NORMAN — Oklahoma's offensive drought in its Big 12 home opener vs. Kansas wasn't as bad as a blowout loss earlier in the week, but the Sooners' inability to score consistently helped Kansas pull away for a 72-61 win Saturday afternoon at Lloyd Noble Center.
“I don't feel really good about what we are doing (offensively), but also credit Kansas for causing some of that, too,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “Kansas was very sound, very tough defensively. We have to move it better, get the ball out of our hands, get it moving, get some rhythm offensively.”
The Sooners scored 78 or more points in nine of their 12 non-conference games.
In conference losses to Missouri and Kansas, OU has averaged 55.0 points and is shooting 35.6 percent from the field.
OU battled No. 14 Kansas possession for possession the first half and owned a 34-33 halftime lead.
Then the Jayhawks delivered a knockout punch, dominating on both ends to build a 62-40 lead with 8:37 remaining.
Bolstered by three dunks and seven layups, Kansas went on a 29-6 run to open the second half. Many of the easy baskets came in transition where the Jayhawks owned a 16-2 edge.
“That was the best stretch we've played (all season),” said KU coach Bill Self. “Other than that, it was just back and forth. We didn't outplay them at all, other than those 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes were enough to put us over the top.”
During the game-deciding 11-minute stretch to open the second half, OU shot 21.5 percent. The Sooners had twice as many turnovers (six) as made baskets, going 3-of-14 from the field.
“It's frustrating because you'd at least like to line up and attack and give yourself a chance,” Kruger said. “The way we turned it over to start the second half put us in a little bit of a deficit.”
Kansas shot 50 percent for the game. KU star Thomas Robinson (18 points, nine rebounds) fell just short of adding to his league high 10 double-doubles.
The player who gave the Sooners problems was junior guard Travis Releford. KU's defensive stopper scored a career high 28 points. OU's two leading scorers — Steven Pledger and Andrew Fitzgerald — combined to score just 25 points.
“Offensively, we got a lot of shots we wanted,” said point guard Sam Grooms. “We just didn't make shots. I give (Kansas) credit for what they do but it's more so us. We have to make shots. For the most part these are the same shots we made in non-conference.”
OU's non-conference momentum has been squashed by two nationally ranked teams.
The Sooners (11-4, 0-2) face another challenging week. The first Bedlam showdown is Monday night in Stillwater. OU hosts No. 23 Kansas State Saturday afternoon.
The key might be how the Sooners fare offensively.
“I think (OU) is really good defensively,” Self said. “We got some easy baskets. We didn't shoot the ball great against them if you take away layups. We got some easy baskets which helped a lot, but I think they're good defensively.”