No. 8 Kansas Uses Sharp-Shooting Second Half to Beat Oklahoma, 84-62

Feb. 1, 2012

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 8 Kansas drained 10-straight shots to open the second half to defeat Oklahoma, 84-62, and wrap up the first half of the Big 12 Conference regular-season, Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas (18-4, 8-1) shot a blistering 71 percent from the floor in the final frame – including a 10-for-10 start – to eradicate a slim three-point halftime lead and sail past Oklahoma (13-8, 3-6). The 22-point spread marked the second-largest of the Big 12 season.

Junior forward Thomas Robinson turned in his Big-12 best 15th double-double with 20 points, 17 rebounds and a career-high tying four assists. It was senior guard Tyshawn Taylor, however, that led the floor. His 21 points marked his sixth 20-plus point effort of the year and fourth in Big 12 play, while dishing out six assists.

Led by a 7-for-7 performance at the free-throw line by junior center Jeff Withey, KU shot 90 percent from the line in the first half and finished at 80 percent for the game – the third time this season the Jayhawks have shot 80 percent or better from the charity stripe this season.

Taylor and the Jayhawk big men powered the second-half charge. When Robinson found Withey for the layup to break the 20-point lead barrier, the two had already combined for 19 second-half points in less than 12 minutes. By night’s end, the trio chalked up 38 of the Jayhawks’ 50 points in the final 20 minutes.

Oklahoma’s Steven Pledger – one of only two players in the Big 12 to score more per game than Kansas’ Robinson – scored 17 points, while junior forward Romero Osby led the Sooners with 19. In both meetings this season, KU and OU tied each other on the boards (31).

Robinson hit his first attempt 10 seconds after tipoff and fellow junior Travis Releford connected on his first shot from behind the arc to help Kansas jump out to the 9-2 lead. By the first media timeout, all but one of Kansas’ starters had scored, contrasting OU’s lineup. Through nearly the first five minutes, junior forward Andrew Fitzgerald was the only Sooner contributor, scoring six-straight to open the game.

By the time Fitzgerald posted his next bucket, the Sooners had cut the Jayhawks’ quick start to a two-point, 13-11, deficit, while holding the Jayhawks without a field goal for a 5:53-minute span. The two-point gap was short lived, however, as Releford capped a 7-2 KU run with the tip-in.

Back-to-back threes from junior guard Elijah Johnson stretched the KU lead back to nine as the first-half approached the five-minute mark. Barley 60 seconds later, Robinson’s dunk pushed the Jayhawks to their first double-digit edge of the evening, forcing a timeout from first-year OU coach Lon Kruger as his team fell behind, 30-19.

The break worked solidly in OU’s favor. The Sooners hit five of their last seven shots in final four minutes to close the half on a 12-4 run, sending the game to break with Kansas ahead, 34-31.

After watching its momentum dwindle in the waning moments of the first half, the Kansas offense rattled off an immediate 8-0 run in response to kickoff the final period. Robinson took off for a tomahawk dunk, fueling the sold-out crowd.

Meanwhile, Withey swatted away a shot from Pledger in Oklahoma’s next trip down the floor to complete the momentum shift. By the first media timeout of the half, Kansas was firing at 100 percent (7-for-7) from the floor as the Jayhawks sprinted out to a 48-35 lead.

In fact, it took almost 10 minutes for the Jayhawks to miss – cranking out 10-straight buckets. When the first miss finally came, Kansas had roared out to a 25-10 run following intermission and held a 59-41 lead with less than 10 minutes to play.

By the final media timeout, Kansas had turned a three-point halftime lead into a 30-point advantage. With the game in hand, the Jayhawk starters took a seat and the bench players closed out the 84-62 victory.

No. 8 Kansas will have a two-game road swing starting in Columbia, Mo., to face Border Showdown rival No. 4 Missouri on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The game will be the setting for ESPN’s College Gameday, which KU has been a part of seven of the eight seasons the show has existed. Previously, Kansas hosted College Gameday in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2011 and was at Texas in 2006 and at Kansas State in 2010. KU will then travel to Waco, Texas to take on No. 6 Baylor on Wednesday, Feb. 8 on ESPN.