No. 11 Texas Garners Big 12, Big Monday Victory Over No. 3 Kansas

by dentonramsey

No. 11 Texas Garners Big 12, Big Monday Victory Over No. 3 Kansas

By Denton Ramsey, NCAA Basketball Sportswriter, CSTV.com

AUSTIN, Texas — For Longhorns fans, a win can’t taste much sweeter.

With UT football star Vince Young in the house, the No. 11 Texas hoops team refused to give in on the hardwood, battling back from a four-point halftime deficit to knock off No. 3 Kansas, 72-69.

After D.J. Augustin missed the back end of two free throws in the game’s final seconds, KU had a chance to tie the game with a 3, but Kansas’ Mario Chalmers shot at the buzzer rattled out as Texas held on for the victory.

“Kansas is a very difficult team to guard and they do a great job of passing the ball,” Texas Head Coach Rick Barnes said. “But it was really an effort from our guys and they just found a way to get it done.”

Another factor in UT’s victory was a sold out and rowdy home crowd, which coach Barnes attributed to the team’s success.

“When this building is full, its as good as any in the country,” Barnes said.

And boy is he right.

Just ask Kansas’ Head Coach, Bill Self.

“I think they just outmanned us in the second half,” Self said. “That was our focus at halftime and our guys did not respond to their aggressiveness.”

According to Self, one of the reasons for the rise of the UT basketball program is due to the fact that the Texas defense has improved tremendously, one of the key reasons for the Longhorns big victory.

After getting outscored 42-38 in the first half of play, the Horns battled back to outscore the Jayhawks 34-27 in the second half en route to a three-point nail-biting win at the Erwin Center.

However, when the Jayhawks’ Chalmers addressed the media following the Longhorns’ victory, he informed the reporters that Kansas is still the team to beat in the highly competitive Big 12 Conference.

“We’re still the favorites and I think we’re the best team in the conference,” Chalmers said at the conclusion of Monday’s game.

Texas might have something to say about that.

And sure enough, they did… But the Horns aren’t about to get ahead of themselves.

“When you’re behind and when it’s a close game, it feels the same because you get lost in the game and just try to take care of the details,” Texas junior guard A.J. Abrams said. “Sometimes you get behind and have to fight back, but fortunately today we shot the ball well in the first half and hung with them.”

Connor Atchley led the Longhorns in scoring with 16 points, going 4-for-4 from 3-point range as well as grabbing four rebounds and dishing out two assists.

Longhorn sophomore guard D.J. Augustin also played a clutch game, despite a poor shooting first half.

“I’ve told him many times that I don’t care what he’s done up until the end of the game, but he’s our guy and we’re going to go to him,” Barnes said. “I trust him totally.”

And that’s a good thing, especially considering the star guard’s penetration in the second half helped propel the Horns to a big victory.

“There is no question when we get down to the end of the game, we are going to put it in his hands, because he knows his teammates so well,” Barnes said. “He’s got a lot of confidence and he’s certainly going to do something to get A.J. [Abrams] involved.”

Speaking of A.J., the junior guard notched 14 points in the Texas victory while teammate Damion James had a monster game, garnering a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

With the victory, Texas moves to 20-4 overall while improving to 7-2 in Big 12 play, as the Jayhawks drop to 23-2 overall and 8-2 in the conference.

“Our crowd really came out today and supported us,” sophomore guard Justin Mason said. “We all can feel it in the atmosphere, the crowd was there early when we were shooting around, and I think that really helped us out with the victory.”

Game Notes

With Monday’s victory over Kansas, Texas secured its ninth consecutive 20-win season, building on the prior school record of four (from the 1988-89 season to 1991-92).

In addition, UT is now 9-3 against Top 10 teams at the Erwin Center under the helm of Rick Barnes and improves to 12-2 at home in Big Monday contests.

Also, the Horns had four players score in double figures on Monday night against Kansas, the sixth time for that to occur this season.

Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com

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