By Matt Tait ---- firstname.lastname@example.org
One monster half by each team provided the opportunity for a wild finish and the Kansas University men's basketball team, which dominated in the first half, made more plays than Oklahoma down the stretch and came away with a 85-78 victory at Allen Fieldhouse.
The victory featured 10 KU three-pointers and the Jayhawks coming back from a four-point deficit in the final four minutes after holding a 19-point lead at halftime.
At one point during the later portion of the first half, the Sooners trimmed KU's lead to 13 — 41-28 — and forced KU coach Bill Self to call a timeout. But the Jayhawks responded with a 10-4 run to close the final 4:40 of the first half and led 51-32 at the break.
Not discouraged by KU's hot shooting in the first half, the Sooners came out with a vengeance in the second and displayed some hot shooting of their own, first trimming the KU lead to 4 in just seven minutes and then taking their first lead of the game at 59-58 on a free throw from Buddy Hield.
That set the stage for a wild final 10 minutes, which no one would have expected to see after the way Kansas (15-3 overall, 4-1 Big 12) played in the first half.
Kelly Oubre Jr. led KU with 19 points and 9 rebounds, while Perry Ellis added 16 points and 8 boards and Cliff Alexander, after playing just two minutes in the second half on Saturday at Iowa State, responded to his coach's questions about his “motor” with a monster double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds in 23 minutes.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: OU opened the second half with a 9-0 run that turned into a 27-7 run, which erased KU's 19-point halftime lead.
• Offensive highlight: It was not just one moment, rather a stretch of eight consecutive made three-pointers to open the game for the home team. Five different Jayhawks got into the act that put KU one made three-pointer shy of tying a school record for most consecutive three-point makes. Brannen Greene, Oubre and Devonte' Graham each made two triples, with Frank Mason III and Ellis chipping in one apiece. Graham's second, the eighth in the sequence, came from the top of the key, bounced off the back of the rim eight feet into the air and then fell through, barely moving the net. Graham was the one who ended the streak with a miss from the left corner, but KU still finished 9-of-12 for the half and 10-of-19 for the game.
• Defensive highlight: KU's toughness down the stretch certainly counts. After going down 69-65 inside the final five minutes, KU forced OU misses on five of seven possessions and built a six-point lead of its own.
• Key stat: Bench scoring. OU got next to nothing from its bench, as the Jayhawks, led by Greene, outscored the Sooners 31-7 in bench points. Greene (12 points, 3-of-4 three-point shooting) had played just eight minutes — combined — in the past two games.
• Up next: The Jayhawks will head back out on the road for a tough test at Texas at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be shown on CBS.