College Basketball: Texas at Kansas - Kansas Favored
With a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed seemingly secure, the second-ranked Jayhawks seek their 11th straight victory overall Sunday at Oklahoma City when they face Kevin Durant and No. 15 Texas.
Kansas (29-4) is 4-1 all-time - the most victories of any school - in the championship game of the Big 12 tournament. In last season's title game, the Jayhawks defeated the Longhorns 80-68.
They also beat Texas (24-8) at home in this year's regular-season finale, 90-86 on March 3, a contest in which Kansas had to overcome a 32-point effort from Durant and a 54-42 halftime deficit.
That was the eighth consecutive win for the Jayhawks, who extended their streak to 10 with a 67-61 victory over Kansas State in Saturday's semifinals. Kansas, which also won 10 in a row from Dec. 4-Jan. 15, is going for its longest win streak since going 14-0 to open the 2004-05 season.
Unable to play their usual up-tempo game against the Wildcats on Saturday and scoring well below their 78.5 season average, the Jayhawks still managed to win and bolster their case for a top seed in the NCAA tournament when the pairings are announced later Sunday.
"We know we can play when we're able to do this,'' said Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team needs one more victory to reach the 30-win mark for the first time since the 2002-03 when the club reached the Final Four under Roy Williams. "For us to not get a lot of easy baskets and to have to grind it out, even though it wasn't artistic it was good for us to play in this game.
"I think we're becoming a team that can play whatever the game is.''
Mario Chalmers had 16 points and Julian Wright added 12 and eight rebounds as the Jayhawks improved to 5-0 this season in games played at neutral sites.
Chalmers has scored in double figures in six of his last seven games, including a team-high 21 when these teams met eight days ago.
Durant, meanwhile, keeps on rolling for Texas. The freshman forward and national player of the year candidate had 26 points in Saturday's semifinal matchup with Oklahoma State, including a crucial 3-pointer in the final minute to lift the Longhorns to a 69-64 win.
Durant is averaging 29.8 points over his last five games, and his performance Saturday made him just the second player in Big 12 history to score at least 800 total points in a season. With 809 points, he needs 35 to match the record of 844, set by Iowa State's Marcus Fizer in 1999-2000.
Sophomore guard A.J. Abrams had 20 points against the Cowboys - his eighth game this season scoring at least that many - and freshman D.J. Augustin added 15 points and six assists to help third-seeded Texas into the finals.
This is the third appearance in four years for the Longhorns in the Big 12 championship game. Texas is 0-3 all-time in the conference finals play, however, and the task doesn't figure to get any easier against a top-seeded Jayhawks club.
"It's going to be hard," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "Kansas... shot the ball really well against us in Lawrence. They're a team that is very worthy of where they are right now in their ranking. They won the Big 12 outright.
"It is going to take a great effort on our part from a lot of people, not just Kevin, D.J., A.J. It will take a lot from a lot of other guys doing a lot of the little things for us."
Kansas leads the all-time series with Texas 13-5, and has won three of the last four meetings between the schools.
by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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