When Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Damion James each announced they would return to school last spring, tonight's matchup between Kansas and Texas quickly became the most hotly anticipated game of college basketball's regular season.
Kansas confirmed why it has been a season-long national title favorite, burying the Longhorns with a 22-0 first-half run and then never letting them get any closer than eight during a tedious second half. Sure, the Jayhawks' focus drifts against lesser competition like Colorado on occasion, but they were up for this game and it showed.
Marcus Morris continued his transformation from big body to force, scoring 18 points and grabbing 8 boards. Xavier Henry showed flashes of his potential with 15 points. And while stars Collins and Aldrich shot just a combined 5 for 23, the rest of the Kansas supporting cast had more than enough firepower to make up for it.
And Texas? Well, let's just say their new spiffy jerseys couldn't hide the flaws that have emerge during this stretch of five losses in seven games after ascending to the top of the rankings last month.
They have no identity or set rotation, they look lost offensively, they're not getting the production out of center Dexter Pittman they were in the non-conference season and they have no idea what to expect from their young guards from night to night.
Pittman played 21 minutes and scored 3 points on 1-for-5 shooting, about as invisible a performance as possible from a man who weighs more than 300 pounds. Freshmen guards Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton made just one shot between them. The only bright spots were James and guard J'Covan Brown, who combined for a ridiculous 52 of Texas' 68 points.
I wrote a few days ago that football-first Texas fans have more patience for hoops losses than supporters of most basketball powers.
Well with four out of seven on the road to finish the season, Rick Barnes needs to figure out what's wrong with his team in a hurry because eventually that patience will run out.