Kansas is finally living up to its potential as one of the best teams in the country. The Jayhawks earned a dominant 85-54 win over Texas on Saturday night, avenging one of their losses from earlier in the year.
Andrew Wiggins had one of his best games of the season, finishing with 21 points and six rebounds while going 7-of-12 from the field.
ESPN College Basketball was one of many who took notice:
Welcome to the Andrew Wiggins show! #TEXvsKU— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) February 23, 2014
Of course, he also had a lot of help from Joel Embiid, who added 13 points, seven rebounds and six blocks.
Jonathan Holmes had a team-high 17 points for Texas, but the Longhorns struggled offensively throughout the game and only made 34.4 percent of their shots.
In the first few minutes of the game, it seemed like the Longhorns would provide a tough challenge for the home team in Allen Fieldhouse. The teams traded baskets, and the score stood at 10-10 with about 12 minutes remaining in the first half.
After that point, though, it was all Kansas.
The Jayhawks scored the next 18 points and ended the first half on a 36-8 run.
Kansas 42, Texas 16. This is a score that many would not have been surprised about prior to the start of the season between these two teams.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) February 23, 2014
Kansas cruised the rest of the game as the bench players were able to star in the second half. Senior forward Tarik Black had nine points and five rebounds, including a serious dunk that caused this reaction from Bleacher Report's Jason King:
Sweet Mary Mother of God ... Tarik Black's dunk ... Ohhhhhh wwooooowwwww. Make sure to watch SportsCenter for this one— Jason King (@JasonKingBR) February 23, 2014
In the end, the Jayhawks held on for the 31-point win. Head coach Bill Self discussed the importance of this matchup before the game, via Jesse Newell of The Topeka Capital-Journal:
It’s about playing Texas and playing a team that’s already handled us once, and one of the residual effects is that it’s big for the league race. But also it’s just an opportunity for us to try to play better against a team that smacked us around pretty good.
Obviously, Texas could not match the Jayhawks' physicality in this contest, and it led to a blowout. As far as the league race, the win gives Kansas a three-game lead in the Big 12, virtually sealing the conference title with four games left.
Still, the squad has to keep improving because their goals are larger than just a conference title. More performances like this are needed if they intend on winning a national championship.
Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: A
Entering the year, Wiggins was hyped as one of the best prospects in years. He showed exactly why in the first half of this game.
The blowout allowed the wing to rest for much of the second half, but he was able to show off all his skills in the first 30 minutes. He sank three three-point shots, was excellent in transition and had a couple of huge dunks where his head almost hit the rim.
He scored his 21 points with ease, and it seemed like he would be able to outscore the entire Texas roster at one point. While he did not manage that feat, he still had quite a showing in front of his home fans.
Joel Embiid, Kansas: A
No matter where he is on the floor, Embiid finds a way to make an impact. He had some solid moves on the offensive end, but his true defensive skill shined for Kansas in this one.
The center finished with seven rebounds and six blocks, setting records with his performance:
Even when he is not filling the box score, his presence in the middle of the court helps shut down the opposing offense. Texas had no easy shots in the paint, and that is a reason why the squad was held to just 54 points.
If he continues to play at this level, he can carry Kansas a long way.
Jonathan Holmes, Texas: B+
On a day where no one else could do anything offensively for the Longhorns, Holmes came through with a strong showing to keep the game somewhat respectable.
The junior was tough inside and willing to go to the basket, even against the tough interior presence of the Jayhawks. He was also solid on the glass, collecting six rebounds in the loss.
It is hard to take away any bright spots from this big of a loss, but Holmes showcased some solid toughness in the game. If everyone else on Texas had played like him, this would have been a much closer game.
Isaiah Taylor, Texas: D
All year long, Isaiah Taylor has been a key part of the team's success. He entered the day tied for the team lead with 13.1 points per game and was averaging a team-high 3.7 assists per game. In the win over Kansas earlier in the year, the point guard finished with 23 points.
Unfortunately, he wasn't anywhere close to that on Saturday, as he finished with just five points on 1-of-14 shooting from the floor. Amazingly, all of these shots came from inside the arc as he simply could not get anything to fall.
When a point guard is playing this poorly, it is hard for anyone else on the roster to have an efficient game.
Kansas has no time to celebrate the win because it will play again in just two days against Oklahoma. The Sooners have been one of the more consistent teams in the conference and are certain to provide a challenge.
Meanwhile, Texas will look to rebound with a home game against Baylor on Feb. 26. The Bears seemed to be headed toward the bottom of the standings just a few weeks ago, but they have now won four in a row and must be taken seriously.
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