Kansas overcomes Durant, Texas to win Big 12 title
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) – Sherron Collins scored 20 points and
grabbed six rebounds, and the second-ranked Kansas Jayhawks overcame a
Herculean effort by Kevin Durant to top the 15th-ranked Texas Longhorns in
overtime, 88-84, and win their second straight Big 12 Tournament title.
Durant finished with 37 points and 10 rebounds for Texas (24-9), and A.J.
Abrams added 19 points. Damion James had nine points and 14 rebounds for
Julian Wright finished with 19 points and eight boards for the Jayhawks
(30-4), and Brandon Rush scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Mario
Chalmers added 17 points for Kansas, which overcame a 22-point deficit.
After the contest, Kansas was given the No. 1 seed in the West region of the
NCAA Tournament with a first-round game against either Florida A&M or Niagara
on Friday in Chicago.
“Our confidence level is pretty high right now,” Rush said. “Just making big
plays at the right time. That’s all I can say.”
The Longhorns are seeded fourth in the East and have a first-round encounter
against New Mexico State on Friday in Spokane.
“It is the bigger picture,” Durant said of the upcoming tournament. “It is a
bigger week next week. We just got to bounce back off this loss and get ready
for the tournament.”
Russell Robinson came through in the extra session for the Jayhawks, hitting a
layup to put Kansas up 83-81 with 2:20 left and then, after an Abrams three
pulled the Longhorns to within 88-86 with 8.3 seconds left, making two clutch
free throws to ice the win.
Chalmers drilled a three to tie the game at 79 with 15 seconds left. Durant
had an opportunity to win it, but missed a fadeaway jumper, and Rush launched
a desperation heave that rimmed off short, sending the game to overtime.
Texas pushed their lead out to 51-42 early in the second half on two Durant
free throws, but Kansas answered with seven straight, pulling to within 51-49
on a Wright layup at the 14:03 mark. After a Durant layup pushed the Longhorns
to a 60-56 lead, Kansas scored nine straight, taking a 65-60 lead on a
Chalmers jumper with 6:06 left.
The Jayhawks could not pull away, though, and five straight points from Durant
tied the game at 71 with 2:27 left. Texas pulled back into the lead, and an
Abrams three put the Longhorns ahead 78-74 with 1:06 left. After a Collins
jumper and one free throw by Craig Winder, Kansas faced a 79-76 deficit with
21.7 seconds left.
Durant was on fire early, and Texas appeared to be on the track to run KU out
of the building thanks to an incredible performance by the freshman star.
Durant scored 19 points in the first 11:17 of the game, capped by a three that
posted the Longhorns to a 30-10 lead with 8:43 left.
A D.J. Augustin layup at the 8:10 mark put Texas ahead 32-10, the largest lead
of the game.
“We missed some good looks and we were too tight in pressing and everything,”
Kansas coach Bill Self said.
The Jayhawks were able to hold Durant to only three points over the rest of
the first half, though, and went on a run of their own. A Rush three set off a
24-7 Kansas stretch to close the half. Rush added two more treys on the run,
and the Longhorns advantage was trimmed to 39-34 at the half.
Durant finished one point short of the record for points in a Big 12
Tournament game (38)…Kansas shot 20-of-23 from the free-throw line, while
Texas made 24-of-32.