AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas has had its struggles this season, but something about the bluebloods seems to bring out the best in the Longhorns.
After thumping North Carolina earlier this season, Texas nearly notched another marquee victory Saturday against No. 4 Kansas. The Longhorns (8-9, 0-4 in the Big 12) led by double digits in the second half before Kansas rallied for a 64-59 victory Saturday at the Erwin Center.
The Jayhawks (16-1, 4-0) earned their 15th straight win behind 16 points from freshman Ben McLemore.
Sheldon McClellan scored 18 points for Texas after playing only one minute in the previous game, a 20-point loss at Iowa State.
Kansas took a 54-53 lead after Jeff Withey blocked a shot and tipped the ball to point guard Elijah Johnson, setting up a lob to McLemore at the other end. After McClellan answered with a driving layup, Naadir Tharpe knifed into the paint and put KU in front for good with 2:18 to play.
Julien Lewis had a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer from the right corner, but the shot fell short, allowing Travis Releford to ice the game with two free throws.
The Longhorns, who entered the game leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense and 3-point percentage defense, made the Jayhawks work for every basket. Kansas shot 39.2 percent from the floor, with Johnson going 1-for-11 from the floor and finishing with six points.
Kansas grabbed the lead early in the second half on a 3-pointer from McLemore, but Jonathan Holmes answered with back-to-back jumpers to spark a 12-0 Texas run. Kansas contributed to the run with four consecutive turnovers, helping the Longhorns stretch their lead to 42-30.
Texas had a 28-26 lead at halftime, and the margin could have been larger if not for a Kansas flurry to close the half. The Jayhawks missed 11 straight shots and went more than nine minutes without a field goal until Withey converted a three-point play with 54 seconds remaining to pull KU within 28-24. After a miss by McClellan, Releford scored in transition to cut the Texas lead to two points at half.
NOTES: McLemore was back in the starting lineup after suffering a sprained right ankle in Kansas' victory against Baylor on Monday. ... Freshman Ioannis Papapetrou started his third straight game for Texas. ... Texas recognized its Alamo Bowl champion football team at halftime. ... Kansas is 4-0 in league play for the seventh time under coach Bill Self, while Texas is 0-4 for the first time under coach Rick Barnes.