No. 6 Kansas Suffers First Big 12 Defeat at No. 25 Texas, 81-69

By: kuathletics.com
By: kuathletics.com

AUSTIN, Texas — No. 6/7 AUSTIN, Texas — No. 6/7 Kansas needed more than freshman guard Frank Mason's buzzer-beating three-pointer to stop No. 25 Texas on its home court as the Jayhawks suffered its first Big 12 Conference, 81-69, Saturday inside the Frank Erwin Center.

The matinee paired Kansas (16-5, 7-1 Big 12) and Texas (17-4, 6-2 Big 12), the Big 12's first and third-place teams, in a meaningful meeting in Austin. Last month, KU strung together four-straight wins over ranked opponents, a first for any team since 1997. Squaring off against top-10 Kansas, however, the Longhorns repeated the rare feat. To continue their six-game win streak, the Longhorns had to stop the Jayhawks' streak at seven-straight.

Chalking up shooting percentages above 50 percent in six of its previous seven conference games, Kansas moved into the NCAA's top spot in field goal percentage. Their sharp shooting left them on Saturday. The Jayhawks tallied a conference-season low 38.5 percent, making just 25 of its season-high 65 attempts. The loss marked its first Big 12 double-digit defeat in the regular season since falling at Iowa State, 92-74 on Jan. 28, 2012, and KU's first loss in Austin since Feb. 11, 2008.

While Mason's three trimmed the final margin, it was fellow guard Wayne Selden, Jr., that led the pack. He scored a team-high 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting to lead the offense, while sophomore forward Perry Ellis scored 11 to make up KU's only double-digit performances. Freshman center Joel Embiid grabbed 10 rebounds, and he and Mason each added eight points to round out the leaderboard.

On the home bench, Texas guard Isaiah Taylor won the battle of the freshmen as his 23 points led the floor. He was 7-for-14 from the field and a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line. Junior forward Jonathan Holmes shut down Jayhawk rallies all afternoon, ending his day with 22 points. Like Embiid, sophomore center Cameron Ridley came up just short of a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds. Ridley and teammate Demarcus Holland combined for 21 rebounds, helping the Longhorns outrebound the Jayhawks (44-37) for just the fourth time this season.

Directly out of the tip, Ellis grabbed possession and immediately converted it into a two-point lead just four seconds into the game. Although the two teams combined for six-straight buckets to kick off the game, the back-and-forth pace was brief as Kansas found themselves behind for all but 36 seconds of the game.

When Texas knocked down its second three of the half, the Jayhawks were suddenly looking up at their biggest deficit in conference play to that point, 25-17, with seven minutes still to play.

It would get worse. Texas extended its lead to double-digits multiple times, always finding an answer to any points the Jayhawks put up on their end. Missed shots around the basket and jumpers that refused to fall saw KU dip well under 30 percent shooting as the last media timeout of the half approached.

Piling on, Texas benefitted from a foul/technical foul combo issued against the Jayhawks in the waning moments of the half and converted on 3-of-4 from the line to push the lead to 17 points. After beginning the game 4-for-4, Kansas shot a miserable 4-for-27 following the hot start to finish the half with a conference season-low 25.8 percent. Needing every point, Embiid hit a pair of free throws to send the game to halftime in UT's favor, 38-23 - the biggest halftime deficit against a conference opponent since trailing 45-29 at Oklahoma State on Feb. 27, 2010.

Ellis began the second half with baskets on back-to-back possessions, yet the Longhorns picked up where they left off, responding with makes of their own. When a patented freshman guard Andrew Wiggins drive to the basket came up short and rolled off the rim, the thought of a comeback seemed far-fetched. When Thomas hit a jumper on UT's next trip down the floor, the inevitable approached quickly.

Watching the deficit become its largest of the season at 19 points, 46-27, Kansas still pushed back. Selden and junior guard Naadir Tharpe teamed up for two-straight threes to begin work on erasing the deficit, but costly turnovers nagged at the Jayhawks. Texas took full advantage of KU's miscues – and missed shots. Following Selden and Tharpe's threes, KU went nearly four minutes before notching another field goal.

When Wiggins finally connected on his first bucket, with 12:06 remaining in the game, plenty of time for a comeback was still in the tank. Texas – Holmes in particular – was relentless. He chalked up seven-straight points for the home team to offset a pair of much-needed baskets from Selden.

Yet the power needed to overthrow the home team's mounting lead wasn't there. Moments after Wiggins hit his only three-pointer, cutting the deficit to 13 for the first time in the second half, he was whistled for his fifth foul and exited the game with seven points.

Sophomore forward Jamari Traylor fought for an offensive board and a put-back layup and came through again with a put-back dunk following a missed free throw, this time with a dunk that closed the gap to 75-64 with less than two minutes to play. Unfortunately, Texas had all the room it needed and shook off Mason's last three-pointer to hand KU its first Big 12 loss, 81-69.

UP NEXT
KU will continue its travels through Texas when the Jayhawks head to to Baylor on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. The Jayhawks return home to host West Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m. on ESPN.

GAME NOTES
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): Jr. Naadir Tharpe (18/18), Fr. Wayne Selden, Jr. (21/21), Fr. Andrew Wiggins (21/21), So. Perry Ellis (21/24), Fr. Joel Embiid (13/13)

SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 22-8

ATTENDANCE: 16,540 (sold out)

KANSAS' LOSS…

Dropped KU to 17-5 on the season
Made Kansas 7-1 in Big 12 play, keeping the 2002 Jayhawks the only team to have gone undefeated in a Big 12 season (16-0)
Made KU 7-1 in conference play for the first time since the 2010-11 season
Ended the Jayhawks' longest winning streak of the season at seven
Made the Kansas-Texas series 22-8 in favor of KU, including 6-6 mark in the Frank Erwin Center
Ended KU's win streak over Texas at five-straight
Made Bill Self 12-8 all-time against UT (12-6 while at KU), 316-64 while at Kansas and 523-169 overall
Made KU 2,117-817 all-time

TEAM NOTES

The loss marked Kansas' first Big 12 double-digit defeat in the regular season since falling at Iowa State, 92-74 on Jan. 28, 2012, and KU's first loss in Austin since Feb. 11, 2008.
KU's 20-point deficit in the second half marked its largest this season and the most since trailing by 18 at Florida. Prior to Saturday, Baylor had the largest lead against the Jayhawks in Big 12 play (5).
The 15-point halftime deficit tied KU's largest of the season (15 at Florida, 12/10/13). It also marked the biggest halftime deficit against a conference opponent since trailing 45-29 at Oklahoma State on Feb. 27, 2010.
Kansas began the game 4-for-4 from the field and closed the first half 4-for-27. The 8-for-31 (25.8 percent) is KU's lowest in a conference half this season. In fact, KU's previous conference low for a half wasn't even close (44.0, 2nd half, at Oklahoma).
Kansas' 38.5 shooting percentage (25-for-65) was the second-lowest shooting mark of the season (San Diego State, 29.8 percent).
The Big 12's best blocking team, Texas out-blocked the Jayhawks 12-4. The 12 blocks are the most in a conference game since Texas tallied the same amount on Feb. 8, 2010 and the second-most overall (13, Kentucky, 11/15/11).
Texas' 30 free throws were the most by an opponent this season (29 vs. Oklahoma).
Conversely, KU tied a season-low with its 13 makes from the free-throw line.
Kansas out-did Texas in points in the paint (36-32), points off turnover (12-11), second-chance points (16-11), bench points (19-14) and field goals (25-24) despite the lopsided loss.
Five different players knocked down a three-pointer at Texas (Frank Mason, Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden, Jr., Brannen Greene and Naadir Tharpe) That's the fourth such occurrence in the last five games.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES

Sophomore F Perry Ellis had four points in the first 40 seconds of the game. He went on to score 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
Freshman G Brennan Greene hit a three-pointer for the fifth-straight game.
Senior F Tarik Black checked into the game in the first half, making his first appearance since injuring his ankle vs. Baylor (1/20). He scored two points with two rebounds.
After back-to-back career-high efforts, freshman G Andrew Wiggins went 0-for-9 from the floor before hitting his first shot with 12:06 remaining in the game. He finished 2-for-12 with seven points before fouling out for the first time in his career.
Freshman C Joel Embiid tallied two rejections at UT and now has 56 blocks on the season, passing Darrell Arthur (54) for second on the all-time freshman blocks list at Kansas, trailing only Eric Chenowith (62, 1998).
Embiid now has a block in 15-straight games.
Sophomore F Jamari Traylor grabbed six rebounds, his third six-board effort of the conference season.

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