The shots weren’t always falling, and if they were, this would have likely been a more comfortable ending, but Kansas showed it has been improving in the key areas it needed to address as it took out No. 15 Texas Tech 67-61 to extend the win streak to five games.
The defense was swarming, David McCormack was in beast mode, the passing was much improved, and the carelessness was mostly non-existent. Maybe the most telling and promising factor: when a ball was up for grabs, more often than not, a Jayhawk secured it.
It was a rare and welcomed sight early: a quick start for the Jayhawks as KU jumped out to a 10-2 lead. The passing was great, the shot selection better, and the defense and boxing out a thing of beauty.
Though the 3-pointers were not hitting early or often—back-to-back airballs near the end of the first half was not something you see every game—Kansas instead lived at the rim. McCormack and Ochai Agbaji both threw down slams, with one of McCormack’s coming as an and-one and another being the likely KU dunk of the season so far.
Kansas took a six-point lead into the half and extended it to double digits early, but to Texas Tech’s credit, the Red Raiders clawed back. Tech cut the lead to six multiple times, the first being at 51-45 with 8:30 left. But each time it did, Kansas had an answer. Here were the biggest:
- 51-45, Kansas: Marcus Garrett drive extends it to eight
- 57-51, Kansas: Garrett again gets a basket to increase the lead to eight
- 62-58, Kansas: Jalen Wilson grabs an offensive rebound (a theme of the game) and hits a shot to go back up six
- 64-61, Kansas: Tech got hot from 3 late, but then Christian Braun buried the dagger from deep.
McCormack was the player of the game with 17 points, eight boards, and two assists on 7-10 shooting (he started 7-7 from the floor). Wilson also finished with a double-double at 11 points and 11 boards.
But it was a true team effort as every starter scored in double digits and also did the little things that are necessary to win. Kansas grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, extending possessions and leading to second-chance points. The Jayhawks had 17 assists to only six turnovers, which is a recipe for success.
And while the 3-point shooting was still mostly off (8-26 on the night), guys stepped up in big spots, with Agbaji and Braun both hitting big triples late in the game to keep Tech at arm’s length.
Kansas will now take its five-game winning streak to Austin to play the Texas Longhorns on Tuesday.