Sooners dash Kansas' hopes

The Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. Please don't mention to Roy Williams the bit about his Kansas teams having a hard time winning when ranked No. 1. He knows all about it, and really couldn't care less.

''If we go down in history as having the two shortest stays at No. 1 in the history of college basketball, I'd be thankful we got there,'' he said after the Jayhawks were upset by No. 25 Oklahoma 76-73 Monday night.

The final buzzer sounded just five hours after Kansas was announced as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll.

A year ago, the Jayhawks moved up to No. 1 on a Monday afternoon and that night lost at home to Kansas State.

''We talked to our kids about it,'' Williams said. ''I don't think it had any effect on my team.''

In the first half, the Jayhawks (20-4 overall, 9-3 in the Big Eight Conference) were unable to go to their big men, a plan that has helped make them so successful this season. The trio of 7-foot-2 Greg Ostertag, 6-11 Raef Lafrentz and 6-10 Scot Pollard took just 10 shots in the first half, while the rest of the team was taking 19 three-pointers.

Kansas' impatience contributed to 35 percent shooting in the half. At the other end, Oklahoma shot 50 percent and twice took 13-point leads.

''I think in the first half we were outplayed in every phase of the game,'' Williams said. ''I also think I was outcoached in every phase of the game.''

The Jayhawks looked better in the second half, pounding the ball inside and getting easy baskets. They trailed by 13 in the first minute of the second half, but came back to take a six-point lead with 8:45 to play.

That's when Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson decided to leave his two tallest players, James Mayden and Jason Yanish, on the bench and go with a smaller lineup. The Sooners forced Kansas' big men to move away from the basket, and played zone defense to try to keep the ball from getting inside.

''They had as much difficulty guarding us on the perimeter as we did them on the

outside,'' Sampson said.

''Our strength down the stretch I thought was our versatility. Our guys are good catch-and-shoot guys. That's how we tried to attack them in the second half. Let's make them guard us.''

Sampson has said many times that Oklahoma is not a team that must rely only on Ryan Minor, who scored 28 points Monday night. That was proven true in the final eight minutes against Kansas.

Minor's only field goal during that time was a jumper with 7:57 left that brought the Sooners within 63-59. He didn't score again until he made two free throws with 12 seconds left Dion Barnes, John Ontjes and Ernie Abercrombie did all the scoring in between.

''We're not very big and we're not particularly fast,'' Sampson said. ''But we have a big heart, and that's what you can never measure.''

The Sooners are now 20-6 overall, 7-4 in the Big Eight. It has been a tremendous turnaround for a team that went 15-13 last year and lost in the first round of the NIT.

Kansas still leads the league race, but the loss helped nudge Oklahoma State and Missouri a little closer. Williams attributed the loss to execution Oklahoma made plays down the stretch, Kansas did not. In the late going, the Jayhawks missed the front end of three one-and-ones and had two shot clock violations.

''We've been a team that's played with great poise on the road and I think we did tonight,'' Williams said. ''But we didn't do a very good job.''

Read Next Article