Four takeaways from KU basketball’s big win over Texas: How Jayhawks bounced back

Charlie Riedel/AP

Kansas guard Kevin McCullar couldn’t help but emphatically pump his fist.

McCullar had just performed a spin move into the paint, taken the contact by the Texas defender and made the layup. In the process, he earned an and-one and converted the free throw to put KU up four points early in the second half.

It was that kind of night for KU.

The night’s hero wasn’t star Jalen Wilson or even freshman phenom Gradey Dick.

Instead, it took every ounce of effort from the undermanned No. 9 Kansas men’s basketball team to walk away with an 88-80 victory against the No. 5-ranked Longhorns on Monday.

Dick scored 21 points and Dajuan Harris added 17 for the Jayhawks, who bounced back from a blowout loss to Iowa State on Saturday to take down the Big 12-leading Longhorns at Allen Fieldhouse.

KU (19-5, 7-4 Big 12) ended UT’s four-game conference winning streak in the process.

Marcus Carr scored 29 points on 10-for-21 shooting for the Longhorns (19-5, 8-3 Big 12), who dropped their first conference game since a 78-67 loss to ISU on January 17.

The Jayhawks will face off against Oklahoma on Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman. KU sits in sole possession of third place in the conference as of Monday night.

Here are four takeaways from Monday’s game...

A hot start ... finally

Kansas opened the game as the aggressor on Monday.

KU, which opened the game on a 6-0 run, led by 14 points (30-16) at the 8:54 mark in the first half. However, the Longhorns responded with a 19-12 run to cut Kansas’ lead to seven points (42-35) at the halftime break.

Still, the start was a welcome sign for a KU team that has fallen in double-digit first-half holes more often than typical in league play.

Texas opened the second half on an 8-1 run to tie the score at 43-all with 17:16 left. But every time Texas appeared to threaten KU’s lead, the Jayhawks answered with a run of their own. The Longhorns wouldn’t get closer than two points the rest of the way.

KU shares the scoring load

Kansas only had forward Jalen Wilson score in double-digits against Iowa State on Saturday. It was his sixth straight game with 20+ points.

KU has lacked consistent scoring around Wilson all season, but that wasn’t the case on Monday night. In fact, it was the opposite.

In the first half alone, all eight active scholarship players scored for KU. Dick led the way with 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor.

The player with the fewest points in the half? Wilson. The forward scored two points on 1-for-5 shooting. KU’s bench even chipped in 10 first-half points.

Kansas had four starters (Dick, KJ Adams, Harris, and McCullar) finish with double-digit points. Wilson finished with two points on 1-for-7 shooting.

Jayhawks dominate in transition

From the start of the game, KU made it a point of emphasis to run on fast breaks.

Kansas finished with 24 fast-break points compared to UT’s eight.

The Jayhawks were especially quick to get down the court after Texas turnovers. The Longhorns had 15 turnovers to KU’s 11. Kansas had a seven-point advantage in points off turnovers (18-11).

Additionally, after getting dominated in the paint against ISU, Kansas had an eight-point advantage (50-42) in paint points on Monday.

Kansas plays shorthanded

KU came into the game prepared to play with only eight active scholarship players, plus walk-on guard Michael Jankovich, who Bill Self has praised as one of the better shooters in the program.

Forward Zach Clemence suffered a knee injury against Iowa State on Saturday. He’s week-to-week with the injury.

Bench guard Bobby Pettiford also missed the game due to a hamstring injury.

In the first half, all eight scholarship players played. Dick led the way with 19 minutes played, while Ernest Udeh appeared for five minutes.

Dick led KU in minutes with 35, while MJ Rice enjoyed 15 minutes of game action, his most since appearing for 21 minutes on Nov. 28 against Texas Southern.