Jayhawks, Wildcats lose on road; Shockers stay unbeaten with home win
By The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
Texas 81, Kansas 69
At Austin, Texas, don't crown sixth-ranked Kansas as Big 12 champions just yet. There's another team with serious designs on winning the title.
And surprise, surprise: It's the surging Texas Longhorns.
Isaiah Taylor scored 23 points, Jonathan Holmes had 22 and No. 25 Texas beat the Jayhawks 81-69 on Saturday for its sixth consecutive victory.
Texas, which lost its top four scorers from last year's 16-18 squad, has been the surprise of the Big 12. The Longhorns have four consecutive wins over Top 25 opponents and now sit in second place after dominating a team that had been playing as well as anyone in the country in recent weeks.
The Longhorns (17-4, 6-2) thumped the Jayhawks with suffocating defense that held the Big 12's best shooting team to 39 percent from the floor. Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, who averaged 24 points over the previous three games, scored seven before fouling out late.
Texas put together one of its most impressive wins in years. The Longhorns outshot and outrebounded the Jayhawks, had 12 blocks, and once they built a double-digit lead, never left Kansas an opening to rally.
Wayne Selden Jr., scored 21 for the Jayhawks (16-5, 7-1).
When Holmes blocked a shot, grabbed the loose ball and raced up the court for a layup, the Jayhawks' Frank Mason met him at the basket with a hard foul and the two players had to be separated. Kansas' Brannen Greene was then whistled for a technical foul. Holmes made three of four free throws and Texas led 38-23 at halftime.
Texas blew it open early in the second half with an emphatic basket by Ridley: a one-step, two-handed dunk over Embiid. Ridley converted the three-point play and Texas led 47-27.
Kansas finally answered with consecutive 3-pointers but the Jayhawks couldn't piece together a run that could pull them close. Texas wouldn't let them. Holmes had a key 3-pointer and followed it with another tough layup.
W. Virginia. 81, Kansas St. 71
At Morgantown, West Va., Juwan Staten had a career day with 35 points as West Virginia knocked off Kansas State 81-71 on Saturday.
It was the second straight league win for the Mountaineers (13-9, 5-4 Big 12) and third in the last four games. Kansas State (15-7, 5-4) lost for the third time in four contests.
Terry Henderson had 13 points, Eron Harris scored 11 and Remi Dibo had 10.
The Wildcats got 20 points from Marcus Foster and 19 from Thomas Gipson.
Kansas State whittled it down to one at 68-67 with 3:09 left on a 6-0 run concluded by a jumper from Foster, who posted his second league 20-plus point game of his first season.
After Foster canned one-of-two free throws, teammate Shane Southwell let another ball get out-of-bounds. The Mountaineers connected on six straight free throws, then a dunk by Staten, to close out the game.
Wichita St. 81, Evansville 67
At Wichita, it seems the only way anybody from the Missouri Valley Conference is going to spoil No. 4 Wichita State's unbeaten season is if the Shockers spot them a big enough lead.
So far, even that hasn't mattered a whole lot.
After allowing Evansville to race out to a 15-point lead on Saturday, the Shockers roared back behind big games from Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. The guards scored 14 points apiece to lead the Shockers to an 81-67 victory at Koch Arena.
It's become a theme for the Shockers (23-0, 10-0), who rallied from a 19-point deficit to defeat Missouri State earlier this season, and have often found themselves suffering through long stretches of poor play only to come out unscathed by the final buzzer.
D.J. Balentine scored 26 points for the Purple Aces (10-13, 3-7), who swept the season series from the Shockers a year ago. But the high-scoring sophomore, coming off a 43-point outing against Northern Iowa, didn't get a whole lot of help from a bunch of teammates mired in foul trouble.
Evansville lost for the ninth time in 10 road games this season.
Cleanthony Early added 13 points and Tekele Cotton had 12 for the Shockers, who haven't lost since last year's surprising run to the Final Four, and now face the toughest two-game stretch standing between them and an unbeaten regular season.
First up is Indiana State on Wednesday night.
, followed by a trip to Northern Iowa — the two closest teams to the Shockers in the Missouri Valley standings.
Incidentally, the only Valley school with a better start than the Shockers was the Indiana State team led by Larry Bird, which won its first 33 games before losing an iconic NCAA title game to Magic Johnson and Michigan State on March 26, 1979.
"It's something a lot of people have talked about," Baker said. "We're excited about it."
Just as other teams have done this season, Evansville jumped on Wichita State early, building a 29-14 lead. The Purple Aces made their first eight shots, with assists on seven, and didn't miss until Balentine's 3-pointer was wide with 11:25 left in the half.
The Shockers never seemed to be worried, though.
Their comeback began when Baker scored with 8:12 remaining in the half, starting a 27-4 run spanning halftime and turning a 15-point deficit into a 41-33 lead. The charge was fueled by a three-quarter-court pressure that forced Evansville into several quick turnovers.
"When they're making their run, it's like pouring gasoline on the fire," Simmons said. "That's something we have to learn from."
It didn't help the Purple Aces that much of the run came with them in foul trouble.
Duane Gibson and fellow guard Adam Wing each had three fouls by halftime, and four others had two fouls apiece. That included Balentine, who sat on the bench for the final couple of minutes so that he wouldn't be tempted into picking up his own third foul.
The Purple Aces hung around until the midway point of the second half, when Evan Wessel's basket began a run of seven straight points that gave the Shockers a 70-52 lead.
Wichita State never allowed Evansville to get close for the final 8 minutes.
"The way they started, I said, 'Oh boy, here we go again,"' Marshall said. "But we finally got stops. They missed a couple and we got out in transition and starting making some."