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

second half.

”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,

10-2).

Tyshawn Taylor added 12 points, Elijah Johnson had 11 and Travis

Releford 10.

Kansas spent the afternoon honoring the 1952 national

championship team.

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

title.

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

NBA.

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

baseline.

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 basket.

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.”