KU’s big men too much for Sooners
Oklahoma ran into a buzz saw at No. 3 Kansas and came away with a loss as the Jayhawks prevailed, 67-54.
Jeff Withey, a 7-footer, had four blocked shots and 13 points and nine rebounds for Kansas.
“It was a ballgame where we were trying to hang in there most of the way and just couldn’t quite ever get to a point where we threatened seriously down the stretch,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “Kansas is awfully good. I thought they were great defensively. They’ve got a lot of guys on the perimeter who guard the ball very, very well. (Jeff) Withey does a terrific job and I thought he kind of set the tone early in the ballgame. We just never did get any flow offensively. I thought we battled pretty well defensively, but we turned the ball over and gave them some transition baskets. Still, Kansas is very good and we’ve got to play much better than we did today to have a chance to hang in there with them.”
Oklahoma lost for just the second time in the last eight games. The win was KU’s 33rd straight and 102nd in its last 103 at Allen Fieldhouse.
“He’s a unique player in not only our league, but (all of) college basketball in terms of the fact that you don’t play against those types of players that often,” Kruger said of Withey. “He erases any mistakes on the perimeter, plus he guards his own guy inside. He not only blocks a lot of shots, but he changes a lot of shots and does that to a lot of people. He does it very well.”
The nation’s top field goal percentage defensive squad entering the game (opponents were shooting .348 on the year), Kansas held the Sooners to a .356 mark. OU, which was just 8-for-28 in the first half .286, entered the day leading the Big 12 (league games only) with its .459 field goal mark.
After going seven straight games without getting outrebounded, the Sooners got outboarded for the second straight contest. Kansas pulled down 41 rebounds to OU’s 31. It was OU’s second largest rebounding deficit of the season.
“We did some good things defensively,” said KU coach Bill Self. “They didn’t make shots. We took away (Steven) Pledger for the most part except for a couple of looks he got. I think they made their third three (pointer) under the last minute. We rebounded the ball well for the most part so there were some good things that took place defensively. Offensively we were stale again. We didn’t have good guard play at all today. But we hung in there and won and made some shots in the second half. It was good to see the ball go in the basket in the second half.
“Jeff (Whithey) played great. He made some plays that I think would rival some of the better plays that he’s made this entire year. Defensively we make some mistakes and he covers up the floor behind us and rebounded the ball pretty well and that’s a tough matchup, (Romero) Osby; that’s a tough matchup. Their bigs plays well away from the basket. I thought he did some good things, but we didn’t play with a lot of energy. We didn’t pressure. We didn’t play the way I feel like the way we needed to play to be our best.”
No Sooner made more than four field goals (Buddy Hield, Amath M’Baye, Osby and Pledger each made four). Pledger (4-for-8) was the only starter to shoot at least 50 percent from the floor.
M’Baye and Osby each scored a team-high 12 points, but did it on a combined 8-for-27 field goal shooting (.296). M’Baye was 4-for-11 and grabbed seven rebounds, while Osby was 4-for-16 and had six boards. Osby entered the day shooting .600 from the field over the 10 most recent games.
The loss was OU’s 10th straight against Kansas and 12th consecutive at Allen Fieldhouse. The Sooners’ last win in the building came in 1993.
OU hosted Baylor Wednesday night and host Kansas State at 5 p.m. Saturday in Norman.