By Matt Tait ---- firstname.lastname@example.org
Norman, Okla. — It was dubbed by folks down in Norman as “The Rematch” of the best college basketball game of the year.
And it wound up with the same result, albeit in much different fashion.
No. 6 KU knocked off No. 3 Oklahoma, 76-72, behind a 27-point night from sophomore guard Devonté Graham, who out-dueled OU’s Buddy Hield, who finished with 24 points after scoring just six (on six free throws) in the first half.
Kansas opened the game as well as Bill Self could have hoped, shooting 54 percent or better for much of the first half and keeping the Sooners to a very low percentage.
Part of that was OU just missing shots and the rest of the credit goes to Kansas, which crowded OU’s guards when they caught the ball and used active hands to disrupt the Sooners’ offensive flow.
After foul trouble and whistles plagued Kansas all afternoon, Frank Mason III fouled out on a three-point shot that Jordan Woodard made with 3:18 to play. Woodard hit the free throw and OU led 69-66.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: Kansas allowed OU to close to within five at halftime after an awful shooting first half by the Sooners. KU led 32-19 late in the first half but OU finished the half on a 14-6 run and that carried over into the start of the second half, when OU jumped out to a 6-0 start and snagged its first lead since 2-0, just 1:32 into the second half.
• Offensive highlight: Early on, Perry Ellis was virtually unstoppable every time he drove at the heart of the OU defense. Whether he was putting the ball on the floor and looking to score at the rim, or pulling up for three by using the space that threat created, Ellis had OU’s defense on its heels for much of the first half and helped KU build its big, early lead. Graham also came up with big shot, after big shot, after big shot for Kansas, and made sure the entire world knew about each one, screaming, clapping, jumping and yelling after every bucket, bringing the kind of energy that KU coach Bill Self likes to see.
• Defensive highlight: With 17 minutes to play in the second half, Ellis rejected a shot by OU’s Jordan Woodard and then simultaneously, off of the same jump, saved the ball from going out of bounds. The play was a great reminder of just how athletic Ellis really is.
• Key stat: KU committed more turnovers (14-11) but scored four more points off of those turnovers (12-8) and that turned out to be the difference.
• Up next: After an emotional rematch at OU, the Jayhawks will have to do the quick turn-around, when Oklahoma State comes into Allen Fieldhouse Monday night for a Big Monday game at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
— See what people were saying about the KU-OU rematch during KUsports.com’s live coverage