, McLemore finished the game with 16 points to pace the offense, while seniors Jeff Withey and Travis Releford scored 14 and 12 points, respectively. Withey finished one rebound shy of a double-double as he led the floor with nine rebounds as well as blocks (3), moving him into a tie for third on KU’s career blocks list (243, Nick Collison).
Fueled by freshmen, Texas’ first 17 points came from rookies. The only player in the Big 12 with a higher scoring average than McLemore, Texas sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan scored eight in the first half, and finished with a game-high 18 points but it was fellow sophomore Jonathan Holmes that made the biggest impact.
After Kansas held him scoreless in the first half, Holmes scored 10 points in less than nine minutes to power a 12-0 scoring run that built the home team’s 11-point lead. Sophomore guard Julien Lewis joined McClellan and Holmes in double-digits with 11 points. Texas shot 45 percent (25-for-56) to Kansas’ 39 percent (20-for-51), becoming the second team this year to outshoot the Jayhawks.
In the early minutes, the Longhorns used the long ball to its advantage with the first three buckets coming from behind the arc to take the slight 9-8 lead into the first media timeout. A pair of threes from freshmen forward Ioannis Papapetrou and a put-back jumper by freshman guard Demarcus Holland had Kansas facing a 14-8 deficit, tying its largest in Big 12 play. The two threes were Papapetrou’s only buckets of the game.
Highlighted by a Kevin Young breakaway dunk, Kansas posted a quick 7-2 run to cut the Longhorn lead to one, 16-15. That trend continued for much of the first half. Kansas would trim the UT advantage to a single digit, only to have the Longhorns fight back with an immediate basket in response.
Approaching the five-minute mark, Withey made both free throws to close the gap, 20-19, but McClellan came back with a three-pointer to again extend the Longhorn lead to four. Four the second-straight road game, Kansas’ shots struggled to find the bottom of the net in the first half. Despite making just 7-of-25 shots and suffering a drought of more than nine minutes without a field goal, Kansas trailed by only two heading into halftime, 28-26.
To open the second half, Withey broke the 10-point plateau with a pair of free throws. McLemore hit a three to put Kansas ahead for the first time since the 16:26 mark of the first half, 31-30.
Texas responded loudly out of head coach Rick Barnes’ timeout. Withstanding two different timeouts from the Kansas bench, Holmes and Lewis combined for a 12-0 run on their own, pushing Kansas back to its first double-digit deficit, 42-31, since trailing by 12 against Chattanooga more than two months ago.
Down 11 with 15 minutes to play, Kansas was in need of a stop as Texas made seven of its first nine shots to open the half. Although the Jayhawks came out hitting 57 percent (4-for-7) through the same time frame, their usually impenetrable defense waned against the Longhorns as Texas climbed near 50 percent shooting for the game.
Uninterested, Kansas kept fighting. Back-to-back baskets from Releford and the only one of the game for senior guard Elijah Johnsonsaw KU claw inch back into it down, 49-43.
Still behind four with five minutes to play, Kansas caught fire. Three different Jayhawks connected on shots to assemble a 7-0 run in less than 90 seconds, including a much-needed trey from Tharpe.
Doing what they do, Withey blocked a shot, grabbed the defensive rebound and chucked it down the court to McLemore for the fastbreak dunk and Kansas retook the lead, 54-53.
Texas wouldn’t hold more than a one-point lead for the remainder of the game as Kansas seized control. A combined six free throws from Releford and Johnson and two crucial baskets off the hands of Tharpe put the back-and-forth contest to rest, 64-59.
No. 4 Kansas will stay on the road to face Kansas State on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. on the Big 12 Television Network.
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