It’s tough to beat Kansas in their Big 12 opener. The Jayhawks haven’t lost one since 1991. They still haven’t, as Oklahoma relinquished a 90-83 victory to Kansas Wednesday evening. Cameron Clark was exemplary, leading all scorers with 32 points, but Oklahoma couldn’t seem to end either half on a high note, which ultimately cost them the game.
After gaining a 43-39 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the first half, the Sooners were outscored 11-1 to end the half and walked into the locker room down six. In the second, Oklahoma was able to cut the Jayhawks lead to 85-81 with just under two minutes. It would, however, be short-lived, as several errant and ill-advised threes forced the Sooners to resort to fouling, and allowed Kansas to run away with the game. The Jayhawks simply needed to sink their free throws, which they did with aplomb.
Though free throws were a help for the Jayhawks, they only seemed to hurt the Sooners. Clark missed a free throw that could have cut the lead to five with five and a half to play. Buddy Hield missed a free throw that could have cut the lead to four with two and a half to play. When Oklahoma cut it to 85-81, it was bittersweet because it could have been 85-82 had Clark not missed a free throw.
A stagnant start to the second half saw Kansas score the first five points and take an 11 point lead. Though it would grow no larger than 12, the Jayhawks’ lead never wavered far from double digits for most of the half. The final eight minutes of the game were the most nerve-racking. Sooner fans watched as their team whittled the lead down, only to see it regenerate just as quickly. Several frustrating sequences later, fans were already heading for the exits, dejected.
Freshman Wayne Selden, Jr. realized his potential, uncorking a career high 24 points on the Sooners, including five three pointers. Early on, Selden terrorized the Sooner defense, scoring fifteen points in the first 10 minutes as Kansas raced out to an early lead. Perry Ellis was next, with 22 points and 11 boards for the Jayhawks. The Sooners were, however, able to hold perhaps the most talked about Jayhawks, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, to 15 points on 4-for-13 shooting, a silver lining in an otherwise disappointing loss.
Aside from Clark, the Sooners had Buddy Hield, who scored 18 points and pulled down eight boards for a really solid day. Tyler Neal provided steady play off the bench, with 11 points. Jordan Woodard was the only other Sooner to score in double figures, going 10-for-10 from the free throw line to score 10 points.
The Sooners were outrebounded 36-22 by a much more athletic and lengthy Jayhawks squad. KU outscored Oklahoma in the paint, 34-16. The Sooners did force 14 turnovers, and scored a total of 20 points off of them. But the defense allowed Kansas to shoot 54.7% from the floor, and it’s tough to buy a win against that kind of efficiency.
Next up, the Sooners (12-3, 1-1) face a tough task, as they try to rebound against unbeaten Iowa State (14-0, 2-0). Tip-off is set for 11 AM CST on Jan. 11 at the Lloyd Noble Center.
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