NCAA BK

Sat, Feb 22, 2014 - 7:30 PM ET
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While Big-12 leading Kansas escaped with a thrilling win earlier this week, second-place Texas took a big step back in its quest for the regular-season conference title.

Coach Bill Self's team is now hoping to deliver what could be the knockout blow.

Looking to avenge an earlier loss in Austin, the No. 8 Jayhawks try to inch closer to their 10th consecutive conference championship when they host the No. 19 Longhorns on Saturday night.

Kansas (20-6, 11-2) returns home after pulling out a tougher-than-expected 64-63 win at Texas Tech on Tuesday behind Andrew Wiggins' layup with 2 seconds left. Wiggins, averaging a team-leading 16.2 points, finished with 19 while fellow freshman Joel Embiid matched a season best with 18.

"It's big, it's big, but it doesn't mean anything unless we win Saturday," Self said afterward. "That's the game that would give us some serious breathing room, although we've got a little bit now, and it was big tonight."

The win moved the Jayhawks two games ahead of Texas (20-6, 9-4), which lost 85-76 at No. 17 Iowa State earlier that night. Both schools have four regular-season games remaining following this showdown.

"The big thing is we can't talk about anything past Saturday, because if it doesn't happen Saturday, it's a one-game lead as opposed to a three-game lead," said Self, whose team has won at least a share of nine straight Big 12 championships.

"To me it's not even about the league race, it's about playing Texas and playing a team that's already handled us once. One of the residual effects is that it's big for the league race, but also it's just an opportunity for us to try to play better against a team that smacked us around pretty good."

Kansas opened 7-0 in conference play before falling 81-69 at Texas on Feb. 1. Isaiah Taylor and Jonathan Holmes scored a combined 45 points for the Longhorns, who held Wiggins to seven and a season-worst 2 of 12 from the floor.

The Jayhawks went 13 of 19 from the foul line while Texas was 30 for 45. Kansas also shot 38.5 percent, its second-lowest mark this season.

"It's just about us. In a big game, we just weren't ready to play and we lost, but we'll be ready on Saturday," Embiid said.

A repeat performance seems unlikely at Allen Fieldhouse, where the Jayhawks have shot 53.8 percent in going 12-1. Kansas is 19-1 overall when shooting at least 45.0 percent compared to 1-5 when it doesn't.

The Jayhawks have outscored opponents by an average of 15.5 points during a six-game home winning streak. Their only home defeat came 61-57 to No. 6 San Diego State on Jan. 5, when they were limited to 29.8 percent from the field.

The Longhorns had dropped nine straight road games against Top 25 teams before splitting four such contests this season. They were blown out 73-47 at Kansas last February, dropping to 1-11 in Lawrence.

Texas is 18-1 when shooting above 40.0 percent and 2-5 when it doesn't. The Longhorns shot 32.9 percent against the Cyclones.

Taylor had 26 points and Javan Felix added 16. Felix took a season-high 22 shots but made just six.

"We're better than that, and we didn't come in with a tough enough mindset," coach Rick Barnes said. "We've got to be better."

Tagged: Texas, Kansas

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