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Jeff Eisenberg

Ending Kansas' home win streak suggests Texas is no mirage

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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The last time Kansas had lost at home, Nelly Furtado's "Say it Right" sat atop the U.S. pop charts, Barack Obama was still an Illinois senator and UCLA, North Carolina and Florida were among the nation's top five college basketball teams.

That streak is no more.

Texas ended Kansas' school-record 69-game home win streak and delivered the first blow in the Big 12 title race with a 74-63 victory over the previously undefeated Jayhawks. It's the first win in Lawrence for the Longhorns since the formation of the Big 12 conference in 1996 and the first home loss for the Jayhawks since Texas A&M defeated them 69-66 on Feb. 3, 2007.

It's still difficult to put complete faith in the Longhorns as a result of the lingering memory of their infamous February collapse last season, but this Texas team appears to have stronger resolve and better chemistry to go with its usual array of talent. The Longhorns have emerged as Kansas' strongest Big 12 challenger with this win and a throttling of previously surging Texas A&M earlier in the week.

Only four teams had even come within five points of Kansas in Lawrence prior to this season during the streak, but the Jayhawks had survived some unusually close calls already this year.

A questionable last-second call enabled Mario Little to sink the go-ahead free throw and propel Kansas to a 77-76 victory on Dec. 2. And 16 days later, freshman Josh Selby made a memorable debut with the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute to lift the Jayhawks to a 70-68 victory over visiting USC.

It didn't look as though Kansas would receive another stiff challenge on Saturday when the Jayhawks roared to an 18-3 first-half lead and took a 35-23 advantage into halftime. Then Texas showed the character it lacked a year ago, taking advantage of Kansas' foul trouble and ice-cold shooting to storm back into contention.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from guard J'Covan Brown capped a 13-2 Texas run and gave the Longhorns their first lead of the second half. Texas extended that advantage to as many as 11 points, far too great a late deficit for the Jayhawks to overcome against the Longhorns' stifling pressure defense.

At the beginning of the season, it appeared that the biggest threat to Kansas' quest for a seventh straight Big 12 championship would come from Kansas State, Missouri or Baylor. One of those teams could still make a title push, but for right now it's Texas with the best chance to unseat the Jayhawks from their customary throne.

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