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Texas knocks off Kansas, picks up fourth straight win

Feb 12, 2008 - 7:38 AM AUSTIN, Texas (Ticker) -- Connor Atchley got Texas off to a strong start and Damion James helped close out Kansas.

Atchley scored 12 of his career-high 16 points in the first half and James added 12 of his 14 after intermission as the No. 11 Longhorns edged out third-ranked Kansas, 72-69, in the Big 12 Conference on Monday.

D.J. Augustin also had 14 points for Texas (20-4, 7-2 Big 12), which tightened up the conference standings by notching its fourth straight win.

It was also the Longhorns' seventh consecutive win over a ranked opponent at the Erwin Center.

Entering the matchup 1 1/2 games behind the Jayhawks (23-2, 8-2) in the Big 12, the Longhorns cut that deficit while knocking Kansas out of the driver's seat. Idle Kansas State (7-1) is now the lone team with only one conference loss.

"It puts us in control of what we want to do for this season," Texas guard A.J. Abrams said. "Today was a big win for us, but it is just another conference win and we have a game on Saturday to prepare for. We have to put this one behind us and get ready for Baylor."

Texas, which dropped both meetings against Kansas last season, including the Big 12 tournament title game, got off to a great start thanks to Atchley, who made his first three 3-pointers for a 20-16 lead with 13:09 remaining.

Overall, the junior forward made all four of his shots from the arc in the opening 20 minutes. However, the Jayhawks held a 42-38 lead behind 14 points from Darrell Arthur.

"I think that Atchley percentage wise is the best shooter in our league," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "It surprises anybody when someone goes 4-for-4 for threes, because not even guards do that all the time, but Atchley is a good shooter."

The Longhorns re-took the lead in the opening moments of the second half behind Justin Mason, who scored his team's first five points.

Kansas, which was also entered the matchup with a three-game winning streak, went ahead 57-54 with 10:06 to play after a layup by Sherron Collins capped a 9-3 run.

In a game that featured six lead changes, Texas went back ahead on the strength of a 10-0 run, grabbing a 64-57 edge on a layup by Mason with 4:48 remaining.

A dunk by James made it 66-61 with 3:30 left and the sophomore swingman added two free throws for a 69-64 advantage with 41 seconds left.

"Damion James had a chance to sit on the bench in the first half to boil a little bit, because he wants to be out there, and he came out and just kicked our butt in the second half," Self said.

Although Mario Chalmers followed with a 3-pointer nine seconds later, the Longhorns were able to ice the game at the free-throw line behind two from Abrams and one from Augustin.

The Jayhawks did have a final chance for a tie, but Chalmers' leaning 3-pointer from the left wing bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

James finished 3-of-6 from the field with two 3-pointers in the second half and Atchley ended up 6-of-6 as Texas' secondary players picked up the slack for the team's leading scorers.

Despite averaging 37.6 points coming in, Augustin and Abrams were held to 24 on 6-of-26 shooting. Augustin went without a basket in the first half and finished 1-of-13 from the field.

"It's very frustrating because he (Augustin) is the key to their team and we did a good job on him and A.J. throughout the game," Chalmers said. "It's just the other players that killed us."

James also grabbed 13 rebounds as the Longhorns finished with a 36-35 edge on the boards.

"I think that they just outmanned us in the second half," Self said about the rebounding. "It does surprise me because that is all we talked about at halftime because we knew Rick Barnes would look at the stats at halftime and get on their butts about the rebounding. That was our focus at halftime and our guys did not respond to their aggressiveness. Our guards did a poor job of blocking out in the second half."

Augustin finished with 10 points and five assists and Abrams scored 14 for Texas, which went 20-of-28 from the stripe (71 percent) in improving to 4-2 against ranked teams this season.

Arthur ended up with 22 points and six rebounds for the Jayhawks, who shot 23.5 percent (4-of-17) on 3-pointers.

Darnell Jackson and Chalmers scored 13 points apiece and Brandon Rush added 10 for Kansas, which attempted only 14 free throws compared to 28 for Texas.