LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 13 Kansas Jayhawks overcame a 15-point second-half deficit to upend UTEP 67-62, in its final regular season game of the season inside Allen Fieldhouse Thursday.
The 15-point comeback was Kansas’ largest of the season that resulted in a win and the most since Jan. 15, 2018, when Kansas overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat West Virginia, 71-66.
KU improved to 19-8 on the season and the Jayhawks posted a 13-1 record in Allen Fieldhouse. UTEP fell to 12-11.
The first half was a keep-up battle for the Jayhawks as they struggled to find their rhythm and shot 8-of-29 from the field. UTEP opened up strong on a 9-2 run to start the game, while Kansas fell behind early.
The Jayhawks headed into break, trailing, 34-20.
It wasn’t until the last six minutes of the contest that the Jayhawks would bring the score to within one. Kansas junior David McCormack aided the comeback while on an 8-0 scoring run, bringing the score to 55-54. McCormack scored 18 points with 10 rebounds for the game, posting his sixth double-double of the season.
After UTEP capitalized on two made free-throws and a field goal, KU junior Ochai Agbaji retaliated with a 3-pointer to tie the ballgame at 59-59 with 3:12 to play. Agbaji led KU with 19 points, including a 3-for-6 night from beyond the arc.
Kansas took its first lead of the contest when McCormack recorded a traditional 3-point play drawing a foul while making a hook shot. The and-pone put the Jayhawks in front, 62-60 with 2:31 on the clock.
After a pair of UTEP free throws tied the game, KU senior guard Marcus Garrett took over in crunch time and was able to add two points to make the score 64-62 with 22 seconds left in the ballgame. Garrett would score 11 points with five assists and four steals for the game.
Following UTEP turnover, KU redshirt-freshman Dajuan Harris Jr. was fouled and drained a pair of free throws to give KU a 66-62 edge with 15 seconds remaining. After a UTEP miss, Agbaji closed the contest making one of two free throws to end the scoring.
STAT OF THE GAME
22-6: The Jayhawks outscored the Miners 22-6 in points in the paint after halftime, which was the key to overcoming a 15-point deficit.
MOMENT OF THE GAME
McCormack’s Minute – With just under seven minutes left, KU junior David McCormack took over the game by scoring six-straight points for the Jayhawks in one minute to bring the Kansas deficit to just three at 55-52. McCormack’s spark would prove to be enough to help Kansas defeat UTEP.
- With its win, Kansas marked its 20th-straight win against non-conference opponents in Allen Fieldhouse.
- Being down by 14 at half, Kansas overcame a 14-point deficit, the largest halftime deficit in a win for the Jayhawks this season.
- With David McCormack’s double-double, at least one Jayhawk has recorded a double-double in 14 games this season.
- Trailing 55-54 with five minutes remaining, Kansas recorded its first win of the year when trailing with five minutes left on the clock.
- Ochai Agbaji scored a team-leading 19 points, recording double digit points for the 22nd time this season, while leading the team in scoring in five games this season.
- Agbaji recorded three made 3-point field goals, moving him into the top-20 in Kansas history for career 3-pointers with 138.
- Marcus Garrett recorded four steals, pushing him ahead of both Tyshawn Taylor and Jerod Haase for all-time steals at Kansas. Garrett is 12th place in KU history with 175 career steals.
- With his 11 points, Garrett scored in double figures for the 12th time this season and 36th of his career.
Kansas will enter the 2021 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, March 13-13, at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri, as the No. 2 or 3 seed. KU will open play in the event’s quarterfinals on Thursday, March 11.
Kansas is 76-28 all-time in postseason conference tournaments, including a 46-12 record in the Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks have won 15 league tourney titles with 11 of those in the Big 12 era and its last in 2018. Kansas is 20-3 in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals.