Final: KU defeats Texas 84-74
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In what was by far the most entertaining and hard-fought game of the Big 12 Tournament, KU outlasted Texas 84-74, claiming the Jayhawks third straight league tourney crown.
All three have come by beating the Longhorns, and Sunday's victory was fueled by a career-high 30 points from Mario Chalmers, coming just 24 hours after he was limited to four points in a semifinal win over Texas A&M. Chalmers did so on 8-of-12 three-point shooting, while Brandon Rush, who stroked five treys a day earlier, was 6-of-9 from deep, finishing with 19 points.
Darrell Arthur also answered the offensive bell, too, scoring 16 points. KU heads into the NCAA Tournament with a 31-3 record, and will learn its destination for sure Sunday evening. The most likely opening weekend stop is Omaha, Neb., to play Thursday and potentially Saturday.
D.J. Augustin scored 20 points to lead Texas, but notched just two in the second half. Justin Mason scored 17, A.J. Abrams 15 and Damion James 13.
For more on this story, including full postgame coverage, log back onto KUSports.com.
:40.1, second half KU leads 78-73
Mario Chalmers missed a three against Texas' 2-3 zone out of the timeout, but Brandon Rush collected the offensive board. Darrell Arthur then missed a mid-range jumper, giving Texas an opportunity to re-capture the lead.
Damion James tried, but missed a jumper of his own, with KU coming back the other way, Sherron Collins then saved the possession, throwing a loose ball off of A.J. Abrams to save the possession before it went out of bounds. Mario Chalmers then buried a three to put KU up by four inside the final two minutes.
Justin Mason missed a two-point jumper, and Sherron Collins was then fouled by Damion James while chasing the rebound, getting him to the line.
Collins made both to put KU up by six with 1:25 to play, 77-71. Connor Atchley then got to free throw line and hit a pair, and Texas caught a break when Brandon Rush stepped over the boundary when inbounding the ball, giving it back to the 'Horns, KU leading 77-73 with 1:09 to go.
D.J. Augustin tried a three, but after it missed, Mario Chalmers collected a defensive board. Brandon Rush was fouled in transition, making one of two to put KU up by five. Chalmers then helped put things on ice with a steal of a D.J. Augustin pass, then getting to the line with :40.1 to play and KU up 78-73.
Chalmers hit both, putting KU up by seven and giving him 30 points and KU a seven-point lead.
3:35, second half UT leads 72-71
Sasha Kaun hit one of two free throws out of the timeout for KU, but A.J. Abrams answered back with two more to give Texas a 69-65 run and bump his point total on the day to 15. Kaun then missed two free throws on another opportunity, but Abrams couldn't build on the Texas lead, airing a three-pointer from the right wing.
Darrell Arthur answered the Texas buckets with a two on a big dunk slashing to the hoop. Then, after a Damion James miss, Sherron Collins punched home his first three-ball of the day on a feed from Brandon Rush, putting KU on top again at 70-69.
Darnell Jackson got a bonus trip to the line after a foul inside on Justin Mason, but missed the front end. Mason responded with two in the paint, giving him 16 and putting Texas again ahead by one. Darrell Arthur swung the lead back with a free throw line jumper.
7:40, second half UT leads 67-64
Justin Mason swished two free throws after the full timeout, and Darnell Jackson hit one of two on the other end, keeping KU up by five. D.J. Augustin tried to respond off a drive inside, but it fell off the rim. Brandon Rush then hit his sixth three of the day, giving him 18 points and forcing a primal scream from the junior as he ran back up the floor.
Augustin hit two free throws for the Longhorns off a foul on Russell Robinson, and then A.J. Abrams cashed a three to pull Texas to within three at 64-61. Damion James then tied it up with a three of his own from the right wing, giving hm 13 points on the day.
Chalmers then had a runner off the glass rim out and James collected the board, making Chalmers 0-for-2 since re-entering the game. A.J. Abrams then knocked home another trey, putting Texas on top 67-64.
11:16, second half KU leads 60-54
Mario Chalmers cashed his first three of the second half out of the timeout, and Texas tried to answer back with three looks from Connor Atchley and A.J. Abrams, but Sasha Kaun ultimately came up with a much-sought after defensive board with KU up 50-49.
Chalmers' hits kept coming, as he put home a straight-on three-pointer to give him 23 points on the afternoon. D.J. Augustin tried to answer back with a two on the baseline but couldn't hit, giving KU a chance to extend its four-point lead.
A.J. Abrams then hit a three off of the right wing, but Chalmers skied in for two off the glass. Connor Atchley came back with a baseline two, cutting it again to a one-point game.
Darnell Jackson then got to the line for KU and scored his first two points of the day, putting KU up 57-54. Brandon Rush made it a six-point game off an Augustin miss, taking a feed in transition from Sherron Collins to connect on a three, giving him 15 points - all from the outside.
15:48, second half, UT leads 49-47
A.J. Abrams dropped in two on a dribble-drive on the first possession of the second half, then Brandon Rush was blocked by Connor Atchley when doing the same on the other end. Abrams tried to extend KU's lead with a three but was short, though KU turned it right back over with an outlet pass for Russell Robinson thrown too far by Mario Chalmers.
Texas turned it over in return, but Mario Chalmers three attempt rattled out. Rush then blocked a D.J. Augustin try inside and rebounded an Abrams floater miss.
The offensive struggles continued as the teams traded misses for the next couple of possessions, and Atchley finally broke it by hitting one of two free throws. Darrell Arthur stroked two free throws, which went as the final points before the first TV timeout of the half. Texas went into it up 49-47.
Halftime, UT leads 46-45
Damion James hit a three up top for Texas out of the timeout, and after Brandon Rush missed one, D.J. Augustin swished one against a lax Jayhawk perimeter defense. Chalmers, after hearing an earful out of a timeout, swished a three, but Damion James hit another mid-range jumper, giving him 10 points and Texas a 46-45 halftime lead.
D.J. Augustin has a game-high 18 points at the break, while Justin Mason's early scoring helped Texas stay above water and set up a 14-0 run. Mario Chalmers scored 17 for KU, while Brandon Rush combined with him to hit eight first half three-pointers.
7:33, first half UT leads 27-26.
Connor Atchley took Cole Aldrich off the wing out of the timeout and hit a running floater which pulled Texas to within a point at 21-20, and Aldrich was then called for a foul on the offensive end. D.J. Augustin then extended Texas' run with a layup inside, and then a Damion James mid-range jumper pushed Texas ahead 24-21.
KU called a quick timeout, but then missed an opportunity to score in response and D.J. Augustin stroked a three from atop the key. Sasha Kaun finally ended Texas' run with a dunk while drawing contact underneath. His free throw pulled Kansas to within three at 27-24.
Mario Chalmers scored after A.J. Abrams couldn't capitalize on a fast break opportunity, running a give-and-go in transition to pull KU within one, 27-26, with 7:33 to play before halftime.
10:55, first half KU leads 21-18
Mario Chalmers hit his second three-pointer of the game after the TV timeout, and Justin Mason charged back for Texas with a tough two on traffic. KU answered with crisp ball movement, resulting in Sasha Kaun taking a backdoor feed and slamming one home from Darrell Arthur.
Damion James tried to respond with a three, but after Kaun took down the defensive carom, Brandon Rush stroked his first three of the game. D.J. Augustin cashed a longball after a Texas timeout, but Rush came back again with another one, keeping KU ahead by eight points at 21-13.
A.J. Abrams answered with a tip-in off a Justin Mason miss after Mason stole a Brandon Rush pass. Mason then stroked a three to follow a KU miss, pulling Texas to within three with 10:55 to play in the first half, 21-18.
Mario Chalmers controlled the game's opening tip, and off a screen, Texas' Damion James was called for a foul just moments into the game. Mario Chalmers ended up hitting a three atop the key for KU on the opening possession.
James answered with a three on a feed from Justin Mason in return, and Texas then forced KU into a turnover on an errant entry pass to the interior.
Mason then canned a two on the baseline for the Longhorns, and KU again turned it over, this time with an entry pass going off Jackson's fingers.
D.J. Augustin and Darrell Arthur then exchanged inside misses, and Mason answered with another Texas three, giving the Longhorns an 8-3 edge nearly three minutes in.
Arthur scored his first points of the game off the glass on KU's next possession, and after a Justin Mason layup was blocked from behind by Brandon Rush, two Sasha Kaun layups made it a one-point game at 8-7.
KU then cranked up the defensive pressure in forcing Texas into a shot clock violation, but the Jayhawks turned it over as Russell Robinson tried to save a loose ball from going out of bounds on the other end.
Arthur hit another turnaround for KU after an Alexis Wangmene miss, and Arthur scored again on a long outlet pass to follow a Conor Atchley three miss. He took the longball and slammed it home over Atchley, putting KU ahead 10-8 heading into the game's first full break.
Pregame KANSAS CITY - For the third straight season, the Big 12 Tournament will concluded with a matchup of Texas vs. Kansas. This year, some more bragging rights between the budding rivals are at stake, as the two Top-10 teams finished the regular season tied atop the league standings, both at 13-3. Texas won the annual winter meeting in Austin, 72-69, on Feb. 11. The Longhorns won despite stud point guard D.J. Augustin going just 1-of-11 from the floor. The difference-maker in that meeting was sophomore forward Damion James, who erupted for 12 points and 13 rebounds in the second half alone after spending much of the game's first 20 minutes on the bench in foul trouble. The Jayhawks got the big second half they needed Saturday after three so-so halves in league tournament play, ultimately ousting Texas A&M 77-71. UT is coming off a 77-49 slashing of rival Oklahoma, in which junior guard A.J. Abrams scored 26 points, including connecting on seven three-pointers. Coming in hot for KU is Brandon Rush, who Saturday on 9-of-13 shooting scored a career-high 28 points. His offense helped overshadow the struggles of Darrell Arthur, who has scored just 13 points in two games so far this weekend in Kansas City. This marks the sixth meeting between the two schools in the past three years, with KU currently holding a 3-2 edge in that span. KU is in its road blue uniforms, with Texas wearing its home whites. Tip-off is set for just after 2 p.m.