Oklahoma has lost in its last eight visits to Allen Fieldhouse. It will be hard to break that streak Monday night against a Kansas team that’s among three remaining unbeaten squads in Division I.
The third-ranked Jayhawks (16-0, 1-0 Big 12) look to continue their best start in 11 seasons when they take on the Sooners (12-4, 0-1).
Kansas is off to its best start since the 1996-97 season when it won its first 22 games. The Jayhawks join top-ranked North Carolina and No. 2 Memphis as the lone undefeated teams in D-I.
They haven’t lost at home to Oklahoma since an 80-77 defeat on Feb. 17, 1993, and have won 26 of their last 27 games overall at Allen Fieldhouse, including 11 this season.
The teams did not play in Lawrence last season, but Kansas won two meetings, including a 64-47 victory in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals that ended the Sooners’ season.
The Jayhawks are second in the country in field-goal percentage at 52.2 percent and lead the Big 12 in scoring with 83.7 points per game. Their offense may eventually get even better if Brandon Rush continues to play like he did his last time out.
The 6-foot-6 guard scored a season-high 19 points in a 74-53 win at Nebraska on Saturday in the Jayhawks’ Big 12 opener. The performance came after coach Bill Self questioned Rush’s aggressiveness.
Rush had major surgery on his right knee in June and wasn’t expected to play until December. He came back by mid-November, but averaged only 10.3 points in his previous nine games before Saturday.
“I think I’m back,” he said. “I’m starting to rebound the ball well rim-high like I did before I got hurt.”
The surgery prevented Rush from entering the NBA draft, but it’s possible he may do so this summer. Turning pro is also a possibility for Oklahoma star forward Blake Griffin.
Griffin, a 6-10 freshman, is ninth in the Big 12 with 15.4 points per game and turned in an excellent effort in his last contest. He had 27 points and 14 rebounds in his matchup with Kansas State star forward Michael Beasley, but Oklahoma fell 84-82 on Saturday.
Beasley scored 32 points, including the winner with 2.3 seconds left, and added 11 rebounds.
“He is a great player,” Beasley said of Griffin. “We just came out and played and it ended up being the battle of the beasts. He is my guy. In basketball there are no friends on the court, but we will always be friends after the game.”
The Sooners had a five-game winning streak snapped, a run that included two victories over ranked teams. Oklahoma allowed Kansas State to shoot 56.4 percent - the highest allowed by the Sooners since they let West Virginia shoot 66.7 percent in a 92-68 Oklahoma loss Dec. 22, 2005.
“We needed to defend like we normally defend,” Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. “…That is the thing I am most disappointed in.”
Capel used only seven players Saturday, and his lack of depth could be a big problem against one of the best benches in the country. Kansas gets an average of 29.3 points from its reserves, who outscore opponents’ benches by 10.8 points per game.