Sooners go cold as No. 3 Jayhawks roll, 67-54
By KATHLEEN GIER
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Oklahoma entered Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday leading the league in scoring offense and field goal percentage.
The Sooners' often prolific offense hit a wall against Kansas center Jeff Withey.
Oklahoma shot just over 35 percent in a 67-54 loss to the third-ranked Jayhawks, and Sooners coach Lon Kruger was quick to credit their struggles to the 7-foot senior.
Withey who finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
"Withey changes everything on the interior and does a terrific job," said Kruger, who is no stranger to struggling against the Jayhawks after coaching at Kansas State. "I thought he set the tone early in the ball game and we just never did get any flow offensively."
The Sooners shot 28.6 percent in the first half but kept the game within reach by forcing eight turnovers. But Kansas built a double-digit lead in the second half and pulled away.
The Sooners were outscored 28-16 in the paint and outrebounded 41-31 - much of that influenced by Withey, of course.
"He's seven feet tall with long arms," said Romero Osby, who was 4 of 16 from the floor and finished with 12 points. "He bothers everyone."
"He makes it really tough, especially going to the basket. You try to get him off the floor with pump fakes and he just stays down, stays down," Osby said. "He always bothers people, but I think I kind of let it get in my head a little bit."
Ben McLemore added 18 points and Travis Releford had 10 as the Jayhawks pushed their nation-leading win streak to 17 games. Kansas (18-1, 6-0 Big 12) also won its 33rd straight at Allen Fieldhouse, matching the fourth-longest home winning streak in school history.
Oklahoma has lost 10 straight to the Jayhawks dating to 2006, and hasn't won at the Phog since the Sooners beat then-No. 6 Kansas as an unranked team during the 1993 season. Kruger fell to 5-13 against the Jayhawks, many of those losses coming with Kansas State.
It was the 800th game played at Allen Fieldhouse, just down the Interstate from Kemper Arena in Kansas City, where 25 years ago the Jayhawks beat the Sooners for the national championship.
Neither team looked Final Four-worthy in the first half Saturday, though.
The Jayhawks were 1 of 6 from beyond the arc and committed eight turnovers, three by Releford. So even when Kansas managed to build a lead, going up 24-14 on McLemore's putback with 5:30 left in the first half, the Jayhawks couldn't establish too much separation.
Oklahoma didn't do a whole lot to help itself, either.
The Sooners got within 29-21 at halftime on a 3-pointer by Pledger, but they still shot just 28 percent from the field. Their 21 points were a season low for any half.
Things didn't start off a whole lot better after the break. Osby missed the Sooners' first five shots, and their first field goal didn't come until M'Baye's jumper at the 16:14 mark.
Kansas kept its lead hovering around 10 points for much of the second half. Elijah Johnson's driving layup for his first basket made it 37-27, and his 3-pointer with 11:35 remaining gave the Jayhawks a 42-31 lead, matching their biggest of the game.
"The first half was pretty sloppy as a whole. The second half we got it going," Withey said. "We got a couple steals and that led to easy transition baskets."
The Jayhawks had pushed the lead to 45-39 on McLemore's 3-pointer with 4:10 left when the Sooners went on their last run. Consecutive baskets by Buddy Hield and M'Baye trimmed the lead to 10, but Johnson's 3-pointer and another by McLemore put the game away.
"Jeff played great. The mistakes we made in the first half, he erased a lot of them, which led to points," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We didn't do much offensively at all, but we got easy baskets off his defense when we got out and ran."
Updated January 26, 2013