Top-ranked Houston claims Big 12 regular-season title with 76-46 win over No. 14 Kansas

Kansas's Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) and Houston's J'Wan Roberts chase a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Kansas’s Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) and Houston’s J’Wan Roberts chase a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON (AP) — Jamal Shead had 13 points, six rebounds and eight assists, Damian Dunn added 12 points and No. 1 Houston claimed the Big 12 regular-season title in its first season in the conference, dominating No. 14 Kansas 76-46 on Saturday.

L.J. Cryer scored 11 points and J’Wan Roberts had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Cougars (28-3, 15-3), who shot 46% from the field and hit 6 3-pointers on the way to a 40-21 lead at the half.

“Showing them what we’ve been doing all year,” Shead said. “They didn’t get our best shot at Kansas, we got theirs. I guess we gave them our best shot today.”

Houston shot 44% for the game and hit 11 of 29 shots from long distance, while forcing 18 turnovers and converting them into 30 points.

“It’s gratifying,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said of winning the Big 12. “I’m happy for everybody. There’s so many people that have an inferior complex about … we’re the University of Houston. This is a damn good school. We live in a damn good city, and we’re a damn good basketball program. We should never ever, ever, ever take a backseat to anybody.”

The Cougars closed out their regular season by winning their ninth straight game and extending their home winning streak to 22 games.

“It’s almost like people thought the only teams we played were American (Athletic Conference),” Sampson said of Houston’s former conference. “You don’t get to the Final Four or Elite Eight or Sweet Sixteen without beating other really, really good teams. The only difference was playing them every night, but they had to play us, too.”

Hunter Dickinson had 11 points and six rebounds for Kansas, but left with 11:08 remaining holding his right shoulder after battling for a rebound.

Kansas coach Bill Self said Dickinson dislocated his shoulder, but it popped back in.

“He will have an MRI to see what the diagnosis is and try to get a gameplan moving forward for him,” Self said.

Kevin McCullar Jr., who tweaked his knee earlier in the week against Kansas State, was scoreless in 15 minutes in the first half. He didn’t play in the second half.

“Kevin, he hadn’t done anything since K-State much, and then, today, he felt better, thought he’d try,” Self said. “I wish we wouldn’t have played Kev. It’s a pretty level of concern when your two best players are questionable moving forward.”

Self added that it was too soon to know if either would be available for the upcoming Big 12 Tournament.

Kansas (22-9, 10-8) has lost three of its last four games. The Jayhawks shot 33% and were 3 for 21 from 3-point distance.

Houston controlled the first half, charging to a 34-9 lead. Kansas missed 10 straight field goal attempts at one point.

The game was a stark contrast to the teams’ first meeting on Feb. 3 in Lawrence when Kansas jumped out to a 23-11 lead and shot 69% en route to a 78-65 win.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The Jayhawks’ lost for the sixth time in seven games on the road.

Houston: The Cougars won their 12th regular-season conference championship and fifth in the last six seasons under coach Kelvin Sampson.

UP NEXT

Kansas: Opens the Big 12 Tournament on Wednesday or Thursday in Kansas City.

Houston: Opens the Big 12 Tournament as the No. 1 seed on Thursday in the quarterfinals in Kansas City.

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