Texas native Marcus Garrett had already scored a career-high 19 points against the Lone Star State school that recruited him when he stepped to the free throw line with five seconds remaining in Monday’s Kansas-Texas ESPN Big Monday battle at Allen Fieldhouse.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore from Dallas bricked the first of two free throws, KU holding onto a 79-78 lead over the fast-closing Texas Longhorns, who trailed by 10 points with five minutes to play.
“I was (still confident). I looked at Dedric (Lawson). He said, ‘Just make sure you make the second one.’ I knew I had to make the second one,” said Garrett. He converted to give KU an 80-78 advantage with one UT possession left.
“I was telling them (teammates) in the huddle, ‘I think they’re going for the win,’’’ Garrett said of his message during a final stoppage called by KU coach Bill Self.
Texas indeed eschewed playing for the tie. Jase Febres, who had already swished three three-pointers in the final 3:45, missed a well-guarded (by Lagerald Vick) game-winning three-point attempt with one second left in the Jayhawks’ (15-2, 4-1) 80-78 victory over the Longhorns (10-7, 2-3).
“I felt like the dude couldn’t get his feet set. He almost had to shoot the ball from the top of his head,” Garrett said, lauding the defense of Vick, who had a hand in Febres’ face on the final try.
KU coach Bill Self said his Jayhawks were prepared for anything up two points heading into the final play of the game.
“I didn’t have any idea,” Self said, asked if he thought Texas, which hit 13 of 34 threes to KU’s 11 of 22, would hoist a potential game-winning three or drive through the lane for a possible overtime-inducing two following Garrett’s 1 of 2 free throw effort.
“We called timeout. We told them (Jayhawk players) to try to take away the three, switch everything, no ‘and-ones’ and guard the two. We told them to guard everything. We defended that well. They didn’t get off a good look,” Self added.
UT coach Shaka Smart said the final play didn’t unravel the way he’d have liked.
“We drew up an option for Matt (Coleman, 16 points, eight assists, no turnovers) to drive or throw back to Jase. Our spacing wasn’t what we wanted it to be. It was jumbled up,” Smart said. “The shot he got was not as clean as we wanted. Kansas did a good job defending it as well. We were a play away to win on the offensive end or defensive end,” Smart added.
The Longhorns were victimized all night by the strong offensive showing of four Jayhawks. Garrett — he tied his career high of 13 points 10 minutes into the game — scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He was 3 of 4 from three. Vick scored 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting (5 of 8 from three) and Lawson had 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting with eight rebounds. Devon Dotson also put up 10 points, five assists and five rebounds.
“He had a phenomenal game,” Smart said of Garrett. “For him to come out and shoot the ball as well as he shot … coming in this game he was 18 percent from three (now 7 of 26 on season, .269). We knew we had to give Lawson some extra attention. We chose to do so playing off him (Garrett). He made us pay with three threes. He was aggressive, attacking off the bounce, played great defense, was a huge difference maker,” Smart added.
Self said Garrett “was terrific. If Marcus could score more, he’d be a first-team all-league player. I’m happy for him especially playing Texas, a school that recruited him some. He’s the best defender we have and tonight the best offensive player we had, too.”
Garrett acknowledged it was good to have his breakout offensive game against in-state school Texas.
“You could say that, but to me it’s just a regular game,” Garrett said. “My teammates kept telling me to stay aggressive. Coach tells me all the time to take the open shot they give me.”
Garrett — he had three assists, three steals and two of the Jayhawks’ miniscule total of four turnovers — came up with one of the biggest defensive plays of the game.
He and Lawson converged to tie up Dylan Osetkowski (11 points, nine boards) with KU leading, 75-73. Vick hit a three on the ensuing possession and KU led, 78-73, with 1:31 remaining.
“He was backing down, I felt he was not looking to pass. I was able to sneak around and get a jump ball,” Garrett said.
Self said: “That was the biggest play of the game. That’s what he (Garrett) does. It was huge. He looked like Vinnie Johnson the first half — ‘The Microwave’ — he was heated up,” Self added, using Johnson’s nickname to describe Garrett hitting 7-of-7 shots the first half and scoring 17 points.
Really the only one negative concerning the game was KU’s inability to finish off UT after leading by 10 at the five-minute mark. Texas would have stolen the Big Monday victory had that last-second trey fallen.
“We have to do better,” Garrett said. “I really don’t know what it is with us closing games, but we have to get better at that, just focus on the end knowing we have to get good possessions. I feel at the end, the offense gets stagnant and we start taking bad shots.”
De Sousa decision coming?
This could be the week it is determined whether KU sophomore Silvio De Sousa can play basketball the rest of the season for the Jayhawks. He’s practiced but not played in games this season because of an eligibility review by the school and the NCAA.
KU coach Bill Self originally announced De Sousa would be held out of competition at Big 12 media days on Oct. 24. At the time, De Sousa and his recruitment had been discussed during a federal trial relating to corruption in college basketball.
“I can’t say there’s anything new that we know anything will be done this week in that respect at all,” Self said after Tuesday’s game. “I’m not in the know on a lot of those things. You guys (media) may not believe me but that’s factual. I’m certainly hopeful. We are getting toward the end of the season. Something needs to be determined one way or another. He is obviously ready to move forward with whatever it is. He’s been very patient and been a stud for us. As a team we need to know too. I’m certainly hopeful we’ll get something sooner rather than later but I don’t have a timeframe.”
He repeated his recent comment that De Sousa “is crushed (not getting to play). We’re hopeful, certainly not putting all our eggs in that basket. We’re hopeful,” Self added of a decision coming.
K.J. Lawson did not play (coach’s decision). … KU is 27-0 in home Big Monday contests during the 16-year Self era. KU has won 31 straight Big Monday games in Allen and is 38-1 all-time on Big Monday. … KU has defeated Texas in 15 of the last 16 meetings and 17 of 19. ... KU won its 14th straight game overall at Allen Fieldhouse. … KU had no turnovers the first half. Last time that happened was in the second half against Wofford (12/4/18). … KU committed four turnovers — fewest since committing three turnovers against Texas on Jan. 24, 2015. … Since 2016, in Big 12 regular season games decided by 10 points or fewer, KU is 37-3. … KU will meet West Virginia at 1 p.m., Central time, Saturday, at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W. Va.