No. 3 Kansas 78, Nebraska 65
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)—Kansas knew it had to be wary of a Nebraska team that resides in the bottom half of the Big 12.
Last year, the Jayhawks lost by 19 points at the Devaney Center. Three weeks ago, the Cornhuskers pushed them to the final buzzer in a two-point KU win at Lawrence.
On Saturday, Keith Langford matched his career high with 27 points, and third-ranked Kansas held Nebraska without a field goal for more than six minutes late in the Jayhawks’ 78-65 victory.
“We came out with a sense of urgency,” Langford said. “We knew they were a dangerous team, looking at what happened up here last year and how they played us at home. We got some stops and started pushing the ball and scoring well, and we just outlasted them at the end.”
Wayne Simien had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Jayhawks (18-1, 8-0 Big 12), who have won four games by an average of 17.5 points since losing to Villanova on Jan. 22.
“It’s been more of a collective effort,” Simien said. “We’re sharing the ball more and we’re one of the top defensive teams in the country. We’re playing much better together.”
Jason Dourisseau scored a career-high 24 points for Nebraska (10-9, 3-5), which has lost five of its last six conference games. Wes Wilkinson, 3-of-5 on 3-pointers, added 13 points, and John Turek had 12.
Nebraska, whose last win over a top-five team was against then-No. 3 Kansas in 1993, stayed close through the first half and led by five points when Joe McCray made a 3-pointer with 12:05 left.
The Jayhawks switched to a zone and held the Huskers without a field goal on seven of their next eight possessions. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Aaron Miles and Langford and a pair of baseline jumpers by Simien gave the Jayhawks the lead for good.
“They had control of the game, but Aaron made a 3, and that might have been the biggest shot of the game,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We finished the half great.”
Nebraska coach Barry Collier said the Huskers missed opportunities to generate offense against Kansas’ zone.
“Part of the problem occurred when we didn’t knock down some shots,” Collier said. “You always want to go inside on a zone, but if they clamp down, you have to be able to hit some outside shots.”
The Jayhawks used the long ball to break open the game.
Langford hit consecutive 3s to start the second half and highlight a 16-4 Kansas run over both halves, and Nebraska committed turnovers on five of eight possessions as the Jayhawks built a double-digit lead.
“I wanted to see what would happen if I came out and really asserted myself,” Langford said. “I wanted to come out and get the defense on their heels. I knew if I could put two good halves together, it would make a difference for the team.”
The Huskers drew to 64-58 on Wilkinson’s free throws with 4:32 left. But the Huskers went without a field goal from the 6:27 mark until Dourisseau’s 3-pointer with four seconds left.
McCray, who came into the game averaging a team-leading 14.7 points, was held to seven in 19 minutes. He played only four minutes the second half.
The Jayhawks shot 53 percent from the field while holding Nebraska to 36 percent. KU went 8-of-12 on free throws after making only 13-of-28 in its January game against the Huskers.
“The difference wasn’t necessarily the players, but the shots that they hit,” Dourisseau said. “They missed a lot of free throws when we played in Kansas. Here they hit shot after shot and got all of their free throws, too.”