AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Longhorns are making a habit of turning close game into close losses.
The latest was Saturday's 69-66 loss to No. 7 Kansas after the Longhorns had rallied from a big early deficit to take a late lead.
Kansas' Jeff Withey made a layup and free throw with 37 seconds to play to put the Jayhawks in front, and Thomas Robinson added a free throw with 8 seconds left to close out the victory.
Texas' J'Covan Brown missed a tying 3-pointer with 2 seconds left, and instead of grabbing their biggest win of the season, the Longhorns lost their third consecutive game. It also was their fifth loss of the season by six points or less.
Brown scored 24 points and has averaged 26 in the last three games. Once again he shouldered the offense in the second half but missed big shots at the end. Brown also missed with 15 seconds left before Kansas grabbed the rebound and Robinson was fouled to set up his final trip to the line.
"I want to be a big-time player and big-time players need to make big-time shots," Brown said. "I'm just frustrated that I'm not finishing."
The losses are starting to make Texas (12-7, 2-4 Big 12) desperate for a big win. The Longhorns have been annual title contenders in the Big 12, but this season count six freshmen among nine recruited scholarship players and Brown, a junior, has proved to be their only reliable scorer
"Right now we want wins," senior center Clint Chapman said. "As far as moral victories go, you can never take those because if you base your program on moral victories, you can't grow."
The young Longhorns had their chances against the Jayhawks on Saturday. After trailing by 15 in the first half and by 14 early in the second, Texas rallied to take a 59-58 lead on a basket by Chapman with just over 5 minutes to play.
Brown's 3-pointer with 3:20 to play put Texas up 64-60. Brown had two 3-pointers reviewed by game officials earlier, turned and shook three fingers in the air after making it.
Kansas retook the lead on a three-point play by Tyshawn Taylor before Brown made two free throws. Kansas looked in trouble when Taylor then missed two from the line and Robinson missed a layup before Withey's three-point play.
"To win on the road shows a lot of toughness," said Taylor, who scored 22 points to lead the Jayhawks in their first game since handing Baylor its first loss of the season. Robinson finished with 17 points and nine rebounds and Withey scored 12.
Kansas beat Baylor at home and Jayhawks coach Bill Self called the close victory at Texas the "best win we have had all year ... I thought we were fortunate."
Kansas (16-3, 6-0) is the only Big 12 team still undefeated in conference play.
After the game, Taylor was already looking ahead to the rematch at Kansas on March 3. Last season, Texas beat Kansas in Lawrence to end the Jayhawks' 69-game home winning streak.
"I'm sure it's going to be another dogfight," Taylor said.