Sooners close strong, outduel Jayhawks, 85-80

NORMAN, Okla. – A 24-point outing from senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk wasn’t enough as the No. 5/5 Kansas Jayhawks were upended by the No. 12/11 Oklahoma Sooners, 85-80, Tuesday night inside Lloyd Noble Center. KU tallied just two field goals over the final seven minutes of regulation as the Sooners sprinted past the Jayhawks on a 15-4 run to close the game.
The loss snapped Kansas’ five-game winning streak and dropped the Jayhawks’ record to 16-4 and 6-2 in the Big 12. Oklahoma moved to 15-4 in its 2017-18 campaign and 5-3 in league play.
Leading by 10 points with just over nine minutes remaining in regulation, the Jayhawks saw Oklahoma end the game on a 23-8 run to secure its first victory over KU in Norman in its last three tries. The Sooners got to the line on six occasions in those final nine minutes and connected on all 11 of their 14  free throw tries. Meanwhile, Kansas managed only four field goals in that same span, but also got to the charity stripe often down the final stretch. But unlike the Sooners, the rims weren’t as kind to the visitors.
KU missed all five of its free throw tries over the final four minutes and was 1-of-7 in the second half. Despite the free throw woes, the Jayhawks managed to maintain the lead all the way until the final minutes of regulation. OU’s Christian James sunk his third and final 3-pointer of the night as the clock ticked into the final minute to put his team ahead 82-80.
Another empty possession ensued on KU’s next possession, when Mykhailiuk was off the mark on a corner 3-point attempt. Twenty seconds later, Brady Manek sunk a trey from the top of the arc to seal the win for the Sooners, 85-80.
It was a slow start on the offensive ends for both squads, who combined to hit just five of their first 16 field goal attempts. Malik Newman’s 3-pointer five minutes into the contest kicked off a 14-5 KU run that saw the Jayhawks build a six-point lead on the Oklahoma over the next five minutes.
Six different Sooners scored on OU’s ensuing 26-7 run that saw the home side claim a nine-point advantage, 35-26, with just under five minutes remaining in the half. Ninety seconds later OU’s Trae Young slashed to the bucket and laid in his fifth and sixth points of the first stanza and the Jayhawks faced their first double-digit deficit of the night, trailing 39-29.
Newman helped his team weather the storm though, keying another KU run to help his team storm back and get within streaking distance before the intermission. The redshirt sophomore scored eight points in a 12-4 Jayhawk run to close out the first half and brought Kansas within two points, 43-41, as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
The Jayhawks came out of the intermission on a mission. Mykhailiuk hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game less than 20 seconds after the restart to get the Jayhawks back in front. Newman followed less than a minute later with another trey before Udoka Azubuike, who was forced to watch the majority of the first half from the bench, came alive. The 7-0 foot big man scored eight-straight points, including two rim-rattling dunks to highlight a 14-2 run to start the second half and hand the Jayhawks a 55-47 lead less than four minutes into the half.
After being held without a 3-pointer in the opening 20 minutes, Young’s first try from long-range was a swish and got the Sooners rolling at the 15:30 mark. The bucket was part of a 7-0 OU spurt that saw Oklahoma claw back to within two points with more than 14 minutes left in regulation.
Mykhailiuk’s torrid second-half shooting continued as the senior tallied seven of his team’s next 14 points, which included second his trey at 9:25 to hand KU its largest lead of the night, 72-62.
But as had been the case all night, the other team had an answer and this time the Sooners would go on a run that KU would be unable to counter. Each of OU’s final 22 points came from either the charity stripe or behind the 3-point line as Oklahoma outscored the Jayhawks 22-8 in the final nine minutes of regulation.
Mykhailiuk led Kansas with 24 points, 13 of which came in the second half, and posted a 6-of-13 clip from the 3-point line. Newman was close behind with 20 points. Devonte’ Graham scored in double-figures for the 12th-straight game with his 11 points. The senior guard was just one assist and three rebounds shy of his first-career double-double.
Kansas steps out of league play to host former Big 12 foe Texas A&M in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, Saturday, Jan. 27 at 3:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN. Kansas is 3-1 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge and has won its last three games in the event with a win against Florida in 2014-15 and two victories versus Kentucky in 2015-16 and 2016-17. KU is 20-1 all-time against Texas A&M, including 10-1 in Allen Fieldhouse. For the contest, the KU staff will be participating in the NABC’s Coaches vs. Cancer Suits And Sneakers®. The event unites coaches across the country to raise funds and awareness about the fight against cancer, and promotes the American Cancer Society.