On February 1 in Austin, Texas No. 8 Kansas didn’t play its best basketball, falling to the Longhorns 81-69 in a game they trailed by as much as 20 early in the second half. The Jayhawks shot just 38.5% from the field as a team and Andrew Wiggins struggled, making just two of his 12 shot attempts. The rematch offered both the Jayhawks as a team and Wiggins individually a shot at redemption, and Bill Self’s team took advantage.
No. 19 Texas may have led 8-5 at the first media timeout but from there it was all Kansas, with the Jayhawks rolling to an 85-54 victory. Kansas was very efficient on offense and they were tough defensively, limiting the Longhorns to 34% shooting on the night. The win puts Kansas three games up on their closest challenger in the Big 12, which in all likelihood means that they’ll win their tenth consecutive Big 12 regular season title.
Kansas went from down three to up 28 by the end of the first half, shooting 63% from the field with Wiggins serving as the catalyst. Wiggins was assertive offensively and it paid off, as he shot 5-for-7 from the field and scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the first half. As a team Kansas scored 1.39 points per possession in the first half, and given the amount of talent at Bill Self’s disposal they aren’t losing when performing that well offensively.
The contributions came from many players, with reserves Frank Mason and Tarik Black combining to score 23 points off the bench. Mason made six of his seven shots and scored 14 points, and with Naadir Tharpe (five assists) shooting 1-for-9 from the field those points were important. As for Black, his emphatic dunk provided two of the nine points he scored while also grabbing five rebounds in 15 minutes of action.
Given the issues he’s had with foul trouble throughout his career Black won’t be a 30 minute per game player, and given the presence of Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid (13 points, seven rebounds and six blocks) that’s fine. But the senior needs to be productive when on the floor if Kansas is to make a run at a national title, and he was against Texas.
With the number of young players in the rotation there’s still progress to be made in Lawrence. And their two games at Texas are a prime example of what can happen when things click for this group. In the first meeting there were issues on both ends of the floor, especially in regards to the quality of shots they were taking. There were no such problems in the rematch, and the Jayhawks rolled as a result.