It was one and one for the Sooner State in Big 12 basketball on Wednesday night. Kansas won its 23rd consecutive conference opener with a 90-83 road win at Oklahoma, while Oklahoma State got back in the win column, downing Texas 87-74 in a game played in Stillwater, about an hour-and-a-half drive northeast of the OU campus.
“Our league is great, and this season is gonna be a monster,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said after his Jayhawks (10-4) had recorded their 10th win of the year their opening win of the Big 12 season. “Holding serve at home will be as hard as it’s ever been, and stealing one like we did tonight is huge.”
The 18th-ranked Jayhawks rode 20-point performances from freshman guard Wayne Selden, with a career-high 24, and sophomore forward Perry Ellis, who put in 22 of his own. Kansas also forged a big advantage on the boards, with a 36-22 advantage in rebounds.
Oklahoma came into the game as the third-best three-point-shooting team in the conference, and the Sooners connected on five-of-nine three-point shots in the first half. They were held to just one-of-10 from long range in the second half, however, as the Jayhawks’ defensive pressure picked up.
Selden made five of 10 shots from three-point range. One of the prized recruits in Kansas’ top-ranked 2013 recruiting class, Selden had not really lived up to his preseason expectations during the Jayhawks’ nonconference schedule. He was literally on fire in the early going at OU, however, and that pleased his head coach. “We need Wayne to be more aggressive looking to score,” Self said. “He’s a starting two guard in this conference who has mad 12 threes for the year. I told the guys, it’s new stats, new season.”
The Sooners’ Cameron Clark had 32 points in the game in a losing cause, including 10 of Oklahoma’s 17 points in the final 10 minutes. Sophomore guard Buddy Hield added 18 for the Sooners, who largely stayed in the game as a result of getting to the free-throw line so many times. OU shot 80 percent from the free-throw line, scoring 29 points on 36 attempts.
“Credit Kansas. They’re awfully good,” said Sooner head coach Lon Kruger after the game. “I thought our guys battled hard. We had a couple of stretches where we didn’t compete like we have to against a club like that to have a chance that we like to have. We just have to keep getting five guys in there working, and we have to rebound the ball better.”
Kansas forward Perry Ellis on Oklahoma: “They are tough to defend. They have a lot of scorers ,and we knew we had to really hunker down and defend, and we did that very well…and came out with the win.”
At Stillwater Wednesday night, Big 12 Player of the Year from last year Marcus Smart scored 24 points along with 11 rebounds in leading No. 11 Oklahoma State in its win over the Texas Longhorns. Teammate Markel Brown did Smart three better, scoring 27 points, and three-point specialist Phil Forte added 14 more for the Cowboys against the bigger Longhorns.
OSU bounced back from a conference-opening loss at Kansas State on Saturday, and it was made even more special by having former Oklahoma State head coach Eddie Sutton in the house at Gallagher-Iba Arena watching his former team and alma mater.
“We knew their big guys coming in here would cause us a little bit of trouble,” Cowboys’ head coach Travis Ford said, “but we collectively gave an effort together as a team.”
The Cowboys lost 6-8 front-court player Michael Cobbins to a ruptured Achilles tendon two games ago, which greatly limits the size they can put on the court.
Texas committed 31 fouls in the game and sent Oklahoma State to the free-throw stripe for 51 attempts. Fortunately for the Longhorns, OSU made only 68 percent of its free-throw tries (35 for 51), or the outcome of this game would have been much worse.
“Fifty-one free throw is hard to overcome,” lamented Texas coach Rick Barnes. “We played about as bad as we could play, and we still had a chance.”
Even with the size advantage close to the glass, Texas launched quite a few shots from long range. The Longhorns cashed in only three of 18 three-point shots, however.