KU Notches 8th in a Row

KU picked up its 19th win of the season with a victory over a pesky Oklahoma State club by shutting down the Cowboys bread-and-butter.

Make no mistake about it Oklahoma State can score and is one of the league's more streaky teams. Lately the Cowboys have had a bad habit of getting down in games early but that didn't stop KU head coach Bill Self from saying that OSU made him more nervous than any other team in the Big 12 coming in.

KU took control in this one less than five minutes in building a 10-point advantage (14-4) and never saw the lead drop past double-digits after the 12-minute mark of the first half. The 78-67 victory was KU's 8th straight Big 12 win of the season and puts the Jayhawks just a half game behind Oklahoma who is now 9-0 this season after a win against Colorado on Saturday.

Though the start was terrific for KU, it was the finish that left a poor taste in the head coach's mouth afterwards.

"We just finished the game miserably so the last taste I have in my mouth is how we finished the game," said Self referring to the last seven minutes of the game when KU was outscored 23-14. "It was kind of an efficient win until the last seven minutes or so."

But when Self watches the tape he will likely be pleased with how the Jayhawks cut off the head of the Cowboy offense by containing Byron Eaton. Eaton was just 2-6 from the field and did have 10 assists but only contributed eight points. Last season Eaton torched KU for 26 points and repeatedly was able to get to the free throw line. After penetrating and getting in the lane at will during last season's OSU 61-60 win in Stillwater, this year in the fieldhouse it was a much different story for the strong senior guard. Eaton was contained thanks to aggressive ball screen hedging and trapping by Kansas and a terrific defensive effort by Sherron Collins.  

"One thing that we tried to do was to trap Eaton and try to contain him. Today I did a pretty good job of that and being able to move my feet and not get those easy fouls that I have in the past," said sophomore center Cole Aldrich who struggled doing the same type of thing vs. a smaller Nebraska team.  

"His ball screen defense was a lot better today," Self said referring to the job Aldrich did on hedging and trapping screens. "He did a good job getting out there helping Sherron contain Eaton on ball screen defense. Which if you watch last year's game that's exactly how they beat us."

"He's a good guard. You can't take anything away from him," said Collins. "Today wasn't one of his good days. I think I did a good job on him in the first half. In the second half he got going a little bit. Late in the game we lost concentration and let him do things. Overall, we did a good job on him as a team."

         Kansas held Oklahoma State to its third-lowest point total of the season (67). The Cowboys were averaging 84.2 points per game, which ranked fifth in the country.
 
Kansas was able to hold OSU's vaunted penetrate-and-pitch offense to more than 17 points under its season average. The Cowboy offense was also slowed by poor perimeter shooting especially from beyond the arc where the Cowboys managed just 10 of 32 three-point attempts. Ford's leading scorer James Anderson struggled to just 10 points on 3-13 shooting and was just 2-9 from three. Makes you wonder where the Cowboy offense would've been today without Obi Muonelo and Marshall Moses. The duo combined for 37 points but it was not enough to offset the collective effort of the Jayhawks.

"That's not going to happen that often with that team because that team can naturally score with (Terrell) Harris and Eaton and (Keaton) Page can also really score. We were fortunate they missed some shots but they didn't get a lot of real good looks until late in the game," said Self.

Self's Jayhawks actually outscored the league's leading three-point shooting team today by 1 (11-10). The 11 threes made were the highest total by KU in a conference game since last season when the Hawks nailed 14 in a rout of Texas Tech.

While the Jayhawks did the job defensively, on the offensive end Self continues to get valuable contributions from junior college transfer, Mario Little. Little led four KU players in double-figures with 13 points.

"I thought that Mario Little made a couple of key baskets. When we started up little runs he made some key baskets in the middle of the paint," said OSU head coach Travis Ford.

"He's getting better and he's getting more comfortable," Self continued. "Against a zone he is as good as we have in that high post area."

"We know that Sherron (Collins) and Cole (Aldrich) need to get touches. I am just here if they need me," Little stated. "I try to knock down shots and hit the glass when I play at the four spot. I am just here to do whatever the team needs me to do."

Little says the leg continues to feel good overall and says there is no pain while he plays. It is starting to show in the numbers as little matched a season-high with six field goals and is now shooting 69 percent in conference play.

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