There was often hope that Texas could keep it close, but never much of a chance for the ‘Horns to win.
Shaka Smart’s unit fell to the top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks 67-79 Monday afternoon, in a game where Texas at times had the hustle and energy to win, but not the depth or experience.
Freshman center Jarrett Allen had his best performance yet, notching a career-high 22 points and racking up 18 rebounds. The former McDonald’s All-American was the spark for an overmatched squad to somehow stay in the game for most of the day.
The Jayhawks appeared as though they were going to immediately run the Longhorns out of Allen Fieldhouse after Shaq Cleare began the game with three turnovers in four possessions. Then Allen added two turnovers to the total, and Jones also lost the rock to the nation’s No. 1 team all before the game’s first commercial break.
Hence, why Kansas led the ‘Horns 14-2 at the under 16 timeout.
The Jayhawks were up by as much as fourteen early in the game, but the ‘Horns didn’t appear as shaken as most 7-11 teams might be. Jones sparked the team with a three pointer, while Allen added a couple of fundamentally sound buckets.
Oddly enough, it was a Cleare failed dunk that flew into the net catalyzed an electric 9-0 run for the Longhorns. The team was clicking and suddenly Texas was within three. The Jayhawks had lost their focus, but the ‘Horns had nothing to lose.
However, Kansas is simply too good at home to not grab the momentum back from the reigns of an admittedly underwhelming unit. The Jayhawks stretched a four-point lead to 10 after hitting back-to-back threes.
Kansas’ three-point shooting was an issue all day for the ‘Horns, as Bill Self’s squad ultimately went 10-22 from behind the arc. Smart even utilized a rare 3-2 defensive look in the second half, but the shots continued to fall.
However, after trailing by 10 in the early stages of the second half, the ‘Horns again made a push, cutting the lead to four. Yet, a badly missed Mareik Isom three followed by three straight turnovers eliminated Texas’ chance to capitalize on their largely solid defense.
Allen managed to keep the Longhorns in it, but the wind was taken out of the sails when he briefly went down after rolling his ankle.
With a limited number of big men on the roster, there wasn’t the stamina or size available to make up for Allen’s absence.
Even when the Austin native did re-enter the game, the ‘Horns didn’t have the energy to make a serious run. Texas kept the lead under 10 for most of the second half, and yet it felt like Kansas had the game well in hand.
With under four minutes left, Texas’ lack of a true point guard reared its ugly head. Andrew Jones had an impressive dunk, but then there were several empty possessions. Kansas answered by pushing its lead past double digits with two straight threes.
And then it was over.
The silver lining to Texas Longhorns basketball is they are devoid of depth and experience, but clearly not lacking talent. Jones is going to be a star if he stays another year (he should), and Allen is well on his way as well if he can cut down on turnovers.
Up next for the 7-12 (1-5) ‘Horns is a home game against Oklahoma on Monday. The Sooners have struggled as well this year, as the Buddy Hield-less team sits as 9-9.