Seniors propel No. 6 Kansas to 80-70 win over Texas
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Kansas’ seniors led the charge on senior night.
”Been trying not to cry all day,” Graham said.
The emotion was channeled into a powerful start, as Kansas established control over the Longhorns (17-13, 7-10 Big 12) early. The Jayhawks wouldn’t look back after gaining the lead less than six minutes into the game.
”We didn’t play great tonight,” Bill Self said. ”We played great in stretches though, first half especially. It’s nice to end your home season on a win so the guys can go out in style.”
Texas cut the lead to as little as six with just over 15 minutes remaining, but couldn’t complete the comeback. It carried the Big 12’s second-best shooting defense into the matchup, but allowed Kansas to shoot 60.3 percent from the field.
Kansas has won its last nine meetings against Texas and has won 35 consecutive home finales. The Jayhawks are locked into the Big 12 tournament’s No. 1 seed.
Texas was without star freshman Mo Bamba, who missed the game with a left toe injury. Bamba, a projected top-10 pick in the NBA draft, is second on the Longhorns in scoring (13 points per game) and first in rebounds (10.6) and blocks (3.8).
After he posted a career-high eight blocks against them in December, the Jayhawks tried to take advantage of his absence.
”That’s what we were emphasizing,” Graham said. ”They didn’t have a rim protector, because Bamba’s one of a kind.”
While the spotlight belonged to the seniors, it was another strong game for Udoka Azubuike down low. He led all scorers with 20 points.
Azubuike entered the game leading the nation in field goal percentage (77.1 percent) and went 10 of 11 from the field. He also pulled in eight rebounds.
”That’s exactly how he should’ve played,” Graham said. ”(Assistant coach Norm Roberts) came up to him in shootaround and told him just because Bamba’s out doesn’t mean you get to take the day off.”
Graham leaves Allen Fieldhouse a two-time All-Big 12 selection and No. 15 on the program’s all-time scoring list. Mykhailiuk ranks No. 6 all-time in 3-pointers made, and he cracked the top 50 on the all-time scoring list this season. Young appeared in 30 games in his three seasons as a walk-on.
Kansas sealed the outright Big 12 championship after clinching at least a share of its 14th straight conference crown Saturday with a win over Texas Tech.
”I think they all feel great,” Self said. ”If you don’t have to share it, you shouldn’t.”
Texas remains on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament. If the Longhorns aren’t chosen, it will be just the third time in the last 20 years they’ve missed the tourney.
Kansas wraps up its regular season on the road against Oklahoma State Saturday.
Texas will finish the regular season by hosting No. 20 West Virginia.
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