No. 20/21 Oklahoma Outlasts Kansas, 72-66
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge turned in a career day, including 10 points in the fourth quarter, to help Kansas battled with the No. 20 Oklahoma for 40 minutes, but at the final buzzer the Sooners escaped with the win, 72-66, inside Allen Fieldhouse Saturday.
Aldridge’s career-high 20-point performance marked the first time this season for a Jayhawk to reach the 20-point plateau and contributed to one of the most tantalizing KU performances in front of a season-high crowd (4,737) for the annual ‘Jayhawks for a Cure’ game.
Early in the fourth quarter, a three-pointer from Aldridge brought the game level and took the crowd noise to another in decibels. The Sooners stayed focused and pieced together six unanswered points. Aldridge’s tenth point of the period with just over a minute to play brought the game back to within a single possession, but Oklahoma would not surrender the lead.
Aldridge shot 8-of-12 from the field and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, and dished out seven assists, tying her season-high. Redshirt junior guard Timeka O’Neal found a rhythm from three-point range, knocking down five triples for 15 points on the afternoon. Freshman forward Tyler Johnson led the team in rebounds for the second time this season with six boards, and swiped two steals to tie her career-high.
Sophomore center Vionise Pierre-Louis came off the bench for the Sooners and exploded for 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting and went a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Pierre-Louis tied Aldridge for the game-high in scoring and logged three blocks. Redshirt junior guard Maddie Manning followed close behind with 18 points, and grabbed a team-high five rebounds and five steals.
Oklahoma opened the game on a 7-0 run, but the early deficit did not faze the Jayhawks. Three-consecutive triples fueled a streak of 11 unanswered points, giving Kansas a four-point lead at the 5:41 mark of the first quarter.
Redshirt junior G Timeka O’Neal drained a game-high five three-pointers
Later in the period, as Oklahoma endured a four-minute stretch with four turnovers, the Jayhawks put together another run, this time with eight-consecutive points, to push their lead to 11 points. The Sooners put in one more basket before the buzzer, leaving the Jayhawks with a 22-13 advantage and the crowd buzzing after 10 minutes of action.
The two teams traded baskets over the first five minutes of the second quarter, as the Jayhawks fought to maintain their three-possession lead. After Oklahoma broke through with a jumper from Gioya Carter to pull within six points, the Sooners only turned up their intensity.
In a mirror image of the first quarter, turnovers for Kansas allowed Oklahoma to put together an impressive run. A layup from junior forward Jada Brown with more than six minutes remaining in the half would be the Jayhawks’ final basket before the break. Six missed shots and five turnovers brought Kansas’ offense to a standstill, while Oklahoma locked in and scored the final 17 points of the half, starting their run when Aldridge turned her ankle and missed a nearly five minute stretch. The 16-point second-quarter swing left the Jayhawks trailing by seven points at the break.
Four of Kansas’ first five shots in the second half found the bottom of the net, with the last bucket pulling the Jayhawks to within a single point at the 5:08 mark. Over the next four minutes of play, the Sooners held the home team scoreless and put in seven points of their own, boosting their lead back to eight points. Momentum would shift one more time before the quarter’s end, as O’Neal drained her fourth and fifth three-pointers of the afternoon and cut Oklahoma’s advantage to only three points.
A long-range basket from Aldridge just over a minute into the fourth quarter brought the score even for the first time since the 1:58 mark of the second quarter. The evaporation of Oklahoma’s lead sparked another offensive surge from the visitors, and three quick baskets put the Sooners back on top.
Five-straight missed field goals left the door open for the Sooners to build on their lead, but the margin never reached more than eight points. Three-straight buckets from Aldridge in less than two minutes once again established a one-possession game with 70 seconds to play, but the Sooners connected on 6-of-8 free throws in the waning moments to secure the victory.
• Oklahoma claimed an all-time series lead, 36-30.
• The Jayhawks are 19-21 all-time when facing the Sooners in Allen Fieldhouse.
• KU is 119-208 all-time against Big 12 Conference foes.
• Head coach Brandon Schneider sent out the starting lineup of four guards: sophomore Lauren Aldridge, freshman Aisia Robertson, freshman Kylee Kopatich and sophomore Chayla Cheadle, along with junior F Caelynn Manning-Allen in the paint for Kansas.
• Kansas snapped a stretch of 14-straight games shooting less than 40 percent from the field by making 44.6 percent of its shots (25-of-56) against the Sooners.
• After leading Oklahoma, 22-13, after the first quarter, it was the first time Kansas led after the first session this season in Big 12 Conference play.
• The Jayhawks’ first quarter field goal percentage of 61.5 percent (8-for-13) was the highest of the season.
• Kansas was outscored, 22-6, by Oklahoma in the second quarter, KU’s second lowest scoring quarter of the season.
• The Jayhawks finished 11-for-26 from three. It is the third time in four games that Kansas has finished the game with double digit three pointers.
• Kansas finished with 17 assists, it is their fourth-straight game assisting on 10 or more baskets.
• The Jayhawks out-rebounded the Sooners, 32-26. It was the first time in five games Kansas has out-rebounded its opponent.
• Kansas outscored Oklahoma in second chance points, 16-9. This marks the first time in four games that the Jayhawks have outscored their opponents in second chance points.
• Sophomore G Lauren Aldridge had a strong first half, scoring 10 points (4-for-6) and ended up with 20 points (8-for-12) in the game. That is Aldridge’s career high in points and also the most points scored by a Jayhawk this season.
• Aldridge facilitated the ball for the Jayhawks in tying a season-high seven assists.
• After going 5-for-8 from the three point line, redshirt junior G Timeka O’Neal finished the game with 15 points. Prior to the contest, O’Neal averaged 4.5 points per game this season in conference play.
• Sophomore G Chayla Cheadle tied a career high in assists with three.
• Freshman F Tyler Johnson tied a career high in steals with two.
Kansas Head Coach Brandon Schneider
“There was a much bigger cause that we were playing for and trying to bring awareness to. When you talk about drawing almost 5,000 in attendance for a team that wins-and-losses-wise isn’t having the kind of year any of us want – I think that’s a tremendous indication of what it can be like here as we continue to improve. (The crowd) made a big difference today because I felt like our team played with great energy and passion every tick of the clock.”
On the team’s renewed effort:
“When you challenge a team, player or any individual to come back and represent yourself in a better way – and they do that and then some – of course I’m proud of them. At the same time, I think it’s important for everyone in our program to see that this is that type of effort that is required every night, if you are going to compete in this league.”
On what he told the team after the game:
“I was proud of how they responded, but that is what is required to compete in this league. We are in such an incredible conference with outstanding players and great coaches. We don’t have many practices left, and I think we have more games than practices. So I still feel like we have a chance to win a game or two, if we play like that.”
On if this game is a confidence booster, heading into the rest of the season:
“Well I hope it gives them some positive feedback that we still have the opportunity to get a win or two. The real difference in the game was the two things happened: Lauren unfortunately suffered the ankle injury and had to leave for a little bit and we had foul trouble at the same time. That is when Oklahoma went on a big run and credit them for taking advantage of some of our second unit guys.”
Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge
On what it felt like to try and get back on the floor after her injury:
“I think my teammates did a great job of tuning me in to whatever was going on, while I was out in the hallway. They just brought a lot of energy today. When you sit out for however long it was and come back on the floor, sometimes it takes the wind out of your sails a little bit. So to be able to have a team that is behind me and have a ton of pop, helped me out coming back.”
On what led to the shooting outburst tonight:
“We shared the ball. People weren’t afraid to pass it and were ready to find the open man. That was huge for us because it gives you the opportunity to shoot wide open shots, when you share the ball like we did tonight.”
On the difference between Saturday and the TCU game:
“We had a ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting the other day in the film room and it was just about how we had to represent ourselves, this university and more than anything to just pay for each other. I just took that to heart a little bit and wanted to go out and have a good game and to play for all of the reasons that we talked about in the film room.”
Oklahoma Head Coach Sherri Coale
“I want to give credit to Kansas for playing really well, they came out so hot shooting the basketball and it took us a little bit to re-center ourselves after that barrage of threes. I thought they competed all day long and I told Coach Schneider before the game that they really have continued to play hard and that continued tonight. They fought us to the very end and we had to make free throws to run away with this. When I say run away with this I mean not run away with the score, but run, get on the plane and run home with it.”
On adjustments from the first matchup between Kansas and Oklahoma:
“They have a better understanding of how their offense works and what they are looking for. You can tell they are much more convicted with their cuts, more sure about their passes. It looks like they understand their goals better. They are a very young team, so he will get them going.”
On the adjustments he made to stop the dual-threat of guard Lauren Aldridge:
“We had to go to half-court trap because we couldn’t guard them in a man-to-man, we couldn’t. We got hit by multiple screens and closed out short, shy and shallow on shooters, and we had to go to half-court trap and that defense saved us because it stretched those shooters. It stretched Aldridge, it took her away from the basket, and got the ball out of her hand and cover passing lanes, so we had to do it by committee .”
On the 17-point momentum swing in the second quarter:
“Yes certainly, I thought the second quarter was the difference in the game. Again the half trap that created offense out of our defense and our ability to go inside with Vionise (Pierre-Louis). She has just been fantastic the last month really and she was again today, eight of nine from the field and perfect from the line. I don’t think many of her baskets were easy. She was under duress and I thought she finished very, very well.”
On expecting Pierre-Louise to be the major factor in the game:
“We felt like we could have some success at the block. We have experience there, Kaylon Williams is a senior. So we really thought we could play through that and we felt like we had been settling for too many threes and coming off of a 0-for-17 shooting performance in Morgantown, so we weren’t going to come out and win it from there. We wanted to get the ball into the paint.”
The Jayhawks travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to conclude the season series with Oklahoma State on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. The matchup will be televised on Fox Sports Plus, and over the airwaves on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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