Ten Big 12 Conference regular season championships in a row! The Kansas Jayhawks (22-6, 13-2) earned at least a share of their 10th straight title with a hard fought 83-75 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners (20-8, 9-6). They need to win one of their final three games to hold the title outright.
This match up was not easy, despite a quick stat by the Jayhawks. Kansas jumped out to a 15-4 start in just over 5 minutes, but Oklahoma started to get some shots to fall, and came charging back. The Sooners tied it up at 25 at the 6:09 mark, and they took the lead 40 seconds later.
The two teams battled back and forth for the next few minutes but Kansas closed out the half on a 10-0 run. The Jayhawks survived two long scoring droughts in the first half – they were stuck on 15 points for nearly 5 minutes, and 25 for two and a half minutes – before leaving the court at intermission with a nine point lead.
The Sooners weren’t about to rollover like Texas did. Oklahoma outscored Kansas 13-4 in the first six minutes of the second half. Neither team could break away from that point on, with Oklahoma just 3 points down with 3:20 to go. Kansas was able to execute down the stretch to hold off a very tenacious Sooners squad.
All five Kansas Jayhawks starters finished in double figures. Naadir Tharpe, who struggled a bit the last two games, led the team with 19 points, 5 assists, and just one turnover. Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden Jr. each had 15 on the night. Perry Ellis had a little bit if a bounce back game, scoring 11, with 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
The big man in the middle, Joel Embiid had a good game, recording his 7th double-double of the season. He scored 12 points, hauled in 13 rebounds, and added 3 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks, 4 turnovers, and 3 fouls to really fill up the stat sheet.
For the Sooners, as expected, their three fine guards led the way. Cameron Clark, who is just a match up nightmare for a lot of teams, dropped in 18, Buddy Hield added 16, and Jordan Woodard pitched in with 10.
Ryan Spangler contributed 9 points and 9 rebounds.
Neither team shot particularly well, as both hit right around 44% of their field goal attempts, but both teams were good at the line. In Norman in January, both teams shot 80% from the line.
In Monday’s match up, the Sooners hit 15 of their 20 charities (75%), and Kansas went 26-30 from the line (86.7%).
The Jayhawks were inconsistent with their defense and intensity for most of the game, but they played tough and focused down the stretch, not allowing the Sooners the lead back after Kansas reclaimed it with 8:42 left in the game.
They kept just ahead of Oklahoma, and they were able to seal the game away late by hitting their free throws.
The game may not have been as pretty, or as easy, a win as Saturday’s game against Texas, but it was very good win against a talented and scrappy Sooner squad. It was good for the Jayhawks to be tested, and for them to withstand a great challenge from a very good team.
The Jayhawks finish off the regular season against a rejuvenated Oklahoma State team on Saturday, then a home game against Texas Tech next week, then they wrap up the regular season on the road against an improved West Virgina squad.
The Kansas Jayhawks need to win one of these three for the outright Big 12 title, but they are also playing for a number one seed. They need every win.