It was a tale of two halves for the Sooners: the first magnificent and electrifying, and the second frustrating and ragged. A nine point lead at halftime quickly vanished in just a matter of a few a minutes in the second half, and that was the writing for the wall for the Sooners in their 81-70 loss at the hands of the Kansas Jayhawks. The Sooners have now dropped seven straight games for the first time under Lon Kruger.
Frank Mason III was the biggest reason for Kansas’ second half explosion, scoring 19 of his 28 points in the period. Mason shot 11 for 19 from the field, including hitting 5 of 9 from three-point range, adding five assists and two steals.
Mason, practically blushing, wouldn’t reveal coach Bill Self’s apparently spirited halftime message, but clearly it worked.
“He’s a unique guy. He’s stone faced. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “But, you could tell there was something different about him in the second half tonight.”
Regardless of the second half comeback, Lloyd Noble Center had an energy that had been lacking all season, especially in the first half when things were going the Sooners’ way. Coach Lon Kruger wants to give reason to cheer in the second half, too:
“It was a good opening 20, for sure,” Kruger said. “I thought our guys’ energy, effort, enthusiasm and intensity was terrific. Good steps in a lot of ways, and yet we still have to put together 40 minutes. We’re still searching for that.”
Jordan Woodard returned to the court for the first time since an unspecified medical condition. Woodard first entered the game when the Sooners trailed by six in the first half, and he immediately provided the spark OU so desperately needed. Woodard had seven points, five boards, and five assists in 24 minutes.
“I really didn’t expect him to play that many minutes,” Kruger said. “I thought he got tired a couple of times, naturally, and got out. But I thought overall he was very, very good.”
Kameron McGusty and Rashard Odomes led the Sooners in scoring at 13 points apiece. Khadeem Lattin had an impressive game defensively, blocking five shots. Lattin also had eight points and 11 rebounds on the night.
Despite the outcome, it was a building block type of game for the Sooners. They sputtered in the second half, but Kruger called the first half the best half of the season:
“Given the opponent, certainly, no question,” he said. “Kansas is a terrific ballclub. To be down a little bit early and come back and tie it and take the lead into the half was a good stretch, a very good stretch.”
OU falls to 6-9, while the Jayhawks improve to 15-1. Oklahoma plays Texas Tech at home on Saturday at 7:30 P.M.