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Kansas defeats Texas Tech, 67-61

  • 1 p.m., Feb. 20, 2021
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Total Team Win: Jayhawks put together complete game in 67-61 win over No. 15 Texas Tech

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) reacts after scoring against Texas Tech guard Mac McClung (0) and guard Kevin McCullar (15) during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 20, 2021. Photo by Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports.

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) reacts after scoring against Texas Tech guard Mac McClung (0) and guard Kevin McCullar (15) during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 20, 2021. Photo by Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports.

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For months, the Kansas men’s basketball team has been clamoring for its entire roster to play at a high level at the same time.

On Saturday, in a top-25 showdown with No. 15 Texas Tech, the 23rd-ranked Jayhawks got exactly that in a massive 67-61 victory at Allen Fieldhouse.

In securing its fifth consecutive victory, Kansas (17-7 overall, 11-5 Big 12) never trailed and committed just six turnovers against the vaunted Texas Tech defense.

More important than any of that, though, was the fact that, when KU needed a big bucket or someone to make a key play, the Jayhawks had options all over the floor and up and down the lineup.

All five starters scored in double figures and each of them took their turn in delivering, from the over-the-head, reverse alley-oop thrown down by Ochai Agbaji to the key offensive rebounds gathered by Jalen Wilson and Christian Braun and everything in between.

“When we have five guys out there all clicking, all playing for each other and making the right plays, whether it’s scoring, passing, just doing anything that we can to win the game, I love it,” said Wilson, who tallied 11 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes. “It makes it a lot more fun than we had in the past, and, now, I say we’re just clicking on all ends.”

While some of KU’s best offensive moments made for the most memorable part of Saturday’s victory, it was the Jayhawks’ torture-tough attitude and willingness to grind that most impressed head coach Bill Self.

Braun had a key block midway through the second half and joined Wilson in hitting the offensive glass all afternoon.

Senior guard Marcus Garrett (10 points, five assists in 27 minutes) made plays for others — both as a set-up man and a security blanket — and scored when he needed to. And Agbaji (14 points on 4-of-11 shooting) and David McCormack did their part as the team’s leading scorers, combining to shoot 11-of-21 from the floor for 31 points.

“Guys are taking pride in what wins games,” Self said after the victory. “Where, I'm not sure that was the case in January. I think we were taking pride in what we thought won games (then) as opposed to what we know wins games (now).”

A better start helped.

Kansas raced out to leads of 10-2 and 15-6 and led 31-25 at halftime.

“We came out with great energy and got off to a great start,” said McCormack, who was the catalyst for that, scoring six of KU’s first 12 points and hitting his first shot. “This momentum’s going to carry us into our next games and help us moving forward.”

Defense was also a big part of KU’s winning equation in this one. And the Jayhawks were good on that end from the jump on Saturday.

KU held Texas Tech (14-7, 6-6) to 42.3% shooting for the game, including a 37% showing in the first half.

That included holding Texas Tech’s leading scorer, Mac McClung, to 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting and giving up just 11 second-chance points.

“We know that we’re going to win the game on the defensive end,” Wilson said. “In games against good teams we aren’t going to be winning by just trading buckets back and forth.”

Still, there were a few buckets in this one that helped Kansas prevail.

One came from Wilson, on an offensive rebound of a missed 3-pointer by Braun that put the Jayhawks up 64-58 with 49 seconds to play. And the other was the reversal of that combination, with Wilson driving and kicking to Braun, whose 3-pointer from the wing with 21 seconds to play set the final margin and iced the game.

“That was a big time shot, a big time play,” Self said.

Braun, who scored 10 points in a game-high 38 minutes, finished just 2-of-10 from 3-point range in this one, but never hesitated on either of those later 3-point tries. Agbaji also struggled from the outside, going just 3-of-8 from downtown, but his 3-pointer that was set up by an assist from Braun following one of Braun’s two offensive rebounds put Kansas up 62-51 with 3:51 to play.

It was those moments, and the fact that the Jayhawks made them at crucial times and against such a quality team, that had Self smiling from ear to ear after the victory.

“I'm leaving out of here feeling the best I’ve felt in a long time about this group,” Self said.

Even with that being the case, Self and his players know the Jayhawks weren’t perfect on Saturday.

But even that knowledge brought an element of confidence to a team that enters the final week of the season feeling awfully good about itself.

“We had a great all-around game and, yet, we still didn’t hit the shots that we know we can hit,” said McCormack, who led all scorers with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. “We had a lot of great looks and once those start falling the point (differential is) going to be even bigger and it’ll be a much easier game.”

Added Self: “We actually played better offense than what we scored, because we missed a lot of good looks.”

None of those misses hurt Kansas the way they did in January because the Jayhawks now know how to make up for them. Whether that means getting the ball off of the offensive glass for another crack or locking in and getting a stop to offset it, these Jayhawks have figured out what works and are showing that they understand what it takes to win games.

“It feels like it's the most complete game we’ve played, positively, since Christmas,” Self said. “I do think this is probably as good as we've been on both ends.”

Asked later why he was so encouraged about Saturday’s victory, Self began by listing some of the more obvious elements before hinting that there’s still more to come.

“Well, we’ve won five in a row and we beat a ranked team for the first time in a while and the attitudes are the best they’ve been all year long,” he said. “This has been a good stretch for us. We haven’t always played well, but we’ve gotten confidence through it. And that’s why I’m feeling better, because I still think there’s another step that this team can take.”

KU will get that chance on Tuesday, when they play at No. 12 Texas, which beat the Jayhawks by 25 in Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 2. Tipoff for that one is set for 8 p.m. on ESPN.

Comments

Brett McCabe 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Great win. Great to see them get going early and to hold the lead throughout.

They have some real opportunity in front of them right now. I hope they can seize it.

Bryce Landon 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Great post. Way to not bash the program or Coach Self for being "crooked" for a change. You get an upvote from me for that alone.

Dirk Medema 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Another team masterfully developed by a deservedly HOF coach. Always interesting to see following the midseason doomsday doubters comments.

It’s also interesting heading into a game with an imploding (?) shorthorn team. Just keep listening to Coach and playing together guys.

Steve Zimmerman 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Been saying this, if we share the ball, play together as a team, make each other looks good, we'd be hard to beat. Great D, but more impressive - great offense; wouldn't have won with just D. We played good basketball. Good job coach BS & team! I think this is the best game this team has played at AFH this season. They took care of the ball this time, great rebounding efforts, too.

DMac looks good, but the real test has yet to come. We just beat a pretty good team, by crippling their main PG; we can do the same with UT. But what concerns me is UT has lengths and more athletic players than TT. If we can consistently hit more 3s, with the way we play, I think this team might take us to a sweet-16.

Benjamin Shear 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Obiter Dictum:

-Not a prefect game, but a complete one. That was fun to watch the team compete and win against another team that came to play.

-KU had 17 assists, love seeing them share the ball.

-24 point in the paint. DMack and crew really took advantage of TTech being small.

-13 2nd chance points. The hustle was evident and was fun to watch.

-The team seemed almost offended with TTech got an easy bucket. I loved seeing them take pride in playing D.

-We won a game against a good opponent when we shot ~30% from 3-point range. Glad to see we can win even when our shooting is not hot. KU got some great looks at 3, they just didn't make them.

-Braun was not having a great shooting night, but he sure made a 3 when we needed it. That shot really sealed the game for us.

-The team with the most wins in Conference is the true champion, right? Facts are facts. But seriously, how do you crown a regular season champ? It's really not possible to fairly compare. I truly believe Baylor is a better team, but they have played so little...

-HCBS looks like he got his tan on recently. Did he spend some time out at Clinton lake sun bathing?

Tony Bandle 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Random Thoughts:

1] Baylor will probably be the League Champ based on winning percentage, head to head results, national ranking or some combination of the three but it's nice to see KU put up a late season charge.

2] Braun must have ice in his veins after taking those last two three pointers with the game on the line despite his previous 39 minutes being pretty blah!

3] Ochai is capable of producing amazing results...both positive and negative almost simultaneously.

4] I would suggest that this team take advantage of the Covid "free year offer" and all come back next year. The walk-ons will be replaced by top 100 recruits and the Hawks could be awesome. [Of course a whole bunch of Division One teams may do the same thing].

5] I give us a half decent chance to beat Texas...I'm afraid I have to give us just a small chance to beat Baylor.

Benjamin Shear 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I wonder if Baylor is rusty? I would hope that at some point, having more games under our belt, and more of a rhythm, would mean something. Certainly they are a more talented team, but HCBS doesn't often lose twice to anyone in conference.

Blake Brown 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I like our chances against Baylor bc I think Self will our coach Drew.

Marty Sedlacek 1 month, 2 weeks ago

"We beat a ranked team for the first time in a while" HCBS

Wasn't Oklahoma State ranked last week when they visited AFH?

Len Shaffer 1 month, 2 weeks ago

So many impressive things about this win, but what stood out the most to me was the offensive rebounding -- especially from Braun and Wilson.

I would argue that Agbaji didn't "struggle" from the outside, as 3 for 8 is 37.5%. It was slightly below average, but that's not the same thing as struggling.

I feel pretty confident going into the UT game, and how sweet would that revenge be after the embarrassment at Allen?

Check out my album Extra-Ordinary at LenShaffer.Bandcamp.com.

Benjamin Shear 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I listened. I can certainly hear echos of Billy Joel, Elton John and Barry Manilow. Also, that's a very broad set of styles and songs in one album. We need more music in life, especially music that isn't coming to us curated by big companies. Don't stop making music.

Len Shaffer 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Thanks so much, guys! I really appreciate it.

Blake Brown 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Finally, I've reached a place where I am actually looking forward to the next games, even the first half. I`m also liking having Thompson and Harris on the floor more, even at the same time. They bring more energy, better defense and more team conceptualism. They contribute to what has been missing all season, consistency in doing things right.

Mallory Briggans 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Good win ......Self should lock Harris in the gym and have him shoot 10.000 jumpshots I love his effort on defense but when we have the ball were playing 4 on 5 and teams can double team other players because he will not shoot ........at all . If Harris was a threat on the offense Garrett could play off the ball much like when Dotson was here last year . Garrett is not a point guard ,Harris is ... But unfortunately we dont have Dotson

Micky Baker 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I would not say that it was a complete game offensively, but defensively the effort was there. Texas Tech has some really good players that our guys limited, and even stymied yesterday. Yes, we only had 6 turnovers for the game. That's great! We forced 9 turnovers. It was the pressure on the ball that really stymied Texas Tech the entire first half. They did beat us a few times with great play, but it was limited. Our guys came out with fire at the tip-off and never backed off. But this was not a complete game.

Braun hit 20% of his 3 point shots. If he had shot to his potential, he could have hit 40 or 50% of those and the game would have never been in question. McCormack missed guy who were wide open, didn't even look at them. Wilson went 4 of 11 from the field. Agbaji was the same. Braun was 3 of 13. As a team we were just short of 41% from the field. Get that to 50%. If we improve on shooting, finding the guy that is open when the opponent double teams someone, move the ball with crisp quick passes, we can beat Baylor and Texas. The reason Texas handled us so easily is that our guys gave nowhere near the effort they gave yesterday, but we have to make more shots. If we hit 50% of our shots the next 2 games and play that kind of defense, we can come away with 2 more wins and solidify a 4 or better seed. We can even win the Big 12 tournament by not letting go of the momentum. This game can be a major turning point for this season, and going into next season.

Tony Bandle 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Bartender.........I'll have what Micky is having!! :)

Steve Zimmerman 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Great points Micky! Offense is one thing. But I'm afraid even with our stingy D, teams who can move the ball without relying so much on a PG (everyone can be ball handler) - those who can pass interior passes, i.e. modern team, the chance is pretty slim. TTU kind of exposed our weakness in D, too. More than 2 times were they able to sneak 1 guy under the basket when we 'swarmed' a ball handler. Especially a good bounce pass, is harder to intercept - we got a couple of deflection or steal out of regular passes. I'm just hoping that with unity we can beat UT. They seem to have drama within their own team - I don't feel brotherhood or family. We can beat them, beak them, break them horns.

ROCK CHALK!!!!

Micky Baker 1 month, 2 weeks ago

With stingy defense, the other teams are going to execute against it sometimes. That is true. It is not an exercise that can keep an opponent to 0 points for a game. Let's say we allow 80 points against Texas and play good defense while allowing it but we shoot only 41% from the field, we lose. If we shoot 50% with the same number of shots we had against Texas Tech, 4 more 3's and 2 more 2's, then we score 82 points. It's a big difference. But there are other things that come into play. If he had 50% shooting with 5 minutes to play in the game, we would have had a 15 or more point lead which would lead them to have to shoot lower percentage shots. They make less of them in theory.

Mallory Briggans 1 month, 2 weeks ago

in Joe Lunardi s latest bracket He has Kansas as a 5 seed as of Friday

As far as Joes hair I will move it to the 1 line its trending up as opposed to 2 weeks ago when it was obviously on the 4 line

He seems to have spent more time with Jim the hairdresser, his hair looked more natural and wasnt sticking up in the back which landed him on the 4 line 2 weeks ago

His work with Jim has taken joe from a 16 seed when his hair looked like a helmet on his head now to be a 1 seed is a testament to a good comb great hair gel .

Jay Bilas and Seth Greenberg both have Joe Lunardi in the Final 4

Ted Danson William Shatner. and Jerry Jones completing the field

Joe may take out Jerry Jones hairpiece in the semi finals but losing in the hairpiece natty to Ted Danson who defeated Willam Shatner

Joes hair right now is a cinderella on the 1 line .....maybe he can pull it off

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