Kansas Wins 2009 Big 12 Title Outright
March 7, 2009
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Led by 21 points and seven assists by Sherron Collins, Kansas defeated Texas, 83-73, Saturday afternoon on Senior Day in front of 16,300 fans at Allen Fieldhouse to earn the 2009 Big 12 Championship outright, the Jayhawks’ fifth consecutive conference title. With the win, Kansas improved to 25-6 (14-2 in the Big 12), while Texas fell to 20-10 (9-7).
During a key two-possession stretch late in the second half, it was Collins’ passing, not scoring, that shut the door on any hopes Texas had of getting a rare victory in the Fieldhouse. With KU leading 73-71, Collins took the ball on a fast break and found an open Brady Morningstar, who hit a huge three to put the Jayhawks up five. On the ensuing possession, Collins came up with a steal, drove the length of the floor again and dished to Tyshawn Taylor for a thunderous slam to make the score 76-71 in favor of Kansas. Texas would not get any closer the rest of the contest.
Amidst a series of “one more year” chants by the KU faithful, Collins calmly sank five free throws in the game’s final minutes to put the final nail in the Longhorns’ coffin. Seniors Brennan Bechard and Matt Kleinmann, who had checked in with just seconds earlier, checked back out to a huge ovation with 14 seconds to go in the game.
Marcus Morris then proceeded to dribble out the final seconds of KU’s fifth consecutive league title as the KU fans roared in approval.
After trailing 44-37 at halftime, Kansas outscored Texas 19-12 to even the score at 56 apiece after Taylor put in a layup at the 11:37 mark.
Texas would score the next five points to take a 61-56 lead, but the Jayhawks would storm right back. Cole Aldrich scored a two-point bucket, Markieff Morris hit two free throws, and Markieff followed a Collins miss with a dunk to give KU the lead right back, 62-61. It would continue to go back and forth as Texas’ Damion James made two free throws to give Texas a 63-62 lead. Taylor fired back by banking in a three-pointer to put KU back up 65-63. James knotted it back up at 65 with two more free throws. Aldrich followed with four consecutive free throws to put the Jayhawks up 69-65, and Texas would not lead again.
Texas’ Dexter Pittman scored a fast-break layup to cut the score to 69-67, and Taylor responded with a nice move for a layup that pushed it back to 71-67 in favor of Kansas. Justin Mason scored a layup for Texas, Aldrich hit a jumper at the top of the key for the Jayhawks, and Abrams converted two free throws to make the score 73-71, right before Collins took over the game.
Kansas ended the first half on a 7-0 run to cut the Texas lead to 44-37 at the half. With Texas up 44-30, Kansas head coach Bill Self called a much-needed timeout, and his Jayhawks responded. Immediately after the timeout, Marcus Morris cut hit a layup to cut the lead to 12, and Sherron Collins followed that on the ensuing Texas possession with a steal, fast break and dish to Travis Releford for another layup to make the score 44-34 in favor of Texas and force Rick Barnes to call a timeout.
Dexter Pittman appeared to have an easy dunk after the timeout but Cole Aldrich stuffed the attempt to keep the lead at 10. With just seconds to go in the half, Tyrel Reed hit a huge three, and Texas was unable to get down the floor for an attempt so Kansas headed into the locker room to a huge ovation only down seven.
Cole Aldrich recorded his 18th double-double of the season for the Jayhawks with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Tyshawn Taylor pitched in 11 points and five assists.
Texas’ Damion James played lights out in the first half, scoring 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including 2-for-2 from beyond the arc. James would cool off in the second half, finishing the game with 26 points.
Kansas held A.J. Abrams in check throughout the night, as he would end up with just 10 points.
KU is back in action next week as it holds the No. 1 seed in the 2009 Big 12 Tournament. With a first-round bye, the Jayhawks will face the winner of No. 8 Nebraska and No. 9 Baylor in the second round Thursday at 11:30 a.m. CST, on ESPN2.