Brought to you by Lawrence Photo Store

The Trophy Returns: No. 6 Kansas wins share of Big 12 regular-season title with gritty OT win vs. No. 21 Texas

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson puts up his phone to get a photo of his teammates following the Jayhawk's 70-63, overtime win against against the Texas.

It took 45 minutes for Kansas to win and about 45 seconds to kick off the celebration.

And what a celebration it was.

After a grueling, exhausting and physical battle with No. 21 Texas, it was the 6th-ranked Jayhawks who were left standing with a new batch of Big 12 championship hats and T-Shirts for their collection.

KU’s 70-63 overtime win over Texas on Saturday, in the final game of the regular season, locked up a piece of the 2022 Big 12 title, KU’s 16th in the last 18 seasons. It also marked the 39th consecutive win on Senior Night for Kansas, which has not lost its home finale since 1983.

“We needed to beat Texas,” KU junior Christian Braun said after the victory. “We had one goal today and that was to win a piece of the Big 12 championship and we took care of business.”

That achievement set off an hour-long celebration that began with euphoria and included six senior speeches framed by one of the biggest feel-good moments of the season.

The first Jayhawk to jump into the fun, though, was sophomore wing Jalen Wilson, who spent the final several seconds of Saturday’s win roaring with the fans and tapping his ring finger to show just where that new Big 12 championship ring will land one day.

It was a lot like that moment in the Super Bowl when Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald made the same gesture and yelled “ring me” to anyone who would listen.

“I picked that up from him,” Wilson said with a huge smile.

Less than 3 minutes after the final horn sounded on Saturday’s scrum, the new trophy was already out on the same Allen Fieldhouse floor that was full of sweat and struggle all afternoon.

In all, five tables worth of Big 12 trophies were on display from 3-point line to 3-point line, and the most recent one, which featured the year 2022 on it, was handed to KU’s six seniors by Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff.

KU senior David McCormack sat for a second by himself under the north goal, attempting to catch his breath after delivering 22 points and 10 rebounds, including a perfect 10-of-10 mark at the free throw line.

Before the teams shook hands, nearly half of the KU roster flashed the Horns down symbol as the KU crowd chanted “S-E-C, S-E-C!” to remind the Longhorns of their future home.

Wilson, who carried Kansas (25-6 overall, 14-4 Big 12) in the first half and finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds stomped and stormed around the floor as the final seconds ticked down, slapping his ring finger with his opposite hand, reminding everyone watching that the Jayhawks were Big 12 champs. Saturday marked the first win over Texas for Wilson, who, because of injury, was not a part of KU’s wins during the 2019-20 season.

Related document

Box score: Kansas 70, Texas 63 ( .PDF )

And then there was senior guard Ochai Agbaji. Even after one of the roughest games of his career — and, by far the roughest of his season —KU’s leading scorer could be seen flashing that signature smile that made him a fan favorite throughout his career.

Agbaji finished his final game inside Allen Fieldhouse with eight points and six rebounds on 1-of-11 shooting and an 0-for-5 clip from 3-point range. His only field goal of the game came with 2:38 to play in OT and tied the game at 61.

From there, the Jayhawks outscored Texas 9-2 in a fight to the finish that KU coach Bill Self compared to a terrible movie with a great ending.

Agbaji scored six of his eight points in the OT, including the final two free throws of the game that set the final margin.

McCormack scored four points in the OT, two at the free throw line to give Kansas the lead for good and two more on a crucial dunk after a shaky press break by his teammates.

“How fitting is it, on a night that we don’t make shots, that we played through our big and David McCormack basically put us on his back and won us this championship,” Self said after the victory. “That was a heck of a win against a really good team.”

Asked about those words from his head coach, the much-maligned McCormack smiled and, moments after admitting he was “exhausted” said Self’s faith in him was a big confidence boost.

“He trusts me when high stakes are on the line,” McCormack said.

KU’s starting big man made just six of 13 shots from the floor on Saturday and struggled with bunnies and foul trouble throughout the night. But he played 36 minutes and was out there for every second that mattered.

When it was over, he said every minute of the fight it took to come out victorious was worth it.

“I can’t even put it into words,” McCormack said. “It makes it that much more special to know that it wasn’t a blowout win and we really fought for this one. I wouldn’t have wanted to win it any other way.”

It was clear early on that winning on Saturday was going to require a fight. KU’s seven-point advantage at the final horn was the largest of the day for either day, and the game was played with the vibe of a four- or six-point lead feeling like double digits.

Kansas led 35-33 at halftime and nearly won it in regulation after getting two cracks in the final 15 seconds.

The first came on an inbounds play to Agbaji that had him isolated at the top of the key looking for a second screen to get free. Self called the strategy “dumb” and Kansas called timeout with 2.2 seconds remaining to draw up one last play.

That, too, went to Agbaji — this time in the post — but he got stripped on his way up and never got a shot off.

KU senior Jalen Coleman-Lands did, banking a sharp-angled shot in from in front of the Kansas bench, setting off a temporary moment of madness inside the Fieldhouse. But officials reviewed the shot and ruled that it was a tick too late.

To overtime they went, and Kansas, which has been led by its offense all season proved it could buckle down on defense when it mattered most.

“We won it on that end the second half,” Self said, pointing to the defensive side of the court, where KU also held Texas to just six points in the five minute overtime period.

He added: “For us to be better defensively than offensively, at least it shows us we can do that. … There may be another game or two where the lid’s on the basket. But how often do you beat a top-20 team shooting 30%? We’ll take it.”

One of the biggest elements of KU’s defense was the job the Jayhawks did on Texas forward Timmy Allen. After roughing up Kansas for 23 points in UT’s win in Austin last month, Allen was held to nine points on 2-of-15 shooting while playing 40 minutes on Saturday.

“He was way too comfortable last game,” Wilson said. “Taking him out was the biggest key today.”

That may have been true in terms of following the scouting report and KU’s game plan. But the biggest key to all of it was simply to win. The Jayhawks gave everything they had to do that and left Allen Fieldhouse feeling like their season had just begun.

“I think we’re just now beginning to know what we can do,” Wilson said. “Today was great. No matter who struggled or played good, I think all it was today was winning. I think we all had the same mindset of being a champion today and (sending) the seniors out right.”

Next up, KU will open play in the Big 12 tournament next Thursday as the top seed. They will face the winner of Wednesday’s 8-9 game at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Self went into Saturday expecting Baylor to win to earn a tie for the regular season crown and he told the Allen Fieldhouse crowd that that set the stage for some fun next week.

“I told our guys, let’s go to Kansas City and figure out who the best team in the Big 12 actually is,” Self said. “If we had lost this game, we’d be going into Kansas City trying to recapture some momentum. And I don’t think that’ll be the case now.”

Comments

Garry Wright

The Jayhawks haven't lost on senior night during all of the Brown, Williams, and Self era. We started out great and ended great, but had a tough time in-between. Because of playing four games during the past eight days, I was concerned about how our players would hold up for this fourth game. They did what they had to. Another Big 12 championship! Now get rested up for the tourney, both of them.

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Daniel Kennamore

Beyond the Big 12 title, winning this game was huge for next week.

As the 1 seed we're the only team that gets an opponent that has to pay a game the day before (WVU vs KSU winner) and more importantly Tech and Baylor are on the other side of the bracket.

That said, I'm not very confident we beat this Texas squad on a neutral court in the semi-finals.

We'll see, they have every advantage the bracket for next week can give them but we've struggled mightily this week. We've dropped in Kenpom from 5th to 10th in under a week due to how poor our play has been.

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Dale Rogers

Will we be the #1 seed next week? KU and Baylor are tied for first so the tiebreaker, I think, normally would be head-to-head play. We split on that. What's next? Overall record? Baylor's overall record is 26-5 and ours is 25-6. If that's the tiebreaker, then Baylor gets the #1 seed. Anyone know for sure how this works?

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Daniel Kennamore

Next tie-breaker is record versus 3rd place team, which is Texas Tech. We split our series with them but Baylor was swept.

Our 2OT win over Tech was key not only to getting a share of the title, but also the 1 seed.

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Tim Orel

What's with Self wearing an orange shirt? That's either for OSU or a non-burnt orange shirt for UT. I realize there's a Jayhawk on it, but it looks out of place.

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Bryce Landon

It was supposed to be red.

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

RJ King

I liked it. Orange-Red, like the crayon.

5 months ago

Report

Bj Cassady

At least this ends our 3 game losing streak against Texas. Way to go CB, JWil and DMac!

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Steve Zimmerman

Don't count out contributions from those seniors who started the game with fire: Remy was great, too. Surprisingly, they played like they were starters, scoring first 5-10 pts is not easy off the bench at the start of the game. Kudos to all the seniors who gave us a good start!!!

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Steve Zimmerman

What a game! JCL's clutch would've stolen highlight on sportscenter. Glad we fought a great dog fight and won ugly. JWill should be at the top of Matt's ratings (I have a feeling he'll pick DMac). We know now that we can compete in a day when Ochai got smothered by Ramey's tight defense. Having 30 FTs home court advantage surely helps.

But if we keep missing shots after shots (especially 3s), missing FTs and thinking defense will overcome our stinky offense - expect another embarrassing exit from the tourney.
For now, let's enjoy our reigning B12!!! ROCK CHALK!!!!!!

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Blake Brown

I'm with you Steve. Yahoo! Rock Chalk!

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Dirk Medema

Great title!

Except for bu, I believe all the other games were upsets today. Can’t take any for granted.

Glad to see David have a good game. As much as he’s been maligned for not being dominant in the paint, he has done fairly well. Isn’t he leading the league in ORs, and that on a team that shoots well. The good news is that there’s enough support that he doesn’t need to be dominant.

And 4 blocks from the little point guard!

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Dirk Medema

An even better day because the ladies beat the other defectors.

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Rodney Crain

Hard fought win.

Thank Heavens for all those Free Throws. They were the difference.

Playing your best players for most of the game was a trend for the day. NC beat Duke and did it with their Top 5 playing every minute of the 2nd half. It was very pleasent watching NC ruin Duke's big day.

Thrilled our seniors won a Conference Championship today. They deserved it.

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Barry Weiss

I can't remember the last time we had three players with double doubles! Awesome for our guys to pick up Ochai who has carried us all season!

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Armen Kurdian

Crazy # of FTs made in this game by us. When's the last time we hit that many? DMac was a man's man today. They worked really hard to take him out...several of his shots he did not make he got fouled and he cashed his FTs.

Been shouting at the TV a lot this week! I'm out in San Diego County, you might have heard me back in Lawrence...

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Jim Keen

Lots of shouting (and cussing) here too. My wife had to leave the house and said I was disturbing the neighbors.

5 months ago

Report

Tony Bandle

Random Thoughts:

1] I couldn't have asked for a better weekend than to see KU clinch a Big 12 championship while Duke lost on Senior Night to UNC on Rat Face's last game in Camel Toe Stadium!!!

2] I knew the PHOG would come thru!!! That last jump ball call with KU in possession could have SSSOOOOO easily been called a foul!!

3] I'm not sure if David has an NBA future, but he'll make money somewhere as a big man who can really hit free throws.

4] The last time KU lost a Senior Night, Ronald Reagan was President, the Soviet Union was alive and Olivia Wilde and LeBron James were newborns.

5] It certainly looked like "Crazy Shot H-O-R-S-E Night with some of the aerial bombs thrown up by both teams!!

6] Can't beat getting twice as many foul shots as your opponent.

7] Enjoy the ride...I'm not sure this team can even win the Big 12 Championship must less a National Championship......but the season has been interesting to say the least!!!

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Tony Bandle

PS #7 Tourney, that is!

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Rodney Crain

- 1] Rat Face's? I have a different name for him and it is not allowed on here!!! :)

- 4] Quite a collection this group makes up. LOL

- 5] & 7] It was and has been. Not sure we can get to your 29 wins, but I would love to try!

5 months ago

Report

Dale Rogers

My wife refers to him as "ferret face." I lost all respect for him when his media reply about Grayson Allen's third tripping flagrant foul in two seasons was "boys will be boys." No punishment. Respect down the drain.

5 months ago

Report

Kenneth Johnson

I know I shouldn’t revel in the Duke loss to North Carolina in Krzyzewski’s final home game. But I do. Admittedly, part of the reason is I’ve never liked Coach K (Rat Face). The other reason is that North Carolina (KU East – link with Dean Smith, Roy Williams, and Jerod Haase) won.

5 months ago

Report

Micky Baker

Rodney mentioned the free throws. DMAC 100% from the line. There were some other key plays. Jalen's putbacks and his overall rebounding and scoring. Braun had a couple of big blocked shots and a couple of key steals.

5 months, 1 week ago

Report

Brad Watson

Good job gutting out the win...lots of pressure and you found a way...it's nice to finish it off with another title...get some rest...you have to win the Big 12 tournament to make what you did yesterday legit...hopefully Baylor is your opponent and it gets settled that way...again..Well Done guys...but now it really begins...."94 ft of hell " from now on out...get some rest..only free throws for the next 3 days....Good luck!!!

5 months ago

Report

Mallory Briggans

Congratulations on your Big 12 title . ......JHP has us as the last 1 seed in the tourney
These guys need some rest to recharge ..............its money time now

5 months ago

Report

Chad Smith

Great win for KU when you consider:

1) It was the 4th of 4 games in 7 days.

2) A Conference Title was on the line

3) KU's best player had his worst game of the season in the most important game

4) Texas is a good team who plays great defense

5) KU looked terrible against TCU in both games for long stretches

The other thing I would comment on is the fouls. We all know KU gets the whistle much more at home. I'm not going to dispute that. But midway through the 2nd half the fouls were 6-5. That's pretty even. KU was more aggressive going to the basket throughout the game and that gets your more foul shots.

Great victory and now that the dust has settled, it's yet another conference championship to celebrate. Time to go show out at Allen East and use this time to refresh and bring that energy at KC.

RCJH

5 months ago

Report

Kenneth Johnson

It was one of the worst games I’ve seen in many years. At the outset, based on how bad the Jayhawks were against TCU, I feared the worst against a very good Texas team. And then, the Jayhawks were simply terrible on offense; scoring only 57 points in regulation. The only reason why they ended with 70 is that Texas continued to foul toward the end of Overtime. Ochai, the league’s high scorer, missed 11 of 12 shots – on Senior Night!

Contributing to the potential disaster was that the refs continually found it hard to call a foul on Texas, One example was when Jalen Wilson grabbed a rebound, three Longhorns all surrounded and swatted him. I counted four fouls – none called. The announcers even agreed with me on that one, and were critical on a few other situations.

I’m not a fan of excessive physical defense, but it worked for Texas for most of the game. But KU finally started to play better during the overtime and the refs started calling some fouls, allowing the Jayhawks to win.

5 months ago

Report

Rodney Crain

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?

It's the win and advance portion of our season. Does not matter how we win, we just need to keep winning. On average it mostly all evens out on refs calls over a season. It's just how it is.

I am not the guy on here to hype an off day. But right now, any win, any way, is all that matters.

5 months ago

Report

RJ King

"Other than that ... " ha ha
At least Kenneth didn't try to pimp his book one more time.

5 months ago

Report

Bryce Landon

This was a test of toughness, and Kansas passed the test. It was clear to me that they were gassed, worn down, and fatigued from back-to-back games against an underrated TCU team. And yet, even in the midst of a bad game against a very tough and well-disciplined Texas team, they pushed themselves well past their breaking point and willed themselves to victory and to a Big 12 co-championship and a #1 seed in next week's Big 12 Tournament. This team has been inconsistent in terms of toughness for much of the season, but they picked a really good day to play with a mindset of toughness. And for that the Jayhawks deserve congratulations. Hail to the (co-)champs! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

5 months ago

Report

Micky Baker

I hope they raise the intensity from here on out. An Elite 8 appearance would be quite the accomplishment and if they get that far, don't count them out.

5 months ago

Report

Commenting has been disabled for this item.