Kansas stifles OU, 67-54
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Sunday, January 27, 2013
1/27/13 at 7:15 AM
Related Story: OU basketball notebook: Different year, same result
LAWRENCE, Kan. - Kansas has hung some Rembrandts in Allen Fieldhouse through the years, a Picasso or two. Saturday's 67-54 victory over Oklahoma was more of a finger painting, or someone's idea of yard art.
The Jayhawks made 12-of-31 shots in the first half. That's also when Elijah Johnson had more fouls (2) than baskets (0), and Travis Releford committed three turnovers.
Johnson and Releford were better in the second half. So was freshman Ben McLemore, who scored 11 of his game-high 18 points after the break. But there was never anything fluid or pretty about Kansas on the day it went 18-1 on the season and 6-0 in the Big 12 Conference.
The best thing the Jayhawks had going for them was they fouled up the Sooners (13-5, 4-2). They had Jeff Withey to do their dirty work.
The 7-foot center blocked four shots, affected at least as many, and made life generally miserable for OU leading scorer Romero Osby.
The plan was for Osby to draw Withey outside, then either shoot over him or drive by him to finish or shoot free throws. But Osby missed a few jumpers early.
"I think I kind of let that get in my head," Osby said.
So he was left to try to drive. Withey wasn't having that either.
"He has good timing," Osby said. "You try to get him off the floor with pump fakes, but he stays down. He has a knack for it. He makes it tough for everybody."
Osby finished 4-of-16 from the field and settled for 12 points. Teammate Amath M'Baye was a little better, going 4-of-11 for his 12 points.
The Sooners were no threat to score from deep - they went 3-of-12 from 3 - and didn't run an effective halfcourt offense. Their 10 assists marked their lowest total since a Dec. 18 loss to Stephen F. Austin.
Basically, when Withey took care of Osby, he took care of the Sooners.
"He's a unique player not only in our league, but in college basketball," OU coach Lon Kruger praised. "You don't play against those types of players very often."
"We didn't do much offensively at all, but we got easy baskets off of his defense," said Kansas counterpart Bill Self. "I thought Jeff was terrific on both ends."
He rose above the slop, whether by converting a soft hook over Osby, beating Andrew Fitzgerald to the block and scoring, or rejecting Cameron Clark's drive to lead a Releford run-out and dunk.
Withey even led a competent fast break at one point, prompting Self to remark in postgame: "The way we played today, he may have been as good as our guards out there leading the break."
It was a statement directed more to Jayhawk guards than their big men, and Self had more where that came from. He didn't like his backcourt's handling of OU's pressure. He didn't think his guards put McLemore in prominent scoring positions.
There's a decent chance Kansas could be the new number one team in the nation next week.
"That's great for our kids and everything," Self said, "but I think after today our guys know our success will be short-lived if we don't come with a different focus."
You could say the same for the Sooners. They competed all right, and that allowed them to stay in the game despite shooting 8-for-28 in the first half.
But they also lost a real opportunity against a KU team that was clicking on just one cylinder, albeit one seven feet in length.
"The thing we've got to focus on is having more good possessions in a ballgame," Kruger said, "setting better screens, cutting harder, handling the ball better. We had some loose balls we've got to be more aggressive too.
"Kansas is very, very good and we have to play better than we did today to have a chance to hang in there with them."
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Original Print Headline: Jayhawks suppress Sooners
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Kansas guard Travis Releford (24) shoots over Oklahoma guard Je'lon Hornbeak (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan. ORLIN WAGNER / AP Photo