LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Nothing went right for Texas from the start Saturday night.
Shots weren’t falling, eighth-ranked Kansas never seemed to miss, and suddenly the No. 19 Longhorns found themselves in a big hole well before the halftime buzzer.
All the Jayhawks had to do after a game-changing 32-5 run was cruise through the second half for an 85-54 victory that gave them control of the Big 12 race.
“We got our butts kicked tonight,” Texas forward Jonathan Holmes said. “(The effort) was nonexistent. We tried a little bit at the beginning and then we got down, we got some adversity and we didn’t come back and fight.”
Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points while Joel Embiid briefly flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds and six blocks for the Jayhawks (21-6, 12-2).
They lead the league race by three games with four to play. Kansas can wrap up at least a share of its 10th straight title when Oklahoma visits Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night.
“That was our first goal to start the year off, to win a 10th straight Big 12 championship,” said Frank Mason, who had 14 points off the bench. “That’s still our goal.”
Kansas also exacted a little revenge for a lopsided loss to the Longhorns (20-7, 9-5) in Austin, using that 32-5 run over a long stretch of the first half to put the game away early.
“It can get away from you quick,” Holmes said. “One or two possessions, you can look and you’re down by six, eight and then 10 and then the game’s over pretty much after that.”
It was the Jayhawks’ fifth win in the last six meetings and easily the most impressive.
Holmes scored 17 points and Cameron Ridley had 11 for Texas, but they were about the only guys wearing burnt orange who had success against the Jayhawks’ gritty man-to-man defense.
“We don’t work hard enough to put it inside,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “Our post guys don’t work hard enough to get it where they need it.”
Freshman guard Isaiah Taylor was held to just five points on 1-for-14 shooting, while Javan Felix was 2 of 9 from the field and finished with six points.
“They executed better today and that’s partly our fault,” Felix said. “Bad offense led to their fast break points and points in the paint and stuff like that.”
The game actually played out in similar fashion to the first meeting, an 81-69 win for the Longhorns, only this time it was Kansas that played flawlessly and Texas that looked like a mess.
After the Longhorns jumped out to an 8-3 lead, they managed just one field goal over an 11-minute stretch, baffled by the Jayhawks’ impressive length and athleticism.
Taylor missed a series of layups at the rim, Holmes kept turning the ball over in the paint and all the miscues on the offensive end led to a series of run-outs and dunks by Kansas.
Wiggins led the game-deciding 32-5 run, at one point scoring 12 points during a particularly efficient 14-0 spurt by Kansas. The star freshman did it in dazzling fashion, too: There was the soaring fast-break dunk, the back-to-back 3-pointers, and the alley-oop jam from Wayne Selden that left the crowd roaring so loudly that the field house floor was shaking.
“When I score early, it brings a lot of confidence to my game, especially when I hit a 3. I get on fire,” Wiggins said. “My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball.”
Just how bad were the Longhorns in the first half? Try 6 of 29 from the field and 5 of 12 from the foul line, with five turnovers and three assists. They were dominated on the boards, dominated in the paint and, well, dominated just about everywhere else, too.
Taylor, who had 23 points in the first meeting with Kansas, was 0 for 10 from the field as the Jayhawks built a 46-18 halftime advantage. And even when Texas managed to score – as it did out of the break – Kansas often answered with two buckets in return.
It kept going like that throughout the second half as the Jayhawks outscored Texas 26-0 in transition and 38-22 in the paint, allowing them to empty their bench early.
“I think we should give a refund to the fans,” Barnes said. “Topeka YMCA probably would have given them a little better game, because we didn’t give them a good game at all.”