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February 9, 2013

OU shakes off losing streak blues and beats Kansas

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The Sooners sprinted up the tunnel at Lloyd Noble Center just after Sooner fans and students stormed the court for the first time in a dog's age after. The Jayhawks posed the question early about how OU would handle hosting one of the country's best teams, and the Sooners answered emphatically.

Oklahoma 72, No. 5 Kansas 66.

Current Oklahoma players Romero Osby and Buddy Hield passed former Sooner men's basketball coach Billy Tubbs as he spoke about what transpired only minutes ago Saturday afternoon. He couldn't recall the last time he'd seen OU fans storm the court at home.

"You know what?" Tubbs told SoonerScoop.com. "Here, I don't remember them ever storming the court. But it was good, but they won't have to storm it again because they'll be used to winning those games."

HD: Sooners upset Kansas in Norman

The Jayhawks are getting used it, having suffered their third straight loss in conference play in just a week's time. Kansas watched No. 22 Oklahoma State celebrate inside the fortress that is Allen Fieldhouse and endured a storm of the opponents' fans raining down on it for the second time in four days.

For the Sooners, it was their first win against a top 5 opponent since Jan. 28, 2006, an 82-72 victory against No. 4 Texas at Lloyd Noble. The noise and energy of a fierce OU crowd was not lost on OU men's basketball coach Lon Kruger, either.

"I am really happy for the players and fans because those spontaneous celebrations are something you can't put a value on," Kruger said.

Chants of "T-C-U, T-C-U" bombarded the No. 5 Jayhawks (19-4, 7-3) before the game tipped, and the Sooners responded to an energy they'd only felt once before this season in a game where they dominated Texas on Martin Luther King Day.

With the whistle of the first media timeout of the game, the Sooners (15-7, 6-4 Big 12) jogged to the bench to the sound and sight of a standing ovation from roughly half the 10,503 fans in attendance.

OU received early help from beyond the arc from its two starting big men, Osby and junior Amath M'Baye. Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self was aware of that anomaly.

"When M'Baye makes two [3-pointers] on the year, he makes two [in the game]," Self said. "Osby makes four on the year, and he makes a big one."

Osby and senior Steven Pledger found their shooting strokes inside the first 10 minutes of the game. Pledger hit 4-of-8 first half shots for nine points.
Pledger and Osby combined for 18 of Oklahoma's 38 first half points and sparked a 56 percent shooting effort by the Sooners in the first 20 minutes against.

Osby finished the game with a game-high 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and a team-high eight rebounds. The game he played in Lawrence, Kan., just a month ago was not the game he played this afternoon.

"A lot of people have been asking me about the game we played up there, and I didn't play particularly well," he said. "I was kind of down on myself and frustrated with myself, and coach told me, 'Hey, you're not going to make every shot sometimes. It's just not going to fall, and don't worry about it. Just stayed in the gym.' And that's what I did."

The first half was arguably the Sooners best start to a game from an effort and energy vantage point, and it led to a 38-34 lead for OU against the best men's basketball team in the conference. Not a single Jayhawk scored more than seven points in the first half, and the Sooners held freshman phenom Ben McLemore to just 3-of-5 shooting and six points.

But Oklahoma had been here before. Last season, the Sooners held a 1-point lead against the Jayhawks in Norman before letting it go in the second half and suffering yet another defeat to the conference's reigning Big 12 champion.

The Sooners responded in the second half today with the same fire and energy they'd shown in the first, knocking down 44.8 percent of their shots for the game, including 35 percent from 3-point range, against the nation's best field goal percentage defense.

"They shot the heck out of the basketball today," Self said.

With the win against Kansas, Oklahoma's first since 2005, the Sooners have earned the signature win they've craved since the beginning of the Kruger era. This win is just OU's first of February, a month this club has struggled to win in over the last three years, but the pieces are in place to make a run at an NCAA tournament appearance.



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