No. 14 Kansas 73, Texas 47
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)
It couldn't have been a more festive night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas center Jeff Withey became the Big 12's career leader in blocked shots. Mario Chalmers had his jersey raised to the rafters at halftime. More than a dozen former players made their way back to the old barn, and even the coach's son, Tyler Self, got into the scoring column.
It didn't end there: Ben McLemore threw down a jaw-dropping 360 dunk in the closing minutes, and the No. 14 Jayhawks put together a stifling defensive effort in a 73-47 rout of Texas that kept the eight-time defending conference champions tied for first place in the Big 12.
''There's not a team in America that has fun every time they go play, at the same level, the same consistent level,'' said Self, whose team rebounded from a three-game losing streak by blowing out No. 10 Kansas State on Monday night and then thrashing the struggling Longhorns.
''We were duds there for three games,'' Self said, ''but I think we've got our personality back.''
The Jayhawks got some help from some famous alumni.
Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, who keyed their run to last year's national title game, have been in touch with the team. So have other players, including Chalmers, who returned to have his No. 15 jersey hoisted up among names such as Wilt Chamberlain and Paul Pierce.
''It's definitely good to have them back, our old teammates and stuff,'' said Withey, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds against the Longhorns. ''It's fun to perform for those guys.''
Withey's block in the second half gave him 265 for his career, moving past former Texas star Chris Mihm for the Big 12 record. The reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year even had four steals while making life miserable for the young, undersized Longhorns.
Withey had plenty of help, though.
''I told Bill, the most disappointing thing is he tried to run the score up with his son,'' said Texas coach Rick Barnes, joking about the circus-like shot Tyler Self scored late in the game.
Myck Kabongo, in his second game back from a 23-game suspension, was held to 13 points by the nation's top field-goal percentage defense. The Longhorns' sophomore guard missed his first seven shots and committed three turnovers, his only real success coming at the foul line.
Texas wound up shooting 21.8 percent from the field and 2 of 21 from beyond the arc.
''It really came down to execution,'' said the Longhorns' Ioannis Papapetrou. ''I have a pretty good feeling we had a lot of open shots. We missed a lot of them.''
The prime-time match-up between two of the nation's stingiest defenses figured to put points a premium, but that only turned out to be the case for the Longhorns.
They had already fallen behind 11-8 when they went the next 8-plus minutes without a field goal, missing 10 straight shots, three free throws and turning the ball over twice. By the time Papapetrou got to the rim for Texas, the Jayhawks had built a 24-11 lead.
It never got a whole lot better for Texas.
The Longhorns (11-14, 3-9) went another 6 1/2 minutes without a field goal before Demarcus Holland's steal and layup got them within 28-15 at halftime. That meant the final 15:55 of the first half, Texas had precisely as many shot-clock violations (two) as they had made field goals.
It was the Longhorns' lowest-scoring half of the season.
Kansas didn't waste any time delivering the knockout punch in the second half.
Johnson was the catalyst, scoring the Jayhawks' first seven points and finally starting to shake out of a season-long slump that has been frustrating and, at times, embarrassing for one of the key players on last season's national runner-up.
The senior guard started Kansas on a 13-4 run by getting to the basket and drawing a foul. He missed the free throw, but moments later did the exact same thing and converted the three-point play. Johnson finished off his own spurt with another basket, and by the time Releford scored in transition, the Jayhawks had built a 41-22 lead with 14:32 remaining in the game.
''Everybody is just playing,'' Johnson said. ''Nobody is thinking.''
Barnes, whose team is in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 years, was powerless to stop the onslaught even with a full complement of timeouts.
''We didn't mentally do the things we wanted to get done on either end,'' Barnes said. ''That's the thing that bothered me.''
Kansas eventually pushed the lead to 55-28 when Withey scored six straight points, including a follow-up dunk off his own miss with just less than 8 minutes left in the game.
McLemore put the exclamation mark on a celebratory night for the Jayhawks when he got ahead of the fast break with about 4 minutes left and elevated for a 360 dunk that brought down the house and gave Kansas a 68-34 lead on the dazed, checked-out Longhorns.
''We're starting to enjoy ourselves more,'' Johnson said afterward. ''I think with those losses, we showed how much we cared for each other. We didn't like to see each other like that, so we've nipped it in the bud.''