KANSAS CITY – Win number 2,000 wasn't supposed to be quite this difficult.
Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry hit clutch three-pointers down the stretch as the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks pulled out an absolute dogfight against the No. 9 Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Big 12 quarterfinals, 80-68. The victory is win number 2,000 for the Kansas program.
In all actuality, the 12-point margin of victory is quite a departure from what played out in Kansas City on Thursday morning. The Raiders simply wouldn't die. Every time Kansas appeared ready to go on one of their patented double-digit runs, the challengers from Lubbock seemed ready with a response.
The Jayhawks found themselves mired in a dogfight in the first half. The 'Hawks appeared to be in prime position to create some separation 12 minutes into the half, as Kansas rattled off a quick five points to push the lead to six. Texas Tech coach Pat Knight was then called for a technical foul at a stoppage in play as he stormed to midcourt and assaulted officials with language of the "NSFW" variety before being charged with a technical.
Collins hit the ensuing free throws to push the Kansas lead to eight, but Kansas could get no further separation in the first half. The teams entered the break with Kansas leading, 34-32.
The Kansas run that was conspicuously absent in the first half made its appearance in the first few minutes of the second half. Collins, Henry and Marcus Morris accounted for 14 points in a 15-5 run to open the second half. Kansas was able to dictate the pace of play after the break, turning the game into somewhat of a controlled shootout.
Texas Tech fought to within one possession in the final five minutes, but lacked the ability to pull even. With the score sitting at 65-63 Kansas with five minutes to play, Collins and Henry drilled back-to-back three pointers to send the partisan Sprint Center crowd into a frenzy and give the Jayhawks some breathing room.
All five Tech starters – John Roberson, Darko Cohadarevic, D'Wayln Roberts, Mike Singletary and Nick Okorie – all finished in double digits in points. Cohadarevic was outstanding in the final Big 12 game of his career, consistently hitting from mid-range and beating Kansas center Cole Aldrich to the basket in the low post on several occasions.
Kansas will face the winner of No. 4 Texas A&M and Wednesday's upset winner, No. 12 Nebraska. The game between the Aggies and Huskers is set to tip off at the Sprint Center at 2 p.m.