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No. 17 Kansas beats Texas 66-57 in Big 12 quarterfinals

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas took the first step toward redemption against Texas on Thursday night.

After the No. 17 Jayhawks failed to win a piece of the Big 12 regular-season title, ending their record streak of 14 straight crowns, they leaned on freshmen Devon Dotson and David McCormack in a 65-57 victory over the Longhorns in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

Two more wins and they’ll hoist some hardware after all.

Dotson finished with 17 points and McCormack had 13 points and a career-best nine rebounds for the third-seeded Jayhawks (24-8), who advanced to play West Virginia in the semifinals Friday night.

The No. 10 seed Mountaineers upset second-seeded Texas Tech earlier in the day.

“The team I watched tonight is hungry, they’re playing with a free mind and they’re rebounding,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said of the Mountaineers. “Forget about the records and whatnot, when Kansas and West Virginia play you usually get your money’s worth for a game.”

Dedric Lawson also had 16 points and Quentin Grimes had 12 for the Jayhawks, who improved to 20-3 in quarterfinals since the inaugural tournament in 1997.

Dylan Osetkowski had 18 points to lead the sixth-seeded Longhorns (16-16), who may have needed a win at the Sprint Center to help their NCAA Tournament resume. They have a strong strength of schedule but have lost five of their last six games overall.

“No question about it, regardless of our record,” Osetkowski said. “We’ve been in every game. It’s tough to leave it up to the committee now, but I think we’ve definitely done enough.”

The Jayhawks and Longhorns split in the regular season with each winning at home, so perhaps it was no surprise that they played to a 29-29 stalemate in the first half.

Kansas got out to a quick 9-2 lead but languished through long periods, unable to get anything going offensively. The Longhorns did their best work attacking the paint and getting to the foul line, even though 6-foot-11 freshman Jaxson Hayes sat most of the half with two fouls.

The Jayhawks began to edge ahead early in the second half.

Lawson scored a couple of quick baskets to build a lead, and the brutish, 6-foot-10 McCormack went to work on the glass. He made one nifty rebound off a miss by Ochai Agbaji and spun around for a lay-in, helping Kansas stretch its lead to the biggest of the game.

“I was trying to use my size and strength to my advantage,” McCormack said.

Texas tinkered with a 2-3 zone and a half-court trap to slow the Jayhawks, and to some extent they succeeded. But the Longhorns were unable to capitalize at the other end.

“We were locked in and played great defensively,” the Jayhawks’ Marcus Garrett said.

When they closed to within 56-51, Grimes drew a foul and triggered the bonus, making both free throws. When the Longhorns added a foul shot of their own, Dotson breezed to the bucket for another contested layup to extend the Jayhawks’ lead.

The Jayhawks held on the rest of the way.

“We got some stops, but we didn’t score enough points,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “I think the difference in transition baskets was one of the key factors that led to Kansas winning the game.”

ROACH STRUGGLES

Kerwin Roach II returned from a five-game suspension for violating team rules. He checked in early in the game but finished with just eight points on 2-for-7 shooting.

HAYES HURT

The Longhorns lost Hayes, one of their bright young stars, when he appeared to hurt his left knee during a scrum with 1:58 left in the game. He was helped off without putting any weight on it.

BIG PICTURE

Texas had the nation’s sixth-toughest scheduled according to the NET, the new analytics used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. But the Longhorns were just 8-10 in the Big 12 in the regular season, and they may have needed a win over Kansas to help their postseason cause.

Kansas started 15-2 but was just 8-6 down the stretch, when injuries and absences began to wreak havoc with the lineup. But the emergence of McCormack gives the Jayhawks hope they can defend their tournament title after failing to win the regular-season crown.

UP NEXT

Kansas will play the Mountaineers for a spot in the finals.

Lagerald Vick won’t return to Kansas this season

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Kansas will play the postseason without senior Lagerald Vick as head coach Bill Self announced on Monday that he will not rejoin the team this season.

Vick has been away from the team on a leave of absence since Feb. 7 to attend to a personal matter. Before leaving the Jayhawks, Vick had an up-and-down senior season as he averaged 14.1 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Over the weekend, Kansas did not celebrate Senior Day with Vick not in attendance — although Self remembered his only senior on the roster in a press conference last week.

“People should remember Lagerald in a very favorable way,” Self said. “No question. We won three (league titles) and won 10 games in the NCAA Tournament in (his first) three years. You know, there’s not too many players out there in the country who can say that. And he’s played a role in that and, certainly, he got better over time.”

Although Vick wasn’t expected to return to the Jayhawks, this is the official end of his college career. Kansas will miss his 45 percent three-point shooting, as they’ve struggled at times with perimeter shooting this season.

NBC Sports Top 25: The final power rankings of the college basketball season

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Yes, I’m the guy that still has Duke at No. 1. I explained why in detail last week, and I’m not going to do it again, especially now that it appears Zion Williamson will be back for the ACC tournament.

And just to make it clear: This does not mean that I believe Duke should be a No. 1 seed. I don’t. Losses, even if they come when a team is not at full strength, need to matter for things like NCAA tournament seeding. They don’t matter when it comes to how the industry — and me, specifically — rank which of those teams are the best.

Beyond that, there isn’t all that much to talk about in what will be the final top 25 of the 2018-19 season.

I bumped Texas Tech up to fifth after they won a share of the Big 12 regular season title. Outside of a three-week stretch in January when Jarrett Culver forgot how to shoot, the Red Raiders were the best team in that conference. With the way they are shooting and scoring the ball in the last month combined with that defense, they are very much a threat to win a national title.

One other thing that I’ll note here: I think there are three tiers at the top of college hoops. At the top is a healthy Duke, Gonzaga and Virginia. Right behind that trio sits North Carolina, Texas Tech, Tennessee and Kentucky. I think those seven are pretty clearly the top seven teams in the country, and one you get past them, it starts to get wild. Purdue, Kansas State, Michigan State, Houston, Michigan, Florida State, Nevada. I think there is an argument for all of these teams to be ranked in the back end of the top ten.

Anyway, here is my final Top 25 of the season:

1. Duke (26-5, Last Week: 1)
2. Gonzaga (29-2, 2)
3. Virginia (28-2, 3)
4. North Carolina (26-5, 4)
5. Texas Tech (26-5, 6)
6. Tennessee (27-4, 5)
7. Kentucky (26-5, 7)
8. Michigan State (25-6, 12)
9. Purdue (23-8, 9)
10. Kansas State (24-7, 10)
11. LSU (26-5, 11)
12. Houston (29-2, 12)
13. Michigan (26-5, 8)
14. Nevada (28-3, 15)
15. Florida State (25-6, 18)
16. Virginia Tech (23-7, 17)
17. Buffalo (28-3, 20)
18. Wofford (27-4, 22)
19. Wisconsin (22-9, 19)
20. Kansas (23-8, 16)
21. Marquette (23-8, 14)
22. Auburn (22-9, NR)
23. VCU (25-6, NR)
24. Mississippi State (22-9, NR)
25. UCF (23-7, 25)

Dropped Out: 21. Iowa State, 23. Villanova, 24. Cincinnati
New Additions: 22. Auburn, 23. VCU, 24. Mississippi State

No. 13 Kansas tops Baylor 78-70, stays undefeated at home

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Cutting through Baylor’s long zone defense, Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji came down with the ball in the low post double-teamed by a pair of Baylor defenders. The freshman quickly offloaded the ball to fellow freshman David McCormack, who slammed the ball home over the top of Baylor’s Freddie Gillespie.

The dunk was an early indication of the day McCormack would have, as the young forward continues to grow into Bill Self’s Kansas squad.

“He played terrific, I should have played him more. He was our best offensive player of the first half, and he made some good, strong moves,” Self said. “The first move he had he didn’t go to his left hand jump hook and ended up taking a good shot, but after that I thought he was really good.”

Dedric Lawson scored 23 points, including 11 of 12 from the free-throw line, to help No. 13 Kansas beat Baylor 78-70 Saturday and stay undefeated at home.

The performance came hours after Lawson was announced on the ballot for the John R. Wooden Award that goes to the nation’s outstanding college basketball player.

Yet on senior day in Allen Fieldhouse, a trio of Kansas freshmen impressed. Devon Dotson, McCormack and Quentin Grimes had 15, 12 and nine points, respectively. Kansas (23-8, 12-6 Big 12) fielded no seniors for the first time since 2007. The Jayhawks’ lone senior Lagerald Vick left the team earlier this season for personal reasons.

Jared Butler led the way for Baylor (19-12, 10-8), scoring a career-high 31 points in 36 minutes. The freshman entered averaging 9.6 points.

Kansas took advantage of Baylor’s zone defense throughout the game, scoring 36 points in the paint. That included 18 of Kansas’ 32 points in the first half. Baylor’s strong rebounding presence was heavily tested, and both teams finished with 43.

“I think first half I only had two rebounds so coach was getting on me about that,” Lawson said. “It’s going out there and being aggressive and going after the ball and finishing plays on the defensive end.”

Kansas led 32-29 at halftime. A four-point possession five minutes into the second half turned the game in the Jayhawks’ favor.

Baylor forward Flo Thamba was called for a flagrant-one foul after the referees deemed he purposely pushed his hand into the face of Lawson. He made both free throws and was fouled again by Thamba after the inbounds play, with Lawson making both again.

Kansas took a 44-35 lead after the possession and maintained it the rest of the game.

“I think it was pretty big,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said of the flagrant. “It’s hard to come back on Kansas here; we’ve done it a couple of times but it’s really hard to do.”

With their Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal opponents already decided and neither team playing for the regular-season title, there was little at stake aside from an improved resume come Selection Sunday.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The Jayhawks finish the season 16-0 in Allen Fieldhouse, marking the 20th time in program history that Kansas has done so. It’s the first time since 2015-16 than Kansas has accomplished the feat and the seventh time during the Self era.

Baylor: Despite the loss, the Bears finished the Big 12 regular season with double-digit wins for the sixth time in 10 seasons. Before 2010, they hadn’t finished conference play with double-digit wins since 1988 when they competed in the Southwest Conference.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE DREAMS

With his final stat line of 23 points and 14 rebounds, Lawson recorded his 20th double-double of the season. He is only the third Kansas player to record 20 double-doubles or more in the Self era, joining Cole Aldrich and Thomas Robinson.

UP NEXT

Kansas: The Jayhawks enter as the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. They will play 6th-seeded Texas on Thursday.

Baylor: Will play Iowa State on Thursday in the Big 12 Tournament.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

The streak is over: No. 15 Kansas falls at Oklahoma, cannot win Big 12

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The last time that Kansas finished a season has anything other than a winner of at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title, the year was 2004.

That was the year that Eddie Sutton, who was still coaching Oklahoma State, won his only Big 12 regular season title. Texas A&M, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado were all still league rivals. and Quin Snyder was still Bill Self’s Border War counterpart. Yeah had just usurped Slow Jamz at the top of the Billboard charts and Ruben Studdard had the No. 9 song in America.

Fast forward 15 years, and Bill Self will be telling Kansas fans ‘I’m sorry for 2019.’

With their chance to remain in the Big 12 title picture on the line, No. 13 Kansas went into Norman and got absolutely boatraced by an Oklahoma team that hadn’t been good in more than two months and entered the game sitting at 6-10 in the Big 12. The Sooners jumped out to a 23-7 lead, led by as many as 24 points and sent the Jayhawks back to Lawrence with a 81-68 loss and the indignity of being the team that ended The Streak™.

This was always the inevitable ending for this group.

They lost Udoka Azubuike for the season in early January. Lagerald Vick hasn’t been seen or heard from since taking a leave of absence from the team last month. They were expected to be two of the top three scorers for this Kansas team. Throw in Silvio De Sousa, who hasn’t played a second all season after failing to be cleared by the NCAA due to the FBI’s investigation into college basketball, and this team hardly looks like the one we expected to see when they were ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP Poll.

They were supposed to be one of the oldest and deepest teams in the country. Instead, they spent the final month of the season starting four freshmen, one of whom was supposed to be their third-string center and another who spent the first half of the season redshirting. After Azubuike went down with his wrist injury, Self tried to morph his team into one that played small-ball full-time. That had limited success, but it only lasted a few weeks before two of the most important pieces to that system — Marcus Garrett (ankle injury) and Vick — found themselves MIA. It didn’t help matters that Quentin Grimes has spent the season playing with the confidence of an eighth grader asking his crush to the spring formal.

The truth is that this Kansas team just isn’t very good, and if it wasn’t for the cauldron that is Phog Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks never would have had a chance to keep The Streak™ alive on Tuesday night.

The truth is that this Kansas team has spent the season doing what you should expect out of teams that start four freshmen. They’ve been inconsistent. They’ve struggled to execute offensively, and they’ve made mistakes on the defensive end of the floor. They haven’t won games on the road.

That’s what freshmen are supposed to do!

And I know, Grimes isn’t just a normal freshman. He entered school as a top ten prospect expected to go one-and-done straight into the lottery. That’s true. It’s also true that we knew by the time the calendar hit December that it wasn’t to be as easy for Grimes as we projected.

Let me be clear: None of that is meant to be an excuse for Kansas. They aren’t good enough to be champions of a league that is as good and as deep as the Big 12 is this season. Full stop.

But that should also put into context just how incredible this streak has been.

Because this is the first time since Self’s first year at Kansas that having things go wrong cost them the league.

Think about that.

Last season, Self was forced to enroll De Sousa at the semester break because his team was so thin up front and they won the league. In 2016, the Jayhawks lost three out of five in January in a year where their star freshmen were Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg and they won the league. In 2015, they won the league despite being forced to play Jamari Traylor at center because Cliff Alexander was their prized recruit.

Put another way, this is not the first time that Kansas has not had luck break their way during the season.

But this is the first time that it cost them a league title.

All it took was losing two of their top three players and seeing their best freshman flop, and they were still in the mix during the final week of the regular season.

I think that says all you need to know.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Kansas’ Big 12 streak ends; Big Ten race gets complicated; Duke survives

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Tuesday night featured chaos all over college basketball thanks to upsets and conference races getting upended. One of the sport’s most iconic streaks finally came to an end while another conference race got more interesting thanks to an upset loss. And that doesn’t even include an overtime thriller between top-25 teams and a top-five team nearly losing to an unranked team at the buzzer.

Oklahoma ends the Kansas Big 12 title streak with blowout win

The streak is finally over. After 14 consecutive years of Big 12 titles, the league is guaranteed a new conference regular-season champion after No. 13 Kansas fell on the road at Oklahoma.

Falling behind by double digits less than five minutes into the game, the Jayhawks never recovered as junior forward Dedric Lawson (18 points, 11 rebounds) was the team’s only consistent presence. Meanwhile, Oklahoma picked up its most important win of the season as this Q1 victory likely solidifies the Sooners into the Field of 68. Kristian Doolittle (24 points, 11 rebounds) tallied his fourth double-double of the season while Brady Manek earned 21 points.

CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on this one here as he explores what the end of this streak means for Kansas and college hoops.

Minnesota outlasts No. 11 Purdue to muddy the Big Ten race 

Things got complicated in the Big Ten on Tuesday night thanks to the Golden Gophers holding off Purdue for a Big Ten home win. While the victory likely punches Minnesota’s at-large ticket into the Field of 68, the most important takeaway from this one is the Boilermakers relinquishing their lead in the Big Ten.

With Michigan State’s Tuesday night win over Nebraska, the Big Ten now has a three-way tie for the conference lead as Purdue, the Spartans and Michigan are all 15-4 heading into the final conference game of the season. The Boilermakers had a golden opportunity to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title with a win on Tuesday, but Carsen Edwards (22 points, 7-for-31 shooting) struggled to consistently make shots while big man Matt Haarms (three points, 1-for-8 shooting) was also off. Amir Coffey poured in 32 points for Minnesota as they were among the night’s big winners among bubble teams.

No. 14 Florida State rallies to beat No. 15 Virginia Tech in OT

The night’s only matchup between top-25 teams ended up being a good one as the Seminoles had an impressive second-half rally to earn the ACC home win.

While this game doesn’t have huge NCAA tournament implications (it’ll certainly help Florida State, but how much remains to be seen) the win gives the Seminoles the very important No. 4 seed (and double bye) in the upcoming ACC Tournament. Trailing by 14 points at the half, Florida State used a balanced effort to rally as Mfiondu Kabengale led with 17 points.

No. 4 Duke survives Wake Forest without Zion

Life without superstar freshman Zion Williamson continued for the Blue Devils on Tuesday as Duke barely survived with a one-point home win over Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons had multiple looks on the game’s final possession as Chaundee Brown’s putback rolled out in agonizingly slow fashion as time expired. Trailing by 10 in the second half, Duke was carried by freshman R.J. Barrett (28 points) in this one as Cam Reddish battled foul trouble and a sluggish start to only finish with six points.

Point guard Tre Jones (13 points, eight rebounds, three steals) also had a solid effort on both ends of the floor, but he left for part of the second half with what’s being described as a bruised right quad. Junior big man Marques Bolden was also limited due to a hip injury in this one as the Blue Devils need to get healthy, and quickly, before Saturday’s rivalry showdown at North Carolina.