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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: Despite fast start, Sooners lose 81-70

In the return of Jordan Woodard, the Sooners showed real promise despite loss to better Kansas team.

Although Oklahoma lost 81-70, this Sooner squad showed some real fight against the no. 2 Kansas Jayhawks. After surprising the country and the Jayhawks by establishing a nine point lead at the half, OU cooled off in the second as KU heated up. Here is what you need to know.

The Sooners’ night began with some positive highlights, the biggest being Jordan Woodard's availability for the big home matchup. Khadeem Lattin provided some early sparks, grabbing a steal and blocking a shot in the first couple minutes of play. However, on par for the season, Lattin picked up an early foul off an illegal screen.

After allowing the Jayhawks to a 4-0 lead to start the game, the first Sooner points came from a Rashard Odomes drive to the bucket. OU answered with a 5-0 run of its own, with Kameron McGusty knocking down a 3-pointer. Odomes had a quick start to the game, going into the first media timeout with four points, his second bucket coming off an and-one layup. He converted the and-one with the made free throw.

These two teams could have used a cough drop to begin this game, as both were coughing up the ball quite a bit. Less than ten minutes into the game, the Sooners already had three turnovers while the Jayhawks had five. OU came out prepared to steal the ball, and they grabbed four quick ones against the Jayhawks.

Jordan Woodard was welcomed back from his hiatus with cheers from the crowd and a swat from Carlton Bragg Jr. Woodard looked a little rusty with his shot, but did not look too out of sorts.

The Sooners and Jayhawks fought back and forth through the 8 minute-mark in the first half. Despite KU shooting 42 percent compared to OU's 29 percent, Oklahoma was only down 21-17. McGusty's second 3-pointer cut the KU lead to four. Oklahoma's fight and focus was apparent throughout the first half.

Kristian Doolittle gave KU some troubles, as he continued to attack the bigs of KU and drew fouls. Doolittle did not miss a free throw all half, knocking down all four. OU managed to draw many fouls in the first half, accumulating nine by the last media timeout. KU averages 20 fouls a game.

The Loud Noble Center made an appearance as the Oklahoma Sooners knocked down clutch shot after clutch shot. The Oklahoma Sooners that we have watched all season were revived with a home crowd, nationally televised game and, most importantly, the return of Woodard. Oklahoma went on a 24-6 run to end the half, established a nine-point lead and were able to hold Kansas scoreless for a 4-minute stretch in the first half. Lon Kruger and his crew finally grew tired of being walked over.

McGusty led the team at the half with eight points, with Odomes following behind with seven. Lattin assembled an inspiring performance of six points and six rebounds. The team outrebounded KU by eight total rebounds, and grabbed six more offensive rebounds than the depleted Jayhawks frontcourt.

The second half could not have started worse for Oklahoma. The team that we’ve been accustomed to seeing all year trotted back onto the court to begin the second half. Kansas opened the half with an 8-0 run, knocking down two 3-pointers. The ball movement and action that the Sooner offense had in the first half did not carry over, with the team settling for contested layups and shots. Kruger called a quick timeout to recollect and try to stop the bleeding.

KU grabbed the lead back off of an inbound steal. After going on a 13-0 run to start the second half, Lattin scored the first points for the Sooners off of a nice Woodard assist. Woodard got his first points for the game at the free throw line, tying the game back at 40-40.

At the 11:13 mark, KU had already outscored OU by 16 points in the half. The 3-pointers rained from Kansas, and they continued to grab offensive boards. KU also got some help from the officials, as usual—they were only called for 2 fouls compared to OU’s 5 in less than 10 minutes.

The Frank Mason show occurred in the second half. Although Mason only had nine points at halftime, he put on quite a performance in the second and finished the game with 28 points. Most of his shots were wide open 3-pointers.

With a little less than six minutes to play, Odomes threw down the ball to cut the KU lead to 10 points, trying to keep his team in the game. But the Jayhawks’ hot shooting proved too much in the second half. KU shot 44 percent from the 3-point line compared to 28 percent for Oklahoma. Kansas made 12 3-pointers, which was clearly the deciding factor in this matchup.

Oklahoma dropped its seventh in a row, the longest losing streak by Kruger since being at OU. McGusty and Odomes both led the team with 13 points. Woodard contributed with seven points, six rebounds and five assists in his return game. The Sooners move to 6-9, and will next face Texas Tech in Norman on Saturday at 7:30 PM CT.