Sometimes, the other team is just better.
That was the case for Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns on Saturday, who fell to the No. 3-ranked Kansas Jayhawks 77-67.
For the most part, the ‘Horns were worthy of being on the Frank Erwin Center hardwood alongside the Big 12 regular season champs. There was a point in the first half in which a Jarrett Allen jam gave Texas a 20-19 lead, but it would be the Longhorns final lead of the evening after a Bill Self timeout sparked a subsequent 12-0 Kansas run.
The Jayhawks never looked back and per usual, the Longhorns never quit scrapping.
Excluding the Jayhawks 12-0 run, which proved costly for the remainder of the competition, the Longhorns surprisingly outscored Kansas 67-65, but the several-minute stretch that saw numerous Texas turnovers turn into easy Jayhawk buckets is too much to overcome against a team of Kansas’ caliber.
There were several points in the second half in which Texas was just within reach, such as trailing just 56-51 with 10:29 to play, but it would be as close as the ‘Horns would get throughout the rest of the night. After the lead eventually ballooned to 15 points, a quick 6-0 Texas run trimmed the deficit to 76-67 with 1:41 to play, but while Kansas went on to score just one more point, Texas couldn’t get enough shots to fall down the stretch for any chance at a miracle in Austin.
The Longhorns pair of McDonald’s All-American freshmen headlined Saturday’s offensive output, as Allen racked up 20 points behind a flurry of highlight dunks, while Andrew Jones added 18 points of his own, despite shooting 0-4 from the perimeter. No other Longhorn reached double figures, though Kerwin Roach Jr. contributed nine points and six assists.
As a unit, Texas’ eight assists were overshadowed by 15 turnovers, many of which were costly — Kansas scored 17 first half points off nine Texas turnovers. The ‘Horns also shot just 3-16 from deep, which simply isn’t good enough to beat a team like Kansas.
Potential top-three NBA Draft selection Josh Jackson led the Jayhawks with 18 points, which was complimented by 16 points from Frank Mason III and 12 more from Devonte Graham. Dwight Coleby added 12 points off the bench down low for Self’s club.
While Kansas is riding high on its outright Big 12 regular season title — the ninth during its stretch of 13-straight Big 12 regular season titles with four being shared — the Longhorns fall to 10-19 (4-12) on the season.
The ‘Horns will close the season with Texas Tech and then a home meeting with No. 9 Baylor before placing their NCAA Tournament hopes upon a Big 12 Tournament miracle.