Death, taxes, and Kansas winning the Big 12 opener.
KU has rattled off 14 consecutive conference titles, which is an NCAA Division 1 record. But the program’s most remarkable streak may just be its mind-boggling run of winning the first game of Big 12 play.
For at least one more year, the latter streak remained intact as No. 5 KU rolled to a 70-63 victory over No. 23 Oklahoma Wednesday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks (12-1, 1-0 Big 12) have now won 28-straight conference openers dating back to the 1991-92 season. The Sooners (11-2, 0-1) still have not won in Lawrence since 1993, dropping their previous 18 meetings in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas erased a 7-0 deficit out of the gate with a impressive 21-4 run, and the reigning conference champs never looked back. The Sooners made a charge in the second half, but the Jayhawks never relinquished their lead.
Four players scored in double figures for Kansas in the win. Freshman Devon Dotson led the way with 16 points, while freshman Quentin Grimes finished with 14 points. Dedric Lawson added 13 points, and senior Lagerald Vick registered 12 points.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: The Big 12 opener changed drastically after Kansas responded from an early deficit.
The Sooners jumped out to a 7-0 advantage before KU coach Bill Self called a timeout. The Jayhawks eventually led by the second media timeout, and then they broke the game open by the third media timeout.
Kansas ultimately went on a 21-4 run, which included a stretch of 15 unanswered points. The Jayhawks scored points in transition, forcing their opposition into multiple mistakes. In half-court situations, Kansas pounded the ball inside and let Azubuike go to work in his second contest back since missing nearly a month.
• Offensive highlight: Lawson closed out an otherwise quiet half with a nifty layup.
Self called a pick-and-pop play for Lawson, who got the ball and immediately attacked the left side of the lane. Lawson met an OU defender before he got the rim, so he scooped the attempt under the opposing arms.
The basket not only went in, but Lawson earned a trip to the line with an and-one opportunity. Lawson finished off the sequence to help the Jayhawks take a 40-25 advantage at the intermission.
• Defensive highlight: Kansas clogged the lane for much of the night against Oklahoma, forcing the opposition to take more attempts from downtown.
The strategy was a logical one, as the Sooners posted a 36.9 clip from long range during nonconferene play and preferred to take its shots from inside the arc. In fact, 53.8 percent of OU’s point production came via 2-point shots against nonconference foes.
Oklahoma’s emphasis to go inside led to a monster block by Azubuike in the first half. What made the play even more impressive was the fact he did so with his left hand, swatting the ball a good distance in the process.
• Up next: Kansas travels to Iowa State at 4 p.m. Saturday.