"Texas totally controlled the last 30 minutes of the game," said Kansas head coach Bill Self. "In the second half they were terrific. Of course we helped them be terrific. We give up 51 points in our building in a half. They deserve the outcome that they got today."
Kansas shot just 26.7% from the field in the second half while the Longhorns made 63.6% of their shots, and combining that with a 17-2 edge in bench points (all provided by Brown) and a 10-2 edge in points off turnovers it isn't too difficult to see where Texas won the game. Texas also got to the foul line, making 19 of 23 from the charity stripe in taking advantage of officials who can conservatively be described as whistle-happy (handing out four technical fouls on the day). The visitors looked taken aback at the start as an emotional Kansas team dealing with a great deal of off-court adversity came out of the gates blazing. Texas fell behind by as many as 15 points in the first half but they'd done just enough to remain in the contest going into halftime. From the 14:32 mark of the second half Texas outscored Kansas 17-5 over a four-minute stretch, taking the lead for good on a Tristan Thompson layup to make the score 47-45. Thompson, who accounted for 12 points, six rebounds and five blocks, more than did his job on the defensive end in guarding the Morris twins.
"It [the second half run] started with Tristan," said Brown. "He was great on the Morris twins. He made it tough on them by playing defense with high hands, and he was aggressive with them. That turned the whole game around."
Ultimately the result is more of a positive for Texas than a negative for the Jayhawks, who rarely play as poorly as they did in the second half. With a quick turnaround at a now-struggling Colorado on Tuesday night Kansas will need to be sharp mentally in their preparation, but compared to what their teammate Thomas Robinson is dealing with a game shouldn't concern them too much. As for Texas, not only does the win put them in the driver's seat in the Big 12 but it also cements them as a player nationally as we approach the final full month before the stakes get raised. And given their depth Texas has a good shot to make some noise come March. (quotes courtesy of Kansas Athletics)
Other Notable Happenings
1. Villanova win in the Carrier Dome and remains within striking distance of Pitt.
The first rule that many cite in trying to crack the Syracuse 2-3 zone is that you can't settle for the perimeter shot, especially when challenged. Villanova had no use for such a rule as they started off hot from deep, knocking down 8 of 13 in the first half to take a 40-29 lead into the locker room. The Wildcats were able to withstand a Syracuse rally in the second half, ultimately winning 83-72 behind 21 points from Maalik Wayns and 16 apiece from Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes. Kris Joseph led Syracuse with 23 points while Rick Jackson added 16 points and 15 rebounds, but for the second consecutive game Scoop Jardine struggled (1-for-8, 2 points) and the Orange paid as a result. Not only did Villanova shoot well from deep (11-24) but they also got to the foul line and converted, making 22 of 24 free throws on the day. After everyone outside of Fisher struggled offensively at Connecticut on Monday, this could be the boost that Jay Wright's team needed offensively in order to go on a run. Also, keep in mind that the Wildcats still have two meetings with first-place Pittsburgh, making Saturday's win to remain one game back all the more important.
2. Buckeyes make the plays late to win at Illinois.
Once again Ohio State received contributions from a variety of sources, beating Illinois 73-68 in Champaign to remain undefeated both overall and in Big Ten play. Jared Sullinger was a man among boys inside, scoring 27 points and grabbing 15 rebounds while playing all forty minutes. Add in 15 points from Jon Diebler, David Lighty not focusing on his poor shooting (3-14, nine points) to the point where he'd be ineffective in other areas (five rebounds, four assists) and Aaron Craft doing a good job defensively on Demetri McCamey. And those are just three of the contributors for Thad Matta's team, who will now take on Purdue at home Tuesday night in what could be the beginning of the end of the Big Ten race should the Buckeyes win. They may only go seven deep on most nights but those seven players have proven themselves to be among the best teams in college basketball, and chemistry trumps depth as was seen in yesterday's game. Should they get past Purdue the question becomes "who can beat Ohio State", a query that hasn't been answered yet and it may take a while to do so.
3. Xavier pulls away from Temple to remain tied with Duquesne atop the Atlantic 10.
Xavier's student section came up with the clever chant of "it's our conference" late in the Musketeers' 88-77 win over Temple on Saturday afternoon. Winners of the last four regular season titles they certain make a good point, and the win over the Owls was the first step towards making that five in a row. Tu Holloway led the way with 21 points while Mark Lyons (19) and Jamel McLean (16 points, seven rebounds) were two of the other contributors for Chris Mack's team. The Xavier big men rendered Lavoy Allen ineffective as the preseason Atlantic 10 Player of the Year failed to score in 13 minutes as he was also saddled with foul trouble. Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore also struggled for the Owls, who would have been done far before the Musketeers' late surge if not for Scootie Randall (28 points) and Khalif Wyatt (19 points off the bench). The key for Xavier, who is now tied with Duquesne for first place, will be what happens in Atlantic City in March. That's been Temple's "city" with the Owls winning the last three tournament titles, and given the way the A-10 has played out thus far one of these two teams may need that crown in order to go dancing.
4. Purdue wins to remain a game behind Ohio State.
While the immediate question of many is "what's wrong with Michigan State", the proper question following Saturday night's contest should be "what's right with Purdue". Matt Painter's club has won two straight games following losses to Minnesota and West Virginia, and their 86-76 win over the Spartans is a good boost heading into Tuesday night's showdown with Ohio State. The Boilermakers shot 61% from the field in the first half to take a 41-31 lead into the break and they shot 58% for the game against a program that prides itself on its defense and toughness. E'Twaun Moore led the way with 26 while JaJuan Johnson added 20 points, but the hero may have been Lewis Jackson who scored a career-high 19 in the win. Purdue shot nearly 61% from two-point range while also getting to the foul line (22-30 FT), a formula they'll need to use Tuesday night as well as the remainder of the season if they're to have a chance at getting to the Final Four. Some gave up on this team when Robbie Hummel went down in the preseason and jumped at the chance to do so again after last week's defeats. But this is a seasoned group even without Hummel, and they've got more than enough talent to be a factor come March.
5. UNLV survives at home, beating New Mexico by a point.
UNLV was in danger of dropping their second conference home game of the week, but an intentional foul called on Dairese Gary late greased the skids for a comeback that would temporarily keep their at-large hopes alive. Tre'Von Willis made both free throws to put the Rebels up 62-61 with 27 seconds remaining, followed by Oscar Bellfield splitting a pair on the ensuing possession to put UNLV up two. But freshman Kendall Williams nearly got New Mexico to overtime, stealing an inbounds pass with 1.1 seconds remaining and getting fouled on his shot attempt. But he made just one of two, allowing the Rebels to escape while the Lobos dropped to 1-4 in Mountain West play. It must be said that if not for Williams the Lobos don't get another opportunity to tie the game, and the young man well be a star in that league in the near future. But for UNLV it doesn't matter how they survived, as the simple fact that they did has them in position to make a mini-run (Wyoming and Utah are next) before they have to visit BYU. If they can get to Provo with a 4-3 league record, the Rebels will have the opportunity to cement their at-large case with a win at the Marriott Center.
Top Five Games
1. Wichita State 93, Indiana State 83 (3OT) Garrett Stutz led the Shockers with 16 points in a game that saw each team have six players in double figures as Wichita State ended the Sycamores' six-game win streak. Aaron Carter led Indiana State with 16 points but it wasn't enough to avoid dropping into a tie for second place in the MVC.
2. Memphis 76, UAB 73 (OT) Will Barton provided 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench in helping Memphis extend their win streak over the Blazers to ten games, with nine of those wins coming at the expense of UAB head coach Mike Davis. Antonio Barton added 16 for the Tigers while Cameron Moore led UAB with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
3. Missouri State 67, Creighton 66 Kyle Weems, who scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, converted a layup with 13.3 seconds remaining to keep the Bears in first place in the MVC. Antoine Young led the Blue Jays with 18 points while Doug McDermott (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Gregory Echenique (10 points, seven rebounds and seven blocks) also chipped in for Creighton.
4. La Salle 76, Rhode Island 75 An Aaric Murray three point play with 20 seconds remaining provided the winning points for the Explorers, who snapped their two-game losing streak with the victory. Murray led all scorers with 20 points while Marquis Jones (15 points) and Delroy James (11 points, 14 rebounds and five assists) led the way for Rhode Island.
5. George Mason 75, James Madison 73 Cam Long scored 30 points to help lead the Patriots to an important road victory in Harrisonburg. Denzel Bowles led the way for the Dukes with 21 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks and four assists. The win keeps Mason one game back of first-place Hofstra and VCU in the CAA standings.
Five Notable Performances
1. F Jared Sullinger (Ohio State) 27 points and 16 rebounds in 40 minutes of action in the Buckeyes' 73-68 win at Illinois.
2. F/C Thomas Coleman (North Carolina A&T) 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks in the Aggies' 84-74 overtime win over South Carolina State.
3. G Jimmer Fredette (BYU) 42 points (21 in each half) in the Cougars' 94-85 win over Colorado State.
4. G Ben Hansbrough (Notre Dame) 28 points, six rebounds and five assists in Notre Dame's 80-75 win over Marquette.
5. F Luke Sikma (Portland) 29 points and 13 rebounds in the Pilots' 72-59 loss at Santa Clara.