No. 6 Kansas needed overtime, but it survived a gamely effort from No. 21 Texas on Saturday, winning 70-63 to clinch a share of the Big 12 title. The Jayhawks got a season-high 22 points from senior big man David McCormack in his final game at Allen Fieldhouse to lead the way.
With a 14-4 conference record, KU will share the league title with Baylor, which secured its share of the conference crown by beating Iowa State 75-68. Kansas will be the No. 1 seed in next week's Big 12 Tournament by virtue of its better record against No. 3 seed Texas Tech.
Kansas led 55-49 with 5:19 to go, but Texas tied it up with 3-pointers by Marcus Carr and Andrew Jones and then briefly took the lead on a Jones free throw with 3:30 remaining. There were no made shots from the floor over the final 3:55 of regulation, but Jalen Coleman-Lands nearly changed that at the buzzer with the game tied.
The Jayhawks' senior wing wound up with the basketball deflected into his hands after a sideline in-bounds play that began with 2.2 seconds left. He let it fly and banked it in as the buzzer sounded, but a video review showed that the ball was still in his hands as the red light appeared on the backboard.
Texas scored first in overtime, but the Jayhawks closed the extra period on an 11-2 run. Kansas hit 28 of 36 free throws as Texas committed 26 fouls compared to just 18 fouls called on Kansas. That helped KU overcome a 31% shooting night as the Longhorns continued to play the stifling defense they have become known for under first-year coach Chris Beard.
Offensively, Courtney Ramey led the way for Texas with 18 points, 14 of which came in the first half.
That Kansas managed to win a share of the Big 12 title with Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Remy Martin offering minimal contributions this season is a testament to the depth of the KU roster. Martin played in his fourth straight game Saturday after missing roughly a month due to an apparent knee injury, but he finished with just two points and one assist.
The Arizona State transfer hasn't started a game since Jan. 4, and he logged just seven minutes against the Longhorns, all of which came in the first half. It's no secret that Self and Martin have butted heads at times this season over how the 6-foot former Pac-12 star plays, but it could take the Jayhawks to another level if Martin could reach his potential this month. Saturday was the latest sign, though, that it just hasn't worked out.
Ochai gets help
Kansas' leading scorer Ochai Agbaji also had a quiet game as he failed to reach double figures for the first time this season. Agbaji finished with just eight points on 1 of 11 shooting, which meant others had to step up. While McCormack was the star, forwards Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson each posted double-doubles in an encouraging sign for KU.
Agbaji has carried a heavy load offensively all season, and the fact that Kansas beat a quality opponent with Agbaji at his worst bodes well for this team entering the postseason. It's also a sign that the Jayhawks will survive life without Agbaji next season. Braun and Wilson are each dynamic wings capable of flexing up to play in the small-ball power forward position. If one or both of them takes a leap next season like Agbaji did this season, then the Jayhawks will be right back in the Big 12 title conversation.
Don't sleep on Texas
A critic might correctly point out that Texas will enter the postseason with three losses in its last five games and four in its last seven. But don't sleep on the Longhorns. Those four losses have come against the only three teams ahead of them in the league standings (Texas Tech, Kansas and Baylor twice), and Beard's squad figures to be a tough out in the postseason.
Texas' offensive limitation s showed up again Saturday as it struggled mightily to score late in regulation and in overtime. But the Longhorns' defense can keep it in a game against anyone, and that means this team will be tough to play in the rigors of a single-elimination tournament.