Ellis and No. 1 Kansas romp over No. 23 Texas 86-56
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Enough about winning a share of the Big 12 title: Kansas wanted the crown all to itself.
The top-ranked Jayhawks grabbed it in emphatic style Monday night, romping over No. 23 Texas 86-56, an impressive exclamation point on yet another title-winning season.
“That was definitely motivation. We didn’t want to come out flat and thinking the league was over. We wanted to come out and win it outright,” Jayhawks guard Devonte’ Graham said.
Perry Ellis scored 20 points and Kansas settled the question of its undisputed title in the opening minutes with a barrage of 3-pointers, a steady diet of points from Ellis and defense that gave Texas nothing easy.
“For 20-25 minutes, that was about as well as we can play,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We talked about we don’t want to share anything.”
The Jayhawks (26-4, 14-3) made 11 3-pointers, led by 24 points by halftime and sent Texas’ sellout home crowd headed to the exits early. Ellis finished 9 of 11 from the field.
Frank Mason III added 14 points for Kansas.
Javan Felix scored 13 points for Texas (19-11, 10-7), which has never beaten a No. 1-ranked opponent in nine tries.
Kansas, which spent two weeks at No. 1 in early January, looked every bit the part this time. And in a season the Big 12 finally seemed like it could crown a new champion, the Jayhawks stormed through the second half of the league schedule with a nine-game winning streak to take it again.
Kansas has won nine of its last 10 against Texas, but came into this one expecting a much tougher fight than the Longhorns put up.
With four wins already this season over Top 10 opponents, Texas looked like a team ready to grab another. The Longhorns came in brimming with confidence as the league upstart under first-year coach Shaka Smart. And after its impressive win two days earlier over Oklahoma, Texas turned out its biggest — and rowdiest — crowd of the season.
The Jayhawks greeted it with little more than a shrug and a scoring burst at the start that overwhelmed the Longhorns from the opening tip.
Graham and Mason made three 3-pointers in a 15-0 run as Texas missed its first 14 shots. Ellis dominated Texas’ front line for 15 points in the first half. His 3-pointer put the Jayhawks up by 21 points with 4 minutes left.
Even when Texas started matching shots, that’s all the Longhorns could do. The Jayhawks shot 66 percent in the first half and consecutive 3-pointers by Wayne Selden Jr., and Brannen Greene in the final minute sent Kansas into halftime with a 47-23 lead.
“We’re not going to be like this every night, but the guys had fun.” Self said.
The Kansas swagger seemed to get bigger with every basket. Ellis weaved his way to another easy layup, Graham swished two more 3-pointers and two thunderous dunks by Jamari Traylor pushed the Jayhawks’ lead to 67-36 with just under 13 minutes to play.
“I don’t think we were overwhelmed,” Felix said. “We didn’t defend well. We missed some shots ... you can’t do that against a team like that.”
Kansas: The Jayhawks rank fourth nationally in 3-point percentage and have made 10 or more 3-pointers 11 times this season.
“We were moving the ball well. We didn’t take any bad 3-point shots,” Ellis said.
Texas: The Longhorns’ offense stalled mostly because Isaiah Taylor never got started. The point guard has been the catalyst for Texas all season — he’s their leading scorer — but started 0-for-8 shooting and missed several open looks. Taylor didn’t score until making a steal and a layup with 1:26 left in the first half.
Taylor finished with five points and took only one shot in the second half.
“He missed some shots he normally makes. We got lucky,” Self said.
Texas’ last four home games have included big wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma and blowout losses to Baylor and Kansas. In the losses, Texas’ smaller, guard-oriented lineup has struggled to match up against bigger teams.
Texas’ front line of Prince Ibeh, Connor Lammert and Shaq Cleare combined for just 11 points.
“In the past when we’ve had rough games we’ve responded well,” Lammert said.
Kansas hosts No. 21 Iowa State on Saturday
Texas plays at Oklahoma State on Friday