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Texas makes No. 2 Kansas look (gasp!) ordinary

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Rick Barnes should break out a Texas-sized smile this Saturday night. His Longhorns ended Kansas’ perfect season, ended a 69-game home win streak and threw a wrench into the Big 12 race, a race the Jayhawks have won each of the last six years.

Also, it was the Longhorns’ first-ever win at Allen Fieldhouse.

Not bad for a guy who got ripped for underachieving last season.

Texas’ 74-63 win in Lawrence showcased a defense that turned the No. 2 Jayhawks – days removed from torching Baylor – into an ordinary offensive team, especially in the second half when the No. 10 Longhorns overcame a 12-point deficit and held Kansas to just 28 points.

Marcus and Markieff Morris seemed overmatched, hitting just 8-of-24 shots. Freshman guard Josh Selby was indifferent (21 minutes, 2 of 9 from the field). The bench was a non-factor. The Jayhawks hardly seemed like a team that’d won its first 18 games of the season, let alone a team that’d done so more efficiently than Ohio State.

Sum it up this way: Texas made Kansas’ star players look average. Not good for a Final Four contender.

 The shine’s off Kansas, which’ll certainly lose some support as the team to beat, in the Big 12 and the nation. Still, in a year where questions remain about every would-be champion, come April the Jayhawks are as likely as anyone to cut down the nets in Houston. They just don’t have much room for error. (It all plays into the “there are no great teams this season” topic.)

But enough about Kansas. Let’s talk Texas.

Few teams have fared as well lately as the Longhorns (15-3 overall, 3-0 in Big 12). They’ve won nine of their last 10 games, the one loss an instant classic vs. UConn that featured some Kemba Walker magic. It’s almost as if the uber-embarrassing 73-56 loss at USC back in early December served as the ultimate motivation for Barnes’ group.

They’re shooting well, hitting the boards and keeping foes from doing the same. Only two opponents in Texas’ last 10 games have posted an eFG% of higher than 50. Only two have grabbed more than 37 percent of their offensive rebounds (and one was Michigan State, which should be a given). Kansas leads the Big 12 in eFG%, but finished at 40.6 vs. Texas, their second-worst outing of the season. That’s what happens when you don’t get any easy looks at the basket. (Texas A&M can attest to that. It lost 81-60 to Texas on Wednesday.)

And with Jordan Hamilton turning in a decent, but not great day (17 points, but he missed 8-of-13 shots), Barnes must’ve been elated to see J’Covan Brown go off for 23 points vs. Kansas, including several of the key second-half baskets. After scoring 20 in the loss to UConn, Brown slumped somewhat the last three games. If he brings his best in big games, that’s an added bonus.

More tests remain for Barnes’ team, starting with a trip to Stillwater on Wednesday and a game at Texas A&M on Jan. 31, among others. Then perhaps it can end Kansas’ run atop the Big 12.

After winning in Lawrence, none of that seems out of reach. Even Houston.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

No. 23 USC falls at Arizona State

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley applauds the efforts of his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
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No. 23 USC missed a golden opportunity to make up a game in the Pac-12 standings on Friday night.

No. 11 Oregon lost to Colorado on Thursday night, dropping back into a tie for first place in the league with the Trojans, a game ahead of No. 17 Arizona. But USC fell at Arizona State, 74-67, keeping them a game off of the pace that the Ducks have set.

The loss is even more painful when you consider that, on Sunday, the Trojans will be making the trip to Tucson to take on Arizona. The Wildcats are not what we have become accustomed to seeing under Sean Miller, but they are still a top 25 team and the McKale Center is still one of the toughest places in the country to get a win.

Thanks to Friday’s loss, instead of entering McKale with an outside chance of taking over sole possession of first place in the league, USC will have top hope they don’t fall two games off the pace.

As far as the game itself was concerned, USC committed 17 turnovers, shot 2-for-11 from three and gave up 16 offensive rebounds to Arizona State. That’s how you lose a game where you shoot better than 51 percent from the floor. USC was just never able to consistently get out into transition, and that caused them to struggle executing in the half court.

Nikola Jovanovic led the way with 25 points and 15 boards for USC.

Tra Holder’s 20 points made the difference for Arizona State, who kept themselves within striking distance of an at-large bid with the win.

Davis helps No. 19 Dayton beat Rhode Island 68-66

Dayton's Scoochie Smith (11) drives past Rhode Island's Jarvis Garrett (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Kingston, R.I., on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Joe Giblin)
(AP Photo/Joe Giblin)
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KINGSTON, R.I. (AP) Darrell Davis made a go-ahead 3-pointer from the corner with 21.1 seconds left and No. 19 Dayton beat Rhode Island 68-66 on Friday night.

Rhode Island’s Four McGlynn missed a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left. Dayton got the rebound, and Steve McElvene made one of two free throws for the Flyers with 0.3 seconds to go.

Dyshawn Pierre led Dayton (21-3, 11-1 Atlantic 10) with 17 points and also had nine rebounds. Scoochie Smith added 16 points, and Davis finished with eight.

The Flyers won their ninth straight game and ended a six-game losing streak in Kingston.

McGlynn had 19 points for Rhode Island (14-11, 6-6). Hassan Martin added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

There were 17 lead changes, three in the final 55 seconds.

Pierre made two free throws with 55 seconds left to give the Flyers a one-point lead. Martin countered for the Rams with a three-point play 40 seconds left.

TIP-INS

Dayton: Dayton’s 21-3 start is its best since also opening 21-3 in 2008-09. … The Flyers shot 52.0 percent, going 26 of 50.

Rhode Island: Rhode Island’s six Atlantic 10 losses have been by a combined 30 points. … Martin made his 15th career double-double.

UP NEXT:

Dayton: at Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday night.

Rhode Island: at VCU on Tuesday night.