No. 3 Kansas tops Texas Tech to clinch Big 12 title share
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Jalen Wilson scored 21 points in his Allen Fieldhouse farewell, fellow senior Kevin McCullar Jr. added 14 points and nine rebounds, and third-ranked Kansas held off Texas Tech 67-63 on Tuesday night to clinch a share of the Big 12 regular-season championship.
Dajuan Harris had 16 points for the Jayhawks (25-5, 13-4), who would capture the outright crown if ninth-ranked Texas loses to No. 22 TCU on Wednesday night. Otherwise, the Jayhawks — now with an NCAA-leading 64 conference championships — would need to beat the Longhorns in a head-to-head showdown Saturday in Austin.
Kansas was left clinging to a 61-60 lead after the Red Raiders’ De’Vion Harmon could only make the second of two free throws with 56.4 seconds left. But after the Jayhawks raced up the floor, and Wilson failed to get an open look, a loose ball ended up in the hands of McCullar, who merely had to lay it in.
Texas Tech called a timeout to set up a play, but Pop Isaacs threw a driving layup attempt off the side of the backboard, and Harris scored in transition moments later to put the game out of reach.
The Jayhawks improved to 22-1 against the Red Raiders (16-14, 5-12) in the Phog with their seventh consecutive win overall, and they extended their streak to 39 straight wins on senior night dating to the 1983-84 season.
Harmon had 15 points to lead Texas Tech, which was just 3 of 16 from the 3-point line. Kevin Obanor added 14 points, Fardaws Aimaq had 13 points and 18 rebounds, and Isaacs finished with 11 points.
Wearing retro red uniforms for their senior sendoff, the Jayhawks got off to a frigid start against the defensive-minded Red Raiders. McCullar eventually dropped a couple of 3s minutes apart to give Kansas some breathing room, and Wilson began driving for contested layups, helping the Jayhawks forge a 30-21 lead by the break.
Texas Tech was 1 of 11 from beyond the arc and committed seven turnovers over the first 20 scattershot minutes.
The Red Raiders’ cold streak ended there. They scored five quick points to start the second half, nearly wiping out their deficit in their first few trips down floor, and Obanor began to get easy buckets in the paint.
While the Jayhawks kept answering every time Texas Tech got within a possession, they could never put the game away. And when it appeared as if they might as Gradey Dick scored his first points on two free throws to make it 60-55 with about three minutes to go, the Red Raiders answered with back-to-back baskets at the other end.
It wasn’t until McCullar’s bucket and Harris’ breakway layup in the final minute that Kansas could finally celebrate.
Texas Tech was making a late run toward an NCAA Tournament bid with four straight wins, including consecutive victories over Kansas State and Texas. But back-to-back close losses to TCU and Kansas could make a run to the Big 12 Tournament title the only way to make it back to the dance.
Kansas has more Quad 1 wins than any other team in the country, and other advanced metrics also love the Jayhawks, who have once again reigned supreme in the nation’s toughest conference. That’s probably enough to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but winning Saturday along with a Big 12 tourney title could get them the top seed overall.