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Texas falls one possession short in 80-78 loss at Kansas

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Another last possession blunder costed Texas a win in Lawrence.

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The reeling Texas Longhorns, coming off two straight losses against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech last week, faced their toughest challenge yet playing at Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night. Texas was neck-and-neck with Kansas all night long, but the Jayhawks (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) prevailed with an 80-78 win, as Jase Febres’ potential game-winning three-point attempt was off the mark.

With this loss, Texas (10-7, 2-3 Big 12) has now lost three straight conference games. Texas is now 0-7 against Kansas under Shaka Smart. With this win, Bill Self is now a perfect 27-0 at home playing in ESPN Big Monday games.

A 53-percent shooting night from the floor and 14 more free throw attempts was the difference for Kansas. Lagerald Vick (21 points) and Marcus Garrett (20 points) led the way for them with eight combined three-pointers. The Jayhawks gave up 13 offensive rebounds and got outrebounded 37-29 for the game.

Texas, on the other hand, shot right around their team average at 42 percent. The Horns shot the ball well above average from long range and at the charity stripe, as they went 13-of-34 (38.2%) from three and 7-of-7 from the line.

Matt Coleman led the way with 16 points, four rebounds, and a season-high eight assists. Coleman seemed to be really engaged and had the offense flowing with the ball in his hands.

Just as Oklahoma State did against Texas last Tuesday, Kansas got off to a scorching start from the floor. The Jayhawks made their first three shots and went on an 8-0 run in under two minutes to start the game.

Despite this hot start, Texas responded well with great energy and execution on both sides of the ball. The Horns garnered six rebounds on the offensive glass and only turned the ball over three times all half.

Jericho Sims returned from an ankle injury and made an immediate impact on the glass against an Udoka Azubuike-less Kansas team. Although Sims remained hesitant offensively, he snatched seven rebounds in 12 minutes of action.

Marcus Garrett was a mismatch for Texas’ smaller guards and slower bigs early on. Despite entering the game averaging 5.8 points per game, the sophomore was a perfect 7-for-7 (3-for-3 threes) from the floor with 17 points in the first half. Besides getting to the basket with ease on a couple of drives, the defense against him was true to the scouting. Giving Garrett space beyond the arc normally works, but, that was not the case on Monday night. He was stepping into a rhythm and shooting with confidence from three when he had an open look.

Coleman had the hot hand for the Longhorns in the first half. He shot 4-for-5 from the floor and made both three-point attempts.

Eli-Mitrou Long put the Longhorns ahead 30-29 at the 4:12 mark on his first three-pointer of the night. This was Texas’ first lead of the game and it forced Bill Self into taking a timeout.

Kansas regained the lead with a 4-0 run of their own. Threes from Long and Roach quickly answered this run and put the Longhorns in control for the rest of the half.

After Lagerald Vick drilled a tough corner three-pointer with five seconds left in the half, Coleman recognized the time and made a perfect run-out bounce pass to Jase Febres. But, Febres missed the wide open dunk attempt as time expired. (Yes, this came back to haunt Texas as always.)

Despite attempting no first-half free throws and forcing Kansas into zero turnovers, Texas lead 40-38 at the break thanks to an 8-for-19 (42.1%) shooting start beyond the arc.

Kansas opened up the second half just as they opened the first — two made three-pointers for a quick 6-0 run. The Jayhawks committed their first turnover of the game with 17:39 remaining.

Dylan Osetkowski’s effort around the rim and on the glass was better tonight than any other game he’s played in a Longhorn uniform. He left multiple points on the floor with easy layup misses around the rim, though.

Just as Texas was starting to cool down, Kansas pushed their lead to double digits at 57-47 at the under-12 minute mark. An alley-oop connection from Coleman to Hayes ended a three and a half minute scoring drought for Texas and pushed the deficit back into single digits. The alley-oop to Hayes was Texas’ best offense the rest of the game.

Dedric Lawson, who was slowed down early on due to foul trouble, started to take over and be the guy he’s been all season long for the Jayhawks in the second half. With Hayes in foul trouble, Lawson had his way against the leaner freshman in the paint.

After trailing 69-59 with under five minutes remaining, Roach gave the Horns some late life with a three-pointer that cut the lead to 69-64 with 4:13 left.

When Texas needed him most, Febres came to the rescue with his sharpshooting beyond the arc. He drilled three straight three-pointers on consecutive possessions to tie the game up at 73.

And then the seemingly every game occurring home-court advantage kicked in for Kansas when they needed it most. Jaxson Hayes fouled out on what looked to be a perfectly defended play — where he got all ball. Instead of having the ball with a chance to take the lead, Lawson drilled both free throws and Texas was trailing, yet again.

Lagerald Vick hit a clutch three to put the Jayhawks up by five with 1:33 to go. After a Coleman basket and a defensive stop, Texas was back within three. But, Febres missed a jumper and Kansas was headed to the line to close it out.

However, a deep three from Courtney Ramey cut the lead to just one point with less than nine seconds left. Garrett split from the line to give Texas one last chance for OT or the win.

Head coach Shaka Smart wasn’t playing for overtime, though. And just as his team has lost many games throughout his tenure at Texas, they failed to convert on the last possession of the game, once again. Poor spacing and execution led to a missed go-ahead desperation three-point attempt from Febres.

Texas may have just outplayed the No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks in college basketball’s toughest environment. Too bad this result won’t show up in the win column. The Longhorns just missed a massive chance at a major road win in Lawrence by the slimmest of margins.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. This Saturday’s home game against Oklahoma (7:00 p.m. CT Longhorn Network) sure calls for those measures with Texas on the verge of a four-game losing streak.