No. 14 Texas completes season sweep of Kansas with comeback victory

Matthew Boncosky

Texas basketball scored a much-needed 75-72 overtime victory over No. 17 Kansas on Tuesday night at the Frank Erwin Center, earning its first-ever regular-season series sweep of the Jayhawks.

It was a tale of two halves for the Longhorns, who racked up a 14-point deficit in the first half before outscoring the Jayhawks 43-29 in the second half and overtime to secure the comeback victory.

“It’s a great morale booster,” redshirt junior guard Andrew Jones said. “We want to continue to write our own story. We want to continue to pave our own way, pave our own destiny and leave our own legacy here with this group.”

Kansas seemed determined to avenge the 84-59 drubbing it took at the hands of Texas on Jan. 2 in the first half, shooting 48.5% from the field in an all-around manhandling of the Longhorns in the opening period.

“Their team has improved so much since we played them in early January,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “We were concerned coming into the game that they were going to do some things to attack our switches on the weak side of the floor, and they did a heck of a job with that early on. (It) really had us a step behind, and I really give our guys a ton of credit for the way that they responded.”

Things turned around in the second half, spurred on by a renewed focus on offense and a tightened defense. The Longhorns slowly whittled away at the deficit until Jones nailed a three-pointer at the nine-minute mark to give Texas its first lead since midway through the first half.

“In the second half, we really took ownership,” Jones said. “We self-reflected on how we were playing and what we really wanted this outcome of the game to be.”

Smart said the defensive effort in the second half allowed Texas to overcome its offensive struggles and get the win.

“The defensive end has to be our foundation,” Smart said. “You look at a night like tonight … (it) certainly wasn't our most efficient offensive game … But holding them to 23 points in the second half, six points in overtime, flat-out won us the game.”

Senior forward Jericho Sims has been a force on the defensive end during the last several games and demonstrated more of his prowess Tuesday night. He kept Kansas junior forward David McCormack in check for most of the game, holding him to 12 points and four rebounds before he fouled out in the overtime period, and grabbed eight boards of his own.

“I'm not usually like this, but he absolutely has to be on the all-defensive team in our league,” Smart said about Sims. “He's been so versatile for us.”

For the four scholarship seniors on Texas’ roster, earning a win on senior night took on a special meaning. 

“I think we showed a lot of fight in this game,” Sims said. “We're gonna remember this, you know, even when we're all done playing at the end of our careers.”