No. 4 Kansas beats Texas A&M 66-58

Texas A&M was finally back to full strength on Wednesday

night.

It wasn’t enough to get past No. 4 Kansas.

Elijah Johnson scored 21 points and Tyshawn Taylor made key

plays down the stretch to help Kansas fight off a late run by the

Aggies for a 66-58 victory.

Kansas (23-5, 13-2 Big 12) led by as many as 21 points in the

second half before a big run by the Aggies got them within striking

distance.

It was the first game in month where the Aggies played with top

players Khris Middleton and Dash Harris, who both missed

significant time this season with injuries.

”It was just good to be out there tonight with my teammates,”

Harris said. ”I just wanted to wait until I was healthy enough to

do some of the things I do best, which is run the floor, play hard

defensively. And I think I was able to do some of those things

tonight.”

A 3-pointer by Harris cut the Kansas lead to four points, but

Taylor made the first of two free throws to leave Kansas ahead

61-56 with about a minute remaining.

Johnson added a free throw before Thomas Robinson fouled out on

a technical he received during a scuffle between players when they

were trying to secure a loose ball.

Elston Turner made both free throws to make it 62-58 with 40

seconds left, but Jeff Withey scored four points to guarantee the

win.

”To put them in a position to be able to win the game is beyond

belief because we were just making basketball plays experienced

guys should never make,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

Middleton led Texas A&M (13-14, 4-11) with 23 points.

”You can’t give Kansas a 20-point lead on your home court and

expect to win the game,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said.

”The only thing I can say is we didn’t throw in the towel. We had

some opportunities.”

The victory was the fifth straight for the Jayhawks whose next

game is a showdown for the conference lead with No. 3 Missouri on

Saturday.

Kansas led 60-53 after Taylor scored the first basket for Kansas

in almost 7 minutes on a three-point play with just under 2 minutes

remaining.

Johnson finished two points shy of his career-high and had 18

points in the first half to carry the team with Robinson and Taylor

struggling before halftime.

Texas A&M shook off a bad start to the second half by going

on a 24-8 run starting at the 11-minute mark to cut the Jayhawks’

lead to 57-53 with about 2 minutes remaining. Kansas made six free

throws in that span, but the team’s only basket came on a layup by

Johnson with just under 9 minutes remaining.

Middleton scored 13 points in that time.

”We just didn’t take smart shots, we rushed up, took quick

shots that weren’t good team looks, and it put us in a hole,”

Harris said. ”We can’t play against top 10 teams or any team

playing behind like that.”

The Jayhawks were leading by seven points early in the second

half before they scored 14 straight points to stretch the lead to

47-26 with just more than 13 minutes remaining. Robinson had five

points in that span and capped the run with a three-point play.

Robinson finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds to extend his

streak of scoring in double figures to 16 straight games.

This is the seventh straight season the Jayhawks have had 13

conference wins and their 23rd consecutive season with 23 wins.

They have won eight straight over A&M and are 19-1 all-time

against the Aggies in what could be the last meeting with A&M

heading to the Southeastern Conference next season.

The paltry crowd of 6,868 was peppered with Kansas fans,

including former Jayhawks coach Larry Brown, who watched the game

from a front-row seat directly behind the visitors’ bench.

Harris, a point guard, missed the last seven games with an

injured foot. He didn’t start, but entered the game early in the

first half in his first game since Jan. 23 at Kansas.

He had eight points and David Loubeau and Turner added 10 points

each for the Aggies, who trailed 31-21 at halftime.