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Jayhawks Outlast Oklahoma

It wasn't pretty, but they got the job done

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Jayhawks got off to a sluggish start in Lawrence this afternoon, falling behind 9-2 to unranked Oklahoma, and then 11-4 by the first media timeout. They eventually settled in, taking a five point 20-15 lead halfway through the first, but it remained a tight game throughout the half, with both teams struggling from behind the arc, and putting up unexpectedly poor offensive numbers. The Sooner did come back and get a small, 33-31 advantage at the break.

At the half, Austin Reeves was the star, putting up 15 points and grabbing 5 boards in the first 20. For Kansas, McCormack led the way with eight points on 4-6 shooting, but Wilson, Braun, Agbaji and Garrett combined for just 15 on 5-14 shooting.

The second half did not feature a big improvement in efficiency for either team. Things remained close as both teams struggled to score, leading to KU clinging to a one point, 48-47 lead at the under 8 break. McCormack was scoring, but less efficiently, and Jalen Wilson, who's shown that his performance seems tightly correlated to the team's performance, had been effectively removed from the game offensively.

Down the stretch, Oklahoma did take a couple of brief, one point leads, but KU emerged victorious, thanks in part to a huge Wilson three, and a clutch jumper from McCormack that put KU up two possessions with just 15 seconds remaining, essentially clinching the tough road victory.

While Reeves led all scorers with 20, the Jayhawks mostly locked him down in the second half, forcing a number of missed jumpers. For Kansas, the leading scorer was McCormack with 17, but he grabbed just a single rebound (remember, this is the team's center). Wilson was fortunately able to grab ten boards, but while scoring just nine. Agbaji did contribute 14 with six boards and a pair of assists.

Three point shooting was a bit of an issue, which for this team, is almost always going to result in a poor offensive performance. The team went 6-20 (30%), while their best shooter, Christian Braun, went 1-6, continuing his stretch of mediocre offensive performances. DaJuan Harris, who filled in admirably for Marcus Garrett on Tuesday, struggled in this one, playing just ten minutes, and turning it over twice while notching a single assist.

The Jayhawks have a couple of days to shake off the sluggish performance, as they head to Stillwater Tuesday. Oklahoma State has been a bit better than expected this year behind freshman phenom Cade Cunningham. At the time of this post, they're only 1-3 in conference play to start, but that includes an impressive win over Texas Tech, and three losses by just a combined seven points.

Gallagher-Iba has been a house of horrors for the Jayhawks under Self, and they'll need more focus than what they showed today to pick up the road victory. KU now sits at 9-2 overall and 4-1 in conference, behind two real threats to their conference title hopes in Texas and Baylor.