A Closer Look at the Texas/Kansas RivalryPosted by dnspewak on October 13th, 2011
There’s just something about Kansas that spurs all kinds of rivalries. Although it has dominated the Border War with Missouri lately and has traditionally beaten up on Kansas State (until Michael Beasley came along), the Jayhawks have found a new bitter rival to tangle with: the Texas Longhorns. KU’s geographic rivalries will never be replaced, of course. But for now, the most bitter, cold-blooded rivalry in the league is between Bill Self and Rick Barnes‘ programs.
And there’s a simple reason for that. It’s all about the competition on the court. Kansas has won seven Big 12 regular season titles in a row, but the Jayhawks have shared two of those crowns with Texas. To illustrate the rivalry a little further, consider the following statistic: since Barnes arrived at Texas in 1998, the two teams have finished 1-2 in the Big 12 seven times. For you math whizzes, that’s more than 50 percent of the time. It began with Barnes vs. Roy Williams, and the fun has continued under Self. Even though this rivalry dates back to the beginning stages of the Big 12, it has seemed to particularly gain steam during the past five years or so. The two teams have produced some of the more dramatic contests in league history. Take a look:
- Texas 80, Kansas 55: Texas embarrasses Kansas in Austin to move into first-place in late February, eventually setting the foundation for a shared regular season title.
- Kansas 90, Texas 86: Kevin Durant enjoys one of the more spectacular halves Allen Fieldhouse has ever seen, helping Texas roll to a stunning double-digit lead in a game it needed to win to tie for first place. But the Jayhawks fight back, thanks in part to an injury Durant suffered to his ankle– an injury that looked horrific at first to those who watched the game live. Durant returns, but Kansas completes the comeback, ending the Longhorns’ hopes for a Big 12 title.
- Kansas 88, Texas 84 (OT): Texas gets another crack at Kansas in the Big 12 championship game, and Durant once again sets the world on fire in the first half. The Longhorns lead by as many as 22 points, but the Jayhawks shake off a cold start to shock Barnes’ team for the second time in eight days. Mario Chalmers, who becomes famous for a similar shot roughly a year later, makes the tying three-pointer in regulation.
- Texas 72, Kansas 69: Texas shoots lights-out from beyond the arc to claim a win on its home court, inching within a half-game of the Jayhawks in the Big 12 standings. The two teams eventually tie for first in the league.
- Kansas 83, Texas 73: Although UT has fallen out of the Big 12 race by this point, Kansas needed a victory to earn an outright title. The Jayhawks recover from a modest seven-point deficit at halftime to win by 10 points, fueled by 20 points from Sherron Collins.
- Kansas 80, Texas 68: Considered during the pre-season as one of the top games on the 2009-10 slate– the two teams were ranked 1-2 in the nation to start the year– the game lost its luster because of the Longhorns’ stumbles in conference play. Kansas was still atop the rankings, and it hands 14th-ranked Texas a 12-point loss on its home floor on this night.
- Texas 74, Kansas 63: The Longhorns do the impossible, becoming the first opponent in Lawrence to win since 2007. Considering the start of the contest, the victory appeared even more improbable. The Jayhawks resemble Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls for about five minutes, leading 18-3 with 14:41 remaining in the first half. KU eventually crumbles, though, and shoots less than 36 percent from the floor, snapping the 69-game home winning streak.
The next two meetings in this hardwood rivalry are scheduled for January 21 in Austin on CBS and March 3 in Lawrence as part of ESPN’s Gameday extravaganza. Both teams have a lot of questions marks this year, but you can probably bank on the fact that these two games will be meaningful with respect to the Big 12 regular season title.