Kansas tops Big 12-foe Texas

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 04, 2012
It's become tradition at Kansas for the seniors to address the crowd after their final home game. So in the minutes after the third-ranked Jayhawks finished off a 73-63 victory over Texas on Saturday night, nobody inside Allen Fieldhouse got up from their seat. First was Jordan Juenemann, the spunky former walk-on. Then came Connor Teahan, the 3-point specialist. But before star guard Tyshawn Taylor addressed the crowd, coach Bill Self acknowledged Thomas Robinson, the bruising junior who is likely headed to the NBA after the season. Self wouldn't let him talk, though. Robinson would have to come back for one more season to earn that honor. The big guy finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds against the Longhorns, while Taylor had 22 points to cap his four-year career in Lawrence. Teahan and Juenemann also played significant minutes, both of them getting the start in their final home games. ''I think more so than anything I've grown up as a man in front of all you guys' eyes,'' Taylor said after the game, addressing a packed house. ''You've seen me at my best and you've seen me at my worst, and I just appreciate all you sticking with me. ''I love y'all to death,'' he said. ''You're my family.'' J'Covan Brown scored 29 of his 33 points in the second half for the Longhorns (19-12, 9-9), whose failure to control Robinson dealt a blow to their NCAA tournament hopes. They'll head to Kansas City next week needing a couple wins to feel comfy. ''I always believed it's your body of work,'' Texas coach Rick Barnes said. ''I also have confidence in our league - if we're the second-best league in the country, that's where we are, there's no reason we shouldn't have six teams in.'' Robinson scored 18 of his points in the second half as the Big 12 champion Jayhawks (26-5, 16-2) tuned up for the conference tournament in style. Kansas has won eight straight overall, 22 in a row at home and improved to 20-7 all-time against the Longhorns. ''He's the best player in the country,'' said the Longhorns' Clint Chapman. ''He took advantage of every opportunity that we have him with offensive rebounds and driving by guys.'' Robinson said he didn't know that Self would acknowledge him after the game. He briefly thought he'd have to deliver a speech, then was pleased to find out that wouldn't be the case. ''He can come back next year if he wants to do that,'' Self said. Kansas and Texas have waged their share of memorable games in recent years - four of the past six seasons they've met in the conference tournament title game, and it was Texas that ruined the Jayhawks' 69-game home winning streak last season. In this one, they spent most of the first half trying to wake up. The Jayhawks, who wrapped up the outright conference title Monday night, used an 8-0 run just before the break to establish some breathing room. But the Longhorns still managed to stay within 26-21 when Clint Chapman scored on a put-back with 1.3 seconds left in the half. Brown had hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the second half, briefly drawing Texas within two, when the complexion of the game changed suddenly. The Jayhawks came down court and ran their offense to perfection, getting Robinson an open look under the basket. Just before he went up for an easy dunk, the Longhorns' Alexis Wangmene collapsed in a heap under the basket, clutching his left wrist and his face contorted in pain. Wangmene told Brown that he thought he'd broken it as Texas trainers came to the floor. They eventually helped the senior forward to his feet and straight to the locker room. Wangmene had held Robinson to seven points on 3-for-10 shooting in the first half. Without him, the Longhorns had no answer for the big guy inside. ''The defensive presence he brings was noticeably missed the rest of the game,'' Chapman said. Robinson scored four straight baskets for Kansas later in the second half, on one of them bringing the ball up court and popping a jumper from the elbow for a 43-32 lead. Brown did his best to shoot Texas back into the game, unfurling a silky 3-point shot whenever he got an open look, taking it off the dribble when he was closely guarded. He simply didn't have any help. The Longhorns wound up shooting 38 percent from the field and went 3 for 17 from beyond the 3-point line - Sheldon McClellan was the only player other than Brown to hit from deep. ''I felt like we were right there in the beginning,'' Brown said. ''In the second half, we just made some mistakes to break the lead open (for Kansas).'' Kansas stretched the lead to 60-46 when Travis Releford got an alley-oop layup to go off a feed from Taylor with 6:22 left in the game. The lead never reached single digits the rest of the way as the Jayhawks won their 28th consecutive home finale. Robinson, Taylor and Teahan all received curtain calls with 28.3 seconds left. Juenemann checked out of the game a few seconds later to a standing ovation. ''They say a team is only as good as your seniors,'' Self said. ''I guess we've had pretty damn good seniors for eight years straight.''
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