AUSTIN, Texas (TNS) — Kansas’ basketball team is 1-0 in conference play for the 27th straight season.
Bill Self’s 11th-ranked Jayhawks (11-2), who this season are vying for a 14th-straight Big 12 title, opened the long league grind with a 92-86 victory over Texas (9-4) on Friday night at Frank Erwin Center.
In winning, the Jayhawks, who made extensive use of a 2-3 zone defense to go with their man-to-man, hit 17 three pointers (most ever by KU in a Big 12 game) while overcoming the remarkable performance of 6-foot-11 Texas freshman Mo Bamba, who scored 22 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked eight shots.
Devonté Graham scored 23 points for Kansas, while Lagerald Vick scored 21 and hit a career-best five three-pointers for the Jayhawks, who won their eighth straight game against Texas and fourth in a row in Austin. Svi Mykhailiuk had 20 points for KU and hit five threes.
Graham said the Jayhawks were really looking to shoot the three pointers.
“Coach (Self) has been on us about passing up shots and always staying aggressive,” Graham said after the game. “Yesterday before we flew out here when we had practice he told us every time we’re open we need to shoot the ball. Before the game we were talking about being aggressive, letting it fly and having confidence in each other.”
The Longhorns, who finished last in the conference last season but were picked fourth of 10 teams in this season’s preseason coaches poll, were led by Bamba, as well as Matt Coleman (17 points), Dylan Osetkowski (17) and Kerwin Roach (13).
Also for KU, Malik Newman, who did not start — Marcus Garrett had the call — scored 13, while Udoka Azubuike had 13 and 13 boards.
A key moment of the game for KU came early in the second half. The Jayhawks led 37-34 at the break and 45-41 at 17:10. At that point, KU used an 11-2 run to go up 56-43 at 15:24. Mykhailiuk hit two threes to open the surge, followed by an Azubuike bucket inside and a Vick three, his fourth of the game at that point which tied a career high in treys.
However, Texas, bolstered by a late fullcourt press, cut the gap to 72-67 at 7:25. But Vick answered with an immediate three. KU rebuilt the lead to 14 points, but Texas cut it to four down the stretch before free throws from Newman helped maintain the advantage.
Bamba scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and hit one three the first half against both a KU man-to-man defense, and yes, a 2-3 zone. The Harlem, N.Y., native also had four blocks and eight boards the initial half, yet KU led 37-34 at the break.
Graham scored 12 points the first half, but had no assists as KU totaled just three assists on its 14 baskets the first half. Graham, though, finished with eight assists for the game.
KU did hit 6 of 15 threes the first half to Texas’ 2 of 9. The Longhorns made 4 of 7 free throws the initial half to KU’s 3 of 3, all of KU’s by Mykhailiuk.
Roach contributed nine points the initial half for Texas, which hit 40 percent to KU’s first-half total of 38.9 percent. Vick had eight points, while Azubuike had six points and seven boards and surprise starter Garrett two points. Newman came off the bench for the first time since the season opener and had four points and four boards the first half.
KU used a 9-0 run to turn a 17-16 deficit at 12:12 into a 25-17 lead at 9:20. Four Jayhawks — Vick, Azubuike, Garrett and Mykhailiuk — scored in the run. Texas answered with an 8-0 run to tie the score at 25-25 at 8:07. Coleman and Bamba hit threes and Andrew Jones a two in the run.
KU will return home to take on No. 22-ranked Texas Tech at 8 p.m., Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Notes: KU improved to 30-8 all-time against Texas, including 10-6 at Frank Erwin Center. KU has won 13 of the last 14 and 16 of the last 18 matchups against Texas. The last KU loss to Texas was 81-69 on Feb. 2, 2014 in Austin. … Kansas has won 27 straight conference openers dating to the 1991-92 season with 10 of those in Allen Fieldhouse and 17 on the road. The last time KU lost a conference opener was at Oklahoma 88-82 on Jan. 8, 1991. This was the ninth time in Bill Self’s 15 seasons at KU that the Jayhawks have opened Big 12 play on the road. … Self is 20-8 all-time against Texas, including 20-6 at KU. … Shaka Smart fell to 1-5 versus KU, including 0-5 as Texas coach.