LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—The Big 12 race isn’t over after all.
Kansas, blown out by 25 points at No. 6 Texas four days ago, finds itself back in a tie for first with the Longhorns with one game to go.
Playing perhaps their best defense of the year, the 18th-ranked Jayhawks beat Colorado 75-54 Wednesday night at the same time Texas A&M was upsetting Texas 46-43 on Acie Law’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.
So it’s all even.
Kansas (21-7, 12-3) finishes Saturday at Kansas State while Texas (24-5, 12-3) plays host on Sunday to No. 19 Oklahoma.
“It was so great to win that game, to see that we’re back in a tie for the Big 12,” Kansas guard Stephen Vinson said. “There was some excitement on the bench after the game.”
Colorado (18-8, 8-7), which lost to Kansas for the 34th time in 35 meetings, missed 22 of its first 23 field goal attempts and twice turned the ball over when the Buffs apparently forgot about the shot clock.
“It was embarrassing,” Colorado’s Martane Freeman. “I looked up at the scoreboard with like 7 minutes left and we had four points. I just shook my head.”
Colorado came into the game tied with Texas A&M for fourth place and for possibly for the league’s fourth bid to the NCAA tournament.
But facing Kansas, the nation’s leader in field goal percentage defense, they seemed almost helpless until Scott Senger got inside for a layup with 1:47 left in the first half.
That made it 27-9 and Colorado then ended the half on a spurt, making three baskets to shoot 19 percent (5-for-27) and trail 32-15.
“We probably played as good a defense the first 15 minutes as we’ve played all year,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I thought our defense was great. We had a comfortable lead, but we should have scored eight or 10 more points.”
Colorado cut the lead to eight points in the second half, but then Mario Chalmers hit two key 3-pointers for the Jayhawks, who finished their home season 14-2.
“We have a ton of guys on this team that can score. I think we’ve proven that all year,” Colorado’s Chris Copeland said. “But we just didn’t get it done tonight. I was surprised.”
After Chalmers’ 3-pointer restored Kansas’ 11-point lead, Julian Wright hit two free throws and thundered home a crowd-pleasing dunk. C.J. Giles then got another basket and Brandon Rush made it 70-54 with a 3-pointer from the wing.
Chalmers had 14 points and Rush added 13 for Kansas, which got outrebounded 45-38 and was only 10-of-22 from the free throw line. Giles had 11 points and Russell Robinson 10.
Colorado, which has lost 23 straight to ranked opponents on the road, got 12 points from Marcus Hall. Colorado’s Richard Roby, the fifth-leading scorer in the Big 12, had only two points in the first half and finished with 10, almost eight below his average.
Colorado coach Ricardo Patton drew a technical foul with 7:49 left when he ran almost to the Kansas bench to protest a non-call after Freeman was knocked to the floor.
“I saw him jump in the air and go for the rebound,” Patton said. “And the guy slid under him and he flipped over the guy’s back. It looked like everyone that should have seen it just turned away and didn’t want to see it. I was concerned for my player.”
Max Falkenstein, who is retiring after 60 years broadcasting Kansas football and basketball games, was honored at halftime of his last home game.