Why KU basketball is 'pissed' — but not 'depressed' — over 75-72 OT loss at Texas
An opportunity at revenge slipped out of Kansas basketball's grasp — quite literally, in fact — in a 75-72 overtime defeat Tuesday night at Texas.
This latest twist in what’s been an atypical season for both KU and college basketball in general, though, isn’t a result that Bill Self believes his players should dwell on.
“We don’t need to be depressed about this. We need to be pissed that we didn’t close, but we don’t need to be depressed,” Self said. “I mean all we’ve got to do is come back, keep working and grinding and put ourselves in a position to beat Baylor on Saturday.”
The No. 17-ranked Jayhawks would indeed be wise to move on quickly from this one.
KU raced out to a 14-point lead, watched that advantage evaporate across a gaffe-filled second half, forced overtime on a second-chance bucket with six seconds left in regulation and shot itself in the foot once more when it mattered most. Trailing by two with less than 10 seconds left in the extra session, a driving Jalen Wilson had a clear line to the basket for a layup but lost his grip on the ball and fumbled it out of bounds for a pivotal turnover.
Andrew Jones hit a free throw with 5.6 seconds left to put the No. 14 Longhorns up three, and rather than allowing a game-tying 3-point try, Texas fouled Wilson. The Denton, Texas native missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 3.2 seconds remaining, and Jones corralled the rebound to run out the rest of the clock on the signature victory.
With the win, the Longhorns (14-6, 8-5 Big 12) became only the second team to earn a season sweep in a home-and-home series with the Jayhawks in Self’s 18-year tenure. The defeat snapped a five-game winning streak for KU (17-8, 11-6), which dropped percentage points below No. 10 West Virginia for second place in the league standings.
But again, take it from Self: Positioning for the Big 12 Tournament doesn’t appear to be a top priority for these Jayhawks, at the moment the only team on track to finish its conference slate this weekend as it was originally scheduled.
“This game didn’t mean anything from a winning-the-league standpoint. And who gives a crap about the Big 12 (Tournament) seedings, because the Big 12 seedings aren’t real. I mean, they’re not going to be real,” Self said. “Would I love to finish second in our league? Yeah, yeah, I would. And if we win that game we put ourselves in a position to finish second in our league, but we didn’t. But the bottom line is, when some teams are playing 14 (games) and some teams are playing 18 and other teams are playing 16 and not everybody is playing (each other) twice, we knew going into the year we were playing for seed for the NCAA Tournament, not the Big 12 Tournament.”
Tuesday's result likely only damaged KU’s positioning on both fronts.
The Jayhawks reeled off a 23-4 run to take a commanding first-half lead, with an all-small lineup doing virtually all the damage in that rally — junior forward David McCormack played just three first-half minutes after collecting his second foul with 16:48 left in the period. The Longhorns, who hit 12 of 26 tries from 3-point range in an 84-59 victory over Self’s squad on Jan. 2 in Lawrence, missed their first 11 long-range attempts in the rematch and were 1 of 13 from 3 before intermission.
KU, though, shot a ghastly 29.6% from the floor in the second half, with McCormack’s missed uncontested dunk — no Longhorn was within 10 feet of the Jayhawk big — serving as an appropriate snapshot of the struggles on that end of the court. Senior guard Marcus Garrett went 1 for 8 in the frame, including a missed layup with 10 seconds left, but McCormack made amends for his earlier mistake with a second-chance bucket that sent the game to overtime at 66-all. Texas’ Courtney Ramey missed a potential game-winning 3 at the buzzer.
Christian Braun’s corner 3 off a nifty pass by McCormack put KU up three at the outset of the extra session, and McCormack’s jump-hook conversion gave the visitors a two-point lead with 1:40 remaining. But as KU went dry, the Longhorns accounted for the game's final five points, all on free throws — Matt Coleman hit one after coaxing McCormack’s fifth and final foul; Ramey put Texas in front with two after Braun fouled him well beyond the 3-point line; Coleman hit another with 12.2 seconds left following a missed Ochai Agbaji 3; and Jones hit one at the stripe after Wilson’s turnover.
KU, meanwhile, finished 12 for 21 from the line, with Self calling his team’s inability to get to there and its lack of productivity in the times it did “the difference” in the game.
“This is not anything that should alarm us or rattle us at all,” Self said. “We’re in the NCAA Tournament. I’m confident about that. We were playing for seed. This could’ve been a seed line or two for us if we got this one today. But other than that, I don’t know that it’s anything we need to hang our head on.”
Wilson finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds for KU, which was bested 50-38 on the glass. Agbaji notched 17 points, McCormack 12, Bryce Thompson 11 and Braun 10 to round out the double-figure scorers for the Jayhawks, who shot 40% from the field.
Self stressed that KU showed significant progress when compared to its first crack at the Longhorns.
“The emphasis I want to put on it is that we got better today,” Self said. “Even though we didn’t finish we got better and we should get confidence from that.”
Ramey's 15 points led the way for Texas, which finished a collective 5 of 26 from 3.
A 7 p.m. Saturday regular-season finale against the No. 2 Bears at Allen Fieldhouse now awaits KU. In Self’s eyes, his players shouldn’t have any trouble turning the page on the way things unfolded Tuesday.
“If young kids can’t recover in 24 hours to get ready to play the No. 2 team in the country then there’s something seriously wrong with our society or our team or whatever,” Self said. “I mean, this is easy. We’re not going to be thinking about Texas after tomorrow. Come Thursday it’s focused on Baylor.”
NO. 14 TEXAS 75, NO. 17 KANSAS 72 (OT)
KANSAS (17-8, 11-6 Big 12)
Braun 4-7 0-0 10, Wilson 4-12 7-11 16, Agbaji 5-15 2-3 17, Garrett 2-12 0-0 4, McCormack 5-9 2-4 12, Thompson 5-6 1-3 11, Lightfoot 1-1 0-0 2, Harris 0-3 0-0 0, Muscadin 0-0 0-0 0, Enaruna 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-65 12-21 72.
TEXAS (14-6, 8-5 Big 12)
A. Jones 3-14 6-6 13, Coleman 3-10 5-8 11, Ramey 3-12 8-8 15, Brown 4-8 3-4 13, K. Jones 4-5 2-4 10, Sims 3-5 0-0 0-1, Hamm 2-3 0-0 4, Williams 1-1 0-0 3, Febres 0-0 0-0 0, Cunningham 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 23-61 24-31 75.
Half — Kansas 43-32. 3-point goals — Kansas 8-24 (Agbaji 5-11, Braun 2-4, Wilson 1-5, Garrett 0-2, Harris 0-1, Thompson 0-1), Texas 5-26 (Brown 2-5, Williams 1-1, Ramey 1-5, A. Jones 1-7, K. Jones 0-1, Cunningham 0-2, Coleman 0-5). Rebounds — Kansas 38 (Wilson 13), Texas 50 (A. Jones 10). Assists — Kansas 14 (Garrett 3, Braun 3, Wilson 3), Texas 12 (Coleman 5). Turnovers — Kansas 12 (Wilson 2, Agbaji 2, McCormack 2, Thompson 2), Texas 17 (Ramey 4). Blocks — Kansas 6 (Braun 2, Garrett 2), Texas 1 (Brown). Steals — Kansas 7 (Braun 2), Texas 7 (A. Jones 2). Total fouls — Kansas 20, Texas 18. Fouled out — McCormack. Technical fouls — none. Officials — Higgins, Pollard, Greenstein. Attendance — 2,482.