Mar 4, 2023; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns guard Tyrese Hunter (4) reacts with fans after scoring a three point basket during the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks at Moody Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Rice, Hunter lead No. 9 Texas in dominant 75-59 win over No. 3 Kansas on senior day
No. 9 Texas 75, No. 3 Kansas 59
The ninth-ranked Texas Longhorns put an exclamation point on the end of their regular season with a 75-59 over No. 3 Kansas on Senior Day in Austin. Texas (23-8, 12-6 Big 12) clinched a second place finish in the conference and earned revenge after its 88-80 loss in Lawrence on Feb. 6.
Texas used a dominant defensive performance to down the Jayhawks, holding Kansas to just 36.2% shooting while tallying six steals and five blocks. Sir’Jabari Rice propelled the Longhorns to victory with 23 points in his final home game in Austin, while Tyrese Hunter added 20. Jalen Wilson scored a team-high 23 points for Kansas (25-6, 13-5 Big 12) in the loss.
Saturday afternoon’s showdown in Austin between the Longhorns and Jayhawks was understandably a tough ticket to acquire – on secondary markets, the cheapest tickets hovered around $200 before factoring in fees. Texas celebrated five seniors pregame (Marcus Carr, Christian Bishop, Timmie Allen, Dylan Disu, and Sir’Jabari Rice), all of whom have been major contributors for Rodney Terry’s program this season.
Kansas saw its impressive seven-game winning streak snapped, while Texas put an end to a two-game skid of its own. With the win, the Longhorns locked up the No. 2 seed at next week’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Kansas City.
The game began with a distinctly defensive feel, as it took the ninth-ranked Longhorns almost four minutes to score their first points. Nevertheless, Texas entered the game’s first media timeout with a 6-2 lead after forcing two quick Jayhawk turnovers.
Texas’ early momentum carried it to an eight-point lead after Arterio Morris’ 3-pointer with 10:00 to go in the first half made it 17-9. The Longhorns’ offense was incredibly crisp in the early going, recording assists on each of its first seven field goals to begin the game. Kansas struggled to shoot the ball accurately for most of the first half, making just five of its first 22 shots as Texas extended its lead to 25-14.
The Longhorns extended their lead to as many as 12 in the first half, but entered the locker room at halftime up just 32-24 after Kansas guard Joseph Yesefu’s 3-pointer in the final seconds. The Jayhawks’ 24-point half was their lowest scoring first half since Feb. 4 at Iowa State, a game Kansas lost, 68-53.
Sir’Jabari Rice and Tyrese Hunter led the way with nine points apiece for Texas, while Jalen Wilson led the way with 11 in the first half for Kansas.
Texas quickly grabbed back momentum in the early moments of the second half, scoring seven straight points after the break as the Moody Center crowd increased its volume. The Longhorns’ lead reached a game-high 39-24 before the Jayhawks finally found their way onto the second-half scoreboard almost three minutes in.
Still, the defending champions wouldn’t go away. Kansas pulled back within seven after Gradey Dick’s first 3-pointer of the night, capping off a stretch that saw Kansas outscore the Horns 20-12.
For every Kansas run to pull within single digits, the Longhorns responded with a spurt of their own to re-extend their lead. After Sir’Jabari Rice’s two consecutive 3-pointers gave him 19 points at the four-minute mark, Texas’ lead reached 66-52. Rice made it eight straight points on the Horns’ next possession, squeezing the life out of the Jayhawks with a jump shot that gave his team a game-high 16-point advantage.
When the Longhorns’ lead reached 17 in the final minute, Rodney Terry pulled his seniors from the game – each of whom exited to massive ovations from the Moody Center crowd. The Longhorns 75-59 win handed the Jayhawks their second-largest loss of the 2022-2023 season.
Texas will await the winner of Wednesday’s game between the Big 12’s No. 7 and No. 10 seeds, who the Longhorns will battle on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. CT.
Thank you Sir Jabari Rice for treating my daughter n my grandson with such respect. You are a great role model to Noah, stay strong n may your Lord keep in his blessings.