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Kansas defeats Texas Tech, 66-62

  • 1 p.m., March 7, 2020
  • United Supermarkets Arena, Lubbock, TX

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Finishing the job: No. 1 Jayhawks cap Big 12 title with road win at Tech

Kansas' Devon Dotson (1) celebrates after an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)

Kansas' Devon Dotson (1) celebrates after an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)

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Lubbock, Texas — Three days after clinching a share of the 2020 Big 12 title, No. 1 Kansas pulled off a hard-fought, 66-62 win at Texas Tech to claim the crown outright on Saturday at United Supermarkets Arena.

And the funny thing was it didn’t even have to.

With eight minutes to play in Saturday’s victory, Kansas coach Bill Self let his team in on a little secret.

No matter what happened the rest of the way, the Jayhawks already had won the Big 12 title outright and Self told them as much during a timeout shortly after he had learned of Baylor’s 12-point loss at West Virginia.

“I said, ‘Gosh dang, guys. I don’t know why you’re playing so tight. West Virginia won. Just go have fun,” Self said after watching his team improve to 28-3 overall and 17-1 in Big 12 play. “That didn’t have anything to do with us winning, but I do think it was nice for that pressure to be lifted a little bit.”

Self found out the result of the West Virginia-Baylor game during the first TV timeout of Saturday’s second half. But he did not say anything to his players right away.

The reason?

He thought it might have distracted them from the focus they had throughout the week.

“We didn’t want to share anything,” said freshman guard Christian Braun, who scored 5 points and grabbed four rebounds, including a crucial steal and score late that put Kansas ahead by 4 with 1:26 to play. “That was our whole mindset going in — don’t let them have a piece of what we worked for. So we just had to go close it out.”

That certainly was easier said than done. But to do it, these Jayhawks, in becoming the first Self-coached Kansas team to go undefeated on the road in conference play, tapped into something that has fueled them all season long. Pride.

“I think it’s within us,” junior Marcus Garrett said. “That’s all we talked about, finishing the job of going undefeated in the Big 12. Especially with our past last year and all those games we lost on the road. Me and Dot (Devon Dotson), Ochai (Agbaji), we just wanted to come back this year and try to win every road game.”

And now they have.

Officially, Kansas finished the season 10-1 in true road games. The only loss came at Villanova by 1.

In Big 12 play, KU finished 9-0 and won those nine conference games away from Allen Fieldhouse by an average score of 65-54, holding five opponents in the 50s, two in the 60s and two in the 40s.

Saturday’s total of 62 points by Texas Tech was the most allowed by Kansas on the road this season.

“Defense travels,” Self said after Saturday’s win. “And, for the most part, that’s been the case with us.”

Nothing about KU’s most recent road win was easy. Despite the Jayhawks leading for 30 minutes and limiting Tech’s time with the lead to 3:23, this one had the look and feel of two teams playing with their seasons on the line.

Kansas controlled most of the first half, thanks in large part to 30% first-half shooting by the Red Raiders. And after trailing by a point, midway through the first half, the Jayhawks closed the half on a 14-5 run. That temporarily took the rowdy crowd out of the game and put Texas Tech on its heels. But the Red Raiders (18-13, 9-9) never quit.

Despite trailing by 8 at the break and still by as many as 7 in the first few minutes of the second half, Tech ripped off a 14-6 run to take a 44-43 lead with 10:47 to play.

That was the last time the home team led, and even that was short-lived. Just 2:04 after falling behind, the Jayhawks were back on top by two possessions.

KU’s two national player of the year candidates — Dotson and senior center Udoka Azubuike — had a lot to do with the quick turnaround, but not just with their point production.

On KU’s first possession playing from behind in the second half, it was Dotson’s poise that set up Agbaji in the deep corner for a shot-clock-beating 3-pointer that put KU back in front 46-44 with 9:20 to play.

“That was a huge bucket for us,” Azubuike said.

KU’s big man delivered a few of those himself, even with Texas Tech refusing to let Kansas throw it to him in the post for most of the afternoon.

With one man fronting Azubuike and another shading him behind, KU’s guards found a different way to get the ball to their most dominant presence — by driving and missing.

Dotson, Agbaji (12 points, six rebounds), Garrett (9 points, eight rebounds) and Braun (5 points, four rebounds) consistently turned the corner in the paint and forced help defenders to leave Azubuike to stop the drive. That allowed Azubuike to get free and he gobbled up their misses to the tune of 15 points and 11 rebounds, which delivered his Big 12-leading 15th double-double this season.

“That’s what we talk about a lot,” Self said. “If (we) can force help, the advantage goes to the offense rebounding.”

Added Dotson of the strategy that led to him shooting 6 of 15 but also leading his team to victory with 17 points and five assists: “Every time, you’re trying to look for Dok because he’s so dominant down there. They did a great job of loading up, so you just find different ways of attacking and just make plays.”

The Jayhawks did enough of that throughout Saturday’s final road test of the season and now have nothing but neutral-court games ahead of them in the postseason.

Kansas will play in next week’s Big 12 Tournament at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., as the No. 1 seed. Their first game will tipoff around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, and the top-ranked Jayhawks will face the winner of Wednesday’s 8-9 game between Oklahoma State and Iowa State.

After Saturday’s win, Dotson was asked how he liked the sound of 17-1 in Big 12 play, a mark that established a new KU record for Big 12 wins in a single season, breaking the old mark of 16 set by the 2002, 2012 and 2017 teams.

Dotson smiled.

“What do I think of it?” he asked. “It’s great. That was our goal, to win it outright. Don’t share anything. For us to go 17-1, it’s big. Hopefully we can build off of it. We’re not satisfied. We have bigger goals and aspirations, but we can build off this for sure.”

Comments

Dane Pratt 1 year ago

At this time all we know is we’ll play either Oklahoma State or Iowa State next Thursday. Wish we could play K-State again.

Bryce Landon 12 months ago

If we draw ISU on Thursday, I hope that (A) the Sprint Center looks like Allen Fieldhouse East and not Hilton Coliseum South; and (B) that we CRUSH the Cyclones. I hate Iowa State, I hate that their fans take over Kansas City during the Big 12 Tournament, and I hate the fact that we have been ISU's bitch in the tournament the last few times we've gone up against them.

Daniel Kennamore 1 year ago

Hey Matt,

Next time you get a chance in a presser like this with Self...could you ask which region they'd pick for the NCAAT?

With the new rules the overall one gets to pick first. A lot of bracket projections have us going to the Midwest but I'd think we'd prefer Houston (South).

Matt Tait 1 year ago

He's talked about it a little and you never know what will end up happening, but my money's on KU favoring Houston if they do, in fact, get to pick.

Benjamin Shear 1 year ago

Some thoughts from after the game:

1) The TT fans seem really ignorant of basketball. They booed at all sorts of calls that were actually good calls. I understand cheering for your team, but it seemed like they mostly are just not as 'educated' in the game as other schools. There were a few bad calls on both ends, but it seemed to be a pretty normal game to me.

2) I honestly don't think leopard print bikini bottom wearing men should be allowed to strip and distract a FT shooter. That's not good sportsmanship, it seems to me to a bridge too far.

3) We also beat TT at football this year. That's fun.

4) DeSosa is just not needed on this team this year. HCBS played 8 players today, but Enaruna played for 2 minutes and did nothing, so he really only played 7 guys. If Dok had fouled out the last four minutes, I am still don't think we would have seen DeSosa. I think the only way we would have seen DeSosa is if Dok fouled out and the game went to OT.

5) I can't express how big of an achievement winning the conference outright is this year. Congrats to the players and the coaches! I hope you enjoy the achievement but stay hungry for what's ahead. This team most certainly has the potential to win it all.

6) Who is BigXII player of the year? Such a hard decision. If you take recency as a factor, I think it tips in favor of Dok. If you weight the entire conference play evenly it goes to Dotson. For me, I would give it to Dok for conference MVP.

7) Can Dick Vitale retire already? Is it just me or does anyone else cringe when he is calling games. His style and approach just do not appeal to me at all. I can't stand when he calls KU games.

Dane Pratt 1 year ago

4) would not be surprised if Silvio transfers to another program next year 5) Vitale is not the worst commentator but close. He's basically a cheerleader for college basketball Have you received an expressed written permission from Tony to do these lists? It's kind of his thing.

Benjamin Shear 1 year ago

I have not received permission to do lists, but I am a fan of his! The more lists the better in my opinion. That's just how my brain thinks.

So...who is the worst commentator? Vitale adds nothing to the game and only serves to distract from it through all his old man ramblings.

Dane Pratt 1 year ago

Bill Walton is worse than Vitale.

Tony Bandle 1 year ago

Dane, I'm OK with Ben's style....as long as the copyrighted title "Random Thoughts" is not used. :}.

Actually, my late father, who was a wonderful man, wrote a column for many years with this title. I use it to honor him. And, as I have written before, although our family is native Missourians, my father kept his pledge and none of his five sons ever set foot on the Misery campus!! {3 Jayhawks, 1 Cyclone and 1 Saluki.}

Benjamin Shear 1 year ago

Sounds good Tony! I won't use your patented "Random Thoughts™", but will keep doing lists. I hope to keep reading your lists as well. I also was born 'over there', but grew up in Lawrence.

Tony Bandle 1 year ago

PS Walton and Vitale in a tie but Dick is old so the tie breaker goes to Billy Boy!!!

Edward Daub 12 months ago

3rd Place goes to Dan Dakich and his "Nasal Voice"!

Micky Baker 1 year ago

On TT's last 3 point attempt, it was not a foul either. They called one on Doke with 4 minutes left that was also not a foul. Doke went straight up and the player went into him. Doke is entitled to that space. But it didn't matter in the end.

Benjamin Shear 1 year ago

You are right. And the next play down the floor they called a foul on TT that also was not a foul. It was, to me, an obvious make-up call. Those do actually happen, even if they are not official.

David Black 1 year ago

Congratulations to the Big 12 Basketball Champions. Once again we have proven that it takes four guys to get the ball to Dok..we are a team. I love watching this group play as they are so unselfish and play at a high level. I have to order my new 2020 towel for the wall in my KU room....Rock Chalk

Bryce Landon 12 months ago

Well done, Jayhawks! If someone had told me we would go 17-1 in conference play this year, I'd have said they were crazy!

Now let's go get some more hardware in Kansas City this coming week and in Atlanta next month!

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