Saturday, February 16, 2013 11:20 pm
No. 14 Kansas routs Texas behind Withey, Releford
By DAVE SKRETTAAP Sports Writer
Johnson finished with 12 points for the Jayhawks (21-4, 9-3 Big 12). Travis Releford added 15 and Ben McLemore had 13, including a 360 jam in the closing minutes that capped off quite a show against the Longhorns (11-14, 3-9) for more than a dozen former players in attendance.
Among them was Mario Chalmers, whose buzzer-beating 3-pointer forced overtime in the 2008 national title game won by Kansas. The Miami Heat guard was honored at halftime by having his No. 15 raised to the rafters, where it joined names such as Wilt Chamberlain and Paul Pierce.
Perhaps one day, Withey's name will reside there.
The senior center had his 265th block early in the second half to move past former Texas star Chris Mihm for the most in league history. The reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year even had four steals while making life miserable for the young, undersized Longhorns.
Myck Kabongo, in his second game back from a 23-game suspension, was held to 13 points by the nation's top field-goal percentage defense. The Longhorns' sophomore guard missed his first seven shots and committed three turnovers, his only real success coming at the foul line.
Texas wound up shooting 21.8 percent from the field and 2 of 21 from beyond the arc.
The prime-time match-up between two of the nation's stingiest defenses figured to put points a premium, but that only turned out to be the case for the Longhorns.
They had already fallen behind 11-8 when they went the next 8-plus minutes without a field goal, missing 10 straight shots, three free throws and turning the ball over twice. By the time Ioannis Papapetrou got to the rim for Texas, the Jayhawks had built a 24-11 lead.
It never got a whole lot better for Texas.
The Longhorns went another 6 1/2 minutes without a field goal before Demarcus Holland's steal and layup got them within 28-15 at halftime. That meant the final 15:55 of the first half, Texas had precisely as many shot-clock violations (two) as they had made field goals.
It was the Longhorns' lowest-scoring half of the season.
Kansas didn't waste any time delivering the knockout punch in the second half.
Johnson was the catalyst, scoring the Jayhawks' first seven points and finally starting to shake out of a season-long slump that has been frustrating and, at times, embarrassing for one of the key players on last season's national runner-up.
The senior guard started Kansas on a 13-4 run by getting to the basket and drawing a foul. He missed the free throw, but moments later did the exact same thing and converted the three-point play. Johnson finished off his own spurt with another basket, and by the time Releford scored in transition, the Jayhawks had built a 41-22 lead with 14:32 remaining in the game.
Texas coach Rick Barnes, whose team is in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 years, was powerless to stop the onslaught even with a full complement of timeouts.
Kansas eventually pushed the lead to 55-28 when Withey scored six straight points, including a follow-up dunk off his own miss with just less than 8 minutes left in the game.
McLemore put the exclamation mark on a celebratory night for the Jayhawks when he got ahead of the fast break with about 4 minutes left and elevated for a 360 dunk that brought down the house and gave Kansas a 68-34 lead on the dazed, checked-out Longhorns.
Kansas, which rallied from 11 down to beat Texas in January, emptied the bench in the final minutes as it coasted to its eighth win in nine meetings with the Longhorns.