The Sooners crawled back from a 14-point, first-half deficit to make it another barnburner sprint to the finish.
But Kansas, an older team that isn’t easily moved by crazy environments or big stages, never lost its poise, even when the Sooners came back.
Following the lead of a guard who was first targeted to go to Appalachian State, the Jayhawks got the 76-72 win and series sweep.
Devonte' Graham steals the show
Sharing the court with a guy who has made a career on hitting big shots, Kansas’ Devonte' Graham managed to out-Buddy Buddy Hield. The guard finished with 27 points, but it wasn’t the total, it was the timeliness. Graham sunk one nervy basket after the other, none bigger than the 3-pointer he drained with under three minutes to play. After Frank Mason III fouled out on a Jordan Woodard made 3-pointer, a sure sign of disaster for KU, Graham spotted up in the corner by the Kansas bench, sinking the shot to give the Jayhawks the 73-71 edge. That would be the difference-maker.
Graham, by the way, spent the better part of the day stalking Hield on defense, a big reason that the player of the year leader finished just 5-of-15 from the floor.
He was due. Buddy Hield, sensational all season, had arguably his toughest day of the year. He started 0-for-7 from the floor, missing all six of his first-half attempts for his first goose egg performance in a half this year.
Then came the real shocker. With OU down two with 25.3 seconds to play, Hield stepped to the free-throw line. If there is a sure thing in college hoops in this unusual season, it’s Hield at the line.
Except this time the senior missed the second free throw, allowing Kansas to escape with the win.
Lucky to survive
Truth be told, Kansas is lucky it didn’t blow this game in the first half. Oklahoma was 2-of-13 from beyond the arc, 8-of-30 from the floor, Hield couldn’t score and Kansas couldn’t miss (6-of-11 from the 3-point line) and yet the Jayhawks managed just a five-point lead at the half.
The Jayhawks allowed too many easy runs to the basket, giving Oklahoma 15 free-throw attempts that kept them alive and in the game.
That Big 12 race
About that Big 12 race? Yeah, it’s still running through Lawerence, at least for now.
Kansas now moves into a tie with West Virginia -- both are 9-3.