Sports

Oklahoma and Kansas do battle in pivotal Big 12 bout

Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas Jayhawks try to keep pace near the top of the Big 12 Conference standings as they host the Oklahoma Sooners at Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night.

On Saturday, the Jayhawks were handed their first league loss of the season, an 86-81 setback versus Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum. The defeat snapped a five-game win streak overall and tied Kansas with the Cyclones for second place in the Big 12 at 3-1, trailing only Kansas State which is 4-1, even though the Wildcats already have the second-most losses overall in the league with seven.

As for the Sooners, they remained at home over the weekend and followed up a miserable 86-65 loss to West Virginia earlier in the week with an impressive 82-65 triumph over 24th-ranked Oklahoma State. The victory snapped a two-game slide for a program that is 2-3 in conference and in the bottom half of the standings entering play this week.

Kansas leads the all-time series by a 141-65 margin, winning all but 16 of the 87 meetings played in Lawrence dating back 95 years. The Jayhawks won the most recent encounter last season by a score of 83-75.

The Sooners have Kansas scheduled for their regular-season finale on March 7.

Oklahoma shot 55.8 percent from the field, including 8-of-18 behind the 3- point line on Saturday, offsetting 17 turnovers, but it was the defense that set the tone as the Cowboys shot 7-of-30 from the field in the first half, en route to the lopsided decision. Except for Isaiah Cousins who tallied seven points on 2-of-10 shooting, every starter landed in double figures for the hosts, beginning with Buddy Hield and his 27 points, hitting a perfect 10- of-10 from the field, including 4-of-4 out on the perimeter.

Jordan Woodard pitched in with 13 points and four assists, followed by Ryan Spangler with 11 points as just as many rebounds, while TaShawn Thomas responded with 10 points. Off the bench, D.J. Bennett made a small impact with three of the unit's seven blocked shots in 13 minutes of action.

Hield, who has led the Sooners in scoring in each of the last four games and five times in the last six overall, has tallied at least 20 points in four of the five conference outings. Shooting a solid 40.8 percent behind the 3-point line, Hield has accounted for nearly half the program's 116 triples and is now averaging 17.6 ppg, in addition to getting physical in the paint in order to pull down 5.6 rpg. Cousins (12.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg), Thomas (11.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Spangler (9.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg) give the team in inside presence that has helped them limit foes to just 36.9 percent shooting from the floor.

The Jayhawks became the 16th straight visitor to drop into Hilton Coliseum and leave with a loss as they suffered the five-point setback on Saturday in Ames, Iowa. Kansas, which led by as many as five points in the opening minutes of the meeting, had five players score in double figures, but the rest of the participants combined for a total of just nine points. Frank Mason III tallied 21 points, Perry Ellis a double-double with 19 and 11 rebounds before fouling out and Wayne Selden Jr. 12 points before he too picked up a fifth personal foul. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Devonte Graham pitched in with 10 points apiece as the team allowed ISU to make good on 50.8 percent from the field.

The Cyclones were more than up to the challenge versus Kansas, shooting far better than the 40.9 percent that the Jayhawks are allowing foes through 17 games, en route to the most points allowed by Kansas this season. To put it in perspective, the Jayhawks entered the meeting on Saturday having permitted 57 points or less in three straight conference meetings and only three times during the first half of the season did the team allow 70 points or more.

Offensively, the Jayhawks are one of the most balanced teams in the nation as the top scorer, Mason III, is putting up only 12.9 ppg thanks to his 47.1 percent shooting behind the 3-point line. Ellis checks in with another 12.6 ppg and tends to spend his time in the paint where he leads the program with 6.6 rpg.