Big second half helps Jayhawks beat Oklahoma 81-70
NORMAN, Okla. — Ready or not, Kansas is poised to jump to No. 1.
Frank Mason scored 19 of his 28 points in the second half, and the second-ranked Jayhawks rallied to beat Oklahoma 81-70 on Tuesday.
With No. 1 Baylor losing at West Virginia earlier in the night, Kansas will be in a position to top the AP poll for the first time this season if it beats Oklahoma State on Saturday.
“We don’t deserve that,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I’ve coached for a while, and I’ve felt like there’s some teams that put in the time and the effort and the toughness to earn that, but I don’t feel like this team quite has.”
Josh Jackson scored 16 points for the Jayhawks (15-1, 4-0 Big 12), who have won 15 straight. Devonte’ Graham added 13 and Landen Lucas had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Rashard Odomes and Kameron McGusty each scored 13 points for the Sooners (6-9, 0-4), who lost their seventh in a row.
Oklahoma trailed 21-14 before closing the first half on a 22-6 run to take a 36-27 lead at the break. Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger called it his team’s best half of the season.
“Given the opponent, certainly, no question,” he said. “Kansas is a terrific ballclub. To be down a little bit early and come back and tie it and take the lead into the half was a good stretch, a very good stretch.”
Mason said Self was fired up at halftime.
“I can’t tell you the message, but it was — I can’t even say it,” he said. “Coach got onto us. I think we responded pretty well as a team. We’ve just got to come out better to start the game off the first half.”
Kansas took control and pushed its lead out to 15 in the second half behind Mason, who made 7 of 12 shots after the break.
“He’s terrific, just an outstanding player,” Kruger said. “He’s a winner. He takes things on his shoulders. He makes teammates around him better. He makes big-time plays in tough parts of games. Just an outstanding player.”
Kansas: The Jayhawks took sole possession of the Big 12 lead and maintained their series dominance over the Sooners, winning for the 16th time in the past 18 meetings.
Oklahoma: The Sooners were buoyed by scoring leader Jordan Woodard’s return from a leg injury. Oklahoma lost all four games without the senior guard, who had started 115 straight games before getting hurt. Woodard entered the night averaging 17.6 points. He finished with seven points in 24 minutes, and the Sooners played much better once he took the floor as a substitute.
“I really didn’t expect him to play that many minutes,” Kruger said. “I thought he got tired a couple of times, naturally, and got out. But I thought overall he was very, very good.”
Kansas made 9 of 16 3-pointers in the second half and 12 of 27 overall. The Jayhawks shot 34 percent overall in the first half and 46 percent in the second. … It was Self’s 400th win at Kansas.
Oklahoma led by nine at halftime, but the Jayhawks opened the second half on a 13-0 run. A 3-pointer by Mason put Kansas up 56-47, and the Jayhawks maintained control from there.
Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti and Thunder forward Nick Collison attended the game.
Kansas hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Cowboys pushed Baylor last Saturday before dropping a 61-57 decision in Waco.
Oklahoma hosts Texas Tech on Saturday. The Red Raiders have wins over current No. 10 West Virginia and No. 25 Kansas State to their credit.