Oklahoma had quite a few chance at beating Kansas on Wednesday night before falling 90-83 in front of a Lloyd Noble Center crowd of more than 10,000.
Here are some notes and observations from the game:
*I, and most other observers I imagine, came into this game most looking forward to seeing Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid up close. Embiid made some plays early but neither had a huge impact on the game. Wiggins was just 2 of 9 from the field with nine points. Embiid had six points, six rebounds and had three turnovers.
*Wayne Selden Jr. was the star of the night on Kansas’ side. His previous high scoring mark was 15 (against Duke) but the Sooners couldn’t stop the freshman early. He had matched that scoring high by halftime. He started the second half hot as well, scoring eight point in the first two minutes after halftime. But then Selden went away, not scoring again until little more than three minutes left in the game.
“I don’t know if he needed it but we needed it,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of Selden’s performance. “We need him to be more aggressive, looking to score, be a threat. Wayne (as a) starting two-guard in our league, to take a lot of minutes in a lot of games and he’s made 12 threes all year, that’s not enough.”
*Naadir Tharpe was also excellent, with 17 points, three assists and one turnover. He helped the Jayhawks stay ahead late in the game with his excellent play from the point.
“I could be wrong but when’s the last time a team has had a great, great year–I mean a great one–unless you have a point guard that’s a closer,” Self said. “It’s kind of like having a good quarterback. You know the two-minute drill where he can get something out of nothing. He hasn’t had many opportunities to put himself in a position to be a closer but I thought he did tonight. I thought he did a nice job.”
*Wiggins did have plenty of impact on the game, though. After grabbing the rebound off Oklahoma’s first pass of the game, Wigging fed it to Tharpe, who then fed it to Selden for the layup. He had six rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
*It’s hard to say enough about the job that Cam Clark is doing right now for the Sooners. His continued improvement on the mid-range jumper has made him one of the most dangerous offensive forwards in this league and one of the most improved offensive players in the country. Jenni Carlson wrote about Clark today.
Self had some more to say about Clark.
“He is one of the best mid-range jump shooters that I have seen. He is good at getting to the hole but what he does is he freezes you and he hits that 15- or 17-footer about as well as anyone.”
*Yet again, Lon Kruger and his players were talking up the offense after the game but continue to struggle to find consistency on defense. The Sooners are allowing far too many open looks and uncontested drives to the basket. With Ryan Spangler playing just 23 minutes thanks to foul trouble, Kansas’ Perry Ellis took advantage. Ellis scored 22 points, 14 of them with Spangler on the bench. In the first half alone, Ellis scored 10 points during Spangler’s nine minutes on the bench.
*Tyler Neal has scored in double figures off the bench in consecutive games. Self after the game said after the game that it was particularly tough to stop OU when Neal and Clark were on the floor together at the 4 and 5 spots. Their mid-range ability makes it difficult for bigs to guard then so the Jayhawks were forced to go small and OU took advantage. While the Sooners certainly missed Spangler in ways while he was in foul trouble, things didn’t take much of a hit on the offensive end.
*The 3-point shot kept Oklahoma in the game early. In the first 20 minutes, the Sooners were 5 of 9 from behind the arc. But after the break, the Sooners hit just 1 of 10 3-pointers. Over the last two games, OU is 15 of 25 from behind the arc in the first half but just 4 of 23 after the break.
*Oklahoma’s nine turnovers were its fewest in the last five games and the third-fewest all season. Oklahoma outscored KU 20-12 on turnovers.
*Kansas’ 54.7 percent shooting was the best allowed by the Sooners this season.
*The win was Kansas’ 23rd consecutive conference opener. The last time the Jayhawks lost a Big 12/Big Eight opener was Jan. 8, 1991 in Norman.
*Clark has already scored 73 more points in 15 games this season as he did all of last year. With his 32 points Wednesday night, Clark moved into 34th place on OU’s all-time scoring list with 1,048 points.
*Jordan Woodard didn’t struggle getting to the line. He made all 10 of his free throws but was 0 of 5 from the floor. He had two assists, two turnovers and a steal. He leads the Big 12 in free-throw makes.