Oklahoma walked into Allen Fieldhouse with a newfound confidence after beating tenth ranked Texas Tech.
The Sooners now knew they could contend with a top ten team and they certainly shot like it. They began the game by going on a six-zero run and was shooting 68 percent from the floor.
During this time Oklahoma displayed strong defensive intuition and held Kansas scoreless for almost three minutes.
Leading this stretch, Elijah Harkless sunk a sweet jumpshot and finished a layup. Jordan Goldwire joined in on the momentum wave to drive the baseline with a crafty layup, giving the Sooners a eight point lead over Kansas.
Oklahoma was feeling it, especially Harkless who had a massive dunk against Mitch Lightfoot. On top of that they had only recorded three turnovers, everything was going right for the Sooners.
“Recently we’re really emphasizing it and just take care of the ball. We’re going to get really good shots and possessions,” Jalen Hill said.
Until the Jayhawks were awakened by the Kansas faithful.
Lightfoot blocked Goldwire’s shot and the Jayhawks forced two consecutive turnovers. This sparked a four and a half minute scoring drought for the Sooners.
Dajuan Harris ended Kansas’ lack of scoring with putback and brought the all important crowd back into the Phog.
Christian Braun made five quick points off of a three-point jumpshot and a put-back, causing the field house to erupt to another level of frenzy. Despite this, the Sooners held a three point lead heading into halftime.
“We were right there at the best atmosphere in college basketball,” Porter Moser said.
Second half told a different story where each possession for both teams was a battle.
One important battle that Sooners did win, was the battle of the bigs. Groves held Daivd McCormack to just 11 points, while Groves finished the night with 19 on seven-of-14 shooting.
“I thought he did a nice job fighting and I think he was really confident,” Moser said.
He was aggressive down low and by sinking four triples remained a threat from the perimeter. Groves was one of the fiercest competitors on the floor and a player the Jayhawks have learned to hate.
The Sooners made three points off of free throws to extend their lead to six points. Then another player opposing teams have learned to hate Braun began his tirade.
There was not a shot this player could not make and Phog Allen ate it all up. In a two minute stretch, Braun sunk an outside jumpshot, finished a layup in the fast break, and made two free throws. This decimated the Sooners lead to only one possession.
Moser said,”sometimes with this crowd you need even more than me.”
Braun’s free throws began a six-zero run for the Jayhawks and ended with another huge play by Braun. Finessing a drive and dunk play to McCormack, Kansas had a one point lead.
“They got their athleticism going downhill (and) driving,” Moser said.
Braun finished with eight rebounds and 18 points on six-of-ten shooting.
Following that stretch Kansas and Oklahoma went shot for shot, fighting during every possession to get a one up on each other.
The Sooners found some energy and Groves again came in big time against the Jayhawks. By making consecutive threes and forcing McCormack to travel on the defensive end, the Sooners now have a five point lead at 57-52.
Yet not even Groves sinking threes was enough to ride the Sooners to victory. Oklahoma went on a scoring drought that lasted six and half minutes. During this time, Kansas capitalized by reclaiming the lead with an 11-0 run and only four minutes to go.
To the Sooners credit they fought back as best they could and Goldwire was not giving up. He made ten points in the last four minutes of the game and almost single handedly kept Oklahoma’s hopes alive. Finishing with 20 points on nine-of-16 shooting and going 63 percent from behind the arc, Goldwire was incredible in the clutch.
“I thought Jordan Goldwire did so much to help us win. He was exhausted,” Moser said.
While Goldwire sparked the Sooners revival, Jalen Wilson remained poised down the stretch and came up big time for Kansas. He led all scorers with 22 points on eight-of-12 shooting, and recorded nine rebounds.
The real kicker for Oklahoma was Mo Gibson’s lack of offensive presence. Coming off a 30 point performance, the Sooners needed him to contribute. But he left the Phog early by recording five fouls and having zero buckets to show for it.
Obviously he got in foul trouble that always kind of gets him,”Moser said,”they were all over him, didn’t give him a chance to breath.”
Oklahoma fought until the end of this game in Lawrence, but Allen Fieldhouse ultimately won 71-69.
The Sooners will face 2oth ranked Longhorns in Norman next and are looking to paint the river red on Tuesday.
Hill said,”we got to keep this feeling towards the Texas game with the will to win.”