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Kansas Edges Texas Tech in Big 12 Opener

Conference play is just warming up across the country in college hoops, and if this early season Big 12 matchup was any indication of what’s to come, it’s going to be an exciting season.

Jalen Wilson blocked a potential game winner from Terrence Shannon Jr. with three seconds left to help No. 5 Kansas squeak out a win against No. 14 Texas Tech 58-57 on Thursday.  

Junior Ochai Agbaji hit the go-ahead layup for the Jayhawks with 12.8 seconds remaining in the game. He led all scorers with 23 points on 8-11 shooting and had 5 rebounds. 

Both teams came into this first in-conference game riding high. Kansas had started the season at 6-1 with wins over Kentucky and Creighton in their early slate. Their one loss was to No. 1 Gonzaga. Texas Tech also came in at 6-1, with their one loss coming to No. 17 Houston.

The matchup lived up to its billing as a battle between two of the best defensive teams in the country. Both teams shot below 41% from the field, and it took until 5:30 left in the first half for either side to reach 20 points. Kansas also had 16 turnovers. 

The game was competitive all the way through, with Kansas holding the biggest lead of the game at 8 points. For the last 8:35 of the game neither team led by more than three points. 

The latter part of the second half saw several go-ahead shots from both sides. Agbaji and Shannon Jr. traded baskets several times in the waning minutes of the game.

On the Jayhawks’ last two possessions they drew up a pair of successful inbound plays from under the opponent’s basket. Both produced shots at the rim. The first one gave them a 56-54 lead with 47 seconds left. Shannon Jr. answered with a go-ahead three before Agbaji hit the game winning layup on the second inbound play. 

Red Raider head coach Chris Beard was clearly disappointed in his team’s defensive execution in the final minute of the game, saying: “You’ve got to find a way to switch under and force people to pop out and hit jumpshots to beat you… on an out-of-bounds play you have got to figure out a way to make the play where the other team doesn’t beat you on a layup.”

Although in a losing effort, it was a career night for Shannon Jr. on the offensive end. He finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds. Highly touted transfer Mac McClung broke out of his scoring slump for the Red Raiders, adding 21 points on the night. 

Marcus Garrett was the only double-digit scorer other than Agbaji for Kansas, putting up 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Following this game, Kansas will travel home to Allen Fieldhouse for another tough in-conference matchup against the No. 8 West Virginia Mountaineers. The Red Raiders will travel to Norman, Oklahoma to continue their conference schedule against the Oklahoma Sooners. 

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