No. 14/15 Kansas Dominates Second Half to Defeat Oklahoma, 72-61
Jan. 7, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. – Another career performance from junior guard Travis Releford and a second half controlled by the Jayhawks propelled No. 14/15 Kansas over Oklahoma, 72-61, at the Lloyd Noble Center, Saturday afternoon.
Kansas (12-3, 2-0) won its eighth-straight against Oklahoma (10-4, 0-2) using a 23-4 run to start the second half to wipe out a 34-33 halftime deficit, just the second time Kansas has trailed to start the second half this season.
OU’s Steven Pledger and KU’s Thomas Robinson entered the weekend as the Big 12’s third and fourth in scoring, respectively, but the afternoon belonged to Releford. After collecting his first career double-double against Kansas State, Releford hit his first 6-of-7 shots to kick off the game, racing out to 16 points in the first half, tying the career-high he set last Wednesday against KSU.
The Kansas City, Mo. native, would cruise to a new career-best, finishing the game with a team-best 28 points on a 9-for-13 day, the ninth 20-point performance by a Jayhawk this season.
After nearly doubling up Kansas State on the boards in its Big 12 opener, Kansas faced the Big 12’s leading rebounding team on its home floor in Oklahoma. The Sooners built the lead on the glass 20-15 in the first half, but Kansas would come back to knot the battle for the boards at 34 by game’s end. Kansas has either led or tied its opponents on the glass in 14-straight matchups.
Three days after being named the No. 1 candidate for national player of the year in Dick Vitale’s midseason list, Robinson hit double figures with 11 first-half points and added seven more to that by the end of the game. Releford and Robinson’s first-half effort proved vitally necessary as junior guard Elijah Johnson’s two points were the only other points Kansas would receive from its starting lineup in the first half.
OU’s Pledger, however, would receive much less assistance. Oklahoma’s leading scorer was the only Sooner with more than 10 points until less than two minutes remained in the contest. Pledger’s 14 points led the Sooners.
In a tale of two halves, the Sooners knocked down three, three-points to climb to a 10-5 lead before Releford highlighted a 13-3 Kansas run with a long three-pointer of his own. A Conner Teahan cut to the basket resulted in a Jayhawk layup and first-year OU head coach Lon Kruger wanted the timeout as Kansas took the 18-13 lead.
While Pledger hit his first two from beyond the arc for the Sooners, Releford did the same for Kansas as both teams caught fire to shoot over 50 percent midway through the first half. Although they would be the only threes hit in the first half for both teams, it was Kansas with the 22-6 edge in the paint, as the Jayhawks worked to find the high-percentage shots.
Pledger hit both free throws after the foul called on KU’s Justin Wesley to cut the Kansas lead to one before junior forward Romero Osby hit the jumper that would hand the lead back over to the Sooners, 28-27, with three and a half minutes to play. OU would hang on to the one-point lead, taking a 34-33 edge into halftime.
After the break, Kansas turned the game completely around. The Jayhawks opened the second half with a 7-0 run to retake the lead, 40-33, in less than three minutes. Releford maintained his leading role, sinking his season-high third three pointer of the game to help KU to its first double-digit lead of the afternoon, 49-38.
The lead would only mount from there. When another Robinson dunk pushed Kansas to a commanding 56-38 edge with 12 minutes still remaining. Looking to erase a rare first-half deficit, Kansas was 11-for-16 midway through the second frame while OU started the final half shooting a chilly 3-for-12 en route to ending the day shooting 50 and 38 percent, respectively.
By the time Johnson cranked out his only three of the game, KU’s lead cracked the 20-point margin. Kansas never lost control in the game’s final minutes, using senior guard Tyshawn Taylor’s nine second-half points. A late layup from freshman guard Naadir Tharpe would keep the winning margin in double figures after OU’s Carl Blair hit a last second three brought the game to its final score, 72-61.
No. 14/15 Kansas will play at Texas Tech, Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. The Jayhawks then return to Allen Fieldhouse for two games when they host Iowa State and Saturday, Jan. 14 at 3 p.m. on the Big 12 Television Network and No. 4/5 Baylor on Monday, Jan. 16 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN Big Monday.