With all four of its starting perimeter players making multiple 3-pointers Saturday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse, the No. 2-ranked Kansas basketball team had enough offense to hold off a pesky Texas team in a 79-67 victory.
The Jayhawks (18-1 overall, 7-0 Big 12) shot 11-for-23 (47.8 percent) as a team, led by junior Devonte’ Graham’s 18 points (4-for-8 from deep).
Senior Frank Mason III (2-for-4 on 3’s, 17 points), freshman Josh Jackson (2-for-5, 15) and junior Svi Mykhailiuk (2-for-4, 12) propelled KU to its 18th consecutive victory.
By defeating Texas (7-12, 1-6), KU picked up its 50th consecutive win inside Allen Fieldhouse. Including the Jayhawks’ “home court” games at Sprint Center, in Kansas City, Mo., their home winning streak of 53 currently leads the nation.
View a gallery of images from Saturday's game between the Jayhawks and Longhorns at Allen Fieldhouse.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: The Jayhawks opened and closed the first half strong, behind the shooting of Graham.
KU’s stellar junior guard scored seven of his 15 first-half points during an outpouring of offense — fueled in large part by UT turnovers — in the opening five-plus minutes. Graham’s 3-pointer from the right wing opened the game, he got to the free-throw line for a couple easy points and by the time he converted a layup off a Jackson steal, Kansas had put the Longhorns in a 14-2 hole.
Graham emerged again in the final five minutes of the half. His 3-pointer with 4:57 left until intermission pushed KU’s cushion back to six after Texas had cut it to three during a span in which Mason spent a lot of time on the bench, with two fouls.
Soon after, Graham followed a Mykhailiuk 3-pointer with his third of the half, sending KU’s lead back to double digits.
Behind freshman Jarrett Allen’s double-double (22 points, 19 rebounds), Texas put up more of a fight than appeared possible in the opening minutes, and the Longhorns kept competing in the second half. But KU and Graham put together a strong enough first half to keep the Jayhawks mostly comfortable down the stretch.
• Offensive highlight: Playing for the first time in three games, seldom-used backup freshman big Mitch Lightfoot provided KU with an unexpected spark in the first half — just in time, too.
The Jayhawks hand’t scored from the field in more than six minutes when Lightfoot’s hustle put an end to the drought. Even more unforeseen than KU’s offensive struggles after jumping out to a 14-point lead, Mason actually missed a layup attempt after attacking the rim in transition. Instead of assuming the senior leader would convert, though, the 6-foot-8 Lightfoot ran hard after Mason as a trailer, then leapt up above the Longhorns in the paint to tip in the offensive rebound and end a 9-0 Texas run.
• Defensive highlight: A single stop didn’t necessarily stand out for the Jayhawks against Texas. But the takeaways, in total, certainly did.
Before Saturday, Kansas hadn’t collected more than 10 steals in a game this season. Against UT, though, KU earned a number of stops by capitalizing on Longhorns miscues with steals, and finished the game with a season-high 14.
Speaking of takeaways…
• Key stat: Points off turnovers. By the end of the game, Kansas scored 15 points via UT’s 19 giveaways. But the Longhorns also hung around because they turned KU mistakes into buckets, as well. Texas scored 19 points off 16 Kansas turnovers, making it just about impossible for the home team to roll to a dominating win.
• Up next: The Jayhawks kick off what figures to be the most difficult stretch of their season with a trip to face No. 7 West Virginia, in Morgantown, W. Va., on Tuesday. KU then travels to No. 5 Kentucky Jan. 28, before returning to the fieldhosue to take on No. 6 Baylor on Feb. 1.
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