Sooners Hold Off No. 5/5 Jayhawks, 72-66
Feb. 9, 2013
NORMAN, Okla. — Kansas center Jeff Withey was one of three Jayhawks in double figures and tied the KU record for career blocks but a combined 32 points from Oklahoma’s Romero Osby and Steven Pledger helped the Sooners snap a four-game home losing streak, 72-66, in front of a sold-out Lloyd Noble Center crowd Saturday afternoon.
For the second consecutive game the No. 5/5 Jayhawks (19-4, 7-3 Big 12) left the court as their opponent’s fans rushed the hardwood with an upset victory and Saturday’s loss marked the first losing streak for Kansas since losing three in a row in 2005.
Withey scored 14 points and tied former Kansas big man Greg Ostertag with 258 career blocks after rejecting an attempt by OU’s Andrew Fitzgerald at the 19:13 mark of the second half. Kansas needed something extra to contain Osby and Pledger, however, as the duo poured in a game-high 17 and 15, respectively, for the Sooners (15-7, 6-4 Big 12) and keyed the best shooting percentage in a half by a Kansas opponent in the game’s first 20 minutes.
Ben McLemore led the Jayhawks with 15 points and Elijah Johnson reached double figures with 10 points. Travis Releford nearly had a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds.
Kansas trailed by as many as eight in the first half and nine in the second before making it a one possession game in the waning seconds. The Jayhawks last loss in Norman was the third game of that last three-game skid, a 71-63 loss Feb. 21, 2005.
Kansas, the only team in the Big 12 Conference to own an all-time series lead over the Sooners, erased any fears of a lengthy scoring drought early on a put-back dunk by Kevin Young just 38 seconds into the game.
Both teams jockeyed for the lead early with three lead changes before the Sooners grabbed control. Osby and Pledger paced the Sooners early with nine points in the first half and the team shot 55.6 percent to open the game.
The Jayhawks mustered a late charge with a pair of buckets by Naadir Tharpe in the final minute of the opening period to cut the lead in half. But, for the third game in a row and just the fifth time this season, Kansas entered the break trailing, this time 38-34.
Kansas looked to use the momentum garnered before halftime to trim the deficit early in the second and got within three on several occasions before Pledger extended it back to five for Oklahoma.
Tharpe used a three-pointer near the 13:30 mark to make it 47-44 and again cut Oklahoma’s lead in half. Perry Ellis followed with a free throw to make it a one-point game at 47-46 with 11:53 to go but the Sooners would spread it out again and that’s as close as Kansas would get.
Oklahoma kept the door open late as Osby missed just his second shot of the game with 2:30 to play and Amath M’Baye fouled out and turned the ball over with a charge, but several late turnovers for Kansas kept the team from taking advantage. Oklahoma’s Je’lon Hornbeak scored all seven of his points in the last minute and a half to help seal the win.
Kansas split the regular season series with Oklahoma after previously topping the Sooners 67-54 in Allen Fieldhouse Jan. 26.
No. 5/5 Kansas will get a day to rest before welcoming No. 13/15 K-State for the second half of the Dillion’s Sunflower Showdown in Allen Fieldhouse on ESPN’s Big Monday.
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