No. 8 Kansas dominates in crucial Big 12 conference game vs. No. 4 Houston | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Thursday / February 22.
  • No. 8 Kansas dominates in crucial Big 12 conference game vs. No. 4 Houston

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    By SAM LANCE

    There’s no such thing as a true “must win” game in early February, but No. 8 Kansas desperately needed a victory over No. 4 Houston on Saturday. And the Jayhawks got it done, defeating the Cougars 78-65 in dominating fashion.

    Coming into the game, Kansas was 5-3 in Big 12 play, and Houston was the No. 1 team in the conference with a 6-2 record. Therefore, with a loss, Kansas would have had quite the hole to climb out of to win the Big 12 conference. But now, both teams are even at 6-3 and tied for second in the conference behind 5-2 Iowa State. With an Iowa State loss to Baylor on the road tonight, though, Kansas and Houston would sit alone at top of the Big 12 standings.

    That factor — along with Kansas being an underdog home for only the second time since Bill Self has been the head coach — made for quite the juiced atmosphere inside Allen Fieldhouse.

    “This thing was set up for this type of environment today,” Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson said postgame. “You challenge Jayhawk pride if you will, by telling them they’re not favored.”

    Behind the crazy Allen Fieldhouse environment, Kansas was able to start off the game phenomenally and on a 23-11 run. From there, the Jayhawks really never looked back. Kansas led 48-23 at halftime and Houston wasn’t able to get within 10 points until the 5-minute mark of the second half. But by then, it was too late.

    “I thought our crowd was great,” Self said. “I do think it adds something to the intensity when the fan base and everybody knows, oh, this could go wrong if we don’t play well… I think our fans were more turned up today because we were playing a team that we knew if we didn’t play well, they could they could leave out of here happy.”

    Kansas was led in this game by center Hunter Dickinson with 20 points and eight rebounds. Wings Kevin McCullar and Johnny Furphy also provided Kansas with a scoring punch (17 points apiece), as well as forward KJ Adams (10 points).

    As a team, the Jayhawks shot a whopping 69% from the floor, which is the highest shooting percentage in a conference game for Kansas since 1991. It’s important to note the Jayhawks did this against Houston, the No. 1 defense on Kenpom the Big 12’s best defense by points allowed.

    “I don’t know that I’ve had a team execute better against a great defensive team offensively in that first 10 minutes,” Self said. “I mean, we were pretty much on point.”

    Kansas dominated the paint in this game as well, out-rebounding Houston 40-24 and outscoring the Cougars in the paint 42-24. The Jayhawks only issue in this game were turnovers, finishing with 18, which ties KU’s season-high. Lights-out shooting can make up for mistakes, though.

    Up next for Kansas is another big game in the Big 12 on Monday. The Jayhawks will travel west to take on Kansas State on the road. Houston will try to regroup at home on Tuesday vs. Oklahoma State.

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