OU rallies but falls to Kansas, 85-78

Sooners late struggles keep them from upset in Phog Allen Fieldhouse

LAWRENCE, KS – Nothing inside Phog Allen Fieldhouse seemed too big from Oklahoma on Monday night.

Not the crowd.

Not the stage.

Not the moment.

And strangely, not the 19-point halftime deficit the Sooners faced coming in their matchup against No. 11 Kansas on national television.

Behind a re-invigorated defense, Oklahoma erased the lead in only 10 minutes, before running into the only hurdle too big to tackle.

Oklahoma ran into its old nemesis: The final media timeout.

Once again, the Sooners struggled in the final four minutes of the game and fell just short of ending a 13-game losing streak inside Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Instead, the streak stretched to 14 games after a 85-78 loss against the Jayhawks, who won their 18th straight game at home.

“It comes down to getting stops and making shots,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “I think we had a four-point lead and Kansas scored. The missed free throw back for the three was a big play. We’ve got to try and keep that from happening.”

After holding Kansas to just three points in nearly the first eight minutes of the half and getting eight straight stops coming out of halftime, Oklahoma struggled on both ends down the stretch.

In the final four minutes, Kansas scored on nine of its final 10 possessions including six straight to turn a tie game into a six-point lead.

Oklahoma went 1-for-7 in the final four minutes – all 3-pointers.

“We had a couple looks that didn’t go down,” Kruger said. “We have to get better looks.”

With the lead Oklahoma failed to box out on a free throw, which turned into a quick 3-pointer by Kansas guard Brannen Greene, who gave Kansas a lead it didn’t relinquish.

“Kansas got a little momentum there when they took the lead,” Kruger said. “I thought they picked it up defensively. Obviously, the crowd got into it. It’s tough to do that.”

Kansas (15-3, 4-1 Big 12) started the game with eight straight makes from behind the 3-point arc – one shy of the school record. After that, the Jayhawks went just 2-for-11 in the final 27 minutes.

Jayhawks’ coach Bill Self said Kansas couldn’t have played much better in the first half. The second half was another story, though.

“Obviously, two really different halves,” Kruger said. “. . . Obviously, the second half, it turned around a little bit. We had a little bit more fight. We had a little more getting after it. We couldn’t quite put them away when we had a chance to widen the margin.”

Buddy Hield scored 19 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to lead four Sooners in double figures. Ryan Spangler had 13 points and 10 rebounds, his sixth double-double of the season.

Point guard Jordan Woodard finished with just one turnovers and 10 points. Isaiah Cousins had 18 points. “We're a confident team,” Hield said. “Everybody's confident. Coach Kruger does a good job of keeping us steady.”

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