'Hawks Edge 'Horns for Another B12 Crown
Sunday, March 11, 2007; 11:51 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY -- As coach Bill Self cut down the nets to commemorate Kansas' second straight Big 12 tournament title, a shout came from the crowd: "And now a national championship!"
After surviving another stellar effort by Texas' Kevin Durant, the second-ranked Jayhawks appear primed to make a run at another set of nets.
"Our confidence level is pretty high right now," Kansas guard Brandon Rush said. "Just making big plays at the right time."
Sherron Collins scored 20 points, and Rush and Julian Wright each added 19 points to help Kansas rally from a 22-point deficit to beat Texas 88-84 in the Big 12 championship game Sunday and earn a top seed in the NCAA tournament.
Durant, the Big 12 player of the year, matched his career high with 37 points but took only two shots and did not score in overtime.
"I don't want to play him again," Self said.
The only chance for another rematch would be in the NCAA championship game, with Kansas a No. 1 seed on one half of the bracket and Texas a No. 4 seed on the opposite side. The Jayhawks enter the tournament on a season-best 11-game winning streak. They've lost in the tournament's first round each of the past two seasons.
Russell Robinson hit a jumper from the left wing to put Kansas (30-4) on top 83-81 with 2:19 left in the extra period, and Wright added a free throw to push the lead to three. D.J. Augustin had a 3-point attempt and a runner in the lane blocked on consecutive Texas possessions, and Darnell Jackson's two free throws extended Kansas' lead to 86-81 with 13.2 seconds left.
A.J. Abrams hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to give No. 15 Texas (24-9) one last chance, but Robinson hit two foul shots with 5.3 seconds left to seal the win. Durant's final shot _ a 3-pointer from the right wing _ caromed away with 2 seconds left.
"That's one of the best games I've ever been a part of. That comeback in Lawrence paled in comparison," said Self, whose team erased a 16-point deficit to beat Texas a week earlier.
Mario Chalmers _ who hit the tying 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to force overtime _ contributed 17 points for Kansas, which has won five Big 12 tournament titles.
Abrams added 19 points for Texas. Two days after rallying from 20 points down against Baylor in the biggest comeback in Big 12 tournament history, the Longhorns gave up an even bigger lead.