Self not sold on KU at No. 1 after win over OU

The SportsXchange

The prospect exists for Kansas to climb to No. 1 in at least one of the polls next week after it dispatched Oklahoma, 67-54, Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

The victory was the 17th in a row for Kansas, the longest streak in the country, while pushing the No. 3 Jayhawks to 18-1 overall and 6-0 atop the Big 12. Top-ranked Duke was defeated earlier in the week, while No. 2 Michigan plays Sunday against Illinois.

Does Kansas belong at the top of the polls?

"No. Nor are we deserving," said coach Bill Self. "Somebody's got to be it, though. ... Michigan could have a chance to be one in one, and us one in the other, but if they're No. 1 in both of them, that wouldn't bother me at all.

"But somebody's got to do it, and if it's us, that's great. I never would have thought before this season that this team could be ranked No. 1 at any point in time."

Senior center Jeff Withey posted 13 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and three steals, while freshman guard Ben McLemore added a game-high 18 points for the Jayhawks.

Still, Self is the first to tell anyone the Jayhawks lack the margin for error to expect victories while making errors. Their guard play was spotty at best against Oklahoma, particularly at the point, where senior Elijah Johnson committed four turnovers against just two assists and scored eight points off 3-for-8 shooting.

"Our guys know that our success winning will be short-lived if we don't with a different focus than we did (against Oklahoma)," Self said.

One difference for the Jayhawks, however, is Withey inside. He ranks third in the nation in blocks, yet was held without one in Kansas' previous game, a win at Kansas State.

The 7-footer asserted himself early against Oklahoma and was a force inside throughout the game. His blocks and boards not only led to transition, but Withey even got out and jammed a breakaway dunk, one of three he had in the game, on one run-out.

"He's a unique player in not only our league, but (all of) college basketball in terms of the fact that you don't play against those types of players that often," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "He erases any mistakes on the perimeter, plus he guards his own guy inside. He not only blocks a lot of shots, but he changes a lot of shots."

Oklahoma forwards Romero Osby and Amath M'Baye each noticed. Although they shared team-high honors with 12 points each, they combined to go just 8 of 27 from the floor.

The Sooners (13-5, 4-2 Big 12) shot just 35.6 percent while tumbling from second place in the Big 12. Oklahoma came in averaging 71.6 points in conference play, the best mark in the Big 12.

"(Withey) does it with everybody and he makes it very tough as we go to the basket," Osby said. "He has good timing. I tried to get him off the floor with pump fakes and he stays down."

The loss was the 12th straight for the Sooners at Kansas, dating to 1993.

Withey led the Jayhawks with nine first-half points and also asserted himself inside with seven rebounds and four blocks. His last rejection led to a breakaway dunk by Travis Releford to give Kansas an 11-point lead, its biggest of the half.

The Sooners got eight points from Pledger, but shot just 8 of 28 for the half. They went five-plus minutes without a field goal during one stretch. The 29-21 deficit for OU represented the fewest points it has scored in a half this season.

NOTES: This season marks the 25th anniversary of the 1988 NCAA Tournament final between Kansas and Oklahoma. The Jayhawks won, 83-79, behind Danny Manning. Kansas will recognize that championship squad Feb. 23 during a celebration of its 115th season of basketball. ... On Feb. 16, Kansas will retire the No. 15 jersey worn by Mario Chalmers, whose 3-pointer at the end of regulation was the key shot in the 2008 win over Memphis for the NCAA title. ... Kansas is the only Big 12 program with a winning record all-time against Oklahoma, 139-64. ... Oklahoma became the 13th Kansas opponent to score fewer than 60 points.
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