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