No. 7 Kansas 81, Oklahoma St. 66
Nothing was going to stop No. 7 Kansas in the first half, not
even 5-foot-9 Keiton Page.
The senior guard for Oklahoma State tried setting a screen on
Thomas Robinson, the Jayhawks’ 6-foot-10, 237-pound forward, who
steamrolled right over him.
”That was the game plan going in, for me to set more screens,”
Page said. ”He got a hold of me over in front of the Kansas bench.
It didn’t feel too good.”
That pretty much summed up the first half Saturday, when Page
scored 10 of his 19 points. Kansas held a commanding 51-24 lead
heading into the locker room, and withstood a big second-half
comeback by the Cowboys for an 81-66 win.
”We’ve been through this before,” said Oklahoma State coach
Travis Ford. ”We’ve been punched in the mouth before. Our guys
didn’t like the taste of it at halftime.”
The first half was similar to the one Oklahoma State (12-13, 5-7
Big 12) played against Baylor on Jan. 14. The Bears led 46-31 at
halftime and went on to win 106-65.
This time, the Cowboys fought to within 12 at one point in the
”Our guys decided to change it a little bit,” Ford said. ”It
could have gotten worse, the day they were having. I told our team,
Kansas is a Final Four-type team.”
Markel Brown led Oklahoma State with 21 points.
”They attacked the area and we didn’t fight back until the
second half,” Brown said. ”We had to turn it around the second
half and show we’re capable of playing with anybody.”
Jeff Withey finished with 18 points and a career-best 20
rebounds, while Robinson burnished his player of the year
credentials with 24 points and 14 boards for Kansas (20-5,
Tyshawn Taylor added 12 points, Elijah Johnson had 11 and Travis
Kansas spent the afternoon honoring the 1952 national
The Jayhawks wore throwback uniforms, the cheerleaders were
dressed in skirts that touched the floor, and a pregame video
montage showed grainy, black-and-white clips of the team that
knocked off St. John’s in the final for the school’s third national
Several members of the team were introduced at halftime,
including Bill Hougland and Clyde Lovellette, who was the MVP of
the Final Four and later became a four-time All-Star in the
Also on hand were Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel and offensive
coordinator Brian Daboll, who are good friends with Jayhawks
football coach Charlie Weis. The three of them, whose ties extend
to their days with the New England Patriots, sat together along the
They had plenty to cheer about in the first half.
The Jayhawks led 16-13 about 8 minutes into the game when they
started to ramp things up, turning missed shots and turnovers into
easy baskets at the other end. The few times the Cowboys got back
on defense, Kansas simply ran its offense to create easy looks at
The lead eclipsed 20 when Releford scored off a nifty feed from
Taylor with 5:17 to play, and Elijah Johnson’s 3 and a pair of foul
shots by Robinson made it 51-22 late in the half.
Kansas wound up shooting 64.5 percent before the break,
outrebounding the Cowboys by a staggering 22-6. The Jayhawks also
doled out 13 assists to just three turnovers – six of them by
Taylor, whose ball-handling and decision-making has improved
dramatically this season.
Oklahoma State tried to get back in the game in the second half,
clamping down on defense and doing a better job of hanging onto the
ball on offense.
Page’s 3-pointer with 8:01 left trimmed Kansas’ lead to 66-52,
and a basket by Le’Bryan Nash a couple minutes later made it 68-56,
the smallest gap for the Cowboys since 28-17.
Kansas managed to get things under control in time to wrap up
its 10th conference win.
The Jayhawks remained in a tie for the Big 12 lead with
fourth-ranked Missouri, which knocked off Baylor earlier in the
day, despite the poor second half.
”We played awful,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. ”The first
half was about the best that we could play, but we’re so immature
at this point. We took the second half for granted and played
miserably down the stretch.”