No. 8 Kansas (22-6, 11-4) took care of business tonight, taking down Oklahoma (16-11, 6-9) 104-74 in a Big Monday matchup. Kansas never trailed in this game, and eventually handed the Sooners their worst loss of the season. Lon Kruger and co. have now lost six straight games, and nine of their last 11.
“Tough night obviously. From the start, it seemed like we were fighting uphill all night, just hanging on to stay withing range,” Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said in his opening statement following the game. “Fought with them pretty good for a while, obviously didn’t finish it like we want to or need to. Obviously we’ve got to finish differently than what we’ve been the last few games, stuck with it, hang together and keep making progress. Kansas played great. Shot the ball very well. Moved the ball very well, great crowd, great atmosphere.”
It was another tough night for Trae Young, as the star freshman was held to his lowest scoring output of the season with 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting. This is back-to-back games that he has been held under 20-points for the first time all season, and things are heading in the wrong direction for basketball’s latest rising star.
“It’s a fine line, we want to make good basketball plays. That’s been the case along,” Kruger answered when asked about Trae Young’s game. “Again, Kansas did a good job not giving (Trae) any free looks. I thought, again, he got to the paint and their big guys contested well in there. So, just got to find that sweet spot for him–where he feels good about being able to finish once he gets there.”
With this skid, a lot of questions about Oklahoma’s chances for the NCAA Tournament are beginning to be asked. What seemed like a lock for the second week of March Madness a month and a half ago has turned into a conversation about them not getting in, but Lon Kruger isn’t worried about looking that far ahead.
“We play every game like we got to win to have a chance. No reason not to,” he said. “We got three left–two of them are at home–and we’ll approach every one of them like we have to have it to have a chance. No reason to think about it any other way.”
Jamuni McNeace set a new career-high in points with 18 on 8-of-11 shooting. Last year’s leading scorer in conference play for Oklahoma, Kameron McGusty, found a rhythm early and carried it the entire game tying his season-high with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
Oklahoma will be hoping to end their losing streak on Saturday against Kansas State, who beat the Sooners 87-69 on Jan. 16.
“It’s been tough for a while. We’ve got to keep batting. It’s not going to get easier,” Kruger told reporters after the game. “We’ve got to be aggressive, keep battling, try to get some confidence individually back. Some guys, these guys picked it up a little bit tonight.
“Trae’s going to keep battling it, no doubt. We got three games in the regular season left. We’ve got to make the most of it we can and keep getting better.”