Monday, February 7, 2022

Beaten and bruised: No. 8 Kansas falls late in physical loss at No. 20 Texas

Kansas forward David McCormack grabs a rebound in front of Texas forward Tre Mitchell, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Kansas forward David McCormack grabs a rebound in front of Texas forward Tre Mitchell, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)


Austin, Texas — Kansas basketball coach Bill Self’s pregame prediction that his team’s Big Monday battle with Texas would resemble “a rock fight” turned out to be undeniably true.

All that was missing were the rocks.

The absence of flying objects, however, did nothing to keep either side from scrapping and aching for a physical 40 minutes in a 79-76 win by No. 20 Texas over 8th-ranked KU.

It marks the first time in Self’s 19 seasons at Kansas that a Big 12 opponent beat the Jayhawks three times in a row. The Longhorns swept the regular season series with KU during the 2020-21 season. The rematch is set for March 5 at Allen Fieldhouse in the regular season finale.

“Any time you play a Coach Self Kansas team, it’s going to be physical,” UT coach Chris Beard told ESPN’s Kris Budden at halftime.

The physical style of play by both teams led to contact all over the floor throughout the night. Hustle plays sent players diving to the deck in search of that one play that might make the difference. And it looked like that play came on a few different occasions for both sides.

Joe Yesufu’s steal and two-handed hammer dunk put Kansas up by two with 11:18 to play and forced Texas to call timeout.

A lob pass from Dajuan Harris Jr. that was intended for David McCormack (16 points) was intercepted by UT’s Christian Bishop, but his hand flipped the ball into the Kansas basket to put KU up 67-62.

And a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Christian Braun (13 points) that put the Jayhawks up 70-67 looked as if it might be the one that broke the Longhorns’ spirits.

Instead, UT kept coming, tying the game after every Kansas lead.

Finally, the Longhorns broke through, cutting a four-point KU lead to one in the final minute on a banked-in 3-pointer by Tre Mitchell and then taking a 77-76 lead off of a jumper by Timmy Allen.

“I thought Allen was great," Self said. "He was the one that we defended the worst.”

Kansas had one shot to win, but Harris lost the ball on a drive to the rim and the Longhorns held on with some clutch free throw shooting. KU’s attempt to tie the game in the final seconds was thwarted when UT fouled Jalen Wilson (18 points) intentionally before he could launch a potential game-tying 3-pointer.

"We shouldn’t have been in that position," Self said after the loss.

The stat sheet showed a much easier time for Kansas (19-4 overall, 8-2 Big 12). At one point, midway through the second half, the Jayhawks were shooting 60% compared to 38% by Texas. Yet KU led by just two. By game's end, the totals read 58.3% shooting for KU and 41.8% for Texas. The 15 KU turnovers and 24 Texas points off of them proved to be the great equalizer that kept this one close.

Braun and McCormack’s three consecutive missed free throws inside the final three minutes allowed UT to hang around and a tough bucket by Timmy Allen (24 points, 9 rebounds) off of a late-shot-clock miss by Bishop tied the game at 72.

“If we’d make our free throws, it’s also a different story," Self said after the loss. "That was a big difference.”

KU made just 15 of 23 from the free throw line, while Texas hit 20 of its 23 free throw attempts.

On the very next possession following Allen's make, McCormack delivered a doozy of a jump hook deep in the paint to put Kansas back up by two.

The difference with McCormack on the floor and on the bench was startling and Texas (18-6, 7-4) made KU pay early.

As they have done often this season, the Jayhawks opened Monday’s game looking to run whenever possible.

Self said before the game that the Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor defenses all kind of “mirror each other,” and KU used a similar strategy in wins over both of those teams earlier this season.

It worked for the first six or so minutes of Monday’s game, but once Texas found its footing offensively, everything seemed to get harder for the Jayhawks.

The offense labored. The defense struggled to stop both run-outs and UT post-ups. And foul trouble mounted. Five Jayhawks finished the first half with two fouls.

After Kansas missed an opportunity to go up by 10 on a missed 3-pointer by Harris, the Longhorns responded with an 8-0 run that brought the building alive. Not only did the run give Texas its first lead since 6-4, but it also featured McCormack picking up his second foul of the night on a charging call with 9:33 to play in the half.

With McCormack on the bench with two fouls, Texas repeatedly fed the ball to the post to attack his replacement, Mitch Lightfoot. When Self had seen enough of that, he went to freshman KJ Adams at the 5. The Longhorns went right at him, as well. Tre Mitchell scored 10 consecutive UT points — eight of them at the free throw line — to give Texas a 31-24 lead.

Partly through creative substitutions and tough-minded baskets, the Jayhawks ripped off an 11-4 run over a 5-minute span to tie the game at 35. But UT owned the final minute of the half, first scoring on a driving layup by Andrew Jones and then on a Marcus Carr buzzer-beating 3-pointer after a turnover in the paint by KU freshman Bobby Pettiford.

“We always talk about ending the half well,” UT coach Chris Beard said at the break. “That’s obviously a lot of fortune, but we’ll take it.”

Carr’s triple was UT’s first of the night (Texas wound up 3-for-20 from behind the arc) and the five-point stretch proved mighty big by the end of the game.

“Didn’t close out the half there," Agbaji said. "(And) obviously gave them momentum heading into the second half.”

Added Self: “That had as much to do with us losing the game as anything."

KU’s lead in the Big 12 race is now down to a single game in the loss column over Baylor and Texas Tech. The Jayhawks will play host to Oklahoma at noon on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.


Mike Morris 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Man...this team needs to be tougher mentally down the stretch. We've given away 2 games by not finishing. Need to learn to close out! RCJH!

Michael Leiker 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Whatever you may like/dislike about David’s game, can’t wait for his standing O on senior day. He’s never wavered, always fought, impervious to criticism, head held high. You can point to that young man and tell your kids to be like him. True student athlete. What a great game. Hawks best is completely determined by him. Think that’s a good thing.

Lee Short 7 months, 2 weeks ago

A lot of the turnovers were embarrassing. Talk about unforced.

And, what was going on with all those missed free throws down the stretch.

On balance, didn't seem like the reference calls evened out.

Shocked to see one of our coaches leave for a historically less significant team. He wanted to work for Chris Beard? Hum... wonder what all that is really about?

Andy Godwin 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Money maybe for one. Public records indicates he is making $407,500/year through 2023 at UT. And is the first assistant behind, Rodney Terry (Associate Head coach). I believe he was the 3rd assistant behind Townsend and Roberts.

Bryce Landon 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The most embarrassing turnover was the one where Jalen Wilson bounced the ball off of DaJuan Harris' back. WTF?! That was so bad, the ESPN announcers compared it to the New York Jets' "butt fumble" against the New England Patriots! I have a sneaking suspicion we'll see that one on SportsCenter's Not Top 10.

Timothy Rake 7 months, 2 weeks ago

No, the most embarrassing turnover was little Bobby Pettiford (inexperienced Frosh) at the end of the first half. His 30 seconds of fame on the court to give someone 30 seconds rest? to save a foul? resulted in a 5-6 point turnaround. Score 37-35, UT with a half a minute or so to go, KU has the ball and and could tie or lead by one at the half. Pettiford drives downhill (sloppily) and literally hands UT a gift...Texas scores a triple as the half ends, up 40-35. That was ugly and that was on Bill Self.

Bville Hawk 7 months, 2 weeks ago

You're right, Timothy. I don't know what Bill was thinking putting Pettiford in in that situation. Both Yesifu and Harris had been solid with the ball in the first half, I don't recall if one or both were in the game before Pettiford was subbed in, but regardless it is an EXTREMELY questionable substitution at a critical time that completely blew up on us. You could easily make the case that that was the ball game.

Rodney Crain 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree Tim - Bobby was as bad as you can get.

Rodney Crain 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Wish I was surprised but I am not.

2-3 in tough conference games now. Texas at home, and Baylor away are left.

Too bad we could not find a way to win this one. It was there for the taking.

Bryce Landon 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Not sure what you mean by 2-3 in tough conference games. Our Big 12 record is 8-2. We can't be 2-3 in tough conference games because we don't have 3 conference losses.

Rodney Crain 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Sorry 2-3 in "key" games from Jan. 1st.

TT away, "UK home", ISU away, Baylor home and away, Texas home and away.

Steve Zimmerman 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't know how many times the referees let UT players abuse our players. Wasn't trying to find excuses. Team needs to learn from Yesufu & CB: don't be lazy to stuff the rim, score with passion.

Our FT % has got to improve.

We had a good chance to win. Team didn't have to labor so much had we not miss those FTs, lobs, unforced TOs. Coach BS should know we didn't have fire power, relying on transition buckets is not a guarantee. Why don't we try to free Ochai so he can move & score more effectively?

Coach BS also got a taste of his own med: UT's bigs abused us in the low-post with nice post moves.

Clearly, our team has all the ingredients and it shows... Unfortunately: Mitch wasn't prepared for a lob from Harris; Ochai, Harris couldn't throw lob pass, McCormack couldn't handle an inbound (this is old news, but hey salute to his perpetual energy & efforts - he could be much more efficient). If we can go back to Dok's tapes, have team practice those lobs... or invite Marcus & Graham, I think this team will be much much more complete. We're getting there. This is a good learning experience. Scoring 70 against a physical & good UT team is not easy. Let's play harder & smarter in next games! ROCK CHALK!!!

Jim Stauffer 7 months, 2 weeks ago

To me the game was lost with missed free throws 4 of them but a key play that really doomed us was Abadgi's failed lob to David who would have slammed it. They got the lead then and it was over.

Timothy Rake 7 months, 2 weeks ago

No, what doomed us (sorry to repeat myself) was the coaching decision to sub little Bobby Pettiford (inexperienced Frosh) at the end of the first half. His 30 seconds of fame on the court to give someone 30 seconds rest? to save a foul? resulted in a 5-6 point turnaround. Score 37-35, UT with a half a minute or so to go, KU has the ball and and could tie or lead by one at the half. Pettiford drives downhill (sloppily) and literally hands UT a gift...Texas scores a triple as the half ends, up 40-35. That was ugly and that was on Bill Self.

Jeff Kallmeyer 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree w/ Jim. End of game vs. end of first half.

David Atchley 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Anyone that has played Texas this season, knows they cannot handle zone defense and melt at a 1-3-1 defense. That is, except whoever Coach Self has breaking down tape for him. Kansas played man-to-man and played right into the only strength of Texas.

Spencer Goff 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Pretty sure it was Jeremy's scout. This can go both ways though, as the assistant could have very easily told Self to run zone but he decided against it. But realistically, they lost this game because they 1) had ridiculous turnovers when it mattered at the end of both halves, 2) could not sink game winning free throws when it mattered, and 3) Texas hit one of those stupid shots that it seems like every so often a team hits in basketball.

Bville Hawk 7 months, 2 weeks ago

We screwed up executing our last 2 possessions of both halves. We didn't make free throws down the stretch. Our guards need to take over in close games and get to the line.

Bryce Landon 7 months, 2 weeks ago

In most instances when Kansas loses, I bash Bill Self for not having his team ready to play. This is not one of those instances. This loss was not Self's fault. I just think Kansas and Texas played a hard-fought game and left their hearts on the court, and Texas made more plays down the stretch to come away with a win. It's a bitter defeat because we had opportunities to win the game, but we screwed up the execution.

The loss stings because we blew a game we could have and should have won, and also because, as the article mentions, we've lost three straight games to the same opponent. I don't think that has happened since we lost five straight to Iowa State from 1999-2001.

Oh, and nice to see how UT fans have sunk to K-State and Mizzou levels of classlessness by taunting Jalen Wilson for his DUI. Not that I didn't already hate Texas for leaving the Big 12, but I hate them even more for that sort of taunting.

Barry Weiss 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Hope we get Remy back soon. Opponents have a hard time dealing with him. He breaks down a defense better than any guard we have.

Blake Brown 7 months, 2 weeks ago

It's pretty much all been said above and there are many individual plays that stand out as killers, but I kept going back to Pettiford being inserted into the game prior to the end of the first half and I remarked, why? He's not been efficient or had positive minutes since the injury and sure enough, he turns it over unforced when we should have the last shot and they get a 3 to go up 5 at the half.
To that point, how is it that the stats always call all turnovers as forced when clearly many are not? We have to lead the nation in UNforced TOs and JWill leads the team while balancing it out by rebounding and scoring. Also, his D was terrible last night and I've been raving about how much better he has been, but he got beat and out of position all night long; hopefully, an aberration. With OU, OSU< KSU and WVU coming up, that would have been a great win last night to ensure some separation.
I envisioned posting an upside down horn logo today, but not happening.

Timothy Rake 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Blake, couldn't agree with you more. What was that all about? Saved a foul on who? Got who another 30 seconds rest before the half? Talk about dumb? I love Bill Self, but that wast STUPID.

James Donnell 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Totally agree. A real head scratcher. Why put in a freshman with limited PT in that important point of the game and have the ball in his hands for a downhill play? I didn’t get that. And though we didn’t execute on the attempted Agbaji lob and Harris drive at the end, those things will happen. The real killer was the missed FT’s in the last three minutes. Missed out on 4 points. Should have had 3 of 4. UT hit theirs.

Glen Miller 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I tuned in to watch a good basketball game and instead felt like I was watching a football game. Refs ate their whistles and that's fine...... but then the last 5 minutes everything is a foul. Just be consistent. I honestly feel like if the Longhorns can't bully their opponents with cheap shots and hard fouls that aren't called, they get handled pretty well. They are a bull in a China shop and for 35 minutes the refs let them get away with it. Their "top notch defense" to me is a lot more fouling than defending. It was the same at Tech with Beard. Never been a fan of his. On to the next.

Bob Zielinski 7 months, 2 weeks ago

This game is an outlier. How many times does KU lose when shooting 58%? Pretty much never. It was free throws, the Agbaji pass that hit the rim, if that gets to McCormack it is game over. We overcame our own spots of poor play and turnovers and got into a great position to win and the few things that went wrong the final 90 seconds and went UT's way swayed the game.

Live and learn. I still feel very good about this team and the way the players are developing into a solid team.

Mallory Briggans 7 months, 2 weeks ago

again i posted after the Baylor game we werent as good as it seemed or as bad as it seemed against Kentucky .......we laid an egg against Texas so we lost what we gained against Baylor

Bj Cassady 7 months, 2 weeks ago

We played a top 20 team on the road, a top 10 defensive team who out-rebounded us had more steals than us, committed far fewer turnovers than us, shot almost 20 shots more from the floor than us, shot far better from the line than us and we lost by a bucket? Not too shabby. Yeah we should have won. Play smarter, take care of the rock, make the FREE throws and you win the game. But hats off to UT they have handed it to us the past few years.

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