Kansas proved why it held the top spot in the latest AP Poll when it won a hard-fought contest in triple-overtime to hand No. 2 Oklahoma its first defeat of the season. Not even 46 points from Buddy Hield could help the Sooners, who just looked gassed out late in the game and committed some poorly timed turnovers.
If there were one way to describe this game, it would be back and forth. These two teams from the Big 12 are cut from the same cloth and used tough on-ball defense and a fast offense full of ball movement to go toe to toe on almost every possession. Oklahoma led 44-40 at halftime and led by as many as eight points in the second half, but the Jayhawks then turned on the afterburners and fought hard to defend their home court in an historical game.
And the basket-trading continued into overtime, and then double overtime despite a clutch basket from Perry Ellis. Instantly, this became the first multi-overtime game between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation since UCLA and N.C. State faced off back in 1974.
But then the tides seemed to shift in Kansas’ favor in triple-overtime, as a clutch three pointer by Wayne Selden and a foul on Oklahoma put the Jayhawks in a position to ice the game.
Wayne Selden with the three and the foul https://t.co/wmpyQcvYG3
— Chris Stone (@cstonehoops) January 5, 2016
Oklahoma later hit a three-pointer after more basket trading to put Oklahoma up 106-104, and the lead was trimmed to one point after a missed free throw from Kansas. The Sooners would then call time after crossing halfcourt on their subsequent possession, but then a critical turnover on the inbound would lead to more Kansas free throws and essentially ice the game. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Oklahoma lost this game because of a poorly timed turnover that put them in “MUST FOUL NOW” mode and the team just couldn’t get a decent final shot off in the final seconds.
The silver lining for Oklahoma is that even though Hield once again led the way in scoring, the overall attack was balanced. Woodard had 27 points and seven assists. Ryan Spangler added 14 points and 18 rebounds. Khadeem Lattin had 10 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks. The unfortunate news is that when a team commits 16 turnovers (even if overtimes inflate that number) and only shoots 75 percent from the charity stripe, that type of production doesn’t matter.
Kansas, on the other hand, was balanced like it was just another day at the office. Ellis had 27 points and 13 rebounds. Frank Mason had 15 points, albeit on 5 of 20 shooting. Selden had 21 points. Even Devonte’ Graham had 20 points. Both teams played incredibly well, but the Jayhawks just proved that they’ve been doing this a lot longer than Oklahoma and in Lawrence, there was no way they were losing.
Needless to say, when both teams meet again in Norman on February 13, the arena should be deafening.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports