Bohls: Texas, Bishop avenge loss to Kansas State, bolster Big 12 championship chances
MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Texas Longhorns had seen the game tape. Boy, had they.
Until they were seeing purple in their sleep.
The Longhorns had tired of watching the cutups and clips of their 116-103 beatdown by Kansas State at home just over a month ago and cringed with every viewing of the Moody Center carnage.
And the team clung to that embarrassment.
“Any time you give up 116, that’s terrible basketball,” Texas power forward Christian Bishop said, leaning up against the wall by the Bramlage Coliseum ramp. “Just brutal.”
So Texas atoned.
That especially included Bishop, a super senior who scored two points with one rebound in that first meeting with Kansas State but produced arguably his best game in a Texas uniform with 14 second-half points and one big play after another, especially considering the stakes.
The 10th-ranked Longhorns rallied around his heroic effort and more than redeemed themselves with a much better defensive performance by beating the No. 7 Wildcats at their own game Saturday. That would be with the necessary toughness any team has to show to win on the road in this Big 12.
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Interim head coach Rodney Terry sized up just how big this one was, a 69-66 victory that pushed this confident Texas team to 19-4 and 8-2 in league play with a one-game lead over Iowa State and two games ahead of Kansas State, Kansas, TCU and Baylor.
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Marcus Carr continues to struggle some on offense since the Horns’ leading scorer gets so much attention from opponents, but Jabari Rice had a double-double with 10 boards and 14 points, point guard Tyrese Hunter picked up his game, the defense was on point in the clutch and UT was deadly from the free-throw line, sinking 19 of 24 tries.
Hunter did his part, helping out Carr and Rice in trying to contain Markquis Nowell, who hung 36 on the Horns on Jan. 3 but was limited to 10 points and without a 3 in his 38 minutes.
“This is one of the best wins I’ve ever been a part of in 30-plus years of coaching,” said a pumped Terry, who has guided Texas to a 12-3 mark on his watch. “Give our guys credit. They kept hanging tough. We don’t have any bad teams in this league.”
No, they don't, and Texas might be the best of them all and will have another chance to prove it Monday night at Phog Allen Fieldhouse against a vulnerable No. 8 Kansas team that got blitzed by No. 13 Iowa State for its fourth loss in six games. Baylor, for instance, is No. 11 in the country but sat in sixth place in the Big 12 on Saturday before moving up into a four-way tie for third by crushing Texas Tech.
As wounded as Texas felt before Saturday’s showdown, the Jayhawks will feel even more so Monday after committing 20 turnovers and having just one player in double digits against the Cyclones.
“I expect it to be rowdy,” Rice said of the Kansas game.
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Oh, it will. But it couldn’t be any more raucous than the Kansas State joint, which was jumping. The school even offered every reporter the requisite ear plugs on press row.
The Longhorns came into one of the Big 12's most hostile arenas with only 16 burnt orange-attired Texas fans whom this reporter counted among a sellout crowd on a “Stripe Out” night. The rest of the 11,000 fans were decked out in purple and white shirts in alternate sections and rained down boos and taunts. But after a lethargic first half from the Longhorns, no one questioned their manhood by the end.
Or their place in the league, which, thanks to the 69-66 escape, is alone in first place with eight games left.
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For the third time this season, Texas rallied from a double-digit deficit, clawing back from 14 points down against the Wildcats.
“We got to stop doing that,” Rice said.
'All I had to do was stand under the basket.'
And the 6-foot-7 Bishop was the key man, with a physical presence that took over the game in the second half after a less than sterling first half when he was scoreless on three shots. By the finish, when Rice sank 3 of 4 free throws, Bishop drove for a bucket and Kansas State air-balled a final 3-point try, Bishop had muscled his way for six rebounds, two blocks and a pair of steals.
“He was frustrated at halftime and said some things,” teammate Tyrese Hunter said of Bishop. “I can’t say them on a mic. I think he just needed to get some things off his chest. He was frustrated he wasn’t getting more out of himself.”
Bishop more than than made up for his bad first half, a period when Texas shot just 30.4% from the floor, made only 1 of 11 shots behind the arc and trailed 36-25.
Bishop, who played his high school ball just two hours away in Lee Summit, Mo., humbly downplayed his role, a selflessness this entire team employs.
“My teammates trust me and were getting me the ball where I needed it to score,” said Bishop, who is playing in his second season for Texas after three years with Creighton. “All I had to do was stand under the basket.”
Yeah, with all kinds of purple jerseys collapsing on him.
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After each post-up and emphatic dunk, he’d turn to the Texas bench and let out some epic howls. He was clearly playing angry.
“That guy is a stud,” assistant coach Chris Ogden said of Bishop.
He was on this night, a form he needs to continue to flash if the Longhorns hope to win this league and make a deep run in March. It’s true this is a guard-oriented team, but Texas desperately needs some muscle in the paint like what Bishop supplied alongside Dylan Disu, Dillon Mitchell and Brock Cunningham.
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Yeah, Bishop was feeling it so much he even attempted a 3. And missed, of course. He has yet to sink one in 10 attempts.
And how would Rice rate Bishop’s long-distance shooting form?
“On a 1 to 10?” said Rice, the team’s second-most accurate 3-point shooter at 34%. “I’d say a 7½. He hit iron. OK, maybe less than a 5.”
It’s OK. He more than did his part.
“We needed this win to stay at the top of the league,” Hunter said, “because we’re the hunted.”
Don’t tell that to Bishop, because he was on the prowl Saturday, hunting down every loose ball, boxing out and going on a rampage with those critical points, all in the second half, to lead the charge.
He sure got plenty of love for his effort.
Because as Terry strolled past Bishop on the way out of the arena, he spotted the hero and yelled out, “That’s the CB I’m looking for.”
And the one he got on a pivotal Saturday.
No. 10 Texas (19-4, 8-2) at No. 8 Kansas (18-5, 6-4), 8 p.m., ESPN, 104.9
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Texas men's team stays on top of the Big 12 with win over Kansas State