The Kansas Jayhawks may have turned a corner after a disastrous three-game stretch in which they lost to lowly TCU and appeared to be out of the Big 12 title race. After blowing out Kansas State on Monday, KU turned in another impressive performance on Saturday, embarrassing Texas 73-47.
Due to the NBA All-Star break, many former Kansas greats were on hand to see Mario Chalmers get his jersey retired. The current KU squad didn’t disappoint, stifling Texas from the opening jump ball with a great defensive effort led by center Jeff Withey. Withey’s two blocks gave him 265 for his career, breaking Texas’ Chris Mihm’s Big 12 record. Withey also chipped in 15 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Travis Releford added 15 points in a hot shooting night from beyond the arc, while Ben McLemore added 13 points.
Texas isn’t a good team, but the Longhorns looked downright terrible at times against Kansas nation-leading defense. Texas shot 22 percent from the field and two of 21 from three, while turning the ball over several times in the second half for easy transition baskets for Kansas. McLemore turned one into a 360-degree dunk that wound up being the top play on ESPN’s SportsCenter Saturday night.
Kansas fans have to feel good about how the Jayhawks responded to their three-game losing streak. KU has regained its focus on defense, and the offense finally looks alive. Senior point guard Elijah Johnson has started to playbetter as well, and sophomore Naadir Tharpe has looked impressive in the past couple of games. If the Jayhawks get good production from the point guard position, the team could be primed to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Kansas’ biggest game of the season is coming up, as the Jayhawks travel to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State on Wednesday in a battle for first-place in the Big 12. The Cowboys also won on Saturday, defeating Oklahoma in overtime.
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