With an opportunity to lock up an outright Big 12 title Saturday, the Kansas basketball team leaned on some of its players off of the bench in a 77-67 victory over Texas at the Frank Erwin Center.
Only a few days after celebrating their 13th-consecutive conference championship, the Jayhawks received a lift from reserves Dwight Coleby (12 points, four rebounds, one block) and Lagerald Vick (seven points, four rebounds).
Leading by at least five points throughout the second half, KU’s bench stepped up when starters weren’t aren’t at their sharpest offensively. Freshman Josh Jackson led with 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting while senior standout Frank Mason III had 16 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Jayhawks own a three-game lead in the Big 12 standings over West Virginia and Iowa State.
KU's latest conference title puts the program in a tie with UCLA, in the 1960s and '70s, for longest stretch of consecutive league titles.
View a gallery of images from Saturday night's game between the Jayhawks and Longhorns at Frank Erwin Center.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: After the Longhorns took a one-point lead midway through the first half, their first lead of the night, the Jayhawks responded with a 17-3 run over a five-and-a-half minute stretch.
It started on the defensive end with two straight steals — one leading to a Mason layup and the other in an alley-oop to Vick.
Then the Jayhawks scored on their next four possessions, a 12-0 spurt that gave them enough room to keep Texas at arm’s length for the remainder of the half.
Kansas had a 24-8 advantage in the paint during the first 20 minutes, including a 17-0 lead in bench points.
The Jayhawks took a nine-point lead into the intermission and never let their lead drop to within one possession for the remainder of the night.
• Offensive highlight: When Coleby started dominating in the first half. Yes, Dwight Coleby. Remember him? The little-used reserve only had four combined minutes in KU’s last six games. And yet, there he was with 10 points in eight minutes in the first half, which included three dunks.
When the 6-foot-9, 240-pound Ole Miss transfer entered midway through the first half, he immediately scored on a hook shot. Two possessions later, out of a media timeout, Devonte Graham found him open near the basket for an alley-oop.
The Bahamas native added another dunk on a pass from Josh Jackson, a pair of free throws, and a put-back slam on a missed layup from Mason.
Coleby, who had scored seven points in Big 12 play entering Saturday, finished with 12 points and four rebounds in 13 minutes.
• Defensive highlight: The Longhorns weren’t particularly strong with the ball in the first half and Vick took advantage. The sophomore guard from Memphis used quick hands to grab a weak bounce pass from Texas guard Jacob Young, starting a 2-on-1 fast break.
Vick tossed a pass to Graham as he continued to sprint up the court and he was rewarded with an alley-oop, which he finished with a ferocious two-handed slam. It helped start a 12-0 run.
Speaking of Graham, he had some of his own defensive highlights in the first half. He had back-to-back steals in the opening minutes, finishing his second steal with a dunk in transition where he let out a yell to the crowd before running back down the court.
• Key stat: Points off turnovers. The Jayhawks took full advantage of Texas’ miscues, turning 15 Longhorn turnovers into 28 points. On the other side, Texas scored 13 points on KU’s 11 turnovers.
• Up next: The Jayhawks will return to Lawrence for their final game inside of Allen Fieldhouse, celebrating Senior Night against Oklahoma on Big Monday (8 p.m., ESPN).
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