No. 3 Kansas defeats Texas for sole possession of Big 12 title
AUSTIN, Texas – Third-ranked Kansas basketball clinched sole possession of the Big 12 Conference regular season title with a 77-67 victory over Texas on Saturday evening at Frank Erwin Center.
Kansas (26-3, 14-2 Big 12) notches 26 overall wins for the third-straight season and the 10th time in the 14 seasons under head coach Bill Self. The Jayhawks converted 15 UT turnovers into 28 points on Saturday – the most points off turnovers for KU since the season-opener against Indiana on Nov. 11, 2016.
Josh Jackson led a flock of four Jayhawks in double-figure points. The All-American and Freshman of the Year candidate tallied 18 points with five rebounds and a team-high five assists. National Player of the Year front-runner Frank Mason III scored 16 points and junior guard Devonte’ Graham contributed 12.
Junior forward Dwight Coleby came off the bench to tie a career-high 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting with four rebounds in just 13 minutes.
Josh Jackson scored a team-high 18 points on Saturday night.
“It was great to see Dwight have a good game,” Self said after the game. “He is a big reason why we won this game. It’s good to see good attitudes payoff. After recovering from an ACL injury, you can tell he looks a lot more athletic at this point.”
The Jayhawks defeat Texas (10-19, 4-12) for the seventh-straight time and lead the all-time series, 29-8. UT was paced by standout freshmen Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen. Allen scored 20 points with 11 rebounds for his second double-double against the Jayhawks, while Jones netted 18 points.
Kansas wasted no time in implementing its will as Jackson made the first bucket of the game 12 seconds into regulation. KU turned around on defense to force a shot-clock violation on UT’s first possession. Jackson scored KU’s first points off turnovers when he drained a 3-pointer on the other end to put KU up, 5-0.
Graham recorded back-to-back steals to enable Kansas to take a 9-2 early lead. Graham’s first steal led to two free throws by Mykhailiuk, and his next steal turned into a fast-break dunk for the two-year starter from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Kansas forced five Texas turnovers in the first eight minutes of regulation, but the Longhorns were able to claw back and take a 20-19 lead at the 10:53 mark of the first half.
“I feel great. I just had to be focused and ready to contribute when my number was called.” -Dwight Coleby on his performance tonight pic.twitter.com/UE5ZnC7SYr
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) February 26, 2017
The Jayhawks answered with a resounding 12-0 run to take control of momentum before halftime. Sophomore guard Lagerald Vick sparked the run by stealing a Jacob Young pass and forwarding the ball to Graham in a fast break opportunity; Graham gave it right back to a sprinting Vick for a gravity-defying alley-oop dunk.
Coleby subbed in for the first time at the 9:40 mark and took ownership of the paint the remaining minutes of the first half. The Jayhawk newcomer slammed an alley-oop in-bounds pass from Graham coming out of a timeout and later made a pair of free throws to extend KU’s lead to 31-20 to cap off its 12-0 run.
The Jayhawks took a 40-31 lead into the locker room. Coleby scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including three dunks, with four rebounds leading up to the halftime buzzer.
Graham made a pair of 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the second half to equalize UT’s quick offense to start the second period; the Longhorns made four of their first six shots in the second half.
Texas cut KU’s deficit to five points on a 3-pointer by Young with 10:39 remaining, but KU maintained its margin behind a combined six free throws by Mason and Jackson. Jackson made a pull-up jumper from the left wing to give Kansas a 64-52 advantage, and force a UT timeout with 8:31 remaining.
A layup by Coleby with 6:24 remaining gave the transfer from Ole Miss 12 points to tie his career high for the third time and marking the most points he has scored as a Jayhawk. With under five minutes remaining, Mason made a 3-pointer and Jackson sunk two free throws to give KU its largest lead of the day at 15 points, 76-61, before the final buzzer.
A “Let’s go Jayhawks” chant from Kansas fans in attendance reverberated throughout the Erwin Center as Kansas closed-in on its 26th victory of the season and seventh-straight over the Longhorns.
Kansas will host Oklahoma for Senior Night on ESPN Big Monday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. Central. The Jayhawks have won a mind-boggling 33-straight home finales entering the last hoorah at home for KU’s beloved seniors – Frank Mason III, Landen Lucas and Tyler Self.
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