The No. 8-ranked Kansas Jayhawks put triple digits on the scoreboard against Oklahoma, treating the Sooners like a non-conference visitor to Allen Fieldhouse in a Big Monday drubbing.
The 104-74 victory marked KU’s first 100-point game in Big 12 play since the triple-overtime classic against the Sooners in 2016, and the team’s fourth time reaching the century mark this season — the others came versus Texas Southern, Oakland and Omaha.
From a surprisingly impactful Silvio De Sousa, to a classic 23-point, seven-assist night for Devonte’ Graham, Kansas made everything look easy while taking a half-game lead in the league standings over Texas Tech.
Here are five statistics that made the Jayhawks’ rout of Oklahoma possible.
Devastating second half
Remember when OU cut KU’s lead to seven points early in the second half? Yeah, neither do I. But it happened.
The Jayhawks (22-6 overall, 11-4 Big 12) so thoroughly dominated during the stretch run the game felt like a blowout from start to finish.
KU made 62.5% of its second-half shots by exposing OU’s subpar defense over and over again. If the Sooners gave a shooter too much space outside, the Jayhawks knocked in 3-pointers (7 of 12). If a driving angle or entry pass to the paint presented itself, Kansas gladly took a layup. KU scored 10 points off lay-ins and 12 points via dunks during the course of the second half.
Kansas scored 26 points in the paint over the course of the final 20 minutes, making it easy to put up 55 points — only the second time the team has put up 50 or more in a half during league play.
This is not a typo: Kansas finished with 13 more rebounds than Oklahoma.
In years past, such a margin in KU’s favor would barely inspire a reaction. But this year’s Jayhawks do not pound the glass the way most Bill Self teams have.
Kansas was out-rebounded in 15 of its previous 16 games before Udoka Azubuike (8 boards) and Svi Mykhailiuk (7 rebounds) helped the home team gather 38, to OU’s 25.
Sharing rebounding responsibilities seemed to be a good sign, too. Lagerald Vick chipped in 6 (his most since Jan. 13), Graham added five and freshman big De Sousa came through with a career-best 6, as well.
If Azubuike isn’t going to routinely snag 10 or more boards (he’s averaging 7.1 on the season, 6.4 in Big 12 games), every KU player who steps on the court is going to have to help out.
Subs provide a spark
KU’s lack of depth has proven to be one of the team’s weaknesses this season. As a result, the Jayhawks more often than not have lacked production off the bench.
The Jayhawks came up short in head-to-head bench points in 11 of their first 14 conference games. That problem went away, at least for one night, against Oklahoma, as the Kansas substitutes outperformed OU’s backups 18-8.
De Sousa, with his perfect 3-for-3 shooting from the floor and 4-for-4 success at the free-throw line for 10 points, outscored the Oklahoma bench by himself.
Neither Marcus Garrett (2 points), nor Mitch Lightfoot (4 points) had a particularly impactful night on offense, but if KU can now get significant help from one of those two or De Sousa every game that would qualify as a great late-season development.
Nothing easy for Young
Oklahoma freshman sensation Trae Young put together a remarkable 26-point, 9-assist show in the Sooners’ January win over Kansas, but had no such luck in the rematch.
KU harassed Young and made him work for every inch at Allen Fieldhouse. OU’s star point guard made just 3 of 13 shots, scored a career-low 11 points and turned the ball over 5 times in 35 minutes in the blowout.
Even when Young got by a perimeter defender the help defense stepped up to make sure he didn’t get into a flow with a layup.
Four of Young’s misses came when a Kansas big blocked his attempt. Lightfoot denied Young once and Azubuike swatted the star freshman three different times.
As a result, Young made just 2 of 6 layups in the loss.
No more slump for Svi
Just 7 of 26 (26.9%) in his previous four games, a stretch during which he averaged just 5.5 points — almost a full 10 points below his 15.4 average for the season — Mykhailiuk got back on track against OU’s lackluster defense.
The senior from Ukraine scored 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting and drained 4 of 7 3-pointers, his most from long range since making 5 of 9 at Kansas State on Jan. 29.
The slump was an anomaly for Mykhailiuk, whom Self has praised for his consistent effort and attitude all season long. With just three games left in the regular season, the Jayhawks couldn’t have picked a better time to get their senior shooter (88 for 196 on 3-pointers this year) back on track.
More news and notes from Kansas vs. Oklahoma
- Silvio De Sousa keeps it simple as Jayhawks rout Oklahoma
- Tom Keegan: Devonte’ Graham makes his case for best player in Big 12 against Oklahoma
- Sherron Collins fights tears during jersey retirement ceremony
- The Keegan Ratings: Devonte' Graham tops ratings in blowout of Oklahoma
- Matt Tait's Postgame Report Card
- Jayhawks blow out Oklahoma, 104-74, on Big Monday
During the Big 12’s first 20 years of existence, a point guard emerged as the conference’s Player of the Year just twice. Iowa State’s Jamaal Tinsley took home the honor in 2001, and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart proved worthy of the distinction in 2013.
Four games into the 2018 league schedule, though, back-to-back seasons culminating with a point guard collecting the Big 12’s most coveted individual trophy seems inevitable.
Obviously, Kansas All-American Frank Mason III became the third lead guard to win Big 12 Player of the Year in 2017. The unmistakable front-runners for the prize this season all play point guard, too: Oklahoma’s Trae Young, KU’s Devonte’ Graham, Texas Tech’s Keenan Evans and West Virginia’s Jevon Carter.
The league’s list of influential ball-handling specialists doesn’t end there, either. As No. 12 Kansas (13-3 overall, 3-1 Big 12) navigates its way through conference play, head coach Bill Self anticipates game-planning for and facing a strong point guard every step of the way.
“I’m sure it will end up being 9 for 9,” Self predicted. “Plus our guy, Devonte’. It’s a great guard league.”
The 15th-year Kansas coach wouldn’t go as far as to agree with the notion this current crop of point guards is as good as the conference has seen, but he admitted there seems to be a noticeable shift in which type of players are standing out and taking over.
“We’ve had good guards in our league, it seems like forever, but it seems like the most dominant players have usually been the bigs,” Self said, naming former players of the year Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley and Blake Griffin and referencing former KU big men such as Thomas Robinson, Wayne Simien and Marcus Morris, all of whom won Big 12 Player of the Year, as well. “But it seems the smaller player has been the more dominant player for sure last year and certainly this year, without question, with what Trae’s doing and with what other guards are doing.”
Young, a sensational freshman and likely All-American for Oklahoma, has posted such eye-popping numbers it will be difficult for any other guard in the league to outshine the 6-foot-2 shooting dynamo. Young torched TCU for 39 points in his Big 12 debut and enters this weekend’s rematch with the Horned Frogs, in Norman, Okla., averaging 30.5 points and 9.8 assists in league play.
In his senior season at KU, Graham is scoring (18.1 points per game) and dishing (7.5 assists) more than ever before, while also handling on- and off-court leadership responsibilities with ease. After an uncharacteristic shooting night in a win over Iowa State (4 for 14) earlier this week, Graham didn’t look like he would lose sleep over scoring only 11 points.
“I had nine assists, so I’m still satisfied with the night,” Graham said. “I feel like everybody played pretty well.”
At Texas Tech, Self said senior Evans has proven himself to be one of the premier players in the conference. Evans’ 19.9 points in Big 12 games have keyed the Red Raiders’ 3-1 start.
Surprisingly, West Virginia senior Jevon Carter posted single-digit scoring nights in wins over Kansas State and Baylor, leading to his 10.0 points-per-game average in conference. But the Mountaineers enter Saturday’s game at Texas Tech owners of the Big 12’s only unblemished conference record (4-0), and Carter’s season numbers — 16.1 points, 6.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 3.6 steals — serve as a reminder of what he’s capable of over the course of the next couple of months.
Like Carter, Baylor senior Manu Lecomte’s scoring has dipped in league play thus far, but he has averaged 16.5 points overall and knocked down 3.3 3-pointers a game, while shooting 41.5 percent from long range.
Iowa State freshman Lindell Wigginton looks like a point guard who will give the rest of the league fits for years to come. Wigginton, a 6-2 lead guard from Canada, torched Kansas for 27 points on Tuesday by getting to the rim for layups in the first half and nailing three of his four successful 3-pointers in the second half.
TCU sophomore Jaylen Fisher’s 3-point shooting (43.9%) makes him difficult to defend on the perimeter and he’s second among all Big 12 players in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7), trailing only Kansas senior Graham (2.9).
Kansas State is going to miss the point guard play of junior Kamau Stokes, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury, when the Wildcats (12-4, 2-2) visit Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. Stokes assisted on 28 percent of K-State’s field goals prior to suffering the injury and buried seven 3-pointers earlier this year against Arizona State.
Even in Stokes’ absence, however, the Wildcats don’t seem to be in awful shape. Redshirt freshman Cartier Diarra replaced him Wednesday and contributed 17 points, four assists, one steal and three turnovers, while going 2 for 3 on 3-pointers in first career start, an 86-82 K-State home win over Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys, though off to a 1-3 start in Big 12 play, have seen graduate transfer Kendall Smith step in this season and make an impact when he scores. Wednesday’s defeat at K-State marked the first time Smith put up double-digit points and OSU lost.
Self thinks highly of Texas true freshman Matt Coleman, predicting the traditional point guard will be great for the Longhorns one day. Coleman already looked more than capable in UT’s double-overtime win over TCU this week, scoring 17 points and distributing a career-best 12 assists on the day the Longhorns announced point guard Andrew Jones has been diagnosed with leukemia.
The man who has coached Kansas to 13 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles thinks the best teams in the league this season will feature complementary big men, too — not just a great point guard. But it’s clear to Self and everyone else that, at least for now, it’s little man’s conference.
“Our league is so good — you can’t even say from top to bottom. Our league is just so good, period,” Self said of the 2018 race.
Big 12 point guards
Trae Young — Oklahoma freshman
29.2 points, 10.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 4.5 turnovers, 58-for-149 on 3-pointers (38.9%)
Devonte’ Graham — Kansas senior
18.1 points, 7.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 2.6 turnovers, 51-for-118 on 3-pointers (43.2%)
Keenan Evans — Texas Tech senior
17.3 points, 3.2 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.7 turnovers, 23-for-70 on 3-pointers (32.9%)
Jevon Carter — West Virginia senior
16.1 points, 6.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 3.6 steals, 2.8 turnovers, 32-for-81 on 3-pointers (39.5%)
Manu Lecomte — Baylor senior
16.5 points, 3.2 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 1.9 turnovers, 49-for-118 on 3-pointers (41.5%)
Lindell Wiggington — Iowa State freshman
15.6 points, 2.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 2.2 turnovers, 29-for-70 on 3-pointers (41.4%)
Jaylen Fisher — TCU sophomore
11.7 points, 5.4 assists, 1.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 25-for-57 on 3-pointers (43.9%)
Kamau Stokes (out, foot) — Kansas State junior
13.4 points, 4.6 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 33-for-79 on 3-pointers (41.8%)
Cartier Diarra — Kansas State redshirt freshman
5.1 points, 1.7 assists, 1.4 rebounds, 0.4 steals, 1.4 turnovers, 13-for-29 on 3-pointers (44.8%) [17 points, 4 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers, 2-for-3 on 3-pointers in first career start]
Kendall Smith — Oklahoma State graduate transfer
11.3 points, 3.6 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 2.4 turnovers, 17-for-50 on 3-pointers (34%)
Matt Coleman — Texas freshman
8.7 points, 5.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 12-for-52 on 3-pointers (23.1%)