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Rock Chalked: Kansas Muscles Past Oklahoma

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Wednesday night was supposed to be the night the Oklahoma Sooners got a chance to face off against Kansas super-freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. Instead, it was a reminder of just how talented and deep the Jayhawks are.

The Jayhawks got solid contributions from the trio of Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden and Naadir Tharpe, and held off a late Oklahoma rally to down the Sooners, 90-83 at Lloyd Noble Center.

Selden finished with a career-high 24 points to lead the Jayhawks. Selden scored 15 points in the first 8:14 of the game, and then scored eight more in the first two minutes of the second half. Perry Ellis added 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Jayhawks, which shot 54.7 percent for the game, despite getting just a combined 15 points from Wiggins and Embiid.

Naadir Tharpe had 17 points.

Instead of Wiggins, it was arguably OU's Cameron Clark who was the best player on the court Wednesday night. Clark, who scored a career-high 32 points against Michigan State earlier in the season, continued to show up on the biggest stages. Clark once again scored 32 points, including 19 points in the second half, when he single-handedly led the Sooners back in the second half, after OU trailed by as many as 12 points.

Clark was one of four OU players in double figures for the game. Buddy Hield had 18 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Tyler Neal had 11 points and Jordan Woodard had 10 points, all coming at the free throw line.

The Sooners trailed 74-62 with 10:39 remaining in the second half when Clark took over. Over the next five minutes, Clark scored 11 of 13 OU points in a 13-7 Oklahoma run. The Sooners cut the lead to four points on two occasions during the run.

The Sooners cranked up the defensive intensity, holding Kansas without a field goal over the final five minutes. However, it was too little, too late. The Sooners had multiple opportunities to cut into an 85-81 lead with just under two minutes remaining, but Clark missed a free throw, Isaiah Cousins had a turnover, and Hield took an ill-advised 3-pointer. Hield had a fastbreak dunk to cut the lead to 87-83 with 41 seconds left, but the Sooners wouldn't score again.

Oklahoma took a "defense optional" approach to the first half, as Kansas made 12 of their first 15 shots and finished the half shooting a sizzling 64.3 percent from the floor. The Sooners were able to hang around thanks to an abundance of foul shots. The Sooners went to the line 22 times in the first half alone, making 19 of those attempts, including four in a row thanks to a Bill Self technical foul that gave OU a 43-39 lead with 3:04 in the first half.

Unfortunately for Oklahoma, the Jayhawks responded well to Self's animated burst on the sidelines, rattling off an 11-1 run to lead 50-44 at halftime.

After the break, Selden caught fire again, hitting two 3-pointers and a jump shot in the first 1:47 of the second half. That burst pushed the Kansas lead to 60-49, and the Sooners were never able to completely overcome that deficit.

The Sooners have another opportunity for a big home win on Saturday, when undefeated and No. 9 Iowa State comes to Norman. The Sooners probably need the win to help make a case for a second straight NCAA tournament.

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