No. 5 Texas battles back from deficit but never leads in 88-80 loss at No. 9 Kansas

Feb 6, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) shoots a layup against the Texas Longhorns during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 Texas battles back from deficit but never leads in 88-80 loss at No. 9 Kansas

No. 9 Kansas 88, No. 5 Texas 80

The fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns fell 88-80 to No. 9 Kansas Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. For the second consecutive game, Texas battled back to even after trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half – but unlike Saturday’s win at Kansas State, the Longhorns couldn’t finish the job this time. The loss drops Texas to 8-3 in Big 12 play. Iowa State can tie the Longhorns atop the Big 12 with a win over West Virginia on Wednesday night. 

The loss moves Texas to 2-18 all-time at Allen Fieldhouse, widely considered one of the most difficult arenas in the country to play in as a road team. The Jayhawks have lost three total games at home over the past three seasons – including one to Texas on Dec. 22, 2021. 

Freshman guard Gradey Dick led five Jayhawks in double figures with 21 points, while Marcus Carr’s explosive second half gave him 29 for Texas. Kansas made just two 3-pointers all night, but forced 15 Texas turnovers and used balanced scoring to handle business in the closing moments. 

Kansas wasted no time sending the sellout crowd at “The Phog” into a frenzy Monday night. Just two minutes into the game, the Jayhawks led 6-0 after an early mix of layups and dunks while the Longhorns committed four turnovers in the game’s first three minutes. 

Texas weathered the early storm nonetheless, narrowing their early deficit to 10-9 on Sir’Jabari Rice’s 3-pointer with 15:23 to play. Texas tied the game at 12 with 14:27 left in the half, as Rice drove to the basket and earned himself a 3-point play to increase his total to eight points. Rice, the Longhorns’ hottest scorer, entered Monday night averaging 18.6 points per game over Texas’ last three games – all versus ranked opponents. 

Kansas followed the Texas surge with one of its own, going on a 13-2 run over the next five minutes capped off by leading scorer Jalen Wilson’s first points to make it 25-14 with 10 minutes to go. The early struggles for the Longhorns were the direct result of turning the ball over too often on offense against the Jayhawks’ defensive pressure. After Texas’ seventh turnover of the first half, Gradey Dick’s first 3-pointer of the night extended the Kansas lead to 30-16. 

Texas narrowed its deficit to 36-29 after a 3-pointer by Brock Cunningham and a pair of Marcus Carr free throws, but the Jayhawks extended their lead back to 12 by the two-minute mark of the first half. The Longhorns did end the half on a high note, holding Kansas scoreless over the final 2:20 of the period while trimming the deficit to 42-35 heading into the locker room. 

Timmy Allen’s 10 points led the Horns at halftime, but the team’s 10 turnovers were the clear difference at the break. Similarly to Saturday’s game in Manhattan, Texas’ second-half objectives were clear: take better care of the basketball and ramp up the defensive intensity. 

Tyrese Hunter helped Texas start the second half off on the right foot, drilling a three to pull the Horns within five – and after Marcus Carr’s layup in transition made the most of a Kansas turnover, the Kansas lead was just 43-40 less than two minutes into the second half. Carr would score again less than a minute later, this time on a transition jumper. Suddenly, after an 8-1 blitz to complete a 13-1 run overall for Texas, the Longhorns and Jayhawks were tied at 43 as Bill Self furiously called timeout. 

Kansas and Texas would exchange baskets for a few minutes from there, but the Longhorns never managed a lead. After two straight Texas turnovers aided a 6-0 Kansas run, the Jayhawks built their new advantage to 58-50 with 12:14 remaining. 

If the Longhorns circled one player on Kansas’ roster to key in on defensively, Jalen Wilson (21.5 points per game) was the guy – and when Wilson was pulled from the game with 6:20 to go and four fouls to his name, he had only two points on 1-of-7 shooting. Unfortunately for Texas, Wilson’s teammates more than stepped up. After another Gradey Dick 3-pointer was followed by Joseph Yesefu’s layup to extend the Jayhawks’ lead to 71-60, all four of Kansas’ other starters had reached double figures with 3:54 left. 

Senior Marcus Carr did all he could to keep the Longhorns in the game, making two consecutive threes with just over three minutes left and reaching the free throw line after the second. His jumper with 2:25 remaining gave him eight consecutive points, but only pulled the Horns back within nine. He would finish the night with 29 points, almost all of which came after halftime. 

Texas pulled within seven on multiple occasions in the final moments and once within six, but the famous “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” chant had already begun from the capacity crowd in Lawrence. The Jayhawks’ 88-80 win makes them 7-4 in Big 12 play, and 19-5 overall. 

Outside of Marcus Carr’s big night, Timmy Allen (18) and Sir’Jabari Rice (12) were the only Longhorns to score in double figures. 

Texas comes home to take on West Virginia Saturday in Austin, a team they defeated 69-61 on Jan. 7. 

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