Oklahoma-Kansas Preview


Kansas was outhustled and badly beaten on the glass last time out in losing for the first time in Big 12 play.

Bill Self's team also didn't win the rebounding battle in its first meeting of the season with Oklahoma but still prevailed thanks to a career performance from Travis Releford.

The eighth-ranked Jayhawks look to bounce back from a disappointing loss and win their ninth straight over the Sooners when they meet Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

After needing a second-half rally to defeat Iowa State 82-73 on Jan. 14, Self had the feeling his team was going to have its hands full at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday. He turned out to be right, as Kansas (17-4, 7-1) suffered a 72-64 loss that snapped a 10-game winning streak.

All five Kansas starters scored in double figures, led by Tyshawn Taylor's 16, but the reserves combined for five points on 2-of-12 shooting. The Jayhawks were also outhustled to loose balls and finished with a season-low 23 rebounds while the Cyclones grabbed 36.

Kansas, which hasn't lost back-to-back games since January 2006, came into the contest with a plus-7.4 rebounding differential, best in the Big 12.

"Our team's pretty good if we get 70 percent of the 50-50 balls," Self said. "If we don't, we're not very good. We get average real fast. And obviously we didn't steal any extra possessions. Iowa State was much quicker to the ball than us."

Thomas Robinson, the Big 12 rebounding leader at 11.8 per game, matched a season low with seven boards and turned the ball over five times. The junior forward, third in the conference with an average of 17.5 points, and the Jayhawks also had some trouble grabbing rebounds in Oklahoma on Jan. 7.

Robinson had nine boards and each team finished with 34, but Kansas shot better in a 72-61 victory.

The Jayhawks hit half their shots and Robinson had 18 points, but it was Releford who stole the spotlight. The junior guard busted out with 28 points on 9-of-13 shooting - the only time in his career he scored more than 16. Releford is averaging 8.7 points in six games since.

The victory marked Kansas' eighth straight over the Sooners, its longest winning streak in the series since reeling off 13 in a row between 1964-69. The Jayhawks, undefeated in 11 games at Allen Fieldhouse this season, have also won 10 in a row over Oklahoma (13-7, 3-5) in Lawrence since an 80-77 loss in 1993.

Kansas leads the Big 12 in defensive field-goal percentage at 37.5, and it forced the Sooners into taking tough shots in the first meeting. Oklahoma shot 38.0 percent and leading scorer Steven Pledger finished with 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

Pledger, second in the conference with 17.8 points per game, had no such trouble in Saturday's 63-60 win over then-No. 22 Kansas State, finishing with 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting. The Sooners are 10-1 this season when Pledger scores at least 17 points and 2-6 when he fails to reach his season average.

The victory in Manhattan was an important confidence builder for Oklahoma, which won for the first time in four chances on an opponent's home court.

"I told the guys afterwards, the winning is great, but much more important, we showed a little more competitiveness, a little more fight than we have been," first-year Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said.